Success Story…The Caring Company

 

Lynette Morris was not interested in living the “American dream” of owning her own business when she was approved for a $455,000 loan guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Instead, she was interested in saving jobs, creating jobs and continuing to provide care to the clients she had grown to love. Morris used the money to purchase The Caring Company, a home health care business in rural Oklahoma.

By purchasing the 15-year-old company, where Morris had worked for over a year, she and her husband, Walt, were able to save nine jobs and create another nine positions. They were also able to continue providing skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, personal care and some mental health and social services to more than 70 clients located in 15 northwestern Oklahoma counties.

Close to 95 percent of The Caring Company’s patients are elderly and because they live in rural areas, they can feel isolated and lonely, Morris said.

“Paying attention to their psychological and social needs is just as important as making sure they are not running a fever and their heart is beating right. We provide staff that can do housekeeping, run errands, and just take the time to sit and listen to clients’ stories when they talk about their experiences with raising children, surviving the Depression or working in the church. Our patients are just so grateful for the short amount of time we spend with them. We like to make sure the whole person is healthy.”

When the opportunity to buy the business came up, Morris visited with Jeanne Cole, a Business Advisor at Northwestern Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC) in Alva. Cole helped Morris and her husband, Walt, develop a business plan and complete financial projections.

Once the package was complete and presented to the bank, the couple found out the deal was even sweeter. Because of temporary changes implemented by the SBA due to the Recovery Act, the couple qualified for a 90-percent guarantee on the loan and saved more than $9,000 in loan fees.

“The whole process seemed very easy,” said Morris. “We used the money to not only purchase the business, but to acquire the hardware and software to bring us up-to-date technologically.”

Morris owned a retail business in the early ‘80s and said she never wanted to be in business for herself again. “It drove me crazy,” she said. However, today, Morris said being in business is better than expected. “We live and operate our business by the motto, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ My husband and I feel this is a fool-proof philosophy.”

Morris said there are two main ingredients to small business success – “Clients who like our work and staff who like to come to work. It’s a team approach to serve a client. It’s not a totem pole situation. We encourage any employee who has a problem or idea to make things better to talk to us, whatever it is. We want everyone to feel like they are a part of this organization, that their opinions are valued and that their concerns are valid. We also want to be sure that as soon as the clients’ needs have been met, the staff [members] are able to go home and spend time with their families. We could have thousands of patients but if we don’t have staff that is capable and content, we won’t have a business very long.”