Finding work/life balance is always difficult – especially as a working mom.
“Kids’ needs change all the time, and a growing business’s needs change all the time,” explained Tammara Brown, co-owner of BrightStar Care Sandy/Draper, Utah. “So it’s important to be flexible and to go with the flow when possible.”
Tammara’s kids have been resilient, adapting to changes as they come. From the very beginning, Tammara and Alex, her husband and business partner, have made every effort to communicate to their children the reasons why they opened their home health care business and why it’s so important.
When Alex’s father passed away, he assumed the role of primary caregiver for his 95-year-old grandmother. Dealing with varying levels of quality among multiple providers that cared for his grandma in an assisted care facility, Alex grew increasingly frustrated. The sources of irritation included everyday things like making sure her teeth were brushed to more complex and personal things like ensuring she was taken on a daily walk through her favorite places.
Recognizing a glaring hole in the community for dependable, supportive and complete care, Alex and Tammara decided to invest in BrightStar Care and bring a higher standard of home health care to the Salt Lake City area nearly five years ago.
Making Sure Family, Personal Time Takes Precedence
Today, Tammara’s kids are six and eight years old, and they are great at reminding her when it’s time to unplug. And the family ensures they take time out of their busy lives to spend time with each other.
“One thing that’s non-negotiable for our family is movie night on Fridays,” said Tammara. “Alex travels for work every week, leaving Sunday night and coming back on Thursday night. So, Friday night is the first time during the week where we can all see each other, put everything else aside and just enjoy being together.”
Tammara also volunteers at her children’s school and helps her kids with homework after school.
Investments in Top-Quality Home Care Pay Off
Tammara’s home health care agency has been growing significantly over the past. In the office, she has eight team members, and she employs roughly 80 field staff to provide services to between 90 and 100 clients.
Alex continues to work on his own consulting career and is able to apply his skills in digital marketing and social media to help their BrightStar Care location perform well when prospective clients are looking for home health care services in the Salt Lake City area.
Tammara strives to be the best – to be the highest quality provider, she emphasized.
That central focused has helped energize her staff. The intrinsic drive they have to care for others is strengthened by a workplace culture that both places equal weight on making sure employees are well care for and providing the highest standards of care possible.
“If you don’t take care of your caregivers, they’re not going to take care of your clients,” Tammara said. “Our caregivers are royalty.”
This approach has paid off for Tammara and Alex. Their BrightStar Care agency has won the Best of Home Care –Leader in Excellence Award from Home Care Pulse, a firm in quality assurance for home care, two years in a row. They were also recognized at the 2018 BrightStar Care annual convention, winning both the Top Customer Satisfaction and Clinical Excellence awards.
A big part of what’s helped Tammara and Alex earn this recognition is how carefully they listen to the feedback they get from both employees and their clients – and make adjustments in how they operate. For example, a client’s daughter explained how her mother liked to play card games but none of the caregivers knew how to play her favorite games. So, Tammara organized a game night with the caregivers to learn them, which was not only a great team-building exercise but also gives the caregivers additional skills to help them engage with the clients.
Evolving into a Business Owner
Tammara was a certified public accountant for five years before moving on to a marketing company to serve as controller. When Alex and Tammara decided they wanted to start a family, Tammara looked for an opportunity to have a flexible work schedule and opened an accounting practice that she operated out of their home. Eventually, they began looking for an opportunity that would allow them to own a business where neither Tammara nor Alex would have to travel.
“When I worked at an accounting firm, I remember thinking I would never want to be the owner, and I’d be happy to just come in and do my work and let someone else deal that headache,” said Tammara. “And now, I’d never go back.”
One of the big reasons is because of how rewarding owning a home health care agency is. For instance, Tammara and her team have been working with a client who had previously gone back and forth between her home and hospital for several years. For the past year, she hasn’t been readmitted to the hospital.
Again, it has a lot to do with her investment in hiring the right caregivers. As her BrightStar Care location was growing, Tammara hired a full-time recruiter to help identify and bring on board new talent. At the same time, the agency branch manager, who has a recruiting and human resources background, helps vet candidates.
“You can teach a lot of the hard skills that our field staff need, but you can’t teach them to be a caregiver – someone who is concerned about the wellbeing of their clients,” said Tammara.
“You Will Never Succeed if You Don’t Try”
Many small-business owners face a crisis of faith at some point. Tammara has been able to overcome mental obstacles by recognizing how much she’s been able to accomplish by facing down self-doubt and pushing forward.
By embracing the challenges of business ownership and holding sacred time spent with family, Tammara has been able to move closer to that moving target of work/life balance. All the while, she and her husband have built an award-winning home health care agency, building a reputation in their community as a leading care provider and employer.