A Franchise with Purpose: Any Lab Test Now Seizes Upon an Opportunity in Transparency Within the Healthcare Industry. [Podcast]
Franchise Business Review presents FBR Viewpoints with your host, Eric Stites.
Eric: Good afternoon. This is Eric Stites with Franchise Business Review. Today, I have the pleasure of talking to Clarissa Bradstock and Terri McCulloch of Any Lab Test Now. Clarissa and Terri, welcome.
Terri: Thank you.
Clarissa:Thank you. Great to be here.
Eric:Thanks for taking a few minutes to spend with us this afternoon and share a little bit about your franchise company. Clarissa, why don't I have you start off and just tell us a little bit about Any Lab Test Now and how you guys get started and how you've grown the company over the last few years.
Clarissa:Well, thank you. Any Lab Test Now, we're a retail business. We serve the community by providing DNA toxicology and clinical lab testing directly to consumers and businesses. We're on the forefront on what they call healthcare consumerism, which gives customers the ability to order their own lab tests and provide transparent pricing. The concept started back in 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia. Then we started franchising back in 2007. We now have 174 locations across the country.
Eric: Wow, that's great. That's great. What I should have probably said at the beginning of the intro, is that Clarissa, you are CEO, and Terri, you're VP of Development. Is that true?
Terri: That is correct.
Eric: Terri, can you tell us a little bit about the franchise investment and who your ideal franchisee candidates are?
Terri: Absolutely. From a financial perspective, we're looking for someone that has a minimum of $50,000 liquid cash with total capital minimum of $300,000. Over the years, I've been with Any Lab Test Now since 2010. We've learned a lot about our franchise, and what really makes the ideal candidate for us. Number one, we're a franchise with purpose. We do what we do to help people. We're looking for someone that really is involved in their community. There are so many people that we help with what we provide, and so that community involvement is imperative. Secondly, we have a group of core values that were actually developed by our Franchise Advisory Council. We're looking for someone that lives and breathes those core values, which are integrity, empowerment, value, accountability, being proactive, and teamwork.
We measure those core values as we go through the discovery process to make sure that there is a good fit. We're looking for someone that has a sales and growth mindset. We are a very hands-on business model. We want that owner to be out there in the community, out there talking to our consumers to learn more to grow the business. We want them to be working on the different B2B verticals that we support. We want somebody that's passionate about what we do. We find people that are passionate about wellness, passionate about healthy lifestyles. They, themselves, may have had their own medical story of how the change in healthcare with high deductible insurance really impacted them and caused them to look for a solution. Those are the types of candidates that we're looking for at this time.
Eric: Neat. I mean, it sounds like a really cool opportunity. I've been in the franchise world for a long time as you guys have as well. I think when people first started thinking about franchise businesses, they often think about the food or other retail concepts that they may see. I think this is a type of opportunity that's not necessarily top of mind to someone looking at franchising. Those are generally the opportunities that are the best opportunity. I mean, obviously, with the healthcare sector booming the way it has been, that certainly plays into your business very well. Clarissa, tell us a little bit about ... I mean, Terry did a good job of explaining who the ideal candidate is, tell us a little bit about what's it like as a franchisee on a day-to-day basis. What are the activities that make them successful?
Clarissa: Well, I think having the in-store experience fine-tuned. Working and hiring a good staff that has a focus on, not only the technical skills of drawing blood and doing drugs tests, but also having that community involvement and having that ability to engage with customers as they come in. When you've got that kind of staff holding down the fort, so to speak, what we really want to see as the franchisees do two things. We want them to be out in the community, as Terri had mentioned, out there talking about the Any Lab Test Now brand, going to our B2B targets. For example, employers, physicians practices, attorneys. There's a whole list of targets. We want them out there engaging and getting the word out with those potential and prospective customers.
Then also being very involved on the marketing end of understanding what is driving customers to the store in their particular demographic. It's really important to understand those different channels. Then, on top of that, really being proactive and managing the numbers. In many days, as we all know, in building a business, it's about knowing your financial numbers. We want them to keep a close eye on their numbers, look at their margins, look at everything that is driving revenue and also keeping an eye on expenses. Because at the end of the day, it's all about having a profitable growing business.
Eric: I imagine, because you're in the medical industry, you probably get a number of people from medical backgrounds that are interested in your opportunity. It sounds like it's really more business-oriented. I mean, like many franchises are, if you're somebody that gets excited about drawing blood, you're probably not the best franchisee. Is that true?
Clarissa: Well, we have a lot of prospective franchisees and franchisees that come to us that do have a medical background, but you're absolutely right. We want them to take that medical background and communicate that back to the B2B sectors into the community. Now with saying that, the majority of our franchisees actually have more of a sales background. They really wanted to get into a market and target that is really again making difference in their community. Also, they really liked being in healthcare because it's very recession-resistant because everybody needs health care. That's really important for a lot of our perspective and our franchisees.
Eric: Terri, can you tell us a little bit about what makes Any Lab Test Now so unique? Especially once a franchisee comes on board, how you're supporting that person through their franchise lifecycle?
Terri: Sure. I think one thing that really differentiates us, unlike a restaurant or a hospitality type of franchise, is where we run very lean, minimal employees. Again, we're looking at costs and expenses as well as the customer experience. I think that's one thing that really separates us within the healthcare field is customer experience creates word of mouth advocate. We take that very seriously. We have multiple channels of business. We don't just do one thing. We offer a lab testing direct to consumers, but we also have multiple business to business verticals, where we're able to go out and establish referrals with them, such as with physicians, who may have non-compliant patients because they're concerned with the cost. Or it could be setting up sales accounts such as with employers or technical schools that are getting testing for their students.
Then, we also collect specimens or perform phlebotomy services for specialty laboratories. It's nice to see that there's a lot of diversity to help continue to build that franchise business. That franchise is empowered to use the systems we have in place to create their long-term strategy. One other thing that I think is a big differentiator is we have very minimal supply costs and that our reference laboratories actually provide any blood tubes and those types of supplies to us as part of a whole testing program. We help keep supply costs or overhead as a total down with low employee count as well as low supply cost. Clarissa, I'm going to let you take over the franchise support because this is your strength. It's just amazing to me how much we offer the franchisees.
Clarissa: Well, thank you, Terri. Yes, we are really proud of all of the services that we provide to our franchisees. I think one of the things that really differentiates us is that we have a call center. We learned a number of years ago that with a minimal number of employees at the locations, that we needed to help franchisees focus on that in-store experience. We have a call center we can take the calls coming directly from the customers. Then we booked the appointments for the franchisees, which makes it really easy again for them to focus on the in-store experience. We also have, we're very proud of, our Any Lab Test Now training portal. It is an online integrated system. Franchisees and their team members and medical assistants can log in and actually take courses. We actually have a certification program too, where MAs, medical assistants, who work the front line at the locations can actually go through a process to get certified with our brand.
We're really happy about that service that we provide. We then also have multiple site visits for franchisees who are coming into the system, to make sure they're as comfortable as possible, right before opening and right after opening. Then last but not least, of course, we have a tremendous amount of marketing support. In addition to different branded collateral and so forth, we also have initiative, which is really having a significant impact for our franchisees, where we cover PR going out into the community where we can get coverage and markets. To educate consumers about different things that are happening related to health care. For example, right now, we have a lot of coverage in different media markets on the nightly news related to the measles outbreak. That is something that we go out and proactively engage with the markets for the franchisees to get more brand awareness.
Eric:That measles thing is pretty serious. I can imagine that drives a lot of business for you.
Clarissa:Yeah, and I think it's one of those examples where the typical healthcare consumer doesn't understand that they can get a blood test to see if they are immunized. It's things like that we really try to get the word out with our customer base.
Eric: Right, right. Well, as you guys know, I mean we have thousands of franchisee candidates visiting our website all the time. I think many people don't really understand franchising when they first start looking. I'm just curious if both of you could share just some advice or tips on what would you tell a franchisee candidate that's looking to get into franchising, whether they're looking at Any Lab Test Now or another franchise. What advice would you have for someone? Clarissa, you want to start?
Clarissa: Yeah, I would be happy to. Make sure that when you're looking at a franchise, it resonates with the lifestyle that you want right now. I heard a great example of this from somebody who was looking at a franchise concept. They said, "I have teenage daughters. I don't want to own a franchise in which I'm going to have to manage teenagers." It was good as an example, which I thought was brilliant because at the time I have teenage daughters too. That's a really good way of thinking about things on what you want to do day in and day out. If you're going to get up every day, and be excited about what you do. Then, of course, making sure that the financial opportunity aligns with what your financial goals are.
Last but not least, before I turn it over to Terri, is talk with existing franchisees of that brand. Really, it gets into tell you, not only what they really like about the business but what some of the challenges are. So that you go into the opportunity with a clear view of the whole picture, because that makes it where you're more prepared if and when you become a franchisee. With that, I'll hand it over to Terri.
Terri: Thanks. I guess I just have a couple of things to add is we're looking for candidates that really want to embrace the franchise. We're looking for people that are interested in either being a full-time operator or hiring an operations manager to be involved for full time. Again, sales and marketing in retail business is very important. we need to have someone hyper focused on that. The other thing, and I think this is really interesting because it's all about perception, is our franchise is not filled the drains. Meaning, you don't just build out a store, throw up a sign and build it and they will come. You have to build awareness. In some areas of the country, consumers are unaware that they can just actually order their own lab test, or that they have an affordable solution.
Owning a franchise comes with hard work. The great news is we have the best practices in the path on how to do that within the franchise system. Knowing that it's by and people are going to flood your door, it's not going to happen. Let's just be upfront about that. That you are going to have to build your brand in your community and build your business.
Eric: That's great advice. Clarissa, specifically, when you talk about the skills that really take it to be successful as a franchisee, I think a lot of people when they first start looking at businesses, they look at the skills that it takes to operate the business, but typically, the franchisee is not the one performing, like again, in your case, they're not the ones doing the medical tests, they're out there in the community or visiting businesses and selling their services and doing all that marketing and promotion. I think that takes time for people to realize. I think that's great advice for candidates to really dig in and find out what it takes to be successful, whatever brand they happen to be looking at.
Eric: Well, I want to thank you both for your time this afternoon. Wish you the best of success in the future. I've been watching your company for a number of years. It's exciting to see it grow as fast as it has. Obviously, anybody that's interested can find more information about your company on our website, Any Lab Test Now. Terri, if someone's interested in franchise opportunities, how would you like them to contact you?
Terri:Absolutely, and thank you. It's AnyLabtestNow.com/franchise. You'll find our franchise information there as well as our 800 number if you'd like to give us a call.
Eric: Awesome. Well again, Clarissa and Terri, thank you so much for taking a few minutes today to share your story. I wish you the best of success.
Terri: Great thank you so much, Eric. We appreciate it.
Clarissa: Thank you so much. Thank you, Eric. Alrighty.
That's it for this edition of FBR Viewpoints. For more information on today's franchise opportunities, please visit franchisebusinessreview.com. For more information about franchise opportunities with Any Lab Test Now visit https://www.anylabtestnow.com/franchise/