Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Best Life Brands CEO JJ Sorrenti
Name: JJ Sorrenti
Title: CEO, Best Life Brands
Brands: ComForCare, At Your Side, CarePatrol, Blue Moon Estate Sales
Units: 400 total franchise locations, U.S. and Canada
How has Covid-19 affected your brand?
As Covid-19 spread rapidly throughout the population, people over 60, and especially over 80, were particularly vulnerable. This certainly put a spotlight on the population we serve every day and the services we provide. I’m very proud of how our franchisees reacted quickly to adapt to new protocols and ensure that we keep our clients and employees safe.
For ComForCare, there are certainly instances where seniors don’t want people in the home, which is understandable during a pandemic. However, in-home care continues to be the safest option to limit exposure, and when clients are unable to or want to delay putting a loved one in a group care setting, ComForCare has been able to fill that need. Our brave caregivers showed true compassion and dedication to their job by continuing to care for clients during the pandemic.
For CarePatrol, business slowed dramatically when senior living facilities went into lockdown, but has gradually started to open up as facilities are willing to accept new residents. We’ve had great success working with our clients and helping them tour facilities by video. And we’ve been instrumental in arming our clients with the right questions to ask a care facility on how they are handling Covid.
What are you doing to help your franchisees through this?
ComForCare has more than 13,000 caregivers going into homes, so protecting those team members is vital. We are using all types of leverage to help franchisees secure enough PPE. We are also encouraging our brands to work together more. When CarePatrol can’t get seniors into homes, they then work with the ComForCare team in their market to provide in-home care in the interim. This was part of the vision when we formed Best Life Brands as a “community of brands in the senior care space,” so it’s great to see the relationship at work.
We also worked really hard to make sure that the franchisees took advantage of all the stimulus and federal and state programs. This is where being part of a franchise network is invaluable, because there was a lot to learn in a very short time, and our corporate team helped distill the information and lighten the load for our franchisees.
How are you handling your corporate employees?
When the pandemic started in the U.S., we transitioned quickly to everyone working remotely. Most of our employees are still working from home or some type of hybrid using the office when needed. We’ve been able to continue with business as usual even without all being in the office together. This includes hosting virtual discovery days for new franchisees and helping them get their business up and running with online training for new owners. The surprising part is that it’s been fairly seamless – and has allowed us to have discovery days more often because we’re not accommodating travel schedules.
How are your franchisees handling their employees?
For ComForCare, our franchisees are working hard to make sure that caregivers feel safe doing their job and have the proper PPE. In many instances, they are helping caregivers get tested for Covid regularly so the caregivers can ensure that they are protecting not only themselves, but those they care for as well.
What are your franchisees doing for their customers?
For Blue Moon Estate Sales, in response to Covid, the company launched a reservation-only system to limit foot traffic and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Interestingly, the response to this new way of doing things was overwhelmingly positive, with customers enjoying a more personal shopping experience and less time waiting to enter a sale. The reservation system is now a permanent part of the Blue Moon Estate Sales business model.
For our CarePatrol customers, we’ve been able to set up virtual tours of senior communities and counsel them with the right questions to ask care facilities about Covid-19 policies and protocols in place, staffing levels, testing regime, and what types of healthy living activities are being maintained. Our franchisees are also checking state records for each community they recommend, and recently have added the service of keeping clients up to date on the Covid-19 history of each community they are considering.
How are you working with your suppliers?
We are fortunate to leverage the best suppliers, vendors, and partners in the business. They stepped up to provide solutions and resources like PPE and hand sanitizer early on, and they continue to meet our franchisees’ needs quickly. Even CarePatrol franchisees who were at a standstill for a while were able to gather resources and help out in their communities, which is the heart and soul of the brand.
How do you see the future of your brand, operations, market, etc. post–Covid-19?
Best Life Brands recognized the needs of seniors, a growing sector of our population, long before the coronavirus infiltrated our daily lives. We are watching the demand for our services continue to grow. We are continually adding more franchise locations to each brand’s roster and looking at adding more complementary brands to the corporate portfolio to better serve an aging population. We’re excited for our future of helping people live their best lives.
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