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Succeed by Being Different with Kamran Nassar (agency owner and author of Caring for Millions)

Today's guest, Kamran Nassar, grew his agency so fast that he was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America. In this episode, Kamran shares the importance of being different to stand out and succeed.  Some big ideas that Kamran shares are as follows:

  • His company's unique name, NuevaCare started conversations and also helped with recruiting of Spanish speaking caregivers.
  • He joined groups where he collaborated with other agency owners in the area, and although they were competitors they were also collaborators
  • He brought an art-therapy program to his agency as an aide for memory care.


Later in the Podcast he shared lessons-learned including how as a small agency, he alternated his focus between sales and recruiting, but later he figured out how to work on both all the time and that turned out to be a big key to success.

Kamran recently authored a book called Caring for Millions that shares his journey as an agency owner and many success tips.  You can access the book and download chapters for free. 

Kamran has started a new company called Captiva8 that helps agencies to quickly engage with website visitors (both prospective clients and caregivers) 24 hours a day.  We'll do a follow up episode on Captiva8!

Home Care Heroes is produced and sponsored by Ankota - the Software for the Heroes of Home Care. We truly embrace the notion that caregivers and home care companies are heroes. Our top priorities simplicity, caregiver retention and outstanding service. Visit us at https://www.ankota.com.


Ken Accardi (00:00):

Today's special guest on home care heroes grew his agency so fast that it was awarded as one of the fastest growing companies in America. His secret was to be different. He has some great ideas that you should listen to. Enjoy!

Announcer (00:13):

Welcome to the home care heroes podcast, featuring trending topics and practical wisdom for success in home care. Here's your host, Ken Accardi.

Ken Accardi (00:29):

Hello. Welcome to home care heroes. I have a very special guest today. His name is Kamran Nassar. What we're going to talk to Kamran about are some of the interesting ways you ran and grew your very successful agency. Is that an okay topic to go with?

Kamran Nassar (00:46):

Totally. Thank you again. It's great to meet you and I'm honored to be here too, to discuss that with you.

Ken Accardi (00:52):

Fantastic. Okay. Well, the first thing that I found very interesting about your story with Nuevacare is that it's more important to be different than it is even to be the best... Not to say that maybe you weren't the best, but you really focused on being different than the other home care agencies in your area. Can you tell us about that concept and how that manifested itself in your agency?

Kamran Nassar (01:15):

Absolutely. So when I started, my agency was in 2013 and I was completely new to the industry. I didn't know anything about home care. My background was in graphic design printing, and I was also doing some real estate investing after the recession. I lost a lot of money, and I was actually looking to get in a new industry. So home care came on my radar screen and I really liked it. The more I looked into it, the more I thought, well I think there's a great opportunity here to start something in the home care industry. So I did start an agency. And then when I started that agency, after a few months, I realized that, Oh my God, there's like another 200 home care agencies in our area. So wow, that's really competitive. And that's true in every industry, pretty much whatever you do, it's extremely competitive.

Kamran Nassar (02:07):

My personality is to market and be a little bit different than other people. Otherwise it's hard to gain traction and attract people to whatever you're doing. So I decided to do that. And one of the first things that was different about my agency was its name. The name was different. I decided to name it a little differently because out of the 200 agencies in the area, most of them had home. The other half had hand. They did not differentiate themselves. So I call it Nuevacare and some people thought that was strange. And it was like, what is Nuevacare? So the important thing is that it created a conversation.

Kamran Nassar (02:59):

So whenever somebody asks me, what is Nuevacare I'm like, Nueva means new so it's a new approach to care. So it starts a conversation being different in a positive way and creates conversations. So that's one of the first things that I think is good about being different. It creates a conversation. Another thing that was really unintentional about the name of the company was we started attracting Hispanic caregivers in the area, which was fantastic. And we actually came up with a program to attract even more Hispanic caregivers. They were very good for our agency. We have a pretty large Hispanic population, of course, in California, in the Bay area. So not only we had Spanish caregivers, we had families who wanted Spanish speaking caregivers. What's really interesting of what happened unintentionally as a consequence of just naming the company a little different. So yeah, so being different, it really helps.

Kamran Nassar (03:53):

It helps create conversations. It helps attract new customers because they are attracted to you because you are just presenting yourself as being different. And then we came up with different programs. We came up with this art program that was again, completely new, completely different. And with that, we were able to find a whole bunch of new customers that were really attracted to the whole idea of art therapy for Alzheimer's and dementia, because that program showed that there's really positive effects when you provide that kind of therapy to people who are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's,

Ken Accardi (04:35):

That's fantastic. Just so I understand that offering better... As part of your branding, you said we have an art therapy program and somebody whose loved one was experiencing memory loss, the art therapy would actually help them to be more conversational? Tell me more about it.

Kamran Nassar (04:51):

Yeah. So this, our program was in existence. This whole process started about 20 years ago. It is a program that was designed to help young individuals with autism about 20 years ago. And then over the years, it was changed to actually help people, older individuals who are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's, and it's a very specific program. It works with therapists that are being trained in that specific process to help people with dementia and Alzheimer's to use the left functionality of the brain and the right functionality of the brain to generate memories from their past, to be able to create some artwork with a direction and the guidance of the therapist. So what happened during those sessions? Art was created from memories of these individuals that will go back maybe 20 years, maybe 30 years from the time that they were probably on the beach.

Kamran Nassar (05:53):

And these pieces were actually amazing. They were so interesting. Their families love just looking at the these when it was created, but you know, a mom who hasn't been able to do much for the past five years and all of a sudden, there's this beautiful artwork that she created from her memory going back 10 years. So it was very interesting and it really put us again on a differentiating platform that, Hey, we have this amazing program and we were able to get clients because of that including 24 by 7, or eight hours a day. So a whole bunch of clients came to us because of that program. Again, it created a conversation. It created a conversation when we were doing a presentation for a new client, it's like, Oh, we have this program. That's fantastic. This is great. It's so different. How do you do it? What is the process? Some never use it, but it was really a way for us to say, Hey, this is what we do. We are more of an innovative company and not just the same.

Ken Accardi (06:51):

I love that. Thanks for taking us through that one. There were so many things in the book that caught my attention. So I'm going to shift to another one of them right now. And that was that you talked about that you put yourself in some consortium's with other agency leaders. So you would actually meet with other home care leaders in your area. Some would think they're your competitors and that they're your enemies and things like that. And then you talk to in the book about how they're not your enemies at all, and how you collaborated. If you couldn't fill a case that you would work with your competitors. Can you tell us about this?

Kamran Nassar (07:26):

Yes, home care business is a little different than many other businesses. And that's what I realized when I, when I started this agency, I realized that my caregivers, which is really the main service and the product that we offer, because as a home care agency, you don't have anything else. Strictly your caregivers, your caregivers are your product. They are your service. What I realize is that my caregivers, I actually worked for all my competitors. So they were not exclusive to me. So I would say 80% of our caregivers works for agency, A B C and D and I'm like okay. Well, that is really interesting because what I thought was my main product and service. We are actually sharing that with all these other agencies. So they're not really competitors to us. It's more like "coopetition" in many cases.

Kamran Nassar (08:24):

But if I had a patient and I couldn't really fill the case. I reached out to some other agencies in the area. I'd met them through, as you mentioned, through groups that we met on a monthly basis or some on a weekly basis, and then meeting them was great. There was so much cooperation and what I gave them, the potential patient, and they were able to fill it. It came back to us like a month later, they had a patient they couldn't really take care of, and we were able to help them. So it helped all of us to elevate our service and be able to actually take care of that patient. So by helping each other, we are able to help more people and keep the caregivers busy. And at the same time we were competing at the same time, we were competing on our prices, on our services, on our art therapy programs. But there is always a point that you have challenges with filling cases. And if you can work with your competitors in the area with your partner and competitors in their area, I think it really helped me help everybody to be able to elevate and be able to reach out and be able to provide your services to more clients.

Ken Accardi (09:36):

That ties so closely with what we're focused on here at home care heroes. The battle for caregivers is what defines the industry at this point is having and retaining great caregivers. And one would think that if you look at why caregivers leave an agency you might think that it's because they get 25 cents more from the agency across the street. But if you look at the re the results from home care pulse, that's not the prominent thing. The number one thing caregivers want is consistent hours - "Give us shifts." And if we could keep the shifts consistent, they're going to stay. And by trading with other agencies that made some sense. Incidentally,About six out of the 10 reasons caregivers leave has to do with communications. And having the agency communicate with their caregivers, provide support to the new caregivers, and let them know what's going on.

Ken Accardi (10:24):

And then of course pay is another thing as well, but it's more important that they have 40 hours a week, let's say then that they have 25 cents more per hour. I think that's just a very smart way of looking at it is that we're all competing and differentiating in different ways, but we're really part of an ecosystem. We're just trying to provide the care. And when you have sent a referral to somebody else, maybe they were surprised by that. But then they say, Hey, this potential client that came to us is more in Nuevacare's region than ours. I'm having trouble fulfilling it here, more in the East Bay or in the North Bay or in the city itself. And that way the care has coverage. And they sent me something. So the collaboration is working out really well.

Ken Accardi (11:04):

I want to jump into one more thing from the book. You talked about how there's this magical balance and you described that you use the metaphor of a making a piece of pottery on a Potter's wheel about it was really not just about getting clients or just about getting caregivers. It's all a balance. And without even saying more about it, could you share that story with us? By the way, I should have mentioned this in the beginning. Nuevacare is very, very successful. Didn't you win an award for being one of the fastest growing companies in Northern California?

Kamran Nassar (11:37):

Well, we actually, we were, we were one of the fastest growing private companies in the, in the U S in 2017, we were number 216 on, in 500. And that's because we grew extremely fast. Of course, when I started the company it had zero sales but by 2017 in only four years, we were close to 3 million. So that was extremely fast growth trajectory. And that put us on Inc 500 as number 216. I think we were in, in the U S we got some awards in Northern California as well of fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, all of that in 2017 because of our growth in the percentage of sales growth over the three or four years that I operated.

Ken Accardi (12:20):

So hats off to you for that. But let me kind of bring you back to the story of that balance that you found that you described with the pottery analogy. Let's hear about that story.

Kamran Nassar (12:28):

Yeah. So what I learned again, when I was running the agency was that it was really difficult at the beginning to get us to the million dollar Mark. It was always a start and a stop process because we had enough clients at some point. And then, you know, I will do all the marketing and go really hard and work really hard and find some clients. And then we'll be lacking caregivers. And then all the focus would go on hiring caregivers. As a small company, when you're a million dollar agency, you're still small enough that you don't have full-Time people, for example, doing, just hiring. So it's really difficult. So as an owner of a small agency, you wear different hats. So you market market market, you find new clients, new clients, and then all of a sudden you don't have caregivers.

Kamran Nassar (13:17):

So then you start hiring caregivers, you hire a lot of caregivers, you bring them on board and you train it and you get them ready. And unfortunately, in this business, again on, is so different than many other businesses, your customers pass away. So in six months you have a lot of caregivers and you don't have enough clients. So this thing just keeps going back and forth, back and forth. And you have to make a big decision when you're at this level of business that is to do full force marketing and full force hire. That's the only way that you can really surpass that and provide yourself with the resources to become a larger agency. In my book, I would think of as pottery, like when you're doing pottery, it's like, you have to turn the wheel and you have to shape the pottery at the same time.

Kamran Nassar (14:04):

If you stop the wheel, your pottery falls apart. So you just have to keep going. It's like this fly wheel concept. Also, I covered that in the book. It's the flywheel concept that you, it's something that has to keep churning and going constantly, no matter what, if you have a lot of clients, you still have to market for more clients, if you have enough caregivers and you think, Oh my God, we have 50 caregivers. We are, we're all set. Not in this business! You always have to hire more caregivers and markets for more clients. And that's really the flywheel or the pottery example that I cover in the book. It's like, you just have to keep it going. You just have to keep it. You can't stop. You have to keep it point. And by keeping this wheel and the process going all a sudden, you find yourself in a business that is automatically bringing in enough caregivers and bringing in enough customers that you are growing. All of a sudden, you go from 1 million to one and a half to two, two and a half to three, and you are on a growth trajectory, which you wouldn't have even imagined before. Because once you start and stop, you kill the momentum you have to keep going. And that is really the answer I'm trying to cover with the idea of pottery and the flywheel in the book.

Ken Accardi (15:22):

Great. Thank you for explaining that. I think it's, it's really powerful and we've definitely seen that cycle where, Hey, we're focusing on getting clients or we'refocusing on caregivers. You really do need to keep it in balance. And once you get that, you're off to the races.

Ken Accardi (15:35):

We're going to come to pretty much a wrap up of this segment. Now we spoke a little bit before we started recording here, we're going to bring you back and talk about your new venture. So you've actually sold Nuevacare and you're moving on into a new venture that is all about helping agencies more quickly engage with people who come to their website, trying to look for service. And within seconds, it gives them a way of getting into a conversation with you. And by the way, several times throughout this podcast, you've talked about the importance of starting a conversation.

Ken Accardi (16:06):

You said, well, the artwork starts a conversation, and our name started a conversation. So now you've got a new business that is about helping somebody who comes to your website, start a conversation via chat 24 hours a day, and helping them to be able to engage and be able to find a caregiver with a home care agency. I think it's fascinating. Why don't you take a minute or so on that, and then we'll do another podcast episode and get into the details of it down the road.

Kamran Nassar (16:34):

Absolutely. So while running my agency, one thing I noticed is that more and more people were going online to do their research, even though they were being referred to us by referral sources like hospitals andskilled nursing facilities. We did a lot of marketing and people were calling us, but one thing we realized is that even when the hospital refers a potential client to us, they go online and they do the research online. And once they do that, they see all of our competitors. So it's not like 10 years ago that when people were referred to us, they just pick up the phone and call. Now they go online and they do research and I'm sure it's even more that way now, especially after COVID with more and more things happening online.

Kamran Nassar (17:19):

So what I decided to do is to put this chat box on our website, which was actually handled by live people. So it's not a chat bot. It was a chat conversation application that people were getting engaged with potential visitors. Note that when people come to your website, you have eight seconds to engage with them or they're gone. Just imagine yourself, you're looking for something online. You don't just go to one website and start reading and exploring. You go back and forth, back and forth until something grabs your attention and you start an engagement of some sort. So that chat box really helped us a lot to get new customers again, because we weren't able to engage with them. And I had people that were trained in home care that were able to have conversations with these people.

Kamran Nassar (18:09):

So we developed that further and we enhanced it to what we have now as a new product, which is Captiva8. That's my new company and we have the combination of the app and the chat platform. It provides home care agencies the ability to engage with potential customers, much faster and much easier, and a lot more efficiently. And through that process, we are able to show the potential caregivers to potential customers who are looking for care from those agencies. So again, I'm happy to show you that later, hopefully in a different podcasts and discuss that in more detail.

Ken Accardi (18:50):

We're going to wrap up the segment here with Kamran Nassar. If that last bit peaked your interest, the company is Captiva8, the spelling is Captiva followed by the number eight. So it's C A P T I V A, and the number 8, and it's Captiva8.com. So you can take a look there, but we'll definitely bring Kamran back to talk to him again about that. I'm just holding up for those of you who are online Kamran's book Caring for Millions, and we'll get the link of how you could download chapters of the book for free and how you could order the book. With that, thank you one more time, Kamran, for being on home care heroes.

Kamran Nassar (19:31):

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Speaker 2 (19:36):

Thanks for joining us today on the home care heroes podcast, home care heroes is produced by Ankota, the software for the heroes of home care. You can listen to back episodes by visiting 4 home care heroes.com. That's the number four then the words, home care heroes dot com. 

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