After more than a decade serving clients at assisted living facilities, Susie Lerma came to a realization—older adults live healthier, more fulfilling lives at home. Inspired to make a positive change for seniors in her community, she followed her moral compass to HomeWell, opening her agency in Crossville, Tennessee, during the summer of 2022.
We recently sat down with Susie to learn more about her journey and experience with HomeWell.
Q: HOW HAS THE PROCESS BEEN SO FAR FOR YOU?
A: Oh, I’ve loved it. I’ve heard so many HomeWell owners and other employees say that the environment feels nothing like corporate America, and I have to say—I totally agree. I’ve been experiencing the same thing. I love our corporate office. It truly feels like a team, as we all rely on each other—the owners, the corporate office—everyone.
Q: WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CROSSVILLE, TENNESSEE, AND WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE COMMUNITY?
A: I bought property here a couple of years back and just fell in love with it. If you’re a nature lover, it’s such a beautiful landscape, and the people are so friendly. There’s quite a large population of retirees and seniors in this area, and they’re all so sweet and kind.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN HOME CARE, AND WHAT LED YOU TO HOMEWELL?
A: My background is in recreation, and I have 20 years of experience in that sector, including the YMCA and campus recreation. During that time, I worked with many seniors, and about ten years ago, I took an opportunity to provide marketing in the assisting living world, and I fell in love with it. However, I saw that most seniors would rather stay home during my time there. And after more years of experience in assisted living facilities and by simply looking at the data, I realized that older adults tend to live healthier lives when aging at home. So, I sought a change; I started checking out different home care providers.
During this process, none felt like the right fit for me. Around this time, I was having conversations with an old work assistant, and she would rave about her new employer—a home care company called HomeWell. She talked about how much she loved her owner and had never been treated so well—all kinds of wonderful things. So, I decided to check it out. I spoke with several different HomeWell franchisees, and they all loved HomeWell—which is quite rare. I haven’t heard many franchise owners rave about their corporate office like that, so I was taken aback.
Along with the family feel at HomeWell, I just love the concept of caring for your caregivers first so that they can extend the same level of care to your clients.
Q: WHAT IS THE “WHY” BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS? WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS THE OWNER OF A HOME CARE BUSINESS?
A: I want to help seniors stay at home—that’s important to me. Home care is something I genuinely believe in; I refuse to sell something I don’t believe in because honesty and integrity are everything to me. I want our clients to receive the help they need to experience a healthy quality of life at home.
Also, for my caregivers—I know what it’s like when you’re working deep in the trenches, and it doesn’t feel like your boss cares what you’re doing. That’s not how I want to do business. I want to run a company because I care about what’s happening at all levels because I’ve been there and know that feeling.
Q: WHAT DREW YOU TO WORKING WITH THE SENIOR POPULATION, AND WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT IT?
A: I’ve always been drawn to the senior population. Even in college, they let me start a class where I could teach swimming lessons to the elderly who had never even touched the water before, and I loved it. I’ve said working with seniors is like working with living history books—I love hearing their stories and gleaning from their insights. It’s such an enjoyable and fascinating experience.
In the last decade of my career, I’ve become somewhat of a “senior specialist.” Looking to the future, I don’t just want to be the “best in home care” but also a vital connection to those in need. If a client needs medical care outside of home care services, I want to connect them with those who can help—hospice, home health, dementia care—anything they need.
Do you want to build a business that makes a real difference like Susie? At HomeWell Care Services, our franchise owners are equipped with the tools, resources, and support to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and invest in their communities. Take the first step by downloading our franchising kit today.