Franchising USA talked to Belina Calderon-Nernberg, CEO of 1Heart Caregiver Services, about why she started her franchise and why caregiving is such an important and fulfilling industry. As an immigrant from the Philippines, Belina created 1Heart to follow her American Dream and help provide peace of mind and support to families and their aging loved ones, as well as to create an opportunity for others to follow their dream and be their own boss.
Why did you start your franchise?
I grew up in a small town in the Philippines. My mom would always remind me and my sisters to “make sure that you earn enough money for yourself so you can always stand on your own.” I kept this in mind when I moved to the United States to create a better life and opportunity for my children. Even though it was heartbreaking to leave my parents behind in the Philippines, I knew that it was the right decision for my career and for my children.
The guilt and sadness of being far away and not being able to take care of my mother as she grew old was heartbreaking, but finding a local reliable caregiver gave me the peace of mind that she was being taken care of by someone who really cared for her. Finding her a caregiver with the compassion and experience to give her the best quality care possible while I could not be there inspired me to start my own caregiving franchise. I started 1Heart Caregiver Services to not only honor my mother, but to help other people like myself who had elderly loved ones that they could not physically be there to take care of. I wanted to create a franchise that people could trust to provide their relatives with the best care possible, from highly-trained and compassionate caregivers. Someone who would care for them like family.
When I came to America, I came with a dream to have a better life. Starting a business that actually creates jobs and helps families take care of their loved ones gave me a purpose in my life. And now that we’re franchising, we’re giving other people like myself a chance to make their own American Story: a story of success that comes from hard work and finding the courage to take that leap of faith to achieving financial freedom and living the life that they dream of. How? By being their own boss and serving the community in a very good way—providing love, care and family to our frail and elderly.
What was the turning point that made you realise you wanted to change your career path?
After seven years of living and working here in the US, my husband and I didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere near our dream of being financially free, so we moved back to the Philippines. However, I felt that the US provided much better opportunities for success not just for us but for our children as well. I felt that I could do more here than there. My husband did not want to go back to the US because he was tired of being an employee, and I realized that if my family were to live here, I had to do something. Starting my own business where I could be my own boss was the only way to do it, so I took that crucial step and I’m glad I did.
Do you see yourself in your franchisees?
Yes, it’s interesting to note that most of our franchisees are also immigrants in this country. They are just as optimistic and hopeful of a better life as I was when I first came to America. After years of being in the work force, they all understand that financial freedom and success doesn’t come from luck or entitlement. And just like me, they’ve all experienced the hard work and sacrifices that it takes to reach their goals. They’re very driven to succeed because they all recognize that it is a blessing to be in a country that offers so many opportunities to have a good life.
What type of training does 1Heart Caregiver Services provide to its franchisees?
Through our 1Heart Business Academy, we train our franchisees on Sales, Marketing, Operations and Finance, aligned to 1Heart’s Vision, Mission, Core Values and culture. We also provide ‘continuing education’ and coaching in professional development putting emphasis on management and leadership which is very helpful to first time business owners.
If someone was interested in joining your franchise system, what would you say to them?
First, I ask them “why?” This kind of business will not thrive if the business owner’s “why” is just to make money. You need to have real compassion for people—not just your care recipients but your caregivers as well. There will be times when you have to let your heart make that “business” decision, but as long as they follow our system and adhere to our Core Values of Excellence, Integrity and Heart, they will be successful.
How do you see your franchise developing into the future?
As the senior population in America continues to grow, it is heart-warming to see that our franchise is not only helping families with their aging loved ones but also helping hardworking individuals achieve financial freedom by replicating our success. In doing so, we also provide jobs to people in our communities. Understanding the real purpose of why 1Heart existed for more than a decade of serving seniors and achieving wellness, longevity and improved lifestyle is a continued legacy that the company wants to achieve in all franchise locations.