Dustin Distefano of A Place at Home
I am an experienced, goal-oriented entrepreneur with 10 years of management, sales, marketing, operations ,and training experience. With a knack for building business, I focus on growth, top line revenue, profits, and customer and employee retention. From my early managerial experience in customer-focused businesses, I developed an ability to recognize customer needs and anticipate concerns while providing fair solutions and became recognized as a trusted resource. Over the years, I have relied on all of these while building two start-up businesses, A Place at Home, a senior-focused care company and NorEast Franchise Group.
Currently, my main focus is with NorEast Franchise Group marketing A Place at Home franchises to qualified, entrepreneurial-minded people who are looking to realize the freedom and satisfaction of owning their own business. With a commitment to the A Place at Home “We are CARE” philosophy (Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful and Ethical) our franchisee’s will be carefully awarded to ensure the overall company goals and vision in providing a quality continuum of care to a mostly senior population.
1. Tell us about the A Place at Home concept.
We are Senior Focused Care, meaning that we provide a continuum of care to seniors to help them through the entire aging process. Many Home Care companies focus on keeping seniors in the home, but we understand there might come a time that staying at home may not be the best option due to financial, mental, or physical restrictions. Our services allow seniors the peace of mind of staying with one company through home care, care coordination, or helping them to find the next place to call home.
2. How and when did you become involved with A Place at Home?
In August 2012, my co-owner, Jerod Evanich and I came to the conclusion that our aging relatives needed an option to stay in their home. We spent our nights on Jerod’s kitchen table establishing a business plan and focusing on what kind of services we would need for our grandparents and what we could do to take home care to the next level. One year later, we quit our day jobs and launched A Place at Home in my basement.
3. What was your background prior to joining A Place at Home?
I have always found myself in customer-focused businesses and have an extensive background in management, sales, marketing, operations, customer satisfaction, and employee training. I also have an entrepreneurial side to me and the thought of owning and running my own business was something that I aspired to even as a kid. As an adult, I have now built two start-up businesses and I couldn’t be happier about how my life has turned out while making sure families everywhere can feel comfortable about the care of their loved ones. I have a BS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
4. What are some of the advantages in being an A Place at Home franchisee?
Start on the ground floor with the founders as your trainers and advisors. Take advantage of multiple revenue streams through our senior focused care model. We lived the experience of starting from scratch and we can train franchisee based off real life experience. The bigger franchise care companies hire support staff and train them how to give advice. With A Place at Home’s current stage we wrote the book on Senior Focused Care and we will guide you through it.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee?
Our ideal franchisee is someone that is looking to make an impact on people’s lives everyday. We have a strong, solid commitment to our “We are CARE” (Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful and Ethical) philosophy, and owners should hold these core values as dear as we do. Owners might have had experience in the medical or senior care field, been impacted by a senior, desire to be part of a movement to provide a higher level of senior care, or someone looking for a career change.
6. Tell us a little about the Senior Care Market?
It is a booming industry due to the senior population increasing 10,000 a day turning 65. The big wave has not even hit because our average client is in their low to mid 80’s. With this booming industry you will find a lot of competition, but at A Place at Home, we enjoy the competition because it holds everyone in the company honest. It makes our care team accountable to the industry--if we do not focus on our core values of We are CARE, or we stray from it, we will sink. That is why during discovery day of A Place at Home we are evaluating the candidate to see if they are CARE and can they follow it. If the answer is they can follow it, they will do very well against their competition.
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
That competition is not an issue if you focus on being the best in the industry. When we started, so many people told us that we could not enter this field, we were young, did not have healthcare experience, the market was saturated, we had no employees, and a few other statements aimed to discourage us (today they are key referral sources I might add). We blocked out the noise and grew our corporate location to over 100 active caregivers and 100 clients. We added services that made us better than our competitors, we changed our focus from keeping people in home to focusing on what is best for the senior, and aiming to accomplish the seniors goals throughout the aging process.
8. Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
I think both my co-owner and I have used our grandparents as our inspiration. We both saw first hand how difficult it can be on families and seniors to age gracefully. Either there was not enough help, or they didn’t want to move into a home away from their home. We knew that there was an opportunity to provide seniors loving care, assistance, and other services. We have always been proud that the services we offer have actually been used by our families. In fact, one of Jerod’s grandmothers was an in-home care client and later, used our Senior Living Alternatives service to help her find a great senior community that fits her personality and financial situation.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
My advice is this, if you are CARE - Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical towards the senior population, if you want to build a business in your community that you can be proud of, if you wake up every morning with a go get it attitude, if you want to run a business that you would be proud to have family members be a client of, and if you know how to manage and develop relationships with people, then you would be a perfect candidate for our system.
10. In your opinion, why do you think that A Place at Home would be a great opportunity for someone?
I cannot stress it enough that We are CARE and our organization is operated with this philosophy in mind. If you are CARE, you will succeed. You are not In Home Care, Senior Care, Placement Services, and Staffing. You are a Senior Focused CARE company that aims to do what is best for the senior. In return, you can make a good living while bettering the community in which you serve.