Franchise Players

Helping Dementia Patients Through Franchising

Helping Dementia Patients Through Franchising

Mark & Dr. Nicole Ross

Image credit: Mark & Dr. Nicole Ross

Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

As a physician that works primarily with elderly patients, Dr. Nicole Ross saw first-hand the need for better in-home care in her community. So, Nicole and her husband Mark decided to open a Right at Home senior care franchise.

In addition to the typical in-home care services, the Ross’s location also offers a new program called Alive Inside. The program taps into music’s ability to battle memory loss to improve the lives of elderly patients.

Here’s what the couple has learned while running a franchise that serves the elderly.

Name: Mark & Dr. Nicole Ross

Franchise owned: Right at Home in Atlanta, Ga.

How long have you owned a franchise? Almost three years.

Why franchising?

My wife and I have always loved the idea of being entrepreneurial. We moved to a new city and looked to open a business in that community. We did not want to start another business from scratch, so we researched the needs in our community and utilized a franchise consultant to help sort through various industries and companies. We were willing to work very hard, but we needed a plan for success that had been tested. We understood there are no guarantees for success, but we knew with our efforts and integrity that the probability was high.

Related: You're Either an Entrepreneur or You're Not. There Is No In-Between.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Mark practiced law for four years, and then decided to transition to the real estate development industry. He decided to make this career move because he wanted to have a career that didn’t bind him to an office and one that he could create something positive and have more community involvement.  We had a lot of success in this industry for many years because the residential construction industry was really booming in Atlanta at the time. But then, after nine years in the business, the housing industry slowed, and we realized we needed to find another business venture that would be more profitable.

Nicole is a physician and works primarily with senior citizens. She saw firsthand the need for home care, post hospital visit with this demographic. She would too frequently see her patients leave the hospital but have to return shortly after for additional care, which could have been prevented if they had some assistance at home with taking medication, cooking meals or hygiene.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

We spoke with local Right at Home franchisees throughout the country, which was really helpful to hear their experiences with Right at Home. We did our own research on the web and also went to Right at Home’s corporate Discovery Day, which was almost like a first date. We visited to see if we liked them and they wanted to see if they liked us. Fortunately, there was a mutual admiration. 

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

Franchise Fee $45,000

Office Space $15,000

Equipment $15,000

Licensing $3,000

Office Staff $15,000

Marketing $3,000

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

We used a franchise consultant to help us determine what companies fit our investment requirements, our time commitment and our income goals. We then contacted those companies and determined a comfort level with their representatives. Finally, we contacted existing franchise owners and went to visit the corporate headquarters to go see the team that was going to support us.

Related: Why Business Ownership Is an Exercise in Personal Development

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Educating families and communities on the benefits of using a Home Care Agency. Our brand, Right at Home, was not heard of in our community. Also, the state licensing process was more tedious than expected, but it helped to exclude agencies that where in it for the wrong reasons.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Make sure you do your research on the organization, make sure it a business that you would mind not being consumed by, and talk to other franchise owners of your choice with backgrounds similar to yours. Finally, allot yourself enough cash reserves to get past your startup period.

What’s next for you and your business?

Currently we are implementing a new program at our Right at Home agency called Music and Memory. The program is based on a new movie called Alive Inside, a documentary that won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. The documentary follows Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights to show music’s ability to battle memory loss.

We learned about the program at the annual Right at Home meeting illustrating how individuals with dementia respond to music.  Having a medical background and history of working with patients with dementia automatically inspired Nicole. The Alive Inside program has led to clients with dementia being able to speak more clearly with a major goal to decrease anxiety and anti-psychotic medications, but also, more importantly, to improve their entire environment.

We enjoy being engaged in our communities. We live there, work there, our kids participate in activities there and we volunteer our time because it helps us to meet and work with great people.

We have gained the trust in our community by improving the lives of our clients and making their families happy with our services because we take such great care of our clients. We share that ideal with our office staff, caregivers and our families.

Related: Helping Cancer Survivors as a Spa Franchisee

Edition: October 2016

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