After spending almost 30 years in the financial field, Michael Schaufler decided to leave the hectic industry and become a franchisee with Golden Heart Senior Care, which offers non-medical home care services for families who prefer to care for their loved ones in-home rather than in a facility. Michael credits the success of his senior franchise to the “local business feel” Golden Heart Senior Care offers, and their ability to have a relationship with the client, the client’s family and caregivers.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Welcome, Michael. Thank you for your time today. Can you give us some insight into why you decided to invest in a franchise?
Michael Schaufler (MS): I decided to invest in a franchise because I found myself at a crossroads in my career. I had spent the last 28 years working in finance, specifically in the capital markets industry, but sometimes life can throw you a curveball. If I continued to pursue my finance career, it probably would have come at the cost of relocating back to the east coast.
To make a long story short, I looked to “fast-track” into a new career as a business owner, and franchising provided me a path to success without the need to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to get into something that had longevity and gave me the opportunity to give back in a way that had purpose. Golden Heart seemed like it was the perfect opportunity for me to accomplish that.
FC: Tell me why you chose a service brand like Golden Heart.
MS: It’s not all about dollars and cents. When you go home at night and think about your business, most times you are actually thinking about your clients and what you have done for them. Hearing positive feedback from our clients’ families is a real motivator for me and a reminder of why I chose this business.
When it came to choosing a business, I did not necessarily want to go with a widely recognized brand, because I wanted a business that could feel like “mine.” I chose Golden Heart partially because of their small size and also because of my belief in Golden Heart’s president, Craig Bass, and senior vice president of operations, Golden Kennedy. I felt like they had the right approach and leadership that would allow me to run the business the way I wanted. Not being part of a massive national brand has won us business, because we have been able to truly personalize the experience for our clients.
The advantage of Golden Heart, compared to the national brands, is that we have the ability to provide a different look and feel than the larger guys on the block. As owners, we can form a relationship with the client, the client’s family and our caregivers. It is more than a business relationship; it feels more like a family relationship.
FC: In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently if you could do it over again? What would you change?
MS: If I had to do it all over again, I would probably rely more on Golden Heart and Craig in terms of advice on the organizational structure of our business. The advice I would give is to reach out to other franchisees. That was super helpful when I was starting out, and I personally wish I would have reached out to other franchisees even sooner. The start-up process can be challenging, but I think laying a strong foundation for yourself is the best thing any franchisee can do. Talk to other franchisees, bounce questions off them and learn from their experiences.
FC: What do you think makes successful franchisees successful?
MS: Franchises are successful when they can differentiate themselves from the competition. I think we have done that with our approach here at Golden Heart. At the end of the day, the senior care business, like so many others, is an ultra-competitive industry that requires more than a cookie-cutter model to be successful. One size does not fit all – it is all about selling yourself and your personal approach to prospective clients. Big brands in this business win initially because of their size and capabilities, but eventually those brands lose because they lack the personality and personalized approach that we have.
FC: What should an investor look for in a senior franchise opportunity? What are some of the pitfalls they should keep an eye out for?
MS: A franchise will be unsuccessful if the investor comes in with a “plug and play” mindset and expects to find immediate success. Hanging a sign outside your door saying “open for business” will not work. It just does not work that way in this business; it takes a lot of dedication to make a franchise successful.
The real differentiating factor among franchisees comes from within the person. It does take some self-confidence; you have to put yourself out there. You have to knock on doors when it feels uncomfortable. I would not advise anybody to be a franchisee, especially in this business, if you do not have the ability to really persevere and put yourself out there.
FC: How has franchising changed your life? Tell me about your experience as a Golden Heart franchisee.
MS: Franchising has changed my life in several regards and taught me a great deal in a relatively short period of time. Aside from the obvious gratitude you receive from helping the elderly, my experience as a Golden Heart franchisee has been a lesson in understanding how the real-world works. From the challenges of managing a team, to appreciation for the process of recruiting long-term employees, my experiences have collectively given me greater perspective in life. Part of getting into this business is earning enough income to keep the lights on – absolutely – but part of being in this business is also to give back and lead a purposeful life.