Mike Kearney and Dave Schanz have been friends for over 40 years – but more recently, they also became business partners. As franchise owners of Senior Care Authority in Rochester, New York, Mike and Dave are making a positive difference in the lives of local families, helping them navigate the overwhelming challenges associated with selecting the best options in assisted living, memory care, nursing care and other long-term care services.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Welcome Mike and Dave. For those who may not be familiar, can you start by telling us what Senior Care Authority is all about?
Mike Kearney (MK): Senior Care Authority is the nation’s premiere senior placement and eldercare consulting company. Based in Petaluma, California, the franchise network is comprised of locally owned and professionally trained advisors who assist families in the overwhelming challenges associated with selecting the best options in assisted living, memory care, nursing care and other long-term care services. We have found our local Rochester area to be very receptive and eager to use the services we provide as Senior Care Authority franchise owners.
FC: What inspired you to invest in a franchise to begin with and why did you choose Senior Care Authority?
MK: I was seeking an opportunity to own my own business and specifically to serve the booming senior market. I found this business model and was very intrigued. Frankly, it sounded too good to be true. Is it possible to help families who need assistance in choosing a senior community and do so without cost to the family?
Dave Schanz (DS): Mike was shopping for a business to buy several years ago and I offered to help with due diligence, P&L and a business plan. At that time, my family was struggling to care for my father who suffered from Alzheimer’s. I lived in Chicago, but had supportive family in Rochester to help. We had a very difficult time identifying and understanding care options for my father and mother despite them having significant resources to pay for senior living. This challenging experience led me to make an investment to partner with Mike.
We spent a great deal of time comparing franchise options and decided on Senior Care Authority. Frank Samson and his team were patient, honest and forthcoming with details. Senior Care Authority provides all the tools needed to become a Certified Senior Advisor, learn and understand the placement business, provide value to seniors and their families, while retaining the autonomy to manage and grow our business as we see fit.
FC: How did the pandemic affect you as franchisees? The senior care industry as a whole?
DS: The closing of senior communities to new residents and visitation had an understandably devastating effect on both the supply and demand for senior living. Seniors who were unable to make a move when they needed the support became isolated and, in many cases, suffered injuries while living alone and coping with the COVID safety measures.
Senior Care Authority almost immediately pulled together franchisees to provide ideas for new sources of revenue and brainstorm for new ways to get through the pandemic. Statistics showed occupancy plummeted for much of 2020, while simultaneously, COVID safety measures added new costs to keep residents safe. To make matters worse, finding and maintaining staff in senior communities became an issue due to the fear of spread.
We were fortunate in the Rochester, NY area to have relatively few outbreaks of COVID in senior communities compared to many areas of the state and country. As regulations have eased over time, many communities are still working to increase their census to pre-COVID levels.
MK: It was a scary time for everyone. But the truth is, our business grew during COVID. If you needed to move a loved one into assisted living during a time when you could not even tour a community prior to moving in, wouldn’t you want to work with an advisor who had been there many times before?
FC: In what ways have you grown since first opening in 2017? How do you envision growing in the coming years?
DS: We make a concerted effort to increase our knowledge and improve our process with each family placed and community interaction. The closer we become with the specific value, care options and support communities offer, the better we can serve seniors and their families when in crisis, or when looking ahead. We work closely with local senior support organizations to identify new opportunities that will come with the significant increase in demand for senior support in the coming decades.
Sadly, many families do not have the resources to privately pay for many senior living options. We are constantly lobbying for new ways to help support seniors when they cannot afford the care they need. The current practice of putting seniors into Medicaid-paid long-term skilled nursing homes is both expensive and inefficient. New technology, home care, along with lower cost community options will certainly become available.
FC: What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about the senior care industry?
DS: TIMING! We understand and have been through placement with our families, NO ONE wants to move from their home as they age. However, nearly every day we are working with a family who was considering a move in the recent past, waited too long and were forced to much more expensive, higher level senior living care due to common accidents like a fall or accident. We very much respect a senior’s right to make a bad decision and deny care or a move, nevertheless it is painful to observe how quickly the quality of life deteriorates when an injury sends someone elderly to a nursing home when a move to independent or assisted living would have provided safety, convenience, socialization and wellness support for many years.
MK: Dave is absolutely right. Too often the senior who needs to move is picturing the nursing home that provided end of life care for their own parents and is adamant about staying home. The truth is, today’s assisted living communities look nothing like the nursing homes of the 1980s and will actually provide a much higher quality of life than many seniors experience in their own homes.
FC: What would you tell someone considering becoming a Senior Care Authority franchisee?
DS: I would tell them to build a business plan, ask a lot of questions, and enjoy the expertise and transparency Frank Samson and his team provides those looking to join the Senior Care Authority team. I personally was very suspicious of the franchise business model; however, our experience has been wonderful. Senior Care Authority will be with you as much or as little as you desire to enable success.
Becoming a Senior Care Authority franchisee is not one and done, the team continually works to share successes, learn from setbacks and look ahead toward new and better ways to provide value to seniors and their families.
MK: I would tell them that for me, the experience has been wonderful. The work is rewarding and the business opportunity is exciting.