Ten years after opening his BrightStar Care agency at the start of the Great Recession in 2008, Ignacio Cespedes is looking back on his road to success.
The sole owner of BrightStar Care of Roseville/South Placer County, near Sacramento, Calif., he was recently named the home health care brand’s Franchisee of the Year, based on impressive achievements in sales and because he’s an example of how to run a successful BrightStar Care franchise.
He started his career improving the health of people, but it was through the lens of a supplier. After more than a decade, he wanted to have a more direct impact that he could actually see.
With an MBA and a PhD in electrical engineering, Ignacio worked as an engineer and a marketing executive in the medical device industry for 15 years before signing on with BrightStar Care. He also had some small-business experience having founded his own medical device consulting firm. When he learned of the brand, he knew his familiarity in the medical field and time as an entrepreneur would serve him well as a BrightStar Care franchisee. Working directly with clients and healthcare providers also appealed to him.
“I was interested in helping people with their health. I had done it with the medical devices I worked on,” Ignacio said. “BrightStar Care also had the skilled nursing side, which attracted me to the brand.”
His advice to entrepreneurs interested in becoming BrightStar Care franchisees: Grow within the brand’s framework, but learn to make the business your own. Here’s how he did it:
Hire the Right People
Ignacio employs more than 200 caretakers every year, who help roughly the same number of clients. Managing that many people by himself while performing other duties that come with business ownership isn’t possible, so he hired an office staff of 10 individuals to help out.
“I needed to hire a team that would be aligned with the culture and goals of BrightStar Care. Hiring the right team members is critical for success. You can’t grow to this level without the right team.”
However, Ignacio remains involved in the hiring process. He interviews everyone who applies for a job. Never having hired employees before, recruiting the right people was one of trial and error at first. But, since then, it has improved.
“You develop techniques and approaches to interviewing and identifying people who will fit in with the company,” he said.
One of the most important hires he made was a salesperson. Ignacio said he fooled himself into thinking he could sell, but soon realized that business function was one of his limitations. So, he hired a true salesperson who helped bring in clients to the business.
The home health care industry is competitive, so Ignacio leaves no stone unturned when searching for caregivers for companion and personal care and nurses for skilled care. In addition to attending job fairs and hiring events, posting on job boards and advertising, he hired a recruiter to help find the right caregivers. In order to attract the best qualified talent, Ignacio said, you have to offer appealing benefits. His BrightStar Care location offers a retirement plan, vacation time, sick time, profit sharing and continued education.
“What makes us successful is our reputation, which we’ve developed as an employer of choice,” Ignacio said. “All those extras is what helps us compete in the marketplace.”
Accommodate Your Market
California is customer service-oriented, Ignacio said. It’s important to realize this to be successful in the Golden State.
For BrightStar Care of Roseville/South Placer County’s part, they specialize in handling long-term care insurance processing, even though they’re not required to. Typically, clients pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by their insurance companies. But, Ignacio’s BrightStar Care bills the insurance companies and wait to get paid by them.
“That should be part of my service,” Ignacio said. “I don’t want to make the client pay me and then allow them to wait for their insurance company to pay them back. If I wanted to do it the other way, I’d lose clients. So, we go above and beyond what they need.”
Roll with the Changes
His ability to adapt to the changing business and regulatory environment was also key to Ignacio’s success. In the 10 years he’s been running his agency, new overtime and licensing laws caused him to change how he operated his business a few times. But, it didn’t hold back his success.
“Adjusting and improvising along the way to accommodate market conditions was very important,” he said.
Don’t Lose Focus
Ultimately, though, it was Ignacio’s drive to affect people’s lives for the better, to provide a higher standard of home care that led to his success.
“With BrightStar Care, I enjoy having the opportunity to touch people’s lives every day,” he said.