Meet an Owner: Tony Fenno
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Meet an Owner: Tony Fenno

Meet an Owner: Tony Fenno

Tony Fenno had never expected to be the owner of a Right at Home. In fact, it was his wife, Terri, who first purchased the franchise nearly twenty years ago, while he was still working in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“I owned my own business in northern New Jersey and would commute to and from Cincinnati every week,” recalled Tony. “Since I traveled so much and my wife needed help after chemo, a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery, we hired caregivers to be in the home with her.”

The extra care and help that Terri received from those caregivers had a huge impact on her. Once she was in remission and her children were in school full-time, Terri found an opportunity with Right at Home.

She purchased Right at Home Greater Cincinnati in 2004, and it has since expanded into three territories, one of which is in Northern Kentucky. By 2013, Tony had sold his company and offered to help Terri grow the business.

Utilizing Your Strengths as an Owner

While Terri had done a great job building up the business over the course of nearly a decade, Tony knew that he brought additional strengths to the mix when he stepped in to help.

“This is a business that really needs systems in place–like policies and procedures–and that’s the first thing I looked at when I first came into the business,” said Tony. “I helped to put policies and procedures in place in addition to the ones provided by Right at Home, and started using metrics to hold everyone accountable.”

With so much business experience behind him, Tony was able to look at operational challenges from a different perspective than Terri could, and he identified ways to make improvements that would have a positive impact on both the top line and the bottom line.

“One of the first people I hired was a nurse,” he said. “It immediately improved the quality of care for our clients, and that had a big impact.”

Building a Strong Team

Tony has taken over operations since entering the business, and he likes to begin each week with an all-hands staff meeting to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

“We review all the activity from last week and over the weekend from the on-call staff,” said Tony. “We talk through the schedule and also consider any new prospects and figure out what that looks like for everyone. It sets the pace for the week.”

Tony prides himself on the team that he’s built over the years, which includes an inside salesperson, two on-call staffers, and a nurse. Everyone knows that even with proper planning, things can change instantly, and they are all nimble enough to adjust when needed.

“We have to always be reprioritizing–talking through what needs to happen immediately and what can wait,” he said. “You’re always on your toes, but that’s the fun part!”

Tony has also made work culture a big priority for his staff and encourages everyone to read about topics that cover the type of characteristics you need to embody to thrive in the home care business.

“The value that rises to the top is a positive attitude,” said Tony. “Quite frankly, no one calls us when they’re having a good day, and we’ve got to be the voice on the other side of the line to say we can help them and follow it up with action. A positive attitude and being action-oriented will go a long way in this business.”

Leaning Into Corporate Support

Tony credits Right at Home corporate with providing an abundance of support at every stage of business. He’s found that their support is intended to serve you as an owner in terms of experience level and strengths based on your background coming into the business; you simply have to know what you don’t know in order to get the right support.

“There’s almost more support offered to us than we could ever fully utilize!” Tony joked. “But it changes throughout your lifecycle as a franchise owner, so you never know what resources you might need help with next.”

At this stage of business, Tony is leaning on corporate’s support to help with digital marketing efforts and SEO, which is something he’s not too familiar with.

“They’ve helped us build out landing pages and think through that content in a meaningful way so that we can rank in Google searches,” said Tony. “We’ve been behind on that, and they’ve been very helpful in getting it into place.”

Tony’s franchise has also been joint commission accreditation for over six years, which is an often-challenging process for which Right at Home’s corporate office has assisted.

“We have to keep up with those practices, and it takes an effort,” he said. “It’s not easy, but Right at Home has guided us through and advised us along the way.”

Continued Growth and Success

With twenty years of business under their belt, the Fenno’s aren’t getting complacent about the business. Tony is a very hands-on manager, which he credits for much of the business’ success.

“You need facetime with everyone, need to build relationships with everyone on the full continuum of care–especially caregivers,” Tony said. “What one person needs, another might not need. You have to listen, coach, train, and engage with all of them on a personal level.”

Tony’s advice to new and prospective franchise owners is to really learn how to manage people effectively to maximize your business results. It’s a relationship-driven business after all, and a good approach to customer service needs to start at the top.

“In addition to being ready to meet clients, referral sources, and caregivers or employees, you also need to be willing to operate with integrity and place a high level of trust in the Right at Home team in Omaha.”

Right at Home
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Published: February 23rd, 2024

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