Owner of BrightStar Healthcare joins the million-dollar club

Donna Zimmerman

Photo By stacey kennelly

Donna Zimmerman, owner of a BrightStar Healthcare franchise in Chico, didn’t see her success coming when she opened her business two years ago. Despite the rough economy, her full-service health-care staffing agency has provided medical and nonmedical home care for private clients. In late September, Zimmerman—a Chico State graduate and registered nurse—was honored with the 2009 Millionaire Club Inductee Award, which is presented to BrightStar franchisees whose yearly net sales have met the $1 million mark.

How long have you been in business?

We officially opened June of ’07, but we started long before that, getting marketing things together and getting things in. It was quite a process, a training process, which I had no idea about. I had never opened a franchise before.

Why did you want to open a BrightStar franchise? Was there a need that wasn’t being met?

I thought so, yeah, I did. While working in a home-health agency, I was often frustrated by hearing that families couldn’t get reliable help in the home, and when they did find an agency, people didn’t show up. Help in the home can be quite expensive, and a lot of agencies weren’t real flexible. So that’s one thing that I like about it, is that I can work with the families, because everybody has their own budgets and their own needs. We have some clients who we are only there for an hour and a half, whereas most agencies have a four-hour minimum. I think the families appreciate it.

What does the award mean to you?

Well, it means that we’re doing something right. All the hard work is paying off. In any business you start, it’s hard to get your name out there. Even with the most diligent marketing campaign, you can still find people who say, “I didn’t know we had a care home here in town.” And I live in a small town, in Corning, so Chico’s even harder. So it’s really the word of mouth, the award helps with that.

How do you see your business growing or changing?

I’m looking for niches in the community where there’s a void. So everywhere I go, I’m asking people, “Do you see underserved areas in the community?”

What’s the trick to succeeding in a down economy?

Well, of course we’re looking at all of our processes and the way we’re doing business to see if we can cut any financial corners. Every little bit adds up. We’ve got a good reputation in town and I’m really proud of that—for doing what we promise to do to the best of our ability.