Relationships Over Transactions: Stacy Gamel owner of ComForCare
Stacy Gamel is a talented turn-around Chief Operations Officer with a passion for helping businesses across many industries. Going into 2020, Stacy was ready to write her next chapter in life; she had just launched her youngest High School graduate off to college and was ready to take on a new challenge. At the time, Stacy was the Agency Administrator for two locations of ComForCare, an in-home senior care business, where she managed day-to-day operations.
In September of 2020, Stacy had the opportunity to become a franchise owner, with the purchase of a ComForCare territory covering Monroe County and small portions of Washtenaw and Lenawee County, from the previous owner. Stacy was looking at a January 2021 open date for the franchise location; however, things progressed much more rapidly than expected and she would, in fact, be opening her doors in November of 2020. This was less than 60 days from the time she contacted the SBDC.
“Spencer and the SBDC did not let me down. They pivoted, wonderfully, with every change in the timeline”, Stacy shared.
Thankfully, Stacy had the right team at the Small Business Development Center by her side. As Stacy began taking steps to purchase the franchise, she reached out and was connected to Spencer Field, a consultant at the Michigan SBDC.
“I literally was online googling, help for small businesses. I was asking myself, is this the right decision? Should I be opening a home care company in the middle of the pandemic? Is the asking price right? Where do I even begin? I needed someone objective to look at facts and give me facts. I found the SBDC webinars, and the form to request one on one coaching. After signing up, I was connected with someone in 24 hours, then met with Spencer just days later,” explains Stacy.
During her first meeting, Stacy shared all her thoughts with Spencer – what she needed, what she had questions about, and everything in between. Coming from a career of leadership, asking for help was a huge step for Stacy. Luckily, Spencer did exactly what she needed most,
“he was calm, organized, and immediately helped me gather my thoughts”, said Stacy.
“After the first conversation with Stacy, I knew we were going to need to build a team to help launch her to the next level” mentions Spencer. “ Within hours the SBDC was able to build a cross-disciplinary team to support Stacy in all of the right ways.”
Part of that team included MI-SBDC consultant, Steven Klien who was able to help Stacy with due diligence, creating financial projections, excel spreadsheets, cash flow statements, and the final franchise purchase.
In addition, Spencer was able to secure a Quickbooks training grant for Stacy, where she worked with a contractor to get up to speed on the accounting software, which was essential to starting the franchise.
With the MI-SBDC team’s help, Stacy was able to open her doors on schedule in November.
“They’re amazing, I’m tearing up just thinking about it,” Stacy says. “I could not have done any of this without the resources the SBDC provided.”
“What was really nice is that, although the SBDC works with thousands of small business owners a year, Spencer and Steven acted like they were working with me for the first time. They always patiently answered my questions, no matter how small, although they might have heard them a million times before.”
When asked what her biggest success to date with ComForCare has been, Stacy mentioned many things: opening her doors with a shortened timeline, registering the business as an LLC, obtaining the correct licenses, and most importantly, not losing a single employee in the ownership transition.
“Our caregivers have been on the front lines of the pandemic since day one, without ceasing.” Thanks to the support the SBDC provided in getting the business launched, Stacy was able to focus on caring for her caregivers and clients.
In addition to her ComForCare team, Stacy also has a team at the MI-SBDC going into the future.
“I love telling people about my SBDC team, and all the thousands of dollars of resources they were able to provide, which I could have never accessed on my own,” said Stacy. “Going into the future, I’m looking to grow, open a satellite office, and purchase additional territories.”
“Now that phase one of this project with Stacy is complete we’re moving onto phase two with our eye on phase three,” said Spencer. “Work with the SBDC is rarely a one and done conversation. We’re here to be your colleagues for the long run. This is about relationships, not a transaction.”
Sign up for MI-SBDC counseling here.
Learn more about ComForCare here.
Published June 2022