CarePatrol Franchise Review: Q&A with Frank Cunningham
Owner opens up about how the leading senior placement franchise allows him to do “heart and soul” work
When Frank Cunningham was on the brink of retirement from the corporate world, he was suddenly downsized after 42 years as a banker. Rather than retreat into another corporate role, he decided to look at the bad news as a blessing in disguise, and he set about researching opportunities where he could utilize his passion for people, his leadership experience and his substantial education background. When he found CarePatrol, he knew it was the perfect match.
Five years into his new life as a CarePatrol franchise owner, Cunningham is as passionate about the business as he was on the day he started. In his territory in Pasadena, California, Cunningham has helped hundreds of people find safe and secure facilities for their loved ones, establishing a reputation as a trustworthy guide through the senior placement process.
This is his story:
What were you doing before joining CarePatrol and what attracted you to our brand?
Cunningham: I was a banker for 42 years, and I got downsized at 63 years old. I found this at age 65, and I found that this is my passion. It only took me 65 years to get here, but I love it.
What do you love about it?
Cunningham: I call myself a real estate broker, a therapist and a spiritual director all wrapped into one. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and I did a lot of facilitation work when I was in corporate America. It all fit with CarePatrol. I get to use my gifts — just like that.
What I really love is developing the relationships with people on a one-to-one basis. Being able to find a safe space for mom and dad, or a sister or brother, really makes your heart go pitter-patter. The money is secondary, as far as I’m concerned.
What makes CarePatrol different in the senior placement industry?
Cunningham: The difference between us and the other brands is that we do it personally. We’re a personal concierge business. The other brands will send you a list of facilities that they have never been to. We do a personal intake for our clients. We get the budget and the geography, and we find what they’re looking for within those constraints. We take them to the facilities or we meet them at the facilities. We’ve been in all of the facilities that we place our clients in. We have the violation history and the complaint history on each and every location. Our clients are going to make an informed decision. It’s a relationship business, and it’s about building trust with our clients. That is the difference.
How important is it for you to be a part of your community?
Cunningham: I have developed a pretty broad base in my territory of Pasadena. I have a lot of peripheral sources. I get referrals from skilled nursing facilities, geriatric care managers, hospice companies and CCRCs, which are the buy-in communities. I get them from everywhere. I am involved in the community, and that is how I’ve built my business. I’m the president of a nonprofit, a sponsorship chairman of another nonprofit, so people know who I am in my community. When you say “Frank Cunningham,” people will say “CarePatrol,” and when you say “CarePatrol,” people say “Frank Cunningham.” It doesn’t get any better than that. People know who I am in my community.
How do you translate those relationships into leads?
Cunningham: I’m a relationship guy — people are what I care about. I meet with all kinds of people all the time. I’ve built trust with a lot of people. When you take care of people by doing what you say you’re going to do, that really builds trust. I have a heart for this business, and that really translates into leads.
Why is now a good time to join CarePatrol?
Cunningham: It’s pretty recession-proof at this juncture. We’re all getting older. The demand is not getting older anytime soon. I’m 70, and I’m a Baby Boomer, so I’m really at the cusp of all of it. People are living longer, and this is a booming business because there’s a tidal wave coming of people who will need care, and there won’t be enough places to put all of us.
What are you most proud of about your CarePatrol business?
Cunningham: The relationships I’ve built and the legacy I’ve created with people. I’m going to retire in a couple of years. I’m most proud of the trust that people give me and how I’m able to deliver. When you’re able to put people in a safe, secure place and have the family heap praise on you — I’ve had people say to me, “God sent me to you.” Who needs a paycheck for that? It’s heart work. It’s soul work.