In 1999, Mimi W. Santry walked away from a financial services career to focus on raising her children in Greenwich.
“I loved the business, but with investment banking you’re on call 24/7,” said Santry, whose career included stints as managing director of the private finance group at Interstate/Johnson Lane and vice president and portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan & Co. “If someone wants you to work all night, you work all night. If someone wants you to fly back and forth to California in a day, you do it. Did that fit with my lifestyle? No.”
Santry’s five children are now ages 20, 19, 17, 15 and 9, and earlier this year she began considering a return to the corporate world. But a reprise of her financial services work did not hold any appeal. “Now that my kids are getting older, I wanted to do something that was a business but was also helpful in the community,” she said.
While considering her career options, Santry was also dealing with a domestic crisis. “My husband’s aunt needed to find an assisted living facility. She was in Manhattan and had gotten to a point where she couldn’t take care of herself. We were in the process of being in that predicament of, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do?’ When a lot of people have to make those decisions, they don’t have any idea where to get the data.”
Santry became aware of Assisted Living Locators, an elder care placement franchise company headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company provides no-cost services for seniors and their families by providing them with information and referrals on short-and long-term care options, including in-home care, independent living, assisted living, memory care and retirement apartments. The company’s franchises also offer data resources on elder care lawyers, specialized health professionals, financial advisers and specialists in senior moving.
Assisted Living Locators charges a $49,500 franchise fee and requires a monthly $500 royalty fee from its franchisees. Santry discovered the company had a western Connecticut franchise market available.
The aspiring business owner was required to pass a personality test before the company would agree to consider her and then underwent extensive training at Assisted Living’s Arizona headquarters and via online classes. Santry began her training and studies in the elder care industry on Sept. 1 and has studying the elder care industry.
“They have a lot of intellectual-capital articles,” she said, referring to Assisted Living Locators’ educational program. “Every Monday, we are trained on a podcast lecture series. We are also being encouraged to get certification as a senior adviser. It is very time-consuming, with many hours every day.”
Santry also learned that her work requires a lot of mileage. The western Connecticut market includes 175 elder care-related facilities and she has been touring as many as possible.
“It is very important to have people in the community that know the facilities, knows who is running them, and knows the personality of the facility,” she said. “Every day I am touring these facilities, with the hope that I can be a community resource.”
The facilities will also provide Santry with her revenue. Assisted Living Locator franchisees receive referral fees for each person placed in independent living or assisted living facilities, either within Connecticut or at participating facilities in other states.
For now, Santry is relying on word of mouth to market her new services and running the franchise as a one-woman operation from her Greenwich home. But she expects to open a standalone office and hire support staff as her business grows.
As part of her learning process, Santry has newly considered her own future needs. She has purchased long-term care insurance to help finance her later years and is hopeful that she will be able to persuade others not to leave the issue for the last minute.
“Nobody thinks they’re going to need it,” Santry said. “There is a huge mismatch between the reality of what’s coming and people’s plans.”