Introducing a brand to a new market can be daunting. But Melissa Janicke and her husband Garret were not just bringing BrightStar Care to any market in 2015 – they were bringing the home care concept to New Hampshire, a state where the brand did not yet have a presence and where the labor shortage was, and remains, pronounced.
Despite the challenges, Melissa was confident the full continuum of care aspect would do well in the Granite State, where the aging population was steadily growing. In 2012, nearly 20 percent of the population was 60 or older, and the U.S. Census Bureau projected that demographic to reach 21.4 percent by 2020 and 26.3 percent by 2030.[i]
Melissa, a New Hampshire native and former Planet Fitness franchise owner in Massachusetts, her husband Garret, and their children, moved back to New Hampshire in 2015 to be closer to their parents. This decision was inspired by the close relationship she had with her grandparents as a child. The relationship also piqued her interest in home care; her family hired caregivers to assist Melissa’s grandparents when they were battling pancreatic cancer in the early 2000s.
After researching home care concepts, BrightStar Care was most attractive, in part because The Joint Commission accreditation gave the brand a leg up on the competition, which was already operating in New Hampshire. She opened BrightStar Care of Bedford/Manchester in January of 2016.
“The Joint Commission Accreditation sets BrightStar Care apart from the other agencies in our market, especially as a skilled care provider.” she said.
But it was up to Melissa to inform New Hampshirites about the highly-accredited services BrightStar Care provides. Not only did she have to market the brand for clients, but for office staff and caregivers that she would need to hire.
Growth Takes Off with the Right Marketing
In addition to networking, Melissa invested heavily – both in time and money – in marketing. This allayed any fears she had about brand recognition.
“You have to commit to making the investment,” she said. “We invested heavily in SEO to make sure we were visible on Google, and that our website and social media were being managed appropriately. We made sure our Google reviews were visible. We understood the importance of sharing local content. When we held promotional events or received recognition, we made sure to put it on our blog and social media to increase our visibility to prospective employees, clients, and referral sources.”
The return on investment quickly became evident as sales grew rapidly the first and second year. The field staff increased from 20 the first year to more than 100 in 2019. The office staff also expanded from two the first year to the current 10.
Attracting and Retaining the Right Fit
In order to remain viable in New Hampshire, a relatively small state where hiring office staff and caregivers is highly competitive, Melissa had to get creative to attract the right personnel. That includes offering:
- Bonus plans
- Recognition programs
- Comprehensive benefits for both office and field staff
- Guaranteed wage programs
“We are constantly thinking of and implementing new ways of attracting and retaining the best home care workers in the state,” Melissa said. “It’s important to be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to recruiting.”
She also hires Care Specialists to serve as mentors to Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNA). The Care Specialists meet LNAs in the field after orientation and make sure they have everything they need and see that they feel supported.
“We’ve found Care Specialists help LNAs get started on the right foot,” Melissa said, “and we end up retaining the LNAs longer than usual.”
Because Melissa familiarizes herself with the role of each position she needs to hire, she can better select the candidate who is the right fit.
“Having the right person in the right seat is crucial to your future success,” she said. “We’ve had very little turnover on our office team – which has helped us grow.”
Clients and Employees from Unlikely Sources
Getting involved in her community was key to networking to find caregivers and office personnel. She established relationships not only with referral sources, but also with competitors.
“Starting from scratch with no brand recognition in New Hampshire, we recognized the importance of reaching out to our competitors to form a relationship,” Melissa said. “We got to know their office teams, and now they send us referrals for cases they can’t service or are too clinically acute.”