Finding Her Way Home: Q&A with Franchise Owner Lori Reeves

Posted by Jason Vyhlidal , 10/19/2018 4:00 PM
After many years in nursing and hospice, Lori Reeves joined the Home Instead Senior Care® family as an independently owned and operated franchise owner in Vandalia, Ohio. In this Q&A, Lori shares her personal experience and advice about owning and operating a franchise.
You have extensive experience in nursing and healthcare. Why did you decide to become a franchise owner?

I spent about 15 years in hospice and nursing before I did the Home Instead franchise...I truly feel that coming into the Home Instead Senior Care family, I’m now doing what I went into nursing to do, which is caring about people...We can focus on our clients and our families. And it is amazing. That piece, I truly love.
There is something very, very special about being in hospice...It’s something that’s very personal. It’s very monumental to a family. And to be allowed to be a part of that - to be allowed to walk with that family at that time in their life is, to me, a huge honor. And hospice is very important here at Home Instead®. We have a lot of hospice clients.
Why did you choose Home Instead Senior Care?

I looked around at some of the other franchises. I wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision. I have a very strong faith system. I did a lot of praying for about six months. But I also wanted to make sure that the values aligned, and it was like I came home when I walked in the door to do my very first interview at the home office. It was amazing. The feeling that I got. The belief system was there, not just faith-based, but from the perspective of how they want to deal with families and clients out in the community. And that really resonated with me. I just felt like I really came home.
How has your experience with hospice and nursing helped you when it comes to operating your independently owned and operated franchise?

I believe it helps me in many ways…I’m used to a 24-7 schedule, and we’re not a nine to five or eight to five business, Monday through Friday. I was used to living that lifestyle. You get a call at nine o’clock at night or you get a call at 4 o’clock in the morning. So, that piece was easier. I also knew enough about the health care system, and if I have a client that is declining, I can have that hospice conversation. I feel like because I have that healthcare background, it gives me more resources to offer to our families and our clients.
What would you say to a prospective franchisee who does not have the same background in nursing or health care or hospice like you’ve have?

I think I would tell them that they’re in for the ride of their life! They need to be prepared. Any business, if you’re an owner, is going to consume you for the first few years. I think that’s made easier if you're coming from an industry where 24-7 is the norm. I would tell any owner, “You do have to be willing to roll up your shirt sleeves, dig in, sleep in a back room sometimes, and be willing to give it your all.” It is not something that you walk away from at the end of the day on a Friday and say, “Oh, geez, I’ll see you guys next week.” It is something that you truly have to change your lifestyle for and be willing to be all in. You truly do.
Is it rewarding? Unbelievably. Is it exhausting? Unbelievably. Are there days when you think, “I can’t go another minute?” Absolutely. Would I do anything different? Absolutely not.
What is something you didn't expect about being a franchise owner?

I really feel that because of my background there weren’t too many surprises. I probably didn’t realize how difficult it was to do a business solely on your own. Here, I’m the CEO, CFO, RN, janitor [laughs] name it!...I didn’t realize the weight of the responsibility when you’re on your own. When everything rests on your shoulders. And I take that responsibility pretty seriously.
What types of things have helped you overcome some of those challenges?

The ability to connect with other owners. I could pick up the phone and call anybody at the home office. That, I love. If I don’t know who I need to talk to, the person at the front desk is going to get me there. Also, to speak with some of those other owners…Having owners that have been in the business awhile and know what you’re going through. I can’t say enough about the connections with other owners. It’s huge. Being able to pick up the phone, both with people who have been through it all or somebody who is in those trenches with me right now. You have people to commiserate with and also people to tell you, “You know, step up, you’re going to get through it.”
I also know a young man who opened a non-medical home care on his own [independently, not associated with Home Instead or another franchise opportunity]. I watched him, and I saw him struggle immensely because there wasn’t the support of a home office, there weren’t collateral pieces, there weren’t booklets, there wasn’t any game plan about how to do it, and there weren’t any other owners to go to. He’s done very well, but oh my goodness, I could not imagine attempting to do this and not having the backing of the home office and other owners I can go to. That’s critical.
How do you feel about the impact you’re making in the lives of seniors and their families?

I truly feel that I get 10,000% back for what I give. I feel like it is something that God has called me to do. Every one of our clients and families means something very special to me.
I try and teach to all of my staff, whether it’s my key players or whether it is my CAREGiversSM, it’s “do the right thing.” If it’s the right thing for that client and their family, then we need to make it happen. When you see the comments that our families have made, they’re feeling that in the community. They know that we make a difference. They know that we will go above and beyond to make sure their loved one is cared for.
How can home care services support the services offered through a local hospice agency?

We partner both from a sales and marketing perspective out in the community and we partner in the homes. We've got a couple of agencies that we work very closely with.
Hospice is not set up for the custodial piece. A lot of times when a loved one declines, you might think that hospice is going to move in for the next three months and take over. And they don’t. That’s not how that program is designed. You have a nurse that comes in a couple times a week. You’ve got an aid that comes in a couple times a week. You’ve got social workers and chaplains. They will come in around the clock only in the event that there’s a crisis, and then it’s short term. The rest of the time, that custodial piece, that’s where we walk hand-in-hand with them. Because we’re those eyes and ears when they’re not there...And that way, we can provide more comfort for that client and hospice is still doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So, we definitely work very, very closely together. It’s a partnership in the community.  
How has ownership helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?

Accountability. It’s not always something we like, but whether in your personal or professional life, we always need accountability. I think that has been the biggest thing...that camaraderie, that accountability, and people saying, “Keep dreaming, keep going. Don’t let anything get in your way. Keep going.”
Many thanks to Lori for sharing her story about the way her personal experience, passion and beliefs motivated her to operate a home care franchise. If you're ready to explore a career that allows you to make a real difference in people's lives, send us a request for more information on how to join the Home Instead Senior Care franchise network.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise office is independently owned and operated.
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