Four years ago, Michael Rothenberger was looking to own his own business. He wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do and home care wasn’t initially on his radar. However, Michael did know that he wanted to do something that would allow him to be involved in his community and make a difference; something that would allow him to be a good role model for his two children.
When he was first on the phone with Home Care Assistance (HCA) he thought it would be a one-time call. But after he told HCA that he had zero home care experience, they reassured him by sharing that most of their franchisees are in the same boat.
Still, he was extremely nervous to jump into an industry he had never even heard of before. Michael says, “I have a very trusting wife, so when I said, 'hey honey, I’m going to quit my job and use pretty much all our savings to start this agency,' she said, 'I trust you.'”
Michael shares that the first year of running his agency was not easy by any standard. But with ClearCare implemented since his first day in business, he has managed to grow Home Care Assistance Indianapolis into a high-growth franchise. We asked Michael how he does it.
Find Passionate Caregivers
The most important thing is finding the right caregivers. This creates and maintains a strong, trusted brand. HCA Indianapolis has won the Home Care Pulse Employer of Choice award for the past four years, showing how treating current employees well can bring more great caregivers to your agency. Michael finds these quality caregivers through tremendous screening.
He requires two things: one is experience — personal or professional. The other is passion. Michael believes that someone with personal experience (i.e. someone who has taken care of a family member) is equally qualified as someone with professional experience. He says that even though he might have to devote more training to those who are relatively new to caregiving than to others with more experience, “they are often some of the best caregivers because they’re doing it all from the heart.” The passion requirement runs parallel with experience. It is important to find caregivers who are “not just in this because [you are] paying more,” rather because they have a passion to help people and make a difference.
The Art of Matchmaking
Because he has put a lot of effort into hiring the right caregivers, Michael uses a method of "matchmaking" to make sure he's putting the right caregivers with the right clients. His client manager describes their agency as a “matchmaking service.” When evaluating a client, Michael uses two, equally important assessments. The first is a skills assessment that identifies the client's needs. The second is a personal assessment which allows Michael to pair his caregivers with clients on a more personal level.
Michael remembers one particularly touching client case, of an immobile woman who was need of a caregiver due to a pained knee and lack of rehab. After the assessment, Michael knew exactly which caregiver to pair with this client. Almost immediately, the caregiver and client “hit it off.” The caregiver encouraged his client to work on her mobility by taking her on Costco trips. Soon the woman was able to walk again, allowing her to travel to attend her granddaughter’s wedding. This caregiver achieved something Michael stands by, "getting the client to regain or retain his or her sense of purpose." After HCA's corporate office got wind of this story, this caregiver won the HCA Caregiver of the Year award.
Building Trust and a Strong Support System
Michael said that having the HCA franchisor as a backbone has helped him grow — more than $300K each year he's been in business. He describes the organization as “very forward thinking and constantly looking to be better.” Michael explains that over the years he has called both the corporate office and other franchisees for advice. Corporate also keeps Michael and other franchises up to date on regulation changes and updates, which can be very helpful. Having a strong franchise behind your agency provides constant support to help your agency flourish and grow.
Looking at the bigger picture, Michael recognizes and stresses that “home care is very much a relationship-based business. It takes time and trust. Nurturing relationships and building trust is what will make or break your agency." Having passionate caregivers and a strong franchise has helped Michael build trust within his community and he continues to work on this. He says “I definitely believe in our people and our process.”