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Autism Treatment Business Review With Success on the Spectrum – Introduction

Patrick: Hey, Patrick Findaro here, co-founder at Vetted Biz and managing partner at Visa Franchise. At Vetted Biz we help you find, vet, and buy a franchise or business for sale. At Visa Franchise we help foreign national investors that are looking to move to the U.S. through investing in a franchise. Today I’m really excited to have two senior executives from Success On The Spectrum also known as SOS Franchising, Nichole Daher, who’s the founder of Success On The Spectrum as well as Joe Souza, who leads their franchise development efforts. So we’re gonna learn all about the autism treatment industry today, ABA, applied behavior analysis, how this industry is growing, how they’re the only franchise in this industry, and how much it costs to open one, general industry profit margins. If you have any questions, please just enter it into the comment box and we’ll try to address your questions during our live stream today.

So again, this is Patrick Findaro for those that are entering. I’m the co-founder at Vetted Biz. We help find, vet, and help you buy a franchise or business across the United States. We’re based in Miami, Florida although we help clients throughout 50 states with finding businesses as well as franchises to invest in. I encourage you to visit our website where we have 1,800 franchises including Success On The Spectrum as well as over 2,000 businesses for sale principally in the state of Florida. So again, very excited to have Nichole Daher, who is the founder of Success On The Spectrum, also known SOS Franchising as well as Joe Souza, who joined the firm very early on in its creation. So I’m gonna go ahead and bring on Joe and Nichole. Again, Joe Souza from SOS Franchising, head of franchising development as well as Nichole Daher, who’s the founder of Success On The Spectrum. So I’m gonna add on Joe and Nichole. Hey, guys. How are you doing?

Nichole: Hi. Thank you for having us, Patrick.

Joe: Glad to be here.

A little background on Nicholle and Joe and why they came to work for the autism industry

 Patrick: Thank you, Nichole. And Joe, really appreciate it. So, you know, we were talking a little bit before going live about the industry. I would love to just hear how you two entered the autism treatment industry and maybe just tell me a little bit about your backgrounds.

Nichole: Sure. Well, once upon a time I was a nuclear medicine technologist. I had zero knowledge or whatsoever about autism or anything having to do with it. And in 2014, I got married and first came love, second comes marriage, then comes a baby to baby carriage. I had a little girl who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, very young, she was 2 years old. And in the process of trying to find treatment for her, we discovered applied behavior analysis and also discovered that ABA for short is not nearly common enough, there are not very many providers out there and they’re few and far between. They kind of congregate in big cities, there’s not too many in rural areas at all, and I was having trouble finding a place for her. Lots of places had waiting lists and it was terrible, and awful. And you just wanna help your baby and you can’t.

Patrick: Sure.

Nichole: So we decided to open my own and it grew way quicker than I could have ever imagined. I had no experience in it, but thankfully I had wonderful people help me out just like Joe and we’ve built something wonderful. And we pride ourselves on being a very high quality center because most of the franchisees are very near and dear to autism, and we’re passionate about what we do.

Patrick: Thanks. And Joe, could you tell me a bit about how you connected with Nichole and how you also entered this industry?

Joe: Absolutely. So once again, thank you for having us back. I’m born and raised in San Paolo. So I moved to Florida in 2002, went directly into business ownership, and ended up working with a company called United Franchise Group. And I did that for a number of years, traveling and selling franchises especially internationally. Then in 2012 my first born, Samuel, came into our lives and when he was about 15 or 18 months old we also noticed a few things that, you know, making a long story short, it turned out to be what they refer to as the high functioning autistic kid. Okay. So that’s how my wife and I got into this. My wife actually went full blown like change industries. She went back to school, she actually became an analyst now. I wanna say just a couple months before she can actually get her certification. We actually do plan to be franchisees as well. And the way I gotta get involved with Nichole and this amazing company is I was in the entertainment business in 2020 at a company called iFLY Indoor Skydiving. I’m sure you’ve heard of them and unfortunately with the COVID, that industry got devastated as we all know.

Patrick: Sure.

Joe: So I actually was… I reached out to Nichole because we wanted to start our first unit here in Florida and she was like, “Oh, that’s great, but I also need help,” you know.

Patrick: Sure. Building the sale.

Joe: And we ended up talking. And, you know, next thing you know, I’m working with this amazing company. So that’s in a nutshell we’re really passionate about this industry we are actually a very close relationship with this industry with our kids which makes us, you know, love them much more.

Patrick: And do you see… Is that how most people enter into this industry from a business side, they have a child, or a niece, or a nephew that is on the spectrum?

Nichole: Most people do learn about ABA and what is ABA because they have a child with autism or know someone with a child with autism. So we do see a lot of parents that are franchisees, but some very savvy business people that find us through great recommenders like Vetted Biz.

The autism treatment industry

Patrick: Sure. Yeah. No, it makes sense and we’ll go more into the numbers. I think it’s like a duel, you know, it’s great social good and then it’s

also a pretty profitable business. It’d be good to just start, how big is this market? How big is the autism treatment industry?

Joe: So this industry is expected to be well over $2 billion by 2026. Okay? And there are several reasons for and there are studies out there showing. But the numbers are ever increasing, Patrick. The latest study from the CDC shows 1 in every 54 kids in America are somewhere within this spectrum. That number is actually a lot higher with boys. It’s actually 1 in every 28. Okay.

Patrick: And is this something that’s there’s more diagnosis or is the actual rate increasing, or that’s still uncertain from a medical standpoint?

Joe: So when you go into that tangent, I mean, people give you their perspective. The way I personally believe is because of awareness, you know, when you go and you look back 20 years ago, 30 years ago, remember that we have a kid at, you know, at school. But everybody was like, you know, “That kid is, you know, there’s something that is…” You know, “That kid is probably autistic.” But we didn’t have enough awareness at that time for someone to sit down and say, “Hey, let’s get this issue diagnosed and then let’s go into treatment.”

Patrick: And have there been studies, like, when you started getting treatment at 2 years old, 3 years old that their impact in their personal life career is that much better?

Joe: I’ll let Nichole handle this one.

Nichole: Absolutely. There are 50 years of research study done on when and how much is the effective amount of treatment and the earlier you start and the harder you start, the better the child does. And mostly because, you know, autism is a result of a brain disorder. It’s a brain abnormality. Sometimes it’s actual physical form or it’s a neurological development, and when you’re young, when you’re under 5 years old, your brain is developing at a very rapid phase. I mean, you’re a baby, your head is this big, and then you grow to a full-sized adult head by the time you’re five. So that’s when most of your brain growth happens and if you can so to speak, exercise that muscle while it’s growing it can actually help the development of that child and you carry those skills out into adulthood. So the earlier, the better.

The mission: raise awareness and educate

Patrick: That’s exciting. So tell me, I imagine a big part of your job is just bringing awareness and educating the general marketplace.

Nichole: Absolutely. And we have a special community outreach program where we do just that. We throw events for special needs kids and those events we talk to parents about what you can do, what ABA is, what autism is, and what it means. It doesn’t mean your child is gonna be disabled for the rest of their lives. They can live independently, they just have to be taught how.

Patrick: That’s great. Well said. And we’ve actually, from Visa Franchise, we’ve had at least three clients that moved to the U.S. and that was the principal reason that the U.S. is more on the forefront of autism treatment, and a lot of countries are way behind. And I could see for, you know, if we met four years, five years ago, I’m sure, you know, some of those clients would have preferred to invest in this industry directly.

Nichole: I think a lot of that has to do with stigma as well because in America mental health is becoming something that is very accepted in society, whereas in other countries especially third world countries it’s still very shameful to seek help.

Patrick: That’s very true.

Nichole: And so it prevents a lot of parents from even admitting that their child has a disorder. And then they really don’t seek help. They just hope they grow out of it or some other nonsense.

Patrick: And I can see in some cultures where it’s like very male-dominant and if the rate is higher with males, it’s that much more to compound.

Nichole: Exactly, exactly.

Patrick: Joe, maybe you could tell me a little bit because I know you’re also a business broker and you’ve studied and you go through so many businesses. Just tell a little bit about the average industry returns in this general marketplace from a financial perspective.

Joe: Absolutely. I have been a business broker for almost 10 years now and the one very particular thing you see is that there aren’t any ABA centers for sale. You know, that is usually a very good indicator when you…

Patrick: I think you showed one and it was a crazy multiple, a multimillion…

Joe: It was insane and I believe I did even send you, like, their PLI. They were in Miami actually and they had 43 Medicaid clients. They were in business for less than 3 years and they sold for $2.8 million.

Patrick: Wow. Any idea, like, what revenue they were doing to sell it that high?

Joe: Yeah. They were doing the average which is roughly about $1.5, $1.8 million in gross revenue.

Patrick: Wow.

Joe: Of course, your net is gonna vary greatly where you are, but expected to be somewhere between 25% and 35%.

Patrick: It’s very healthy.

Joe: Yeah. But…

How each center are operated

Patrick: And most of the centers in the industry are owner-operated where the owner is working day-to-day in the business?

Joe: The small ones are, but then you talk about the big centers, the big names out there, then these are conglomerates, you know, with thousands of employees. And I believe that’s exactly what happened with the one in Miami. It was actually bought out by, you know, a huge company that was just acquired there is in the market.

Patrick: That makes sense. And how are payments handled? I imagine it’s mostly private insurance for Success On The Spectrum?

Nichole: So far all of our SOS franchisees are working on a private health insurance only model. We can expect Medicaid if that particular state had that approved obviously. Texas does not, New York does not, but Florida does, Georgia does, and most states, I mean, all states had been mandated by the federal government to cover ABA. They’re just kind of in the process of setting up that service.

Patrick: Slow to adopt.

Nichole: So by the end of 2022 everybody should have the ability to accept Medicaid if that’s what they wanna do.

Patrick: Well, that’s great. I’d say about 30% of Vetted Biz clients are moving to Florida. So there’s a lot of opportunities there and besides Florida, Texas, California are some of the hot states. California, not as many people move if you look at the percentages, but it’s just such a large market and a lot of people are still sticking around California, and surprisingly opening up businesses. But many of them are moving to Texas or New Yorkers moving down to Florida. So how does it work out like, the clients pay on a monthly basis?

Nichole: So as we get services to the child, we then claim health insurance. We had a program that we use that does all that electronically and the health insurance companies directly reimburses for the services, usually direct deposit. We send a claim out to them and we see the money arrive in our bank anywhere between 2 weeks to 35 days from the day we submit that claim.

Patrick: Great. And are you getting involved, like, with negotiating with insurance? Because imagine a franchisee that has never done business before leaving the corporate life. Imagine it could be pretty overwhelming dealing with insurance. I know from a personal standpoint it can be nonetheless running your own business.

Nichole: It can be overwhelming. Yes, absolutely. So most of our franchisees have no experience, whatsoever. We train everybody to do absolutely everything. We do a lot of hand-holding especially in the beginning and negotiating, reimbursement rates, and contracts with private health insurances because you do need to contract with each and every one of them. We usually do that hand in hand with you to make sure… I mean, our goal is for our franchisees to be successful because we do wanna be a successful large company and it’s our mission to help you be as successful as possible, and we will help them negotiate their rights.

Patrick: And what’s the average cost… What’s the average price per month or what’s the range for the clients that they’re paying?

Nichole: The average client pays between $8,000 and $10,000 a month and for their services. Again that varies depending on which state you’re in, which insurance company you’re negotiating with, but it’s quite a comfortable amount.

Patrick: Sounds like it. And so they’re having what? Ten to 35, 40 kids per center?

Nichole: That’s correct and most of the clients are full-time clients. They come with us, you know, Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00. They don’t go to school, they just stay with us on. The average client stays with us for three to five years before they transition into the school system. So we follow them for quite a long while and then…

The treatment in a Success On The Spectrum

Patrick: So when do they usually start?

Nichole: We start as early as 18 months old. So essentially as soon as you’re old enough to obtain a proper diagnosis, we’re able to treat that diagnosis and so far we go up to 18 years old simply because at the moment most insurances stop paying for treatment at 18. But I have a feeling that’s going to change and that will be extended, and we’ll be able to serve older kids.

Patrick: Great. So if an SOS franchise was around when your kid was 12 months old, you would get in the process and enroll them at 18?

Nichole: Yes, absolutely. We have a lot of babies in the clinic. That’s our favorite.

Patrick: And tell me a bit about your plans to grow. So you have a couple corporate locations in the greater Houston area, a few franchises already open, seven or so in development. I’m curious to hear a little bit about your plans for growth.

Nichole: So far all of the clinics that are open and existing at the moment are all in Texas, but we have franchisees in the process who have signed, who are getting there, and the office is ready and painted. It’ll happen any day now. We have them in New York, in Georgia, in Florida, and my goal is to expand across the entire United States. These services are needed everywhere, absolutely everywhere. The demand is so high and it is our mission to provide access to services to the kids that don’t have it.

The ideal candidate to be a Success On The Spectrum franchise

Patrick: And how much… I guess tell me, who’s your ideal franchisee? I mean, the number seemed great, it’s a good social good. I could see a lot of people being interested in investing in the SOS franchise. Who’s your ideal candidate to be a Success On The Spectrum franchise?

Nichole: As Joe mentioned earlier, there are a few very large companies out there that are gobbling up mom-and-pop clinics and those clinics are not owner-operated. It’s one head honcho at the top and they assign little managers everywhere, and the quality really gets lost in that type of model which is why we decided to franchise. We want owner operators. So we want someone that is going to be present at the clinic not all the time, but 20 to 30 hours a week. We need you to be involved with your staff, not with the kids, with your staff. The better your staff is, the higher quality services you can provide. You take care of the employees, they take care of the clients. So we like really high involvement. You don’t need any sort of experience. We teach you how to do everything, but you need leadership skills, you need people skills because…

Patrick: So a big part of the team and getting them excited. I imagine it can be draining.

Nichole: It can be, it can be. But we have a lot of clients and staff retention strategies, and we teach you how to keep morale up in your team, and we talk about leadership skills and as a CEO what your job is, and how you do it well, and how do you gauge yourself if you’re doing well or not. And we help you with that not just at the beginning when you first sign, but we actually send out a survey once a month and we track your KPIs, your key performance indicators which can really tell us how well you’re doing and allow you to know if you’re doing everything right and if you need help, we come right back there to help you.

Patrick: So for these centers you have generally the owner, the franchisee, CEO, and then underneath you have maybe a couple admins, and then you have individual techs.

Nichole: Absolutely right. So we are a one-on-one service. So there is one technician per child. The CEO obviously at the top is just gonna handle hiring and firing, and payroll. We have an office manager that takes care of the office, checking people in and out, answering the phones, making the schedule, the analyst which is a master’s degree which is what Joe’s wife is now about to become, I’m so proud of her, the analyst is the one who create the education plans for the children. Each child has an individual plan that’s different than everybody else’s, and they train the techs to work with the kids. So the CEO stays over everybody, kind of generally make sure everybody’s doing their job, but the hardcore training and the details are all left to your admin.

Patrick: And then your competitor… Is it industry standard that it’s one tech per client?

Nichole: It should be, Patrick. It should be. A lot of ABA centers, they’re doing that, but they’re really not and there’s no oversight, there is no regulation in our industry which is why quality can vary greatly from one business to the next.

Why applied behavior analysis, ABA versus some of the other treatment options?

Patrick: Why applied behavior analysis, ABA versus some of the other treatment options? I’m sure you two explored everything.

Nichole: Oh, yes, we did. Joe once mentioned things like the Brain Balance Center which is a very popular franchise of course, but they’re not scientifically proven to be effective. ABA is the only data-driven scientifically proven effective treatment for autisms. It’s recognized by the Academy of Pediatrics, medical boards, who have ever acknowledged ABA all say that this is the way to go. There’s nothing better, there’s nothing better out there.

Patrick: It sounds like if I had to make an analogy, last week I had a franchisor of a preschool system and it’s like, kinda daycare on one side and preschool on one side. And I think for your industry would be like, kind of a daycare on one side where it’s just a place people go and there’s minimal scientific back end, and then your guys where it’s backed by science and more like a Montessori type education in that parallel market.

Nichole: Well, it’s more medical treatment not education or daycare, but it’s kinda like, do you wanna…if you have high blood pressure, do you wanna take the medicine or do you wanna get massages from your voodoo, which doctor it is, acupuncture? Sure, some people say, “Oh, it works,” but there’s no science behind it, there’s no proof behind it, there’s no evidence behind it. You gotta have the research. You gotta have the study that shows that it works.

Patrick: So ABA, it’s backed by research and you two found that that’s the best solution for your kids and you wanna spread that to others, it seems like.

Joe: Absolutely. I mean, most doctors would actually advise parents to go get ABA right away once there is a diagnosis, depending on the spectrum and when we talk about the spectrum, Patrick, it’s so broad, right? I talk about my kid who’s, you know, considered a high functioning, but then you have everything else all the way to all the other extremes which are the kids, you know, the nonverbal, aggressive behavior. It’s a lot harder. So in those, medication actually may also be a good option, you know. I used to be like, completely against medication, but, you know, until I, you know, I start to really dive into the industry. In certain cases actually good, right? But in our business model it’s funny because when you talk with our BCBAs, their goal is that that client eventually won’t need ABA anymore. Isn’t that funny? Like, you take on a client with the hopes of that client won’t need your…

Patrick: And you mentioned, three to five years and you want, you know, want the clients to be independent.

Joe: Yeah. The whole goal is that we streamline them into a typical environment and we also do that in our facilities. That’s why we don’t believe in in-home only. We do offer in-home and school shadowing. But, you know, we do build that environment at our facility that will kind of simulate what they will face when they get to that typical environment out there.

Patrick: Makes total sense. And so for someone that wants to open up an SOS franchise, how much is it gonna cost? And I know it’s gonna depend on the lease negotiating, everything, and leasehold improvements, working capital. But what’s like a general range?

Nichole: It usually costs around $200,000 to $300,000. That’s gonna include your rent, your payroll, your insurances, all the toys, the offices, the computers, everything that you need total that includes the franchisees in there with it. And, you know, it’s probably 200,000 in Florida and in Texas. But maybe 300,000 in New York and LA.

Patrick: Fair.

Nichole: It’s just expensive. They’re differently priced at different areas of town, the country.

Patrick: Okay. So for me doing the calculation, 25%, 35% margin, you know, you have 20 kids at 10,000 a kid. That’s over two million. It seems like a very good business. Does it take a while to get at capacity or… I guess when you start becoming profitable, is it with five kids, six kids? What’s like a general industry? Not necessarily SOS, but general industry for breaking even in the ABA space.

Nichole: General industry, and again, it varies depending on what your expenses are, but anywhere between five and seven kids is your break even number. And that’s assuming that you have full-time children. We do have some part-time children as well as. But as far as the profit margin and being profitable, it all depends on your ability as a manager to save money. But I can say the first ones that I opened were full within nine months like, at capacity.

Optimal time to open a new franchise

Patrick: Wow. And what do you consider full?

Nichole: No more physical room in the center to put another desk.

Patrick: You know, like, 20, 30 students?

Nichole: I had about 25 students in that little office space.

Patrick: Wow.

Nichole: And that’s when I decided to open a second location and that went almost to the day nine months absolutely full.

Patrick: So does SOS Franchising help with some of the pre-marketing so they could break even within the first few couple months?

Nichole: So far every franchise that has opened has had a client waiting list before they opened. Finding clients is not the hard part. Thedemand is so high and the supply is so low. It is harder to find employees than it is to find clients.

Patrick: Employees. The dark side.

Nichole: Which we also help with that too.

Patrick: Okay. Great. And why decide to franchise? You know, you mentioned a bit these corporate companies that, you know, aren’t necessarily doing the one-to-one ratio and they have no connection in the industry, and they just probably care more about the money. Why franchise instead of you go out and grow, and open up more centers?

Nichole: So I talk about this a lot and of course, being both parents of kids with autism, to us it’s about the quality. We wanna do whatever we can to give the kids the best therapy possible because the earlier you get this done, the better off they are and if the quality of your services are just low, they’re not gonna do it…they’re not gonna get as much progress early on than they would with high quality. So mom-and-pop shops that pay attention to their employees that care about if someone gets angry in the lobby and all of these little things, they tend to have higher quality services, you pay attention better. But you can’t serve all the clients in the United States that need this. You can’t do a service to the public if you only have one and I can’t do it on my own. I wanna run them well and so instead of being a big company that goes around and eats everybody else’s little shop, and runs everything on a cookie cutter platform, we are a combination of mom-and-pop shops holding hands.

Patrick: That’s great.

Nichole: And the quality is there, but the support of the team as a whole is also there.

Parents with autistic children and how they are helped

Patrick: And are there… I mean, imagine some of these parents kinda can feel isolated and not know, and just not informed. But, you know, they go from maybe knowing just a couple other parents that have a child with autism to knowing now 20 parents overnight. Are there kinds of… Is there a community between the parents with the clients?

Nichole: Man, how did you even know to answer that question, Patrick? That’s an amazing point. Being a special needs parent is very isolating and very lonely. You go in public and you’re judged. Your families tell you, “Oh, he’s just misbehaved. He needs a spanking because they don’t understand it’s a brain abnormality because you can’t physically see it.” You can’t take your kids on vacation like everybody else does, you don’t get invited to birthday parties, it’s very isolating. So we do create quite a very close knit community between us and the parents, and the parents among themselves. In fact our business model is different than any other I’ve ever seen and that we have a giant parent viewing room, and they can watch their kids through the camera system live. And the parents gather up in the room and they watch their kid that, you know, drop off time or pick up time. And they talk about, “Oh, my God. My kids do that too. Oh, I thought he was just weird and oh, what did you do about this?” Then you make friends that are like you and it’s special, it’s really special.

Patrick: Yeah. No, it seems like a very warm environment that it’s good for the clients, the parents, and all the stakeholders.

Nichole: Absolutely.

Future S.O.S. expansion zones

Patrick: So you mentioned all the existing locations are in Texas and you have ones in development in New Jersey, New York, and Georgia. What other states would you wanna grow in? Like, where do you see the opportunity? If someone was moving to the United States and they go anywhere, and they’re more focused on money, where would they go to open up an SOS franchise?

Nichole: Honestly, because of the way that it’s set up, because it’s an essential health care service, because insurance will pay for the service, you don’t need affluent clients. Autism does not care if you’re born in the rich side of town or the poor side of town, it doesn’t care if you’re born in the country or in the city, it doesn’t care if you’re Black or you’re White. Everyone’s the same. So anywhere that you put a clinic is going to be successful and we haven’t had anywhere that we ever looked at that we thought, “Uh, that would be no good.” It’s in such high demand. In fact only 30% of kids that have autism have access to ABA therapy.

Patrick: Wow.

Nichole: There’s a 70% despair.

Patrick: And they’re mostly supply and awareness, or what’s the reason?

Nichole: There are no providers. There are not enough… There are only 30,000 analysts in the country and there are how many, Joe? Like, a million kids with autism. It’s…

Joe: Oh, yeah. And within that 30,000 only about 70% is actually in the autism field because a lot of people don’t know that ABA is not only for autism. It can be actually applied for several other things. So out of that 30,000, really only about 70% is in the autism field. So imagine that to service everywhere else, you know.

S.O.S. and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Patrick: And you need one-on-one and, yeah, the capacity of the center is… Yeah. That makes total sense. How do you see the market… How was it during COVID? 2020 was a weird year for all of us. Tell me a little bit how it was for SOS.

Nichole: We were affected of course by COVID and we are an essential health care service. So none of the franchisees had to close. We all stayed open. We did have to change it up a bit. We did offer some in-home services as opposed to in-clinic. We put new rules about how many kids could be in the clinic at one time, tons of sanitation protocols. What was interesting and what encouraged me that I had done the right thing with franchising is a lot of the mom-and-pop shops around Houston closed down not because the government ordered them to, not because there were no clients willing to come in. It was because they weren’t able to buy the supplies because you need a mask and you need gloves, and you couldn’t buy Lysol, and you couldn’t buy hand sanitizer. But as a franchise we were a big organization.

Patrick: You pushed it.

Nichole: We have big wholesale accounts and corporate accounts that allowed me to have access to gloves and masks, and we still have gallons and gallons of hand sanitizer. I don’t think we’ll ever go through it. I was so panicked about not having it. I just kept buying it, but I was able to disburse that to all the franchisees. And so having that big team behind you helped us survive that road bump. And it will not be the last pandemic. This is just the first.

Patrick: Exactly.

Nichole: This is going to happen again. We’ll be way more ready next time, but knowing that you have support and if your employees get sick, you can borrow some of mine or borrow from the sister location. It’s so supportive and we have more likes to stand on really.

Patrick: Yeah. I mean, it does seem like you’re definitely fostering a really good community of franchisees in this community overall. You know, I had one client that moved to Los Angeles. He opened a property management franchise and it was the same kind of thing, a big little bigger system, but his first client came from another franchisee that was at capacity. And I can imagine, you know, something similar happening based on the ethos that you’re building at SOS Franchising and the camaraderie.

Nichole: That’s correct.

Patrick: And sales, so no closures. Sales rebounded? How are they now?

Nichole: Joe.

Joe: Well, we are pretty much where we were before the pandemic which is an amazing thing to say when you look at what happened with the entire economy. Of course, certain locations will always do better than others for different reasons. Of course, in Texas we are still struggling. It’s only one of the three states that Medicaid is not fully covering ABA yet. So if that wasn’t the case we will probably be doing more than what we’re gonna prior pandemic at this point, but I wanna say we are just a few months before that starts in Texas. But we are considered healthcare, we are healthcare providers and there is a huge need. As a parent of a child with special needs there’s only so much you can do at home and especially those kids that are the need actually are more intensive care.

Patrick: Sure.

Joe: The parents are really, you know, they gotta take these kids over to treatment. The kids wanna go back, you know, into the centers because in there they have people that are skillful enough to help them cope and get going. So things are pretty much how they were before the pandemic and we have seen now in the first, we have projected the first two quarters this year already to see an improvement versus 2019.

ichole: Yes. Every single franchise that is open as of right now is doing better in this January than the entire 2020. So we’ve recovered and then grown.

Patrick: And some more. It’s incredible. I imagine this is gonna be a compounding effect as you bring on more franchises, as there’s more awareness, as you’re able to secure employees more. So I’m really excited for the future SOS and obviously we’ll be working together closely tracking your success. But Joe and Nicole, this has been an amazing live stream. I just wanted to conclude our discussion. How do you see the future changing and needs to prepare our kids with autism in the 21st century?

Looking to the future and changing needs to prepare our children with autism for the 21st century

Nichole: There are big things happening, huge things. So far all of the federal regulations that have been put on ABA therapy have been in our favor which you don’t see in any other industry. The government is mandating insurance to pay for this service. We don’t have to beg to be paid anymore. Autism is the only approved diagnosis so far that is a qualifying diagnosis for insurance to pay for ABA therapy. However, like Joe said before, it treats a number of disorders, it treats ADD, it treats ADHD, OCD, and other behavioral issues. And in the future as more awareness occurs and as ABA becomes more readily available, as our franchise provides access to all these kids that need it, we will see the government and the legislation follow that as well, and will be open to different clientele. And it’s only gonna grow from here. We’re just at the baby stages. This industry has so much more ceiling to go.

Patrick: Thanks. Well said. And Joe, any concluding thoughts?

Joe: No. I mean, I just wanna add to it this business model that Nichole created in 2015 became a franchise. It’s such an amazing company, you know, when I reached out to her and wanted to be a franchisee, I was like, if I were to create something this is exactly what I would do because it’s such an amazing concept. It’s really hard for you to find a concept that you can do good and yet make a really good profitable business out of. And this is what we have to offer. Luckily we are the only franchise in this field. So timing, it’s on our side at this point in any possible franchisee. Our franchise fee is very aggressive. Anybody who wants to connect with me after this live show, we can expand on that, but we set up in a way that’s extremely aggressive for possible franchisees. So that’s all.

Patrick: And it seems for those that are American passport holders or green card holders, and/or green card holders that they could get SBA financing. So imagine, you know, if it’s 200k to 300k, they could come in with $70,000 cash and finance the rest.

Joe: I mean, you know how hard it is to get a concept approved with the SBA financing and we got ours in like, no time.

Patrick: That’s great.

Joe: The moment they saw what we offer and the demand, and the good that we do for the community, I mean, we got approved like, in no time. So yeah, we can help throughout that whole process.

Patrick: That’s exciting. So I really appreciate having you two on. The industry is booming, relatively low investment when you look at the financial numbers in terms of top line sales and industry profit margins. I will send an email to all those that registered today so you can schedule a call with Joe and then later on, Nichole in the franchise evaluation process. If you like the video, share with your friends, like it, have any follow-up questions in the comment box, or email us at info@vettedbiz.com. And yeah, I just wanted to really thank Nichole and Joe. I really appreciate your time today and that’s the conclusion of Vetted Biz Franchise Fridays.

Nichole: Thank you so much, Patrick.

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