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Shelly Sun - CEO of Bright Star Health Care

1. What made you start a healthcare franchise and step into a territory where no woman has ventured before?

I helped look for home care services for my husband's grandmother and was disappointed with the options available. I felt compelled to build a business offering the services and quality that we were looking for. After researching the industry, we found a growing demand for home health care related services. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. healthcare spending increased to nearly $1.9 trillion in 2004 and consumes 16 percent of the nation's economic output. After thorough research of the industry and going through the process by myself, I felt compelled to meet this growing demand for personal home care services by franchising the concept to give others an opportunity to help this segment as well.

2. How do you ensure "peace of mind" for your customers?

We are very thorough in our screening practices - we only hire employees with at least 1 year of experience. We drug screen and background check each person. We check references on each person and work hard to ensure we have a great fit between our employee and our client. All of our workers are insured and bonded also for the protection of our clients.

3. How difficult were the first years in trying to build up your own business?

It has been a lot of work building a business but the work has been so fulfilling helping clients stay in their homes that every day has been a pleasure.

4. What kept you going through those times when you might have even wondered if you were in the right business?

We never wondered if we were in the right business. Hugging my clients and seeing their quality of life being at home made me always know I was in the right business.

5. How supportive are your husband and kids of what you do?

Very much. My husband did sales in the first 2 years and has now come back into the business in the last 6 months to help us select franchisees to join the Bright Star Healthcare family.

6. Why do you feel that franchising is a great way to go for women who wish to start their own business?

Franchisees are able to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. We are able to provide the support and training needed to jumpstart the business as well as the infrastructure such as marketing materials and a website. For example, at Bright Star, the initial investment ranges from $100,000 to $160,000. This includes a $35,000 franchise fee and frequently updated marketing materials. Also included is the company's proprietary cutting-edge Web-based management system that integrates personnel management, payroll and billing, and sales. One of the system's highlights is that it enables franchisees to bill insurance providers directly - improving an often difficult part of the healthcare process for clients. We offer our franchisees a proven business model and a strong support structure to get them up and operating.

7. What are the qualities you look for in your ideal franchisee?

The ability to develop relationships in the community, compassion for seniors and the passion to succeed.

8. Tell us about your expansion plans.

Our plan is to be in every major market in the U.S. by 2010 to ensure seniors and their families have access to the best care and allow them to stay at home. Currently, Bright Star Healthcare has more than 20 locations operating in the United States, and is targeting Arizona, Florida, Nevada, California, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio for expansion.

9. What do you view as the most gratifying factor in owning a Bright Star franchise?

Helping others.

10. Any advice for women with an entrepreneurial gene out there?

Surround yourself with advisors that have accomplished what you want to.

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