ActivAge co-founder Kris Chana reflects on developing a replicable business model – and transforming the senior daycare industry.
After nearly a decade running the successful assisted living community they founded as newlyweds in Port Charlotte, Florida, Kris and Chelsea Chana were looking for a change.
“We were kind of looking for the next opportunity. … When we came across adult daycare, I saw the power that it had as far as transforming our members who attend, but also giving their families the break that they desperately need,” recalls Kris Chana, co-founder of ActivAge Daytime Senior Care, an adult day center concept that caters to the senior population.
For Chana, the opportunity to transition into the adult daycare industry also offered something else: the potential to expand into new markets and make a difference in the lives of people beyond Florida’s borders.
“I’ve kind of always felt like I wanted to do something large, but I just didn’t know what that would be,” Chana says.
After being asked what his “big, hairy, audacious goal” for his career was during a group meeting, though, Chana finally knew the answer.
“In that moment, I was like, ‘I want to open 100 adult daycare center locations across the country,” Chana recalls.
A business model that scales – and flourishes
For the Chanas, finding a way to meet that 100-location goal meant transforming their single-location assisted living facility, called Chelsea Place, into an adult daycare franchise that could be scaled nationally.
Together, the couple reworked their business’s existing systems into processes that could be replicated at countless adult daycare centers across the country, while differentiating their business model from competitors in the industry.
“We wanted to take away that stigma of the senior health care industry – because typically, it’s more medical focused,” Chana says.
To set their brand apart, the Chanas shifted away from assisted living toward programming that would keep seniors active during daytime hours, with an emphasis on weekly themed parties and other fun, engaging activities.
“Our entire focus, every single day, is making people laugh, smile and ensuring that they have fun,” Chana says.
Weathering the storms
Despite the Chanas’ past entrepreneurial success, transforming Chelsea Place into a scalable franchise system proved challenging at first – even requiring the Chanas to rename the brand to avoid possible legal issues in the future.
“We found out that there was a company up in New Jersey that had already trademarked the name Chelsea Place, and they happened to be in senior living. So we realized that we couldn't go that route and we went back to the drawing board. We had names on whiteboards all over the place,” Chana recalls.
Ultimately, the Chanas settled on renaming the brand ActivAge – a nod to the company’s commitment to keeping seniors active and engaged.
“(ActivAge) just spoke to everything we do on a daily basis for our members,” Chana says.
After completing the trademark registration and franchising process with the help of The Internicola Law Firm, Chana launched ActivAge in 2018. Although the franchise system’s legal foundation was sturdy, natural disasters quickly brought new, unanticipated challenges as Chana fought to get the new franchise system off the ground. Two years after the pandemic brought business to a temporary halt in 2020, Hurricane Ian leveled the company’s former Punta Gorda location, the storm’s destruction displacing many of the day center’s members.
In spite of those setbacks, Chana has continued to focus on the emerging brand’s growth. Today, the company operates an adult day center in Port Charlotte and is preparing to open its new flagship building in Sarasota, which will feature an 8,000-square-foot adult day center connected to a 3,000-square-foot franchise support center designed to cater to a nationwide system of franchisees.
Supporting franchisees in their success
As a franchisor, Chana is committed to ensuring ActivAge’s future franchisees will be fully supported in their daily operations – and properly equipped with the tools and technology needed to hit the ground running.
To ease the burden of scheduling daily activities, ActivAge franchisees rely on proprietary programming software developed specifically to allow activity planners to pre-plan each day for facilitators, allowing them to spend more time with members and less time on logistics.
The company’s flexible private pay model is another factor that sets it apart from others in the adult daycare space. While many senior daycare centers are funded primarily by Medicaid and focus on providing medical care, Chana says ActivAge’s private pay model empowers the company to offer more enjoyable activity-based daycare for seniors.
“There’s never been a big player to come in and approach the private pay marketplace and create an experience that family caregivers and individuals in the private pay world are willing to pay for,” Chana says.
To offer more flexibility to seniors and their families, ActivAge offers hourly options alongside monthly membership packages. To simplify the billing process, the company provides franchisees with custom billing software that allows each location to bill in 15-minute increments, including transportation – giving seniors and their families the ability to tailor their daycare services to their budgets.
Changing the entrepreneurial game
As an emerging franchisor, a key part of Chana’s success in building a scalable franchise system has been the implementation of an Entrepreneurial Operating System – a move he says empowered ActivAge to pursue growth in a more structured and efficient way.
“I feel like we became a completely different company (after implementing EOS) because it really taught us how to properly lead and steward the company … We’re so much more sophisticated – almost scientific – with the way we manage our leads,” Chana says, adding that the company now utilizes a “robust” customer relationship management (CRM) system to track leads and support franchisees so they can focus on daily operations.
While Chana acknowledges that the next few years of organic growth will be challenging, he says ActivAge is up to the task.
“We’re really trying to make a difference in the franchising world and really do good for our franchisees,” Chana says.
To learn about franchising opportunities with ActivAge, visit https://www.activagecare.com/franchise.