After 20 years with Best Buy and several years with Circuit City and Cricket Communications, Charles Conrad, Owner of Interim Healthcare of Charlotte and Lee County, was ready for a change and a new challenge. The Ohio native moved to Fort Myers Beach Florida in 2010 after he and his wife spent years vacationing in Southwest Florida. Conrad initially joined a consulting firm geared towards helping independent and national retailers succeed. After a year or two, an opportunity to purchase a home health care franchise presented itself and Conrad, who, together with his wife Cassie, spent the previous nine years taking care of his aging father, saw it as a chance to provide a much needed service to the community.
"In the final stages of caring for my father, we had to move him into a facility," Conrad said. "Up until that point, my wife and I were his primary care givers. After nine years, we learned a lot about the home health care industry. We also decided it was a service we wanted to provide for others."
Conrad worked with a business broker and identified the perfect opportunity with Interim Healthcare. He spent several months working through regulations, acquiring the necessary licensing, finding a location and hiring employees. By August 2015, Interim Healthcare of Charlotte County was open for business. Not long after, Conrad also purchased the Lee County territory.
Conrad shared more information about Interim Healthcare and how his business is unique in the world of home heath care. "We provide personalized in-home care for seniors," he said. "People over the age of 65 are part of the fastest growing senior demographic in the country. Demand for in home care continues to grow from year to year as more families in Charlotte and Lee County look for ways to help their aging loved ones remain in their homes. Our care professionals have experience in the following areas: Alzheimer's and Dementia Care, Respite Care and Personal Care & Support. These home care services include general help with non-medical tasks like shopping, getting dressed, light housekeeping and meal preparation. Our team of Alzheimer's specialists can also provide support specifically for people living with this condition. For family caregivers who need some time off, our Respite Care team can step in and give the caregiver a needed break."
Conrad continued, "What makes us unique is that we offer a very client-focused approach. This includes a free home RN assessment, a free RN home safety evaluation – to ensure you or your loved ones are in a safe environment, no extra charge for weekend, evening, and nighttime coverage, phones answered 24/7, employees that are not independent contractors – Interim Healthcare provides and pays for all liability insurance and workman’s compensation for all employees, trained caregivers that report to a full-time RN and all clients have access to my personal cell phone."
Over the past five years, Conrad and his wife have grown the business through a combination of branding, building credibility and getting out in the community. He and his wife are on the Alzheimer's Association Walk Committee for Charlotte and Lee County. In this role, they also serve as Alzheimer’s trainers. His wife Cassie is the Alzheimer’s ambassador for Lee and Collier County. For the Conrad’s, getting involved in this capacity was the right thing to do.
"We picked something to focus on that was meaningful for the folks we take care of," he said. "We do things that tell the community we put our time and money where our mouth is. This is our way of giving back."
For Conrad, helping seniors stay in their homes is what he enjoys most. The experience with his own father cemented his decision that most aging parents would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible. "My wife shouldered most of the responsibility, leaving her career as a Dental Hygienist to become a full-time caregiver for my father," he said. "She worked daily to uncover resources, information, and direction. Most Doctors and medical experts said, 'Put him in a facility, you will be better off and so will your father-in-law'. But she knew instinctively that was not true. Through hard work and determination, she kept my father out of a facility for 9 years until his condition was too much for her or me to handle."
Conrad continued, "If we had listened to the 'experts', that 9 years would have been spent in a facility, waiting to be helped, eating when he was told and restricted by the rules of the staff. Instead he spent those 9 years in the company of a loving family and friends. I am sure that was a much happier way to spend his time. Once my father died, we were proud of the opportunity and privilege we were given to make his time much more rewarding. After months of grieving his loss, we started thinking there must be a way we can help others in the same situation. We had learned a great deal of useful information and we wanted to pass that on to others. Again, that is why we opened Interim Healthcare of Charlotte and Lee county and why we love to help seniors stay in their homes."
Looking ahead Conrad's goal is to become the go-to resource information center for seniors in Charlotte and Lee county. In fact, he wants to grow and formalize the information sharing part of the business to become an even better information resource for seniors in the community. He also wants to expand his client and employee feedback programs to drive continued improvement in client and employee satisfaction. According to Conrad, reaching out more often and in different ways will give them a clear path to a diverse and very satisfied client and employee base. He also wants to focus on growing his support of the Alzheimer’s Association. "We are currently on the Alzheimer’s walk committees and we are 'support group leaders' in both Charlotte and Lee counties," he said. "In the 'post-COVID world', the Alzheimer’s Association will need plenty of support building a different way to fund raise, support caregivers and deliver communication."
What advice does Conrad have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Do not be afraid to fail. Every great business leader has a history of failing and then succeeding," he said. "Have appropriate plans and key result reporting. Having a plan that gives you a road map and looking at your progress daily helps you to make quicker changes. Also, find a good mentor. This might take some time, but a monthly mentor meeting keeps you accountable to your plans and results. Look for and call out every victory big or small. You will need to have some tough conversations with your team. If you have a track record of pointing out where things went well the tough conversations are easier. Finally, take advantage of free resources like SCORE and plan to have fun."