Oasis Senior Advisors provides a free resource to seniors and their families to help them find senior living communities, whether that be an assisted living, memory care, or independent living community. The communities pay a referral fee (to the franchisee) that is typically 70% – 75% of a community’s monthly bed fee. Oasis franchisees focus on the model’s 3 simple components: Build inventory (communities), develop referral partners (social workers, hospital discharge nurses, geriatric professionals), and help families (determine needs, provide guidance and empathy, and introduce to the right communities). Meet Connie Pizarro – a new franchisee with Oasis who is kicking it and loving her new gig.
Tell me about your background – and what was happening in your life that caused you to want to own a business?
I am a native New Yorker and proud to be one. I was the first kid in my neighborhood to attend college and actually graduate. My entire neighborhood was there in 1982 to see me walk across the stage and receive my Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. I obtained a job immediately after graduation. My career saw tremendous growth over the years. I managed several development teams, and developed best practices in the Quality Assurance discipline that are still in use today. I rose from a Systems Programmer to a Managing Director. After 29 years, I was informed that my position had been eliminated and was given a severance package. At first, I was angry, but quickly realized that God had something better in mind for me.
Why franchising, did you consider a startup?
It didn’t dawn on me at first to become a business owner. I went to a career consulting service. I had a coach there that had a long conversation with me about my career. I shared with him that although I was very accomplished in the technology field, I didn’t like it and I didn’t wish to find another job in that area. He then said to me “what is your passion”. To that I replied, what does my passion have to do with anything? We are talking about my next career. He said “I don’t want you to ever feel like you do today. If we can find a career that matches your passion, then you will not feel as though you are working.” Okay, but I didn’t know my passion. I went home to figure it out. It was my husband you said to me that he knew my passion. He said, “It’s helping people. You love to help people. You help people you don’t know. You help people you don’t even like.” He was right, helping people is my passion. This information made me think more about myself and my talents. People in my life have always told me that I should be an entrepreneur. I never had the nerve to consider it seriously, but armed with the knowledge of my passion and both kids out of college, I decided now was the time.
I first considered a start-up but quickly realized that I didn’t know how to start a business and I had no idea of what type of business would be successful. I attended a presentation on franchising at the suggestion of my outplacement coach. My first thought was I would attend because he suggested it, but I didn’t think I could afford a franchise. After attending the presentation, I was hooked. I was sold on franchising and realized that I could afford this venture.
Why Oasis Senior Advisors? Did you consider other business models?
I worked with a broker who showed me several franchise options. I didn’t like any of them. In the back of my mind I was looking for my passion. When he showed me Oasis Senior Advisors, I know that was for me. A few years ago, my husband and I had the experience of caring for his mother in our home. After some time, we had to find an alternative. We searched on our own and found little to no help or information. I said there has to be a better way. So, as I looked at Oasis, I said I can be the better way for families. I know what they’re feeling and what they need. Oasis was it for me.
What was the biggest surprise when you started out?
My biggest surprise was that not everyone wanted to use my services even though they were free. Some people preferred to do their own research.
Anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now?
I would have developed a marketing strategy earlier and would have paid more attention to my financials.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The best part of owning my own business is I call the shots and make all the decisions.
What’s next for you?
Since opening, I have purchased another territory, I’ve hired 4 employees and 1 subcontractor and I’ve purchased a company SUV. I’m planning to purchase 2 more territories, hire more sales staff and an office manager. My ultimate goal is to have my entire family working in the franchise with me.