Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Coming to America may be the dream for millions around the world, but for Omar Bataineh, who arrived at age 3 with his family from Irbid, Jordan, America wasn't so much the land of opportunity as it was grinding poverty: His father was a medical resident hard-pressed to support his family. And their apartment in Bloomington, Indiana, lacked heat and air conditioning. Coming from a desert environment, the family found the cold winters especially difficult; and the refrigerator sometimes stood empty.
Bataineh remembers sharing a Denny's cheeseburger once with his brother while his parents abstained. Only later did he realize they couldn't afford more. But after moves to five different states, the family achieved a better life. Bainteneh even attended college in Florida, and following a try at medical school, and completion of an MBA, found a way to combine his twin passions for business and eldercare by buying a Synergy HomeCare franchise. Things today are good.
Name: Omar Bataineh
Franchise owned: Synergy HomeCare, in Pasadena and West Los Angeles
How long have you owned a franchise?
A little less than two years.
Having corporate support in the in-home care industry is key. This industry constantly changes, especially in California, so it’s nice to have a team of experienced professionals to call if you need questions answered or advice on particular subjects.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I had just finished getting my MBA, after working in the healthcare industry for most of my adult life. I also attended two years of medical school, before realizing it wasn’t for me.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
This particular franchise was a good fit. I used to assist the medical director of a few nursing homes, so helping the aging population was a passion of mine. Synergy HomeCare is an ideally sized franchise so that management and its processes avoid being too bureaucratic. There’s still a human interaction that is so vital to what we do. We are able to grow our business and still cater to our clients on a personal level.
How much would you estimate you had spent before you were officially open for business?
Around $104,000. Because I purchased an existing franchise, the most significant startup cost was the purchase price. In addition to the acquisition fee, we made significant investments in a new office, marketing efforts and operational changes. The breakdown was: purchase price, $100,000; office rent, $700; software, $250; insurance, $2,000; office supplies, $500; and licenses, $165.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I spoke with many franchise owners of Synergy HomeCare, as well as other franchise owners in the same industry. I did a lot of research online. For business advice, I turned to my family as a source of information. My father is a primary care physician with his own practice. My brother is a corporate attorney who is managing partner at his firm. Their experience was very helpful to my decision-making process.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I’ve had quite a few challenges. I think the stuff that creeps up on you most is just day-to-day operation. I think every small business owner knows the feeling of sitting in the office all day waiting for a phone call. There was certainly an aspect of, “What am I doing wrong?” that went through my mind quite a bit for the first five or six months. Dealing with tax matters and constantly evolving laws was also challenging. There’s always something to deal with, but the challenges are what make owning a business exciting.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do heavy research into the particular franchise and industry you are interested in. If possible, go and meet franchise owners in person, see their offices and get a feel for how they manage the business day to day. Realize that just because you’re a part of a franchise, you’re still a small business owner; so, for the most part, you’re on your own. If you decide to go through with it, it’s OK to ask questions and advice; don’t be too stubborn. Go with the flow! There will be things that you’ll have no control over, and that’s okay. Prepare to adapt, and to compete. Treat your customers like you want to be treated.
What’s next for you and your business?
Growth. Currently, I’ve got my marketing hat on full time in the hopes of growing more every quarter. I have a vision for the future, but mostly I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m taking it a day at a time. I’m excited by the success we’ve had so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we end up in several years.