Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re honoring power couples in franchising. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff and Nancy Huguet had a long history of helping other before they began looking into opening a franchise. Jeff had worked as a police officer, a paramedic and a firefighter (in addition to being a classically trained ballet dancer), while Nancy ran a massage therapy practice. Here's why they chose Nurse Next Door as the vehicle for their entrepreneurial passions.
Name: Jeff and Nancy Huguet (husband and wife team)
Franchise owned: Nurse Next Door in Green Bay, Wis.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We opened our doors to the Green Bay community in February 2014.
Before we even started thinking about helping people as a business, we helped elderly neighbors and friends when they needed us. Everyone in our neighborhood knows I am a firefighter/paramedic and Nancy is a go-to person for help. We often find people at our front door, needing some kind of advice or support. We are always pleased to be there for our friends in need.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was working as a paramedic/firefighter and police officer for the last 17 years. I also owned a business installing and refinishing hardwood floors for the last 30 plus years, along with an architectural concrete countertop business for the last four. My past careers were all about helping people either directly or indirectly and it just made sense for me to go into the home care business.
My wife Nancy studied at the Swedish Institute for Massage Therapy in New York City and had a robust, private practice for over 20 years. She’s a natural caregiver and she really understands how compassion and touch helps with healing a patient.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We chose Nurse Next Door because it matches our personal values. We had been contemplating this industry for many years and have looked at a bunch of different home care companies. As soon as we came across Nurse Next Door, we knew this was it. We care about what we do and how we do it. We share our culture and beliefs. Nurse Next Door helps us celebrate our love of people.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
About $90,000 before we opened the doors. That included travel to Nurse Next Door Heartquarters, due diligence, franchise fees, insurances, technology, legal, finance, and two beautiful car wraps.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We did lots of research on different companies, the industry and our local competitors. The internet is of course an amazing tool. Our lawyers were involved in the process. A great benefit we found with Nurse Next Door is that we were not only allowed, but encouraged to talk very closely with other Nurse Next Door Franchise Partners. We were able to ask anything we wished of them. That was very validating for us.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
For us in home care, it’s incredibly hard to compete in a market where there are so many choices for consumers. People are sometimes overwhelmed with the number of private duty home care agencies and brands that it’s easy to get lost in the noise. From a sales stand point, it’s harder still to get that first client from a referral source. But, once we got our first client and were able to blow both the family and our referral source away with our superior approach to care, it became a little easier. The real challenge was getting that chance to make your first real impression on the family, the client and your professional referral sources.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Figure out what makes you different, and drive that difference into your market. Do you want to be just like everybody else, or do you want stand out? It then becomes an easy conversation to say, “Here is what all of our competition does, and then here is what we do.” Make their decision to choose you an easy one.
What’s next for you and your business?
Continue to be a great resource in our community and let everyone know we’re here. Out of that will come an increase in market share. We will continue to keep streamlining our processes. Eventually we would entertain the possibility of opening another territory with Nurse Next Door.