Veterans who are ready to make the leap back into the private sector often want to maintain that sense of community service they experienced while serving in the military and one health care franchise system gives them just that.
American Family Care (AFC) is a Birmingham-based franchise that has pioneered the concept of non-emergency room urgent care. With its 2013 acquisition of the Doctors Express franchise, AFC is the nation’s leading provider of urgent care and accessible primary care, with more than 170 clinics and 500 in-network physicians caring for more than 2 million patients a year.
Among AFC’s franchisees is Dave Adams, who currently operates three medical facilities in the greater Boston area, with another one opening soon and the rights to open six more eventually.
Adams said when he first purchased his franchises, he thought he was going to be spending his time driving strategy and working on financials, but instead he spends the vast majority of his time leading and managing people.
“There is no better leadership finishing school, I would argue, than the United States Marine Corps and that skill set is used every single day in my life as a franchisee with AFC,” Adams stated.
Adams joined the franchise back when it was known as Doctors Express, opening his first one in December 2012, his second one in September of 2014 and his third one in January of 2016. His fourth center will open in January of 2017.
He chose AFC because he has a general management and operational background with his military training and he wanted a business that would allow him to use his background in a way that would enable him to help people and their communities.
“I really fell in love with the brand and the concept and the opportunity to support a community, while doing good in the world – and doing well from a business perspective,” he explained.
In addition to allowing him to serve his community, AFC also provides Adams with a sense of teamwork, which he enjoys.
The franchisee attended college on a football scholarship and then spent nearly a decade in the United States Marines Corps as an Assault Amphibian Officer. Both his college experience and his military experience were based on teamwork and camaraderie and supporting the common good, your community and your country. In his post Marine Corps. life, Adams spent time in a business school program, where he also found a sense of camaraderie with his fellow students.
Once done this business school program, Adams spent many years in the private sector working for a real estate firm and it was in this traditionally structured company that he first noticed the lack of teamwork that he had grown to cherish.
“The franchise opportunity that AFC provides has given me that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps, the camaraderie, the operations driven focus, the opportunity to serve a community and serve something greater than one’s self that I experienced when I was wearing a uniform while supporting my country,” he said.
For training, Adams was required to spend several in-session days with AFC (Doctors Express at the time) at their corporate headquarters training on the day-to-day basics of running the franchise, plus the more detailed nuances of clinic management that are required.
Once he had completed this initial training, a corporate trainer came to Boston to train all his new hires, which he had made based on the criteria the company had provided him with.
Adams said the majority of training AFC provides its franchisees is done in their own franchises as the company trains the managers and employees the franchisees have hired.
“AFC is backed by urgent care experts of the highest degree with 30-plus years of experience,” he noted.
It’s this experience in the healthcare field that is invaluable for franchisees, as the healthcare and health insurance landscapes are constantly fluctuating, Adams said, adding that he couldn’t imagine trying to run an urgent care facility without the support of the franchise.
Franchisee Paul Arvanitis feels the same way. He owns franchises in the San Diego region.
“We’re viewed as a very valuable, convenient and economical source of healthcare,” Arvanitis said during a recent interview with Franchising USA.
Arvanitis currently owns three franchises and has two more under development. He purchased his first franchise in spring of 2010 before AFC acquired Doctors Express. For him, the timing was perfect, as he had just sold his interest in the business he was running and was looking for a new challenge in the healthcare field. Among his options were to build and run his own urgent care center, but he quickly became sold on mitigating his risk by joining the franchise instead.
When his introduction to the concept took place six years ago, it was still a novel idea to franchise an urgent care facility, but Arvanitis saw great potential in the concept.
With an extensive career in the military lasting over two decades, primarily in healthcare administration roles, Arvanitis was especially qualified to recognize potential in the franchise opportunity.
Among his various roles throughout his career, the veteran earned a commission as a Naval
Medical Service Corps Officer in 1991, served as Associate Administrator for the Navy’s largest academic medical center and was selected for a Managed Care Fellowship in private industry to work with companies such as Kaiser Permanente, Health Net and BlueCross/BlueShield of South Carolina.
Once he left the military, he co-founded a successful healthcare capital planning firm and founded a healthcare technical services company.
A Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives with a Masters in Healthcare Administration and a PhD, Arvanitis was an asset for the young franchise when he joined as a franchisee.
He already had two Doctors Express urgent care centers up and running by the time AFC purchased Doctors Express, so he already had a lot of experience successfully running his franchises when the acquisition happened.
However, he did notice the acquisition by AFC had an overall positive effect on the entire franchise system.
“With their help and assistance, their information sources, their vendor relationships, their experience and everything else that goes along with that, I think AFC brings a much stronger support system than what we had in the past.”
Arvanitis credits his military training for giving him an inner discipline that helps him complete the tasks he needs to in order for his clinics to be successful. It also gave him the confidence needed to do his job well.
Plus, his military experience has also helped him be a better leader.
“The leadership training has helped as well, because as you grow, you grow your staff and you’re leading people along the way,” he explained.
For veterans like Adams and Arvanitis, AFC provides that familiar sense of service that so many ex-military members look to hold onto in their civilian lives.