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"Guidant made it seamless — and that was important to me because Guidant understands areas of finances that I don't."

David and Laura Greenwood, Owl Be There

Wings of Compassion: The Owl Be There Story

David and Laura Greenwood, Owl Be There

Quick Facts

Location

Washington, DC

Business Type

Independent

In Business Since

2013

Customer Since

2013

Employees

7

Their Story

Meet David and Laura Greenwood, founders of Owl Be There. Their mission? To provide the gold standard of guidance around senior living and care. The company has grown remarkably since launching nearly ten years ago, now offering franchise opportunities across 40 states. And it all stemmed from David’s personal and professional passion for supporting seniors. 

Ten years into his career in financial and healthcare services, David felt a deep calling to do something bigger; He felt a deep sense of purpose to serve a larger community. In 2012, David was ready to expand his horizons after winning Patient Education Consultant of the Year, a Top National Sales Award, at ClearChoice Dental Implant Centers. 

 “I accomplished what I was hoping to achieve at this organization, and it was [a] time in my life when I was looking at different opportunities,” explained David. “I saw that the senior space was one that was ripe for development.”

Having had five of his own family members go into senior living in the past, David recognized a pressing demand for better guidance. He was disappointed with his family’s care within the senior living system. 

“Bluntly put, with what I saw out there in the marketplace for guidance back when my grandmother needed Alzheimer’s Care — and when a number of other family members, even my stepdad when he had Parkinson’s, needed care — the guidance was just subpar,” said David. 

He had a greater vision; David dreamed of a system that truly cared — and could provide the necessary support for those suffering through Alzheimer’s care, like his own grandmother or Parkinson’s like his stepdad. David imagined a company that would always be there, ensuring that every senior and their family receive the caliber of care they deserve in the most challenging times. That’s why, in 2013, David began dreaming up and creating Owl Be There.

Early Years of Owl Be There

David and Laura Greenwood, founders of Owl Be There, in their office at the Washington, DC location.
David and Laura Greenwood, founders of Owl Be There, in their office at the Washington, DC location.

David began touring and logging local assisted living care options in the tri-state area of Washington, D.C., spending hundreds of hours that first year gathering data. In the meantime, his wife Laura provided invaluable support and business strategy behind the scenes.

“One of the first things I did was I created a massive database on all these options that have been [a] valuable part of the business model ever since,” David added. “There were long hours, many, many, many different weeks of long hours.” 

All those hours of building a robust database of senior living facilities and researching started to pay off in just a year. In fact, this extensive data repository would become a key component in the company’s business model.

Adding on Laura’s background in marketing, corporate strategy, and financial analysis, Owl Be There began taking shape — and both found the work exceptionally fulfilling. David had always enjoyed working with seniors, but this was a new and gratifying experience.  

 “By 2014 to 2015, I started really working earnestly with the families, and that just proved to be incredibly rewarding,” David reflected. “They’ll say to me, ‘David, I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you or if your company hadn’t come alongside and helped me to find the right options for my care and budget.'”

Together, David and Laura continued to forge a team who were not only passionate about senior care like themselves but also sought to set themselves apart in the industry as some of the “best of the best,” David explained. 

For example, one of their first team members was Theresa Henry, who has been with Owl Be There for ten years. Theresa has decades of experience in the healthcare and hospitality industries, having worked at several assisted living communities in the Washington, D.C. area. 

“She has literally worked for the founders of one of the largest assisted living companies in the United States. Those are the kinds of professionals we strive to bring into the mix,” David added. “It’s been a great experience because my goal has always been to be a servant leader, and by that, I really mean … first of all, supporting people in any way I can for their success, but also surrounding myself, ideally, with people in their niche that are even smarter than I am in their specific niche.”

Now, Owl Be There prides itself on providing a gold standard for senior living and care, offering seniors and their families the best service — with the best providers — possible. Learn more about the team here.

But the company wouldn’t exist without 401(k) business financing, an innovative funding strategy David and Laura leveraged to make their business dream a reality. 

Fast Track Financing with Guidant

With 401(k) business financing, also known as Rollovers for Business Startups (ROBS), David and Laura funded their business debt-free and cash-rich with help from Guidant Financial — America’s No. 1 leading ROBS provider. Laura discovered Guidant while taking a franchising course at Georgetown University as part of her CFE designation. Encouraged by her professor, the couple partnered with a ROBS provider, with Guidant being their first choice.

“I have an MBA with finance and marketing expertise, so I know quite a bit about finance in addition to having worked in financial services, but still, [ROBS] is a very specialized niche — and I think Guidant has a unique window to the solution,” David said.

David and Laura leveraged their retirement funds through the ROBS program to finance Owl Be There. Today, a growing number of franchisees are following their path to success, utilizing 401(k) business financing to launch their own Owl Be There businesses.

“It’s a great option to explore. I definitely would recommend Guidant for people trying to buy a franchise and figure out how to finance it, particularly if they have some retirement funds they’re looking to leverage,” added David.

David offers a word of caution regarding ROBS; like all business financing methods, it carries inherent risks. These risks are, of course, linked to the business’s success.

“I think that it’s important for people to keep in mind: Businesses fail,” David warns. “Using a portion of your nest egg can be savvy, but I would always have some portion of your nest egg reserved for a rainy day — and not used for a business. It’s just smart not to put all [the] eggs in any one basket. Any financial planner would tell you that.”

That being said, ROBS also allows you to grow your nest egg as your business grows — providing a unique opportunity to secure your financial future while building your business dream. Thanks to ROBS, Laura and David launched Owl Be There without debt and a healthy cash reserve, positioning them to grow into the benchmark for exceptional senior care.

Becoming the Gold Standard for Senior Care

Whether you need a catheter, ostomy bag, a Hoyer lift, or insulin shots for treating diabetes, Owl Be There’s team has you covered. The company takes pride in thoroughly understanding every detail of their client’s situation — and offering tailored care options derived from their expertise.

But what makes Owl Be There really unique? Being the gold standard for great advice when it comes to senior living and care.

“We care deeply about each patient, each family. Our mission is to improve the lives of seniors, providing wise guidance around senior living and care. Our vision is to be the partner and trusted advisor for a wide array of providers, assisted living, memory care, home care, or temporary respite options,” David explained. “Basically, what we’re trying to do is turn compassion into action — ensuring that senior clients receive care and dignity, kindness and help. We want to be that ambassador of hope for seniors and their families because we know it’s a very stressful time for them.”

Owl Be There isn’t just a “quick-referral-based-on-zip-code” type of service. What makes the company’s service unique is its dedication to serving seniors — no matter their needs or budgets. Owl Be There Senior Living Advisors meet with seniors, their families, and sometimes even their doctors or other care professionals to fully assess the client’s healthcare, social, and other unique needs. Only once they get to know their client — and truly understand what’s important to them — do they then make recommendations from their extensive list of qualified communities, building a touring schedule and offering consistent support throughout the process.

“Basically, our services are focused around lowering the stress level of the seniors and their families — and providing optimal housing and care for that senior,” David added. “What makes us unique, though, is our white glove concierge level of service.”

Persevering Through the Pandemic

Like any other business, Owl Be There had to adapt to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. But what’s intriguing is seeing how the pandemic helped shape the business model.

While Owl Be There mainly offered in-person services prior to the pandemic, online offerings have now become a key cornerstone of the business — from video touring to counseling sessions and lectures.

“It really did expand the options for how we were able to help people, and worked in a beautiful way for us because a lot of our customers want to experience senior living tours efficiently and conveniently by video conference,” said David.

For many of their clients, the service was indispensable, addressing mobility and location needs conveniently.

“The fact that the business shifted its model to include online touring further benefited the business, and proved essential for families that are spread out across the U.S. – or even globally – looking to tour together to find the perfect senior living fit for their family member.”

The business only saw a modest 5-10% dip in services between 2019 to 2021, but by 2022 the company had regained its steady growth pattern. “It’s exciting to see how much the business has continued to thrive during challenging times,” David said.

Building a Franchising Empire

There’s a reason why the senior care industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. As over 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65 daily, Owl Be There is poised for success. And by 2030 — with 40 million baby boomers becoming “seniors” — this demographic will expand to 74 million. With more and more seniors seeking assisted living and care in the U.S., this industry certainly isn’t slowing down any time soon. 

“A staggering 21 percent of seniors need care due to chronic illness. In 2023 alone the senior assisted living facility space is estimated at $97 billion,” David added. “There’s just a huge demand for our services. Senior advising is a fantastic industry to be in right now, and for the next couple of decades.” 

 The demand for expert senior care guidance is high — and Owl Be There is making waves in the industry with its quality advisory difference. In 2022, the company was named among the Top 5 Fastest Growing Franchises in Franchise Help’s Franchise Awards. 

“The idea is we listen carefully [to] the social, spiritual, financial, location and healthcare requirements as well as time frame that the senior has to make a successful transition to the senior care provider,” said David. “The number one thing that we are proud of is our empathetic listening skills, and that’s exactly what we impart to our franchisees through individual coaching.”

Owl Be There franchise opportunities are available in 40 states across the United States.  Owl Be There franchise owners enjoy a low initial investment cost, no royalty fees for the first three months, and individualized training and coaching designed by David and Laura themselves. 

“This is exciting, too, because you’re actually being trained as a franchise owner while we’re running our local search service. This gives individuals that are coming on board a unique, first-hand window into real-world solutions that we’re offering [to] real-world customers,” said David. 

David and Laura are both passionate about franchising education. In an Amazon best-seller — rated at five stars — Wealth Building with Franchising: Creating Generational Wealth by Following a Proven System by Linda Ballesteros, Laura breaks down the Owl Be There business model and how franchisees are specially trained to foster client relationships. 

“What we’re trying to do is not be a company that specializes in ‘pay-per-click’ or mass market advertising to get customers, but rather by building relationships with professionals in the local market,” David explained. “And through that approach, we look to provide white-glove concierge service to our clients. We really do care genuinely about each senior as if they were our own mother or our own father. Each senior living search we undertake starts with that in mind.” 

World-Class Franchisee Training

Owl Be There Franchise Owner LuAnn Martinson with David and Laura Greenwood holding an IFA of the year award.
Owl Be There Franchise Owner LuAnn Martinson, named franchisee of the year by the International Franchise Association (IFA) last year, with David and Laura Greenwood.

Franchisees of Owl Be There are trained by David and Laura, along with their carefully selected team of passionate experts in the field.

“Owl Be There’s training program is an exceptional, on-the-job type training,” said Laura. “Franchisees come, and they actually work shoulder to shoulder with our industry experts and founders and see how it’s done, so when they go back to their territory, they have the confidence in knowing what they need to do.”

In a nutshell, Owl Be There offers unmatched training with a proven model — and the freedom to establish a local business from the comfort of one’s home, all while providing personalized ongoing support.

K.C. Ryerson, one of their franchisees, sums up the experience beautifully: “It’s hard for me to put into words how Owl Be There changed my life. Not only am I able to work with the gold standard in placement franchises, but I also had multiple successes in my first month, helping families in ways I would not have been able to do just on my own. I am a single mom — so it was quite a leap of trust when I took on franchise ownership. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

David and Laura are proud of all their franchisees, including LuAnn Martinson, who was named franchisee of the year by the International Franchise Association (IFA) last year. LuAnn has become a senior-inspired diplomat for Charlotte, NC’s senior care network. She additionally sits on the board of Owl Be There’s Founders Circle Franchisee Advisory Council.

“We’re very proud of our family of franchisees. And we’re proud to have designed a straightforward success formula,” said David. “With the robust territories that we’re offering, a low capital investment, and the convenience of working from home via your phone and computer, this is a business that continues to do well even when through economic downturns and pandemic-related shutdowns.”

Fostering Franchisees Who Care

While Owl Be There boasts a straightforward success formula for franchisees, it’s not for everyone. In fact, the company seeks explicitly those who are as passionate about senior care as they are. 

“Owl Be There looks for people with a natural disposition to love and dote on seniors, not just advocating for their care and needs — but also enjoy building them up and giving them the knowledge they need,” David said. “It’s really a combination of heart and business expertise that we strive to find and train.”

Candidates fit to become an Owl Be There franchisee could be anyone from any background — as long as they want to make a real difference in the senior living and care community. David recommends taking their online quiz to find out if you’re an ideal franchise owner. 

“If you’re just looking to make money, don’t buy this franchise,” cautioned David. “If you don’t feel you have a calling to help others – especially seniors, this is not the right fit. But if you have that passion in your heart to make a difference — to make a material difference in the lives of seniors — then we’re the best choice because we will equip you to guide seniors to optimal care solutions in the most effective way.”

Learn more about becoming an Owl Be There franchise owner here or contact 218-OWL-CARE (218-695-2273).

Payroll & Bookkeeping Success with Guidant

As a seasoned professional with a strong financial background, David chose to continue partnering with Guidant’s Bookkeeping & Tax and Payroll services. Why? Guidant’s services integrate effortlessly together, which is especially beneficial when utilizing 401(k) business financing, also known as ROBS. 

“What I found is that it was really invaluable to have both payroll as well as … a strategy through guiding using my retirement through ROBS,” David explained. “Guidant made it seamless, and that was important to me because Guidant understands areas of finances that I don’t.” 

Guidant serves as an all-encompassing partner for David and Laura, spanning 401(k) plan administration compliance, payroll services, bookkeeping, and tax solutions. “Guidant makes it easy to keep the recordkeeping going and all the details involved. Overall, I’d say it’s resourceful,” David said.   

But what really sets Guidant apart, in David’s view, is its smaller size as an organization. This size advantage translates into a more personalized experience — and immediate access to experts in the field. For David, this accessibility means that his business is always in the hands of experts who truly care about his business’ unique needs and challenges, addressing problems hands-on. 

 “Obviously, Guidant is not a huge corporation. It’s a relatively small organization, and I like that because you can deal directly with the heads of departments like Phil Cooney,” David said. 

“Phil Cooney and the whole team have been great. Like any other business, we all make mistakes over time. But it’s not a matter of when you make a mistake; it’s how you handle and correct it. And Phil has just been magnificent. If there’s ever a problem, he’s right there solving it. … Rachel Kriske and others just do a great job in helping me with my payroll — everything from recordkeeping afterward, the actual act of running the payroll; if I have questions or what have you, they’re always right there.”

Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

In the ever-evolving entrepreneurship landscape, David believes the most critical factor is oneself — not the business or franchise. No matter the industry, an entrepreneur should have passion and an inherent drive to make a difference.

“I think the biggest question that anyone considering an entrepreneurial way to make a living should consider is themselves, not so much which franchise — but who they are,” David said. “Look deep inside yourself and try to understand what brings joy to you.”

And if you have that deep calling for entrepreneurship? “Guidant can help you leverage your resources to achieve your goal,” David added.

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