By Mario Schulzke | ideamensch.com
Chris Seman joined Caring Transitions in January 2012 as Chief Operating Officer and has served as its President since February 2012 and as member of the Board of Directors since January 1, 2016. Prior to joining Caring Transitions, Chris was with Mr. Handyman International in Ann Arbor, Michigan, serving as National Director of Operations from January 2005 through March 2007, as Vice President of Operations from March 2007 through October 2011, and as Vice President from October 2011 through December 2011.
Chris is a firm believer in franchising and the franchise model, having gained this belief through his experience as a franchise executive and by owing his own franchise. Chris owned and operated a successful Mr. Handyman franchise and knows firsthand the critical importance of having a world class training, marketing and operational support programs in place for franchise owners at all levels of the system.
This experience and expertise will be important as Caring Transitions continues to grow and develop as the No. 1 provider of senior relocation, downsizing, organizing, household liquidation and estate sales management services in North America.
Where did the idea for Caring Transitions come from?
Gary Green, our CEO and founder, had started Home Helpers, a non-medical home care business, and saw Caring Transitions as the next phase in senior care when helping families make the transition from the home to assisted living and other senior housing communities.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day consists of working with staff, existing franchisees and prospective franchisees. The beauty of this business is the ability to create an environment that is not burdened by routines. The way you make that productive is that you chart out the short term and long term demands of the business and the follow the mantra of “does this activity improve revenue and profitability?” and if you cannot make the case that it does, you drop it and work on areas that do.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas need to be exposed to the elements. Those that are hardy and healthy will grow, probably mutate, and then mature. The unhealthy ideas pale in the light of day, wither, and then die. You present your ideas to core, trusted advisors, get feedback, and if you feel strongly enough about them, you then test them in an environment that will give you real world feedback. Then you adapt the idea to results and communicate and educate others on the idea, what you have learned and what needs to be done for it to work. You cannot become so enamored of your own ideas that you prop up ones that need to either change or go away. As William Faulkner is famously quoted you must ‘kill all your darlings.’ No idea can be so precious if it cannot stand up to the market or the scrutiny of our customers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In our industry, it is the aging of the population not only in real years but as a percentage of our entire population. This is opening huge opportunities for those who are willing to focus on the needs and desires of this community. The Baby Boomers, as they age, are doing what they have always done, looking at why things are done, what has been the accepted way in the past, but challenging the world to do better. This makes all of us better and it will make society for our aging population better.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Delegate and educate. You can only do so much yourself in your business before you run into diminishing returns. When you hire for specific areas of your business, give them the freedom to find better ways to accomplish something. People, when giving support and resources, will often surprise you.
What advice would you give your younger self?
So much of what you are worried about does not matter to anyone other than you. Let it go and focus on what you want to get done.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I have never surveyed anyone on whether they see the validity of my ideas. The best one I can think of is that it is a greater risk to work for others than it is to work for yourself, doing something that you are passionate about. I would guess many do not agree with me, as most people feel a job is the most security you can have.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Challenge why you are doing things in a certain way. Things may have worked to some degree in the past, but it could usually be better. Look at it as continual improvement with no fixed finish line. You and your business are never perfect and will not get better if you believe that you have everything already figured out.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
The most important thing was to get everyone focused on the fact that Caring Transitions is a business, with key metrics that will help you improve client satisfaction as well as profitability. Most businesses do not have that basis to overcome. Second was setting sales goals and providing education and training to give everyone the tools they need to be successful in communicating our services to our referral partners and clients. You need to convert your organization to a sales organization to drive the revenue to provide the jobs, services and income that is necessary.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As an entrepreneur, the greatest failure is failure to launch. You will always have more reasons not to do something than you will to do something. Instead of looking at total reasons, you need to weigh the ones that are most important to you. At some point, you need to have irrational confidence and the desire to face failure, and yet continue anyway.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A real growth area is in senior housing which has been very successful because it offers up social interaction and support to individuals who can become isolated in their community. The area of opportunity is that there are individuals who do not want to move and those who cannot move. To be able to bring together the community services and the pockets of seniors who need them has an opportunity to create a great business with a growing need.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was at a bookstore. Books fill the mind and the soul and open you up to new worlds and new ideas. My mental health and creativity feel recharged by a good book and makes me productive in both my professional and personal life. And while I have been known to over utilize Amazon, this $100 was at an actual bookstore which, while it might make me seem like I am on the wrong end of technology, there is nothing like wandering a bookstore and seeing what is there and how it perks your mind. So far, no algorithm can duplicate the random wanderings of being in am actual place.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
ICloud on my phone. The syncing of all my calendars has been the greatest thing that technology has ever offered me. So I don’t have to remember many important issues, I can just put it in my calendar. It is all there on my phone, keeping me mobile and not tied down to a laptop or an office.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Influencer” by Kerry Paterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer. Have you ever wondered why people tell you that they love your advice or great idea yet they never seemed to put it into action? Why are there hundreds of business advice books printed every year that continually have the same information yet many people fundamentally never seem to change? Influencer will show you how adults learn and what it takes to change behaviors. It is direct, straightforward and entertaining in a way that will give you the tools to be more successful in whatever aspect of life you may need.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two. The first one is: “Success if not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts,” by Winston Churchill. The other one is: “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great has ever been achieved,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
4 Key Takeaways:
- The aging population not only in real years but as a percentage of our entire population is opening huge opportunities for those who are willing to focus on the needs and desires of this community.
- Delegate and Educate, people, when giving support and resources, often surprise you with what they are capable of.
- You need to convert your organization to a sales organization to drive the revenue to provide the jobs, services and income that is necessary for the success of your business.
- Ideas need to be exposed to the elements. Those that are hardy and healthy will grow, probably mutate, and then mature. The unhealthy ideas pale in the light of day, wither, and then die.