When Ron Scasny of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had an opportunity to sell his three Comfort Keepers home care franchise locations, he took the buy-out as a chance to build his own brand with a new, unique philosophy.
His new company, Caring with Honor, offers non-medical in-home care services in the Milwaukee area and is just starting to find its footing after opening in July.
The company’s approach to the home care space involves harnessing a specialized resource in the community—retired law enforcement and military officers. As the home care industry continues to suffer from a shortage of caregivers, Scasny hopes adding former law enforcement officers in a recruiting position will give him a leg up.
Serving in the home
So far, Caring with Honor has five clients and about a dozen caregivers, according to Scasny. Also on staff are two retired police chiefs from Southeast Wisconsin. These officers, who are in recruiting roles, are particularly adept at selecting candidates for caregivers, leaning on their skills in serving communities, Scasny said.
“They are playing other roles [besides that of caregiver],” he said of the police chiefs. “They are doing the in-home visits, the assessment visits and safety and security checks. And they are playing the recruiting role and helping find good quality caregivers. Every company does background checks, and we go a step further and have the retired military and law enforcement people who have dealt with the public and have been reading people for 30 years.”
The idea to utilize retired police officers came from Scasny’s personal life, he said.
“I have a lot of family and friends who are law enforcement, and that’s where this came from,” Scasny said. “I had some friends and a cousin who were close to retirement age, and we were talking about what we can do. They don’t want to be security guards or bouncers or painters.”
Being a part of a home care team may be the perfect fit, Scasny said.
“They want to continue bringing income into the family, and provide a service to the community,” he said. … “They have a knack for reading people, good or bad.”
The idea has actually driven the philosophy of the new business, but Scasny did have hesitations, given the current social climate across the country. With the cropping up of the Black Lives Matter movement and “the public opinion of police officers,” Scasny was unsure how consumers would respond to the idea of former law enforcement in home care. When the company was still in the formation process, Scasny did outreach to his business partners and others for feedback.
“Did we think that it would be successful and people would find it to be something they would want to get behind should we move forward?” he had asked his business partners. “Everyone was so excited about it, and I talked to some of my partners and we thought we could make it happen.”
Started from the bottom
Even with a unique approach to the industry, starting a business from scratch comes with its own set of challenges.
“Clearly, we don’t have any of the brand recognition of Comfort Keepers, with their national advertising and being around as long as they have. We don’t have any of that,” he said.
However, being an independent provider instead of a franchisee also gives Scasny a little more wiggle room in the business.
“The other difference is we don’t have to pay a royalty,” he said. “That gives me as much as 5% to play with. What do I do with it? No. 1 is paying the caregivers more than the competition, and we can also charge less than the competition. I’m not limited to a zip code territory, my hands aren’t tied.”
Scasny’s previous experience as a franchisee in the space has helped give him a leg up when it comes to recruiting, he said, as many of his current caregivers have been with him since the Comfort Keepers days.
So far, Caring with Honor has raised $210,000 from investors to fund the business. The first funding pitch was met with a high level of interest among 18 potential investors, and Scasny was forced to close the offering quickly. The goal is to grow organically, without another funding round, he said.
Beyond the home care opportunity, investors may have been hungry to invest in Scasny himself, who has run and sold numerous businesses over the years. Scasny is currently president of Scas Management Group, LLC, a company that offers management and backroom administrative services based in Milwaukee. Caring with Honor can lean on the administrative services Scasny already has in place, eliminating many of the back office operations that can be challenging to a startup company.
Looking ahead, Caring with Honor is scheduled to break even by May 2018, with Scasny expecting the company will provide 1,000 hours of services per week by then, he said. With his strategy and industry knowledge, Scasny aims to ramp up the business quickly.
Written by Amy Baxter