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Two Generations of Women Join Forces and Find Success in Business Ownership with Seniors Helping Seniors

Jennifer Barton attributes her 12 years of success to her mother’s business acumen, overcoming self doubt and joining women-owned business support communities that focus on “fixing each other’s crowns.”

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
8:08AM 03/03/24

Jennifer Barton had decided to take a year off from teaching children with disabilities when an advertisement for Seniors Helping Seniors came across her desk. She immediately fell in love with the in-home senior care franchise’s policy of hiring active seniors to provide care for their less-active counterparts. Barton's mother, Rosemary, had owned her own business for 30 years, so Barton brought the idea to her and asked for her advice.

As fate would have it, her mother didn’t want to simply give advice, but wanted to be a part of her daughter’s new venture. Before long, the two became franchisees with Seniors Helping Seniors in Brevard County, Florida, where they have been successfully providing care for 12 years now.

Barton had worked with her mother once before at an insurance company when Barton was in her 20s. At the time, Barton called her mother by her first name so as to not let others know they were related. She didn’t want to diminish her own merit or to simply be known as “Rosemary’s daughter.” However, when the two generations of women joined forces once again two decades later to open their own business, Barton felt differently. 

“I was perfectly okay with everyone knowing she was my mom because I was so proud of who she was and her part in the business,” she said.

The two women have grown their business over the years and Barton shows no signs of stopping. She attributes a great deal of her success to the support she received from local organizations that focus on women-owned businesses and advises other women to empower each other through these communities.

“I would encourage women to go out and plug into other organizations for support. Our local women’s business groups and organizations here have been amazing and we are constantly fixing each other's crowns,” said Barton.

1851 Franchise spoke with Barton about her journey into franchising and her plans for the future.

PROFILE QUESTIONS

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Barton: I worked in insurance for about the first 10 years of my career. Then I was a teacher in the Brevard County schools, and I taught kids with varying disabilities. After a while, I had taken a year off. My last position was with the really little ones and so I wanted to take a breather to get my patience level back to where it needed to be. During that time, I ended up being the one in the family that took everybody to their doctor's appointments, which made me see the need for this, but I was also enjoying it and having a lot of fun. 

One day, an ad for Seniors Helping Seniors came across my desk; I looked at it and thought: “That's perfect. That’s what we should have done for Great Grandma when she needed help.”

I immediately fell in love with the idea and took it to my mom who had been in business for 30 years to ask her to help me do some research. She did her own little independent study and ended up falling in love with the concept as well. Next thing I knew, she was asking me “When are we going to do this?” I loved the “we” part, so we started it together and have had the business for 12 years now.  

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Barton: My initial perception was negative. I used to think franchises were super expensive and hard to work with, but in reality, we've found that it's been great. I couldn't have done this on my own. I couldn't have built our franchise as quickly or as successfully without that support from the home office.

I suggest doing your due diligence, so you know exactly what you're getting into, but I have found it to be a great experience. I'm very happy we did it.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Barton: When we were taking care of some of the people in my family, they were very feisty and didn't want to listen to anybody, but they would listen to their bingo friends. Seniors Helping Seniors really made a whole lot of sense to us for that reason because of the closeness in age and focus on building relationships between the caregivers and clients. 

When we met with the corporate team, we could tell their heart was in the business. We immediately liked what they stood for and how they approached the business.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Barton: Here in Florida, and especially in Brevard County, our demographics mean that half of us qualify as seniors. I don't feel like I've even saturated our area and our territories for what we're doing right now, so we want to continue growing right along with our community. 

We have added the electronic caregiver to supplement what we do to help keep people safe while we're not around in the home. We love looking at ways to continue growing what we already have.

1851: What makes you feel proud about being a successful woman in business ownership?

Barton: I am proud of the community I belong to. Here in Brevard County, we have a lot of support for women-owned businesses. I am part of weVENTURE which is through the Florida Institute of Technology. They have a Women's Business Center and we've had a lot of support through them from the very beginning, which makes me feel very lucky. 

I would encourage women to go out and plug into other organizations for support. Our local women’s business groups and organizations here have been amazing and we are constantly fixing each other's crowns. That's been a big part of our success here.

1851: A lot of people say that working with family is controversial, but you went into business with your mother. What was that experience like?

It worked wonderfully for us. We tried to set rules and boundaries, which only worked sometimes, but overall, we made an incredible team. We know each other so well so we could fill in for each other’s weaknesses. I'm eternally grateful for her; she said she would give me three years in the business and she actually gave me six. She retired in 2018, but she still comes out and helps and remains a sounding board for me. I think working with family might be hit or miss for some, but for us, it was wonderful.

When I worked in insurance in my early 20’s, I worked with my mom, but I did not want people to know she was my mom. I would call her by her first name, because I wanted to be taken for who I was and not just be known as “Rosemary’s daughter.”

It’s funny how much that has changed when we opened this business together 20-some years later. I was perfectly okay with everyone knowing she was my mom because I was so proud of who she was and her part in the business.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Barton: As a woman and coming from a teaching background, I was experiencing self-doubt in my entrepreneurial abilities. I learned that you can go in a different career direction and be successful if you put your mind and energy towards a goal. I learned it’s important to not hold yourself back.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Barton: Do your research so you know what you are getting into. Be prepared; it is a business and it is a lot of hard work, especially at the beginning, but it’s worth it in the end. 

ABOUT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS:

Seniors Helping Seniors® franchise system was founded by husband-and-wife duo Kiran and Philip Yocom. Kiran, who grew up in India, later worked to advance humanitarian efforts alongside Mother Teresa. After Kiran moved to the U.S. in 1995 and married her husband Philip, the Yocoms felt called to provide loving care to seniors and to cultivate an exchange of gifts at every generational level. Together, the Yocoms founded Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home services in 1998, opening the brand up to franchising in 2006. With a mission to be the most respected and rewarding homecare provider in the U.S., Seniors Helping Seniors® locations stand apart from competitors as the only company that prioritizes hiring active seniors to provide care services to their less-active counterparts. Seniors Helping Seniors® service aligns caregivers and care recipients based on the abilities and needs of both by offering a wide range of care services. Seniors Helping Seniors® network has grown to 200-plus locations, 125 franchise partners in 30-plus states and international markets. For more information on Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care, visit seniorshelpingseniors.com.  

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