Interview with Peter Drutz President of Comfort Keepers

Date: APR 9th, 2010

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Peter Drutz came to Comfort Keepers in 2004 and is the President and Director of Comfort Keepers Canada. He was previously Executive Vice President, Retail with Indigo Books and Music Inc., a publicly traded Canadian company from 2003-2004 and was responsible for the retail operations of 275 Indigo, Chapters and Coles stores in Canada. Prior to joining Indigo, from 2002-2003, he was President of OutThink, Inc. a marketing and strategy firm specializing in fuelling business growth. From 1982-2002, he was with Amex Canada, Inc. and held progressively responsible positions. In his later tenure he was Vice President and General Manager of the Travel Services Network. In this role, he was responsible for the owned, call centre and franchise business. Having spent 10 years helping to develop the travel franchising program at American Express, Mr. Drutz is experienced in the franchising of service businesses.
Peter has an MBA in Marketing and General Management from the York University Faculty of Administrative Studies (now Schulich School of Business), an Honours BA in Social Sciences and a Certificate in Personnel and Industrial Management, both from the University of Toronto.

BeTheBoss - What is the Comfort Keepers® franchise opportunity all about?

Peter Drutz – Comfort Keepers® is dedicated to providing in-home care to seniors and others who need help with activities of daily living. Our goal is to allow people to stay in the comfort of their own homes versus seeking other care alternatives. We provide care that helps enrich our clients' lives and helps them maintain the highest possible level of independent living. The company offers companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, recreational activities and other services to individuals and couples still living in their own home.

BTB - Who is your ideal candidate for a Comfort Keepers® franchise?

PD - The ideal candidate for a Comfort Keepers® opportunity is someone who is compassionate, caring and wants to make a difference in people’s lives. Management experience and/or sales and marketing experience are a strong asset but not required if you are willing to learn.

BTB - What type of training and support do you offer Comfort Keepers®?

PD - The well-developed operations system provides a framework for quick franchisee start-up. Comfort Keepers provides training in areas essential to developing your business and your caregivers. A comprehensive one week initial training program in Toronto is followed up with ongoing training and support. A range of resources provide ongoing development through on-line seminars, conference calls, intranet chat rooms, national and regional conferences, monthly newsletters, regular field visits and monthly business coaching calls. Included are topics such as operations, employee recruitment and retention, Interactive Caregiving, sales and networking, quality service delivery, business planning, IT and more. We are constantly identifying best practices and new opportunities for franchisees and sharing them throughout the system.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Comfort Keepers® franchisee?

PD - Comfort Keepers is a proven business model. As a Comfort Keepers franchisee you have access to over 10 years of knowledge and experience and the comfort of knowing you are part of an established organization. You are part of a network of over 600 franchise units all working together to promote the Comfort Keepers brand. We are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the growing senior population. You have the advantage of dealing with a master franchisor in Canada who is also a franchisee, operating in the Toronto territory. All programs and systems are tested in our corporate operations before being unrolled to the franchisees in Canada.

BTB - Are you a member of any Associations?

PD - Comfort Keepers® is a member of the Canadian Franchise Association, International Franchise Association, Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance and the Canadian Coalition for Senior Mental Health. We support organizations that are aligned with our values, vision and purpose.

BTB - Tell us a little about the Comfort Keepers® Market?

PD - Today, there are 3.8 million seniors in Canada with the population age 65+ expected to double in the next decade. Home care is currently a $3.6 billion industry and growing at a rate of 18% annually. In addition to private homes, Comfort Keepers does extensive work with hospitals, retirement/nursing homes and other institutions. This is a growth industry that will continue to grow well into the future.

BTB - How successful is your company today and what are your future growth plans?

PD - We are ranked as one of the Top 3 Franchise Systems in Senior Care by Entrepreneur Magazine and have become one of the fastest-growing new franchises in America, as recognized by INC., Wall Street Journal, Successful Franchises, Entrepreneur, HGTV, and over 100 major newspapers. Our client satisfaction ratings surpass 95 percent. We continually survey the quality of our services-No other company can match our client satisfaction levels. Our future growth plans are focused on continuing to bring on quality franchisees so that we may increase our points of distribution in all major markets in Canada and meet the growing demand. We are also focused on building strategic relationships with such organizations as the Canadian Institute for the Blind, national and regional retirement/ nursing homes and Sodexo, a international organization providing institutional janitorial and food preparation services. These strategic relationships will bring business to our franchisees.

BTB - What are your franchisees saying about the business?

PD - Ask any Comfort Keepers franchise owner and they will tell you it is one of the most rewarding ways they have ever earned a living. A recent survey of our franchisees awarded us 4 out of 5 stars. 80% of the franchisees saw good to excellent growth for their business.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

PD - Anyone looking to acquire a franchise should do their homework. At Comfort Keepers we have a stringent review process that we take candidates through. The review process is very diligent, informative, and educational- allowing us both to make an informed business decision. Do market research and ask yourself, how am I going to differentiate myself in the market? Speak with existing franchisees. Go to the head office and meet with the management team, the ones who will be supporting your new business venture. Ensure that the franchisor and you are aligned in terms of values and vision. Finally, after doing all your homework, make a decision. It is not uncommon to feel a little nervous if you have never been in business for yourself, but have the comfort of knowing that you are among 600 others who have made the same decision and have moved forward in achieving the dream of being in business for yourself while not by yourself. You will have the independence and flexibility that comes from business ownership while making a difference in your community.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Comfort Keepers® would be a great opportunity for someone?

PD - There are personally rewarding opportunities and financially rewarding opportunities, but it is not every day you can be in a business that is both! Many of our owners were drawn to this business as a result of their own experiences in caring for a loved one. A Comfort Keepers franchise allows franchisees to give back to their communities. Whether contributing to local economic vitality or providing elder care, our franchisees are local leaders that feel as good about their contributions to their local communities as they do about the pride of being in business for themselves.