Amada Senior Care St Louis owner joins Marcos Moura to chat about life before Amada, and how he decided to ove forward, and what life has been like since starting his business.
Marcos Moura: 00:28 Hey everyone! Marcos here with Amada Senior Care. Welcome to the podcast. Today I am with Chris Fowler of St Louis, Missouri. It’s a really cool podcast today because Chris is at the time of this recording, smack in the middle of his first year, his first year anniversary is any day. Now we’re going to talk about that. So he is in the middle, in the throes of building that business. And what we want to talk about today is this idea that entrepreneurs make decisions all the time and yet what they need to do is they make a decision and then they have to go make it right. There’s no amount of due diligence that will ever take away the fact that you have to go work your tail off to make the decision you make right. So that is the topic of today. So Chris Fowler, welcome to the show.
Chris Fowler: 01:08 Thank you so much. Happy to be here.
Marcos Moura: 01:09 And Chris. So before we talk about the crazy decision you made about a year ago, just tell us a little bit about your background. What were you doing before Amada Senior Care?
Chris Fowler: 01:19 Sure, thank you. Well, I spent the last 10 years as an executive with Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager here in the United States and based out of St Louis. I did a variety of roles with them in those 10 years. I lead client facing teams as well as product management teams. And my last role with them was really looking at the home delivery pharmacy and how to try to use the member experience and the website to become sort of the Amazon, if you will, of pharmacy. But then, like you said, made the crazy decision about a year and a half ago to part ways and started looking at alternatives, whether it be another corporate job with a healthcare organization or even not healthcare or go venture on our own and started researching some entrepreneurial opportunities and Amada was at the top of that list and we met you and others there at the Amada office and just really, really impressed. And here we are 18 months later and like you said, just in the throes of celebrating our year anniversary.
Marcos Moura: 02:19 Wow. So a year anniversary. So we talked about due diligence. Right. How long did it take you from the time you’re like, oh, Amada. And the date that you signed a franchise agreement. Do you remember roughly how long that took?
Chris Fowler: 02:30 I think I first started talking to some of the folks at Amada in March and then I signed the paperwork and the agreement at the end of July. So a few months, a few months, few months of conversations, webinars. We didn’t have podcasts then, but no, doing due diligence and then coming out and visiting. And here we are.
Marcos Moura: 02:50 And by the way, we find that on average it’s about three months at most entrepreneurs, it’s a conversation about three months, even if they inquired about Amada back in 2014 and kind of left it once we start engaging, it’s about a three month process. And I don’t know if it’s not to put judgment on is that long or short. But you and I, before the taping of this, we were talking about this whole idea that no matter how much due diligence you do, you’re still going to have to go make it. Right. Talk a little bit about that. What does that mean to you about making a decision as an entrepreneur and then having to make it right?
Chris Fowler: 03:21 So as you said, hundreds of decisions a day, some obviously taking more priority and having larger ramifications than others and some of them on the fly, some of them doing more due diligence. I think the best example I have, and I sometimes tell the stories to other potential franchisees when they call and we’re talking about how my journey went and any recommendations I may have. I will always remember the day I actually signed the paperwork to purchase my franchise here in St Louis. I had an offer from another corporation here in St Louis. It was outside of healthcare. I had that offer and I had the agreement from Amada in my hand and I had to decide which path.
Marcos Moura: 04:01 I don’t remember. I didn’t remember it.
Chris Fowler: 04:02 I don’t know if I ever told you that yet.
Marcos Moura: 04:05 No Way. You have both right there in front of you.
Chris Fowler: 04:07 And I was sitting at the table
Marcos Moura: 04:08 And this is a good offer. Like it wasn’t… It was a good offer?
Chris Fowler: 04:12 Yes, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table and My wife and I were just talking and I had to make the decision and I will always remember. She was kind of looked at me. She said, just follow your heart and we will do what we need to do. And with those words. I signed the agreement for the Amada franchise and to your point, that was the end of July and I’ve been trying to make it right ever since. That’s. That’s part of the grind. That’s part of what we do everyday and helping others in our community, helping our caregivers and helping ourselves.
Marcos Moura: 04:41 Yeah, and it’s so interesting to talk about that. I think we try as much as we can and I don’t know how much you remember of this, Chris, but we love the business and we love what we’re doing, but we’re not shy about talking about how hard it is. I think once you start in the business, you realize how really hard it is. Right, and you talked to our current Franchisees, they tell you it’s hard, but the fact that it’s hard doesn’t negate the fact that you made that decision, but I got to believe there are days where it creeps in, right where you go, what did I do? Right? When? When you have a bad day, right? Does it ever creep in?
Chris Fowler: 05:14 Not to the full extent that, oh my gosh, what did I do and and how do they get here? But sure, I mean just yesterday we were having a really hectic day here in the office. I had hired three new people and at one point I had my care manager and care coordinator helping me and literally to the point of just laminating some stuff and I made the comment to her. I was like, as she is laminating stuff for me, so ownership isn’t always so thrilling, is it? As we’re sitting here laminating and cutting pieces of paper, but you do what you gotta do. I gotta say that is one of the reasons I’m here with Amada is that farmer’s mentality of we’re going to outwork our competition and we’re going to do what we need to do to grind it out and make it right.
Marcos Moura: 05:57 Yeah. That is one of our core values is having a farmer entrepreneur mentality and we really believe in the law of the harvest and I think for guys like Chris Fowler and other franchisees that have, are finding success, are fighting a good fight and building their business. If you continue working the model, if you continue your marketing, you continue doing the things that that other franchisees have done, you will find success, but it only happens if you take massive action. Not just a little bit of action, but massive action every day.
Chris Fowler: 06:27 Right. It’s following the playbook and that’s one reason I went with a franchise in the first place. Just finding the right fit. I wanted access to not only the systems and the technology but the playbook of others who have been successful at this and making those marketing stops. Those visits. We’re getting to the point, so we just had a regional meeting in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.
Marcos Moura: 06:47 That’s right. Yeah!
Chris Fowler: 06:49 A dozen owners or so I was talking about how business was going and how really in the last two months, the last probably 60 days. It’s not like a flip of the switch, but you definitely see the spigot starting to open and open and more referral calls and business is really picking up and it’s like I said, it’s not all at once, just the flip of the switch, but it’s Once you build those relationships and you start proving yourself to some of these case managers and social workers and the referral sources, your name starts getting around and you start building that reputation of providing the best care. I’ve really been the advocate for your clients with the longterm care insurance agencies and others, so the social workers, case managers, our referral sources, they know any longterm care, send it to Amada now, and the snowball starts rolling down the hill.
Marcos Moura: 07:33 Right. You know, by the way, you mentioned the meeting that you guys did. I always brag about this. It wasn’t an intended thing that we set out to do. When we were looking for franchise partners in the very beginning, we kind of thought about, are these folks that we would like to hang out with? Are these folks that you’d want to go and get dinner with? Quite frankly, you know, family people, do they love their families? They are all these things that are kind of just gut checks about people, but what we didn’t ever realize is that you guys would be such a support to each other. I’m always just so humbled shocked. Will you share what you found in the franchise community and the folks that are out there like you?
Chris Fowler: 08:11 Yeah, absolutely. So I never would have imagined the support system either, so I talked to our owner, partner up in Milwaukee every other week at least, and he’s DR’s incredible, really grew his business quickly and successfully and is more than willing to share any and every little tidbit that he can. Anytime I have a question, I know I can call him and he’ll drop and call me back as soon as he can. Right. I did my due diligence. As you mentioned, I spoke with five to 10 franchisees before I ever signed the paperwork. They were all very open and honest and shared what they could about the business, about the industry. Just today I reached out to the franchise owners out in Phoenix. I need to start training a new scheduler, so I’ve been doing most of the scheduling for the last year. I asked them for any process paperwork they had on paper because I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Right. Kris is really the process queen,
Marcos Moura: 09:07 Yeah she is.
Chris Fowler: 09:08 She had a packet of information sent over to me within the hour, so like I said, there’s a dozen if not more franchisees I could call and they will be getting back to me within a couple of hours as soon as they’re freed up. So those are my regulars, but I know I can call pretty much anyone and everyone at any time and we’re going to have a good conversation and I can ask them pretty much anything about their business or personal life and we’re going to share it and have a good conversation.
Marcos Moura: 09:31 Yeah, that’s, that’s been something that I think it’s just who you guys are, right? There’s, there’s so many of you that were in your shoes that made this decision and are now, you know, doing everything they can to make it right and the more support you have, I think it’s something about making it right is, I don’t know if there’s any entrepreneurs out there that can make a decision and if they have to go make it right, they have no support structure. Right. They’re just completely on their own, right, because that’s going to make when there’s bad days, that’s when you go, crap man, this sucks and that’s when people quit and fall out of love with the business and I’m just so thankful because I know that you do that for the other entrepreneurs as well. The other folks that connect with you and that’s so big, right? We can’t do it alone.
Chris Fowler: 10:12 No, that’s exactly right. It’s a support structure and quite honestly I wouldn’t be here without the support of some of the other Franchisees, so once you get kind of some of that success, it’s giving it back and giving your time to others and some of the newer franchisees and just making sure that they’re doing it right and they’re doing the best that they can for their communities. It’s paying it forward best we can to help them make it right at the same time we’re in the grind ourselves.
Marcos Moura: 10:38 Yeah. So you are at year one, so give us what does the future look like? What are you excited for? Paint a picture of the next year.
Chris Fowler: 10:47 Yeah, absolutely. I just mentioned we are looking to hire some additional office staff, we are about 35 caregivers strong and growing every day. Our goals and our intention is to be doing over a million dollars of business in the next six months to a year. So those are our personal goals. We as an organization just keep adding the caregivers. We keep adding clients. We keep adding the support structure to build a top notch organization and the best agency here in St Louis.
Marcos Moura: 11:15 Yeah, I love that. It’s uh, it’s interesting when you say, right, we just want to be the best of St Louis, you know, we just want to be the best company. It’s so funny you said that because Tafa started this business back in 2007 and he goes back and he talks about and he goes, you know, I don’t remember much more than just the fact that I wanted to be the best company in Orange County. Yep. He looked at everybody around him and he would get really mad when other companies. There’s a company that we compete against here in Orange County, Salus, actually he is a good friend of ours, Boyd Salus, and he owns a home care company and he and Tafa are good friends, but he said he would text Boyd when he would steal a deal from him. He’s like, dude, I got one of your clients, you know, like I just want to be the best company of Orange County
Chris Fowler: 11:54 And that’s it. I even talk about in new hire orientation or even in my interviews, we are confidently humble, but I’m competitive and I get pissed when I lose a potential client and it’s not necessarily for the revenue. It’s because I know we would have provided better care than they’re going to get from that other agency. That’s kind of our mantra and with that, that way of thinking, we’re just, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to provide the best care we’re in and we’re going to follow up with those potential clients in the future and make sure they are getting the best care. If not, we’re going to be there for them.
Marcos Moura: 12:25 I love it. Okay, so Chris, let’s end on the note. You have been in this for a year now, so what would you advise an entrepreneur? I don’t care if it’s Amada or if they’re looking at starting something they’ve always wanted to. They have that burning in their gut that says, I want this, I want to start a business. What is your advice to anybody looking at making a move like that?
Chris Fowler: 12:43 Now that’s a great question and it’s a question that each and every one of us had to make at some point as a franchise owner, entrepreneur with Amada and I get that question all the time from others in our community looking at maybe going and doing their own thing or others, uh, yourself or Tim have put in touch with me and they’re looking at Amada. I always tell them this, this is how we did it. I don’t know that it’s the answer for everyone, but my wife, my family, we sat down and we, we discussed, okay, here’s kind of the cap we’re going to put as far as here’s what we’re willing to risk. And for us it was a financial numbers. It was, okay, we’re willing to risk this. I don’t think we’re going to need to
Marcos Moura: 13:22 Be willing to risk this amount of money?
Chris Fowler: 13:25 To go after this dream, and so what I tell everyone is, okay, if you need to do that to help to minimize the sleep deprivation, so on and so forth. We were able to put a cap and just say, okay, here’s what we’re going to put at risk, but you know what? There’s more to it than that. It’s running your own business. It’s taking care of your own team of caregivers and their families and the clients, so on and so forth. But for us it was really taking a look at here’s what we’re willing to risk and taking the jump. You can sit there and you can do your due diligence all you want, but at some point you have to take the jump and to your point made earlier multiple times. Then it’s about making it right, make the decision, take the jump, and then work everyday to make it right.
Marcos Moura: 14:04 That is so true. So for those of you out there, whatever you are looking at doing, just know that that’s going to be the case. Whatever decision you make, you’re going to have to go make it right. And the good thing is I think if you do your due diligence the way you’re supposed to like and by the way, Chris, man, nobody, I don’t want anybody to come back to us and go, man, you told us not to do due diligence, no, no, no! Really dive into it and make sure it’s the right thing, but you can only do so much. And then finally you have to make a decision and then you’re just going to have to make it right.
Chris Fowler: 14:31 That’s exactly right.
Marcos Moura: 14:32 Well Chris, thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the podcast and congratulations on your one year anniversary
Chris Fowler: 14:38 Thank you sir, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Marcos Moura: 14:40 You got it. All right everybody. Thank you so much. That’s the end of the podcast. Thank you.
Marcos Moura: 14:44 To learn more about launching your Amada Senior Care business, Go to www.amadapodcast.com, again, www.amadapodcast.com. Thank you for listening.