Connie Begger and Shanna Tourtlotte couldn’t be more different. One enjoys time with her computer doing her isolated office work, and the other wants to be out and about, meeting new people. One hates the idea of a corporate meet-and-greet, and the other hates the idea of missing out on such a networking event. Yet probably because of their differences, the two women are successful partners in their SYNERGY HomeCare franchise, located in Billings, Montana. “We both know our roles and don’t get in each other’s way,” Shanna said.
Shanna and Connie sort of “happened” into their franchise relationship. Shanna had been working for the former franchise owner, when Connie and her husband bought him out. Connie wanted Shanna to stay on, and so the two fell into their natural positions; Connie does the marketing and is the face of SYNERGY in Billings, and Shanna is in charge of all the day-to-day operations. They continued this way for a few years, and Shanna developed a passion for their business. Finally Shanna approached Connie and said she wanted to have some ownership in the business. Connie’s husband had never had an active part in the franchise, so it just seemed natural for Shanna to buy out his 50 percent ownership. The two found themselves on equal ground. And business was booming!
Each woman has a story to illustrate why they love being in the in-home care business. For Connie, it is the elderly nun who was dying of breast cancer. She was the last to survive out of her siblings and had no one to help her other than her SYNERGY caregivers. One day, Connie found that she had to fill in for this woman’s regular caregiver. “She was bedridden and needed someone to hold her hand, brush her hair, rotate her body every few hours,” Connie said. “I did her nails and brushed her hair. She couldn’t speak very loudly, so we were visiting through whispers. My face was literally inches from hers, and she just suddenly passed away. I felt so humbled and blessed to have been able to make sure she died with dignity.”
For Shanna, she gets to help others through her end of the business. “It happens quite often in my position and with my background in insurance that I am able to help people figure out the financial picture of in-home care. A lady just last week called me in a panic that her long term care benefits were running out for her father, who had been receiving our care. She just didn’t have the money to continue his care. I was able to ask if he was a veteran, and when she said ‘yes,’ I was able to help get him covered through the VA.”
Both women say interaction with clients is one of the best benefits of the business. They like supporting so-called active aging, which allows people to stay in their homes that they’ve worked so hard for, for as long as they can, with help. They plan to continue to grow and expand within a 100 mile radius of Billings. Like Shanna says, “We have a great little business going here.” Connie adds, “It’s been truly amazing and wonderful. I can’t imagine any better partner. She is everything I am not and vice versa.”