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BrightStar Care® Franchise - Interview with Shelly Sun,CEO and co-founder

Shelly Sun Bio:

Shelly Sun is the CEO and co-founder of BrightStar Care®, a premium healthcare staffing company providing the full continuum of care, from homecare to supplemental staffing for corporate clients such as nursing homes and physicians. In 2005, BrightStar launched its franchising efforts, becoming the first and only franchising company in the country to specialize in both medical and non-medical care and health care staffing. In addition to leading the strategy for the BrightStar Care®, BrightStar Senior Living & Memory Care, and BrightStar® Technology Group divisions, Shelly is charting the vision for complementary brands and services to help consumers care for their families and homes. Shelly is a Certified Franchise Executive and participates on the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Board of Directors. Shelly will be Chairperson of the IFA Board of Directors in 2017 and currently holds the position of 2nd Vice Chair of the IFA. The IFA selected Shelly as the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year. Shelly also published her first book, Grow Smart, Risk Less – a low-capital path to multiplying your business through franchising, where she discusses her journey as an emerging franchisor through amazing growth, lessons learned and game-changing ideas.

1.     Tell us about the BrightStar Care concept.

BrightStar Care is a national private duty homecare and medical staffing franchise with more than 300 locations that provide medical and non-medical services to clients within their homes, as well as supplemental care staff to corporate clients. Further setting them apart from the competition, each BrightStar Care locations employs a Director of Nursing who creates unique, personalized plans of care for each client and oversees a professional care team of well-qualified, experienced caregivers to deliver expert, compassionate, and personal care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BrightStar Care is the only national homecare franchise to require its locations to pursue and attain accreditation by The Joint Commission, a nationally recognized healthcare quality standards organization. After demonstrating compliance with the Joint Commission’s national standards for healthcare quality and safety, each of our agencies earn The Gold Seal of Approval™, a symbol of quality that reflects our commitment to meeting superior standards.

As a result of providing the range of medical and non-medical services, medical staffing, and top-in-class clinical standards, BrightStar Care agencies achieve the highest disclosed average unit volumes in the industry, augmented by National Accounts averaging over $250,000 per agency. In 2014, Forbes Magazine named BrightStar Care the No. 1 franchise system in the category of brands with entry costs of up to $150,000. BrightStar Care® also has held a place in the Inc. 5000 for 10 consecutive years.

2.     How and when did you become involved with BrightStar Care?

In late 2001, my husband J.D.’s grandmother was in need of quality in-home health care. Through our personal journey, we identified a gaping hole in the health care sector, and we saw firsthand the need for a better in-home care option. In early 2002, my husband's grandmother passed away. Shortly after her death, we were given the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki as a gift. The book relays a message for its readers to take control of their own destiny, and we took this as a serious sign to start our own business that would offer families a service that we were once desperate for, a service that was not being provided anywhere else. From there, my husband J.D. and I founded BrightStar Care in late 2002.

3.     What was your background prior to joining BrightStar Care?

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Colorado. Prior to BrightStar Care, I held executive positions in the airline, insurance, distribution and technology industries. The common theme to my prior experience is that I was often tasked with leading large teams and have frequently moved from accounting roles into operations when the needs of the business called for it. I volunteered to run the Membership Department at Blue Cross Blue Shield to get the metrics and organization optimized and did the same thing while CNA Insurance when I assumed responsibility for reinsurance and its 100+ person team in addition to keeping my SEC Reporting teams and accountabilities concurrently.  I enjoy leading and inspiring teams to reach higher levels of performance and helping individuals reach their potential. I have a strong financial acumen and am able to manage the results and personnel to a critical set of metrics.  My background with numbers, leadership, team development and organizational planning were a critical foundation to succeed as an entrepreneur and to access capital along the way to expand as opportunities arose.

4.     What are some of the advantages in being a BrightStar Care franchisee?

BrightStar Care is the recognized leader in the home health care franchise industry, providing the proven business model, infrastructure, training, and ongoing support necessary to help entrepreneurs launch and run successful home-care businesses. Most home care companies limit their service offerings to only senior companion care. BrightStar Care provides the full range of in-home care services from meal prep and light housekeeping to medication management and infusion, meaning more services for consumers and more revenue opportunities for business owners. BrightStar Care franchisees achieve the highest annual revenue among all other home care franchises that disclose their performance because we offer a spectrum of care services that competitors can’t, provide evidence-based clinical programs, feature Registered Nurse oversight on every case, pursue and attain the same accreditation as the country’s best hospitals, and partner with national insurance providers.

5.     Who is your ideal franchisee?

Well-educated, self-motivated, outgoing, have a proven record of career success, have a high level of business acumen, have the ability to manage and lead a team, liquid assets of $100K, and net worth of $500K. Key demographics include 35-60 years of age, male or female, someone that has leadership/operations/sales experience; healthcare operations experience is helpful but not required.

6.     Tell us a little about the senior care market?

As the American public begins to live longer, the entire senior care industry has to begin thinking differently about our aging loved ones. Seniors today have a longer life expectancy and a strong desire to age-in-place. At BrightStar Care, we recognize that we have an important role to play in the changing landscape of senior care, and we are always striving to become a better provider of quality home care for our clients. I feel that we have a unique opportunity to reinvent, innovate, and improve how home care is delivered to clients and their families.

7.     What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

The single biggest contributor to BrightStar Care’s success has been our commitment to hiring ahead of growth and focusing on having the right people in the right seats to deliver the highest level of support and care to our franchisees and the communities we serve. I’ve made slight adjustments to our organizational structure to help me move into a Visionary role for the organization and to empower my Senior Leadership Team to manage the day-to-day business. This has freed me up to work on the Big Picture opportunities and threats for our franchisees, our brand, and all our stakeholders.

8.     Do you have a mentor and is there someoneyou use for inspiration?

One person that I admire, as a mother and entrepreneur, is Gloria Jean Kvetko, founder of Gloria Jean's Coffee, the first flavored coffee franchise even before Starbucks. She was a member of my advisory board for many years and constantly encourages me to see a different perspective and has been a great role model and friend to me over the years. She took such a risk following her passion and established the flavored coffee industry despite naysayers. She is brilliant yet humble and is the most resilient, positive person I know.

Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS, is also a great example of an outstanding female leader. A couple times a year we get together for a girls trip to, not only recharge, but to bounce ideas back and forth. Catherine is an amazing leader. She never settles for the status quo and is always reading, learning and sharing to be and make others better. As a woman, I feel it is extremely important to have other women in my life whom I can relate to and talk through problems with.

Overall, mentoring has made a hugmpact in my professional life. From very early on, I recognized that learning from the experts in franchising to accelerate my learning curve was key to success. My mentors continue to provide valuable input and have become dear friends. Mentorship has made a profound impact in my personal life as well.  I get great joy from mentoring others and I continue to make more and more time for mentoring – usually having 10-20 active mentees at any one time.

9.  What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

The two pieces of advice that I could give to someone looking to acquire a franchise is to 1) believe in yourself and 2) surround yourself with positive influences.

10.  In your opinion, why do you think that BrightStar Care would be a great opportunity for someone?

The in-home healthcare segment is a high-demand industry with incredible long-term growth potential. BrightStar Care has industry leading AUVs and offers both skilled medical and non-medical services. Our competitors can’t match our National Accounts and our commitment to quality — that is consistently recognized through the Joint Commissions Enterprise Champion for Quality award, which we have won for last four years in a row.