Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care industry share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Rita Lynne:

Hi, Valerie. My name is Rita Lynne, and I do a lot of things, but primarily I own a company called All Generations Home Care here in Denver, Colorado where we’ve been really just at capacity for probably over 20 years now. And then, we have another company which has nothing to do with this, I was telling you about it is fiber arts. But we just had a brand new launch this week of another industry that we are really focused on, and that is making sure that the women that want to become owners have an opportunity to do this at not a high cost.

            So we just launched Progressive Senior Businesses this past week. And it’s a fabulous way for… I mean, how many do we know women that have said, “You know what, I really want to do a little bit more, a little bit more,” and economically, it’s a great way to start right off, and we go right away into making sure that they’ve got all the things they need. It’s about a 10-month program. So that’s us.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. And I love it that you’re helping new entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who just want to get into this space. So I love to know everything about all your businesses. Just give me a little hint about, for your newest adventure in that 10 month course, what do you guys go over? What do you teach people?

Rita Lynne:

That’s a really good question because it can be so wide. Well, first of all, I think the most important thing is that we have the… Whatever the woman is, she joins a group, she has a one-on-one with her coach for over 10 months. And then what we do is decide, “Okay, how are we going to focus on her goals? How does she best serve her community?” So it’s custom built exactly for whatever is needed in her environment. And then we start out with everything of like, “How do you get the right care providers? How do you make sure that they’re well-trained? How do you make sure that you’ve got the right policies and procedures?” We have all of those and then mass library to help them out.

            But I think probably the most beneficial thing is it’s so cost effective and you start right away being able to make income. I’ve been doing this for, what, over 30 years. So I became my own model for this. I’ve already taught over a hundred women how to do this and to do it effectively. I’m at that age where I want to give back, so I appreciate you asking about it because I love doing this.

So we just launched Progressive Senior Businesses this past week. And it’s a fabulous way for… I mean, how many do we know women that have said, “You know what, I really want to do a little bit more, a little bit more,” and economically, it’s a great way to start right off, and we go right away into making sure that they’ve got all the things they need. It’s about a 10-month program. So that’s us.

Rita Lynne

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. Yeah. And of course yours is brand new. I know there are other business opportunities out there where people teach others how to get into the home care and business, or maybe assisted living or care homes or whatever senior business they want to get into. And sometimes they can be a little cost prohibitive, just because there’s a huge investment upfront. So I’m glad that you’re able to help others without some of that gigantic cost.

Rita Lynne:

Well, I think just to cover it up right into… I mean, we can start out right off with less than a thousand dollars a month in there right away.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. That’s very good.

Rita Lynne:

Yeah. It’s good. And then the other thing is, just to make sure, I mean, so many of the people that have worked for me, Valerie has said that they wanted to have their own business. I’m all in on that. So they were kind of the motivators that got us thinking in this way.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Good. That’s excellent. That means you’ve got a lot of folks that have worked for you in the past and work for you now who really love what they do and finding those kinds of caregivers and staff members is hard. Those are golden nuggets, diamonds that we need to keep around us. For sure.

Rita Lynne:

Well I’ll tell you we’ve been really blessed because I’ve got some gals that have been with me 15 years.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Man, oh man. They must love working for you. That’s excellent. You hear all the time about high turnover rates and how it’s so hard to keep staff. And I know that that happens to everybody. I mean, people do come and go in this business, but when you can say that you have staff that you trust has been with you for 15 years, that speaks volumes to the ownership. It really does because that means you’re taking good care of those people.

Rita Lynne:

Absolutely. That’s the first thing I say in the interview is, “I’ve got your back. You do your work and I’ve got your back.” And it’s proven to be a commitment that I definitely fulfill with them. When I look back on this, I was like, “Wow.” And over a hundred women that I’ve taught how to own their own businesses. Is that really me? Well, yeah. All right. Let’s just keep going.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s cool. That’s very nice.

Rita Lynne:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome. Well, we’ll put links to all of your websites with your video so that if folks want to learn more about how they can get involved.

Rita Lynne:

Valerie, that’s great. Thank you. Anything we can do to make sure that our men and our women, but I’m focused on the women entrepreneurs, let’s make sure they can be happy and that they can give to their community. Well, who else? I mean, who’s better? I mean, the market of our elders is something that really needs our love.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. There’s no shortage. I always tell people, if every home care agency in your local area took all the clients that they could possibly take, there would still be underserved seniors. There are people that still would need care that aren’t getting it because maybe, they don’t know about it or whatever the case. [crosstalk 00:05:31] Or they’re coming up.They’re getting to that age where they’re about to need care. Some places are super competitive. I totally understanding that as well.

            Some communities are very competitive. A lot of communities are very competitive, but still at the end of the day, it’s about serving that senior. And if you do your marketing well, if you are good at what you do, and you’re very focused on the needs of that family and that senior especially, the new clients will come.

Rita Lynne:

You and I have something in common, which is that I don’t see the other agency owners as competitors. We have filed as women that if we help each other, oh my gosh, we share everything that we’ve got. We’ve even shared like, “Hey, I can’t fill that shift. Can you help me out? I’ll be glad to do that?” But I think the most important thing that we did is we made sure we had a friendship based on honesty. And honestly, in the state of Colorado, we had a major influence and being able to change a lot of legislature so that it benefited our agencies much more than it had in the past. So yeah, they’re not your enemies. They’re your friends.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. I would absolutely say that. I think that piece of knowledge that you just gave us comes from years of experience. A new person out there is going to feel intimidated by the competition. But somebody who knows they do a good job and has been around the block for a while, and this is for all you newbies out there, if you really are doing a good job, that new person that just walked in the door to that meeting is not your competition. They are someone who might be able to learn from you, learn how to do it the right way. There’s someone who might be able to staff your case one day. So don’t burn bridges, just welcome everybody with open arms. Be the honest person and karma will pay you back nicely.

Rita Lynne:

A hundred percent. You said it beautifully. That is so true. Don’t worry about them. Everybody will help you out. We’re in an industry where that is really the primary goal. Reach out and help.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Everybody has the same goal. We’re working towards making sure that person lives with dignity and respect in their home for as long as they possibly can, or wherever they live. And so we help each other. Okay. So let me get back to a couple of my questions here. What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Rita Lynne:

Giving back. Absolutely, that’s it. When I walk in the door and I see this precious, and in my words, vulnerable person, I want them to know, “You know what, we’re here. We are your assistance. You tell us what you want because we do non-medical services. We will make sure that this is done.” You can see their shoulders drop. You can see their eyes change. It’s like they heard every word that we said. And of course if I’m going to commit, we’re going to deliver for sure. But that to me is so rewarding.

            I went through watching both my parents age in another state. That was really the motivation for us to say, “Wait a minute. Who advocates for these people when the adults live out of state?” So the rewards, like I tell my crew, “If you can end your day knowing that you made a difference in one person’s life, you’ve done an excellent job.” So that’s how I look at it. We get the rewards of knowing that smile means a lot to them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. Great words of wisdom there too. All right. I would imagine in your life, in your professional life, in your young life, there have been people, maybe parents, grandparents, and other people who have really made an impact on you and probably some organizations out there that have meant a lot to you. So who would you like to talk about?

Rita Lynne:

Well, thank you for that question because that’s really as deep. Thank you so very much. Well, I would have to say probably my mom. In her world where she was, volunteering in the hospital was a very big deal. And I watched her, I called it sunshine smile. She just would light up wherever she was. She’s a joyful Irish woman and had a great smile and a great attitude. And there was never anything she couldn’t conquer. She just went and went, and went. I would say in today’s world, we need to take a good look in appreciation for AARP because they have been all encompassing in finding out for us. They’ve done a lot of good research to let us know where not only our elders can find things locally, like who can shovel my walk, who can mow my lawn, up to who’s got the latest information on Alzheimer’s, on heart disease? And especially on COVID right now, we really need to be up to date on that.

            So I think in a short, brief way, I think that that’s looked to those agencies. They’ve impressed me, the ones that are really geared toward our seniors. But I must also say that I look at what you’re doing and this is not… I haven’t been paid to do this pitch. Absolutely, the way that you have exposed and the opportunities for us to have the knowledge and research that we need, don’t stop. We really, really need that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, I agree. And like I always tell everybody, this is a kind of a creative outlet for me. We do these interviews for free and like you said, it… But I have learned so much about the hundreds and hundreds… I mean, we’re on maybe interview 105 or something like that. But over the years and beyond that, there just are so many people out there who have amazing ideas, amazing talent, amazing experiences and wisdom.

            We don’t get to talk to each other right now, especially even locally very much, as far as networking and that. So just to be able to learn from someone else, and they’re listening to a podcast, or watch a video, or read the transcript, and just learn where people came from and what their experience is, I think it’s just helpful in general. So thank you for that.

Rita Lynne:

Yeah. Really being able to just get another point of view, you will always find something, a little nugget in there that is like, “Oh, I didn’t think about it that way. Thank you.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Well, thank you. Okay. So let’s talk about online marketing. Online marketing has become more and more important over the last year, simply because it’s so hard to network in person. What has been your experience or thoughts? What do you guys do?

Rita Lynne:

Well, I would say that the biggest advice I would give is number one, do your research. Who are you trying to market to? Now, if you’re trying to market to the adult kids to see if they are interested in your product, then you’ve got to find out where they are. That’s a broad statement as far as I’m concerned, Valerie, because that means somebody could take that statement and say, “Okay, I’m going to check Instagram. I’m going to go on Facebook. I’m going to go on LinkedIn. I’m going to go on Twitter.” And I’m saying, “Stop right there. Get focused. Find out where your people are that you want to talk to about your business.”

            And it could be someplace like LinkedIn. Do your research on that. It could be someplace like Facebook, or it could be the old, famous rabbit hole where you just keep going and going and going, and nobody knows where you are. And you get so overwhelmed, you’re not able to even control or function within the resources that you do have. Again, I’m going to refer back to you because I’ve seen your marketing. And when I started to read it, it was like, “This is so perfect.” You’ve covered every possible place where the audience that needs our help might be.

            So it’s got to be something like that, but doing the research and deciding focus in who’s your market? What are you trying to say? And go a step at a time? The other part of it is basically, this is where I am with it. I would rather hire somebody that heard my words and knew what I was looking for. They’re the ones, they’re likely expert. I wouldn’t try to be a mechanic on my car.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Me either. Not my thing.

Rita Lynne:

So hire somebody that I know, listens to what I’ve got to say, and know where my market is. It’s not an expense, it’s an investment in me and my business.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It’s the truth, and that’s true. And I will say back to knowing where your market is, I would say that we have a lot of people who… And our clients too, will say to us, “Well, we need to be on Twitter, YouTube.” And I’ll say, “I will tell you in 13 years of doing this business for home care agencies, not one…” and we’re talking about thousands of agencies here, not one person has ever said, “I just landed a client off of Twitter.” It will never happen.

Rita Lynne:

Perfect, perfect. See what I mean? Perfect. I’ll tell you honestly, the online marketing, if they have a good story to tell, people will listen to a good story.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Stories are excellent.

Rita Lynne:

Yeah, they are excellent because most of us do have a story about taking care of our parents or grandparents or whatever it is. And it’s a beautiful way to be able to relate to the person that you haven’t met yet, but they can understand what you’re trying to tell them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. I think an about us page often gets underappreciated for the value that it can bring. I see a lot of people having these generic about us pages and just tells the same thing that everything else on the website said. I want to know who I’m doing business with. I want to see your face. And I want to know when the buck stops here. I want to know that if my mom is not having a good day or that caregiver did something wrong, who is it that’s going to pick up that phone and make me feel better?

Rita Lynne:

Oh, that’s so well said.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Two, I mean, I want to know who’s running the show. And most of us, I would say most of the people that are in any kind of senior care business have a reason for being there, and they have a story behind it, not everybody, but most people… And they didn’t get into this just to make money. I mean, we are all social service servants of some kind. So yes, we want to feed our families, but on the other hand, if anybody knew the struggles of a home care agency owner from day to day, they would be like, “I get it. This has to come from your heart, for sure.”

Rita Lynne:

I say that, “Okay, if you know how to play chess, we can talk. If you know how to herd ants, we’re in good shape.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Rita Lynne:

The herding of the ants is gathering up all of the care providers. You got it, exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I totally get it. So yeah, I would say you’re right about all those things. And everybody has a story, so share it. Share that story. And don’t just leave it on the about us page. Share it in a blog post once in a while. The same people aren’t reading your blog every day. In fact, unless it goes out in the newsletter, in my opinion, nobody’s reading your blog. Well, they might be, but not as much as you’d like.

Rita Lynne:

That’s right. [crosstalk 00:16:13]

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Share your story over and over again. Once a quarter, share your story, add a little to it, or have an anecdote about it. Remind people where you came from. And I think that’s really important.

Rita Lynne:

Yeah. You’re so right on with that target. And then once you tell that story, that becomes the basis of really good marketing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. It’s not just about the logo on the homepage, it’s really about who you are. You make that home care agency tick the way it does, because truly everything that happens in that home care agency starts at the top, the attitude, the mission, the vision, the values, and trickles down. And if it’s good, then you’re going to have every body underneath you feeling good about that as well.

Rita Lynne:

That’s right. They will understand that you are there because you choose to be there, which is of service.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, I’m glad that you’re teaching new entrepreneurs because you really are spot on with all of this. So I’m glad you’re teaching new people.

Rita Lynne:

I’m excited about that. I think that’s going to give us a whole new… I mean, I see it already. I know it’s there. I don’t have any doubt about it. We are ready to go. I feel it already. Then churning in my mind for a very long time. But can you imagine this is going to be… I mean, when you think about it, everybody that… The baby boomers are going to need a lot of us. So we really got to get the right people in there with the right belief systems to make sure they’re all taken care of at the highest possible quality of care.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. So my husband is nine years older than me. So he is at the very tail end of baby boomers. He’s like the end of it, born in 1962. So we have 50, 58 year olds who are just now starting to hit those years where it’s potential that they might need care. We’ve got a long way to go. A lot more people hitting those years, so absolutely. All right. I know you’ve talked about a lot of great advice and I think you’ve probably already said it, but tell us again, what piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Rita Lynne:

When you say senior care providers, the first thing that comes to my mind is actually the people that are doing the work. And I think they don’t get enough praise. I make sure that they know, even if they just changed the sheet, that made a difference. I want them to realize that every moment that they are with somebody, making a meal, smiling, changing a sheet, being on a hospice case, being on a case where the person’s bedbound, whatever it is, take pride in what you are doing because you are making a difference in that person’s life.

            As far as the care provider business goes or the agency goes, I think you said it well, which is, if you are presenting yourself with honesty and integrity, and B, just who you are and why you’re here, it’ll work. It’ll smooth out beautifully for you. There’s a saying that you can’t push the river, but you certainly can build on good solid foundations. This isn’t going to be an overnight success, although, there are ways to start making money right away. But if you’re looking at the long-term, you can make this happen.

            I mean, 42% of all the the businesses are now run by women. And we don’t take it five years. I don’t know what it is about us, but we’re able to continue to succeed and succeed and always reach out for the mentors. I mean, even the care providers, I’ll have them get together. I’ll make sure that they’ve got whatever they need, whatever’s the latest news.

            To me, I don’t know if that’s the advice you’re looking for, but that’s where we go is to make sure that we know that they’re special. Every day, I let them know how much we appreciate them. Like I said, to the one that does nothing more, but pick up the groceries, that’s a big deal. To the one that’s on a hospice, same thing, big deal.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think you’re right. The caregivers don’t get enough recognition, and they’ve been so brave throughout all of this stuff in the last year, which we’re almost… We’re going on almost one year. At least in our family, I can remember our last dinner out together as a family was about one year ago, March 5th. My daughters turned 13 that day, and we took them and some friends out to dinner. And I remember thinking to myself, that was the last time as a big group that we could go somewhere without masks, without having to worry. That was it pretty much.

Rita Lynne:

I just want to tell people, don’t let the pandemic hold you back from starting a new business.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, no.

Rita Lynne:

I mean, this is a pretty much a recession proof business, but more importantly, like you had said earlier, there is so much need for our health out there. If you’ve got the right people to work with you, you’re going to go ahead. That doesn’t stop you. It doesn’t get in your way. I got a sidebar for a minute. Did you say you took your daughters out for birthday?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Rita Lynne:

Does that like two daughters?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Three. They’re triplets. Yeah.

Rita Lynne:

I have twins.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, yeah. Good. I always like to meet other mothers of multiples.

Rita Lynne:

Oh my God. Yes. And years ago… Well, of course they’re older now and they have their own children, but years ago I started several mother of twins clubs because I couldn’t find anybody that was like me. So I think you’re going to be doing the same thing, right?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Probably every metro area has this. We have mothers of multiples group here in the St. Louis area. And there’s also mothers of twins clubs and that, and we do things like sales that are specifically… Because we always have three of everything. So boy, do I have a… When they’re little, I don’t… It’s not so much of an issue at 14, but when they’re really little, you have cribs, you have three of every bouncy seat. You have three sets of bottles. You have, I mean, three high chairs. So you have a lot of stuff to get rid of as they grow out of all those things.

            So there’s sales and there’s mentors. I even remember being in the hospital before they were born, I was there a couple of weeks before they were born. And another mother of multiples had nine-month-olds. She rolled them into the hospital room and she said, “I just wanted you to see what this looks like.”

            Another one gave me, which seems kind of gross. But it was good. It was actually not that gross, but she gave me the video of the birth. She had a C-section. You didn’t see anything, but she wanted me, sort of what I was going to experience. So she lent me her DVD or whatever it was at the time. So we got to kind of see what that looks like. There’s so much just like in any support group kind of, there’s so much advice. And a lot more now than I’m sure when you were a young mother and just trying to struggle through two kids.

Rita Lynne:

You brought up something though that I think is so good about women. And again, I don’t know enough about men to know about this, but look at what happened with both of us. We had more than we could really take a look at and you know your budget’s going to go right down the toilet if you don’t figure out something quickly. That was one of the saving graces for me was number one, knowing that we could rotate the clothes and that would help because the clothes were always in good condition. The kids grow so fast through them.

            Having all the utilities that we need. Like you said the strollers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But again, the network. Knowing that there were others out there. And what a gift for you when you’re right in the hospital and someone comes in and says, “Here you go.” [crosstalk 00:23:45].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is the stroller you need. These is what your kids are going to look like. And here’s how you deal with it. It was a really good to have a network of women to talk to you. And then as your kids get older, then you become the mentor for others because they’re just now starting out on this scary journey. And it does take a village. I would also say that. We had help.

Rita Lynne:

I believe that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

We had hired help and we had a little bit of family help in those beginning years. I don’t remember much about the first year of their life, to be honest with you. I was so sleep deprived, and we all were working, doing the best we could [crosstalk 00:24:20].

Rita Lynne:

I know. Every two hours. It was every two hours for many, many months.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, yes. Every two hours. So yes, absolutely. They’ve survived us and they’re going to be 14 in a couple of weeks. So we’re very lucky. All right. So my last question is when you have a win in life or business, how do you like to celebrate?

Rita Lynne:

That’s a really good question.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It’s supposed to be my fun question, but everybody was always like, what?

Rita Lynne:

Go deep with it, right? Well, for me, the first thing I feel is joy when there’s a win. But honestly, I also immediately go to those that gave us the win and that’s usually going to be the care providers. I want them to know, once again, that they’re so highly appreciated for what they’ve done, because you see that in the client size also. So when we have a big win around a client, that’s where we go is like, “Hallelujah to you. You have done a great job.” We reward them in any way that we can, not only with words.

            To me, that’s the most important thing, honoring the ones that have given us the big win, because honestly, and I know you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for these wonderful care providers that are dedicated to our elders.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for that. And I would say back to honoring those caregivers, I hope that they… This is something I’ve learned over the years. In the business that we’re in, we see a lot of testimonials and reviews.

Rita Lynne:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And one of the things that has always struck me that doesn’t happen for anybody else is that when someone passes away, if that family has had a home care agency in their life and had a specific caregiver, and that caregiver may think, “Well yeah, I was there every day,” but that caregiver is mentioned in that obituary, that caregiver is mentioned or that home care agency, that person, those people who cared for that person at the end of their life are often mentioned in those final words, and you will not find anyone else, not their doctor, not anyone else in their life besides family that is mentioned in that, those words, but their caregiver is, and that speaks volumes to how important this is.

Rita Lynne:

Oh, I’m so glad you brought that up because that is so true. That is just so true. They do become such an important part of making sure that the transition time especially was so key and that they knew they could just… I mean, they could just depend on that person that was there. One of those “I’ve got this” moments for them that lasts until they make the transition. I agree. There’s so many stories we have that are fantastic like this in this industry. I just think we’re very blessed to be where we are being able to help those elders. When you think about what they’ve done, what their stories are, they’re just so rich with life. I think we’re just really gifted here.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yup. Absolutely. Okay. Real quick, tell me what’s behind you and what you do because that’s beautiful.

Rita Lynne:

Oh, thank you so much. What’s behind me is what’s called fiber art. And I teach nationally across the United States and I’m not going to turn my head, but you can see it’s dimensional art, which is what I’m known for, but I’ll also show you something else that I’ve known for and no one else does these. They’re called vessels.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, that’s cute.

Rita Lynne:

So it’s a fiber art that I do. And I teach, like I said… Here’s another one, so that you know.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Beautiful.

Rita Lynne:

Valerie, it’s a really great balance. When you do so much clinical work like we do, and then I want to do something creative, this works out really, really well. So what’s back here is we’ve got embroidery on it. It’s got fiber on it. It’s got painting on it. And it’s a great balance for me. Of course with COVID the way that it’s been, I haven’t been able to go to the different guilds across the United States. So I became a learn how to do Zoom rather quickly. But we’ve been able to accomplish a lot with that. So I have a website for that. We have a lot of patterns and we have classes. Again, it’s a service business to me to be able to show other people what they can do, and then if they want to teach it, I’m okay with that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. That’s beautiful. Thank you.

Rita Lynne:

Thank you for asking about that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, it’s just really pretty. So thank you. And we’ll make sure that, that information is with your video as well. So thank you very much for doing this interview. It was great to take extra time to learn about all the things that you’re doing and enjoy your wisdom. So thank you.

Rita Lynne:

Gosh. Thanks, Valerie. You keep it up. You’re doing a great job too. I’m going to keep my eye on you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you.