Innovation in Franchising: How Any Lab Test Now Is Seizing Opportunity in the Healthcare Sector
An Interview with Clarissa Bradstock and Terri McCulloch of Any Lab Test Now
Any Lab Test Now was named one for Franchise Business Review’s Top Franchises for 2019. FBR’s CEO and managing director, Eric Stites, recently sat down to chat with Clarissa Bradstock, CEO, and Terri McCulloch, VP of Development, at Any Lab Test Now to talk about their unique position in the healthcare consumerism sector and their approach to innovation in franchising, particularly when it comes to franchisee support.
(Following is a condensed version of the interview. You can listen to the full podcast as part of the FBR Viewpoints Series.)
Eric: Today, I have the pleasure of talking to Clarissa Bradstock and Terri McCulloch of Any Lab Test Now. Clarissa and Terri, welcome.
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: 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: 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 what it’s 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 is 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. 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: 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 one thing that really separates us within the healthcare field is customer experience creates word of mouth advocates. 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: 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, we needed to help franchisees focus on that in-store experience. We have a call center where we can take the calls coming directly from the customers. Then we book the appointments for the franchisees, which makes it really easy, again, for them to focus on the in-store experience.
We also have, and 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 an 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: 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: 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.
You can listen to more insights from Clarissa Bradstock and Terri McCulloch by clicking here.
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