Comfort Keepers Franchisee - Janet Jacobsen-Doucette

Date: DEC 7th, 2010

Topic: Franchise Spotlight

Janet Jacobsen-Doucette is a passionate person who finds her work with seniors to be extremely rewarding.   For the past two years she has been working as the Business Development Manager of Comfort Keepers, White Rock/ South Surrey, British Columbia, working closely with franchisee Dave Bull.  Comfort Keepers provides in-home non- medical care to seniors.  Year over year, the Comfort Keepers White Rock/ Surrey office has achieved a 90% growth in billable hours. This year at the 2010 Comfort Keepers annual franchise conference in Dayton Ohio, their office received awards and recognition for both Top Sales and Top Growth, Year over Year Annual Sales.   

For Janet, the key to her success is being focused on visibility in the community.  “You must engage in a philanthropic way to establish relationships and build trust.”  Janet discusses how the culture of business development for Comfort Keepers White Rock/ South Surrey is changing and evolving as they grow.   “There are many different aspects to networking and cultivating relationships with community partners.”  It is Janet’s mandate that Comfort Keepers be positively linked to quality in-home care for seniors and as a solutions provider.   

Janet spends her days developing relationships with funded community services and business allies.  Knowing the benefit of promoting new relationships and constantly working at maintaining existing networks, Janet has developed a system that is quite successful.   For new business relationships she will contact them once a week for three consecutive weeks.  Firstly with a phone call that allows her to introduce herself and give some general information about Comfort Keepers.  Secondly a face to face meeting where she is able to give much more detailed information about the wide range of services that Comfort Keepers provides.  During this meeting she is able to get a sense for what services may be lacking in the community and where Comfort Keepers can fill these gaps.  Typically in the third week she will follow up with an email.  Of course, where action is appropriate, action is taken. Then, every three months at least, Janet touches base with both new and established associates.

Janet recognizes the importance for Comfort Keepers to stand out from other businesses and so she creates methods of doing so.  “You need a signature, something that differentiates your business from all the rest and that people will remember you by.”  She tapes small, wrapped chocolates to the back of her business cards so when she hands them out there is a little something special to remember her by.

She also acknowledges her contacts when they have upcoming milestones.   She will send cards for birthdays, weddings or a thank you to the professional relationships she has fostered.  Janet firmly believes that the art of mailing a card is becoming obsolete and her contacts are pleasantly surprised with such a personal touch.  These little extras show how Janet takes the time to care and this reflects positively on Comfort Keepers as a business.

Another integral part of networking for Janet is giving back to the community. “It is so important to show awareness in the community.”  In the past Janet has supported Coffee and Connect where Comfort Keeper caregivers rode along on a bus tour assisting seniors to embark and disembark at various locations on the community tour.  She has also headed up a fund raiser for Senior Support Services to help them raise funds for their float in the local parade.  Presently Janet is working closely with Hospice as a community partner.  Janet’s larger vision is to create a mini seminar called “You Are Here.” She is spearheading this project by gathering resources and solutions to help people navigate through the labyrinth as they plan for their elderly years.  Janet is very excited to bring all of her professional associates together as they focus on supporting the seniors in their community.   

Janet comments on the support she receives from the Comfort Keepers franchise. “Having a business model and structure is great. What I like about the Comfort Keepers system is that there is some creative license as to how we engage ourselves with clients, “explains Janet, “There is the ability to customize and personalize our services to the needs of the client. That is an important part of the Comfort Keepers system.”

Janet realizes that networking for Comfort Keepers is a full-time job and she would not be able to grow this business without her experienced team.  She relies heavily on her team for support and it is important that everyone share the same vision so they can grow the company together.  Becky McCaffrey is the Client Care Coordinator and her primary focus is the client.  She initiates contact, explains how Comfort Keepers can assist them, discusses the fee structure and authorizes the contracts.  Jane Botha is the Caregiver Coordinator and her main focus is the care givers.  She is the first point of contact for caregiver recruitment, she places the caregiver with the client and she is the office support, and does all the scheduling.  “Everyone has their own strengths and it is important to realize your staff is unique.”  Both Becky and Jane are nurturing and passionate people who Janet feels truly blessed to be working with. Presently the White Rock/ South Surrey office employs 30 Comfort Keeper caregivers – and the office team recognizes that each one is integral to the success of the business.

Although Janet is not the franchisee she runs this business as if it was her own and treats Dave, Becky, Jane and all the care workers in a professional manner.  Janet knows how crucial it is to set the right tone in business and she truly believes that Comfort Keepers practices respect while assisting others. 

The real benefit with Comfort Keepers is the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. Janet shared the story of a lady, Rose*, who had only one arm and was scheduled for surgery on her remaining good arm. Comments Janet, “Rose is a survivor in the true meaning of the word. Despite cancer claiming her arm at the shoulder in her twenties, and a workplace accident some years later compromising her remaining arm, Rose has risen to the challenge of managing her life.  Not only has she reinvented how to get the job done with one arm, but Rose refuses to be a burden on anyone, always with an upbeat attitude, a sparkling personality and a ready laugh.”  When she was recently scheduled for an operation on her good arm, it was clear that she would need much assistance in daily living the months following surgery. Yet none of her insurers saw it the same way.  Because the cost of care was out of reach for Rose, she faced being dependent on neighbours and friends for the much needed post-surgery help and support. Rose would need to be bathed and dressed and could not manage her home on her own.  As a fiercely independent person, this was uncomfortable to Rose. Seeing how this affected her, Janet successfully lobbied the insurance company to fund care for Rose following her surgery. Rose was able to continue to safely live independently and with dignity.

Comfort Keepers is a feel good business and to be a winner you have to first love what you do.  “Although working in this industry is rewarding you must also be solution focused.”  It is imperative to create a cohesive atmosphere for both the clients as well as the staff.  Her main goal as the Business Development Manager for Comfort Keepers is to improve the lives of seniors to allow them to continue to live within the comfort of their homes.