In this Q&A, we sat down with new HomeWell franchisees and siblings Crystal Keyworth and Jonathan Lirette. Both U.S. Navy veterans with a wealth of management experience, the brother-and-sister team are excited to make a difference in their community and enrich the lives of seniors and fellow veterans who need home care.
Crystal: Starting a business feels like a roller coaster, but it’s been working out well. So far, everyone has been very helpful and nice, and we’ve been able to get all the answers we were looking for. We met with HomeWell owners recently, and that was really helpful and informative; we were able to see what it’s like and what goes into it.
Jonathan: I really enjoyed getting to meet the other owners; that was a fun trip, and we received some great insight. Because we’re opening a business in Florida, there’s a lot more red tape than in some other states, as we need to be certified and have a license. So, we’re in a waiting period with some of those processes, but it’s going well.
Crystal: Jonathan will handle all the operations, including the management of caregivers and referral sources, while I’ll focus on business growth strategies—kind of the back-end part of the business.
Both: It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We’ve not lived near each other much in the last twenty years, and this is an opportunity for us to grow closer and celebrate those successes together—to leave something for our children at the end of the day and give back to the community.
Crystal: After going to LSU, I started my career in the Navy and ended up in my current position as an HR Director for a Defense Contractor. I have an MBA, so I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship and working to succeed and challenge myself. I’ve been with the same company for 14 years, so I value loyalty. The only other company I’ll work for is HomeWell.
Jonathan: I was a Medic in the Navy for five years before becoming a disabled Veteran. At that point, I moved down to South Florida, where I worked in the body armor industry for 16 years, focusing primarily on design and operations. But, like Crystal, I always wanted to run my own business. I think back to one of my first college courses—one of my professors said, “the only way to become a millionaire is to work for yourself.” I’ve never forgotten that quote, and it’s always inspired me to start my own business someday.
Crystal: Just recently, we’ve watched our grandmother decline, and it’s been very stressful for my mom to take care of her. Because of it, she hasn’t been able to come and spend time with her grandkids as much as she’d like. We’d like to have someone else come in and help, but we’re facing that common dynamic that happens to many families—our grandparents don’t realize that they need that level of support on a consistent basis. It’s been very challenging for all of us. All the while, we were looking at different businesses and deciding where we wanted to go. With HomeWell, we saw that we could build a business focused on quality and giving back to the community, especially veterans. With both John and me being Veterans, that was a big draw to us. On a personal level, we’re looking forward to bringing everyone in and showing them that you can put your heart into something and have fun doing it.
Jonathan: Along with our grandmother, my stepdad had cancer a couple of years back, and our mom had to take care of him as well. So, it’s always been something in the back of my mind—knowing the toll and stress it takes to take care of someone. The biggest thing with my grandparents is that they don’t want just anyone coming into their home; there needs to be trust. With HomeWell, there is such an emphasis on ‘trusted care.’ There are plenty of franchises out there, but that commitment really stuck out to us.
Personally, I see home care as the next step in the progression of my career. Being in the military and the medical field, I was always helping someone. Then, being in body armor for sixteen years, I was designing body armor to protect lives, and now I’m going into the next stage—helping people live life a little better. While I’ve never been a caregiver myself, I know how to treat someone with respect and make sure they feel comfortable. All that to say—I’m excited about this.
Crystal: This is a people business—it’s taking care of people. It’s ensuring that we’re providing quality care and that people are properly being taken care of. That’s why recruitment is the key to hiring the highest quality caregivers to ensure that your care is reflective of your company. I believe HR has a huge role to play in that since HR is also all about the people. At my current company, I’ve built the department I’m in from scratch. Being one of its first employees, I remember we started out with around five people, and now the department is over 150. That’s due to developing a sense of loyalty amongst employees. We care about them, and so, they care about us. Moving forward, I think that’s important for us.
There’s something I’ve carried with me for all my career, and that’s this process of care. As an employer, when I take care of my employees, they can take care of their families and their customers, and through that, you take care of me. As an employee, you don’t need to worry about the company—just yourself, your family, and your customers or clients. Through that, we’ll all be successful.
Also, I think both of us coming into home care from different industries provide a different perspective and view—a sort of out-of-the-box way of thinking to approach things differently and innovate ways to grow our home care agency.
Jonathan: I’ll add to that by just saying my operations experience. I want to find the right people and put them in the right place—making sure I do my part to take care of my employees and clients. Like Crystal mentioned, it all funnels down the line.
Crystal: The utmost quality care. Knowing that we take care of our caregivers is one to be known for and giving back to the community in different ways. If we can give back to the VA community, including other VA business owners— that’s important to us.
Jonathan: Caring for veterans is a big thing for me. I go to a lot of veteran events in South Florida, and I know how the VA treats them. We’re mindful of the standards we must uphold since getting into the VA sector is one of our biggest goals. But, like Crystal said, it comes down to care. We want to be known as the top home care provider.
Do you want to build a business that supports your local community like Crystal and Jonathan? At HomeWell Care Services, our franchise owners are equipped with the tools, resources, and support to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and help those in need experience happier, healthier lives. Take the first step by downloading our franchising kit today.
Our easy-to-read Franchise Kit is a starter packet for all potential franchise owners to help you understand our step-by-step discovery process. You will learn more about the overall investment opportunity, HomeWell’s ongoing training and support, and how we address the needs of your specific market. Ultimately, this guide will help you determine if HomeWell is the right fit for you.