How One Franchisor is Saving Lives in Crisis

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If you’re going to be in a pandemic, Dave Adams is the sort of person everyone would want on the front lines.

He owns and operates six American Family Care (AFC) locations in the Boston area. As a kid, he was an Eagle Scout. He is a former Marine. He also has a B.A. in history, from the College of William and Mary, and an MBA from Dartmouth College.

He is a Renaissance man during a time that can feel like, for those who know their bubonic plague history, the Middle Ages.

When the pandemic first started to grab the public’s attention, AFC, like many healthcare networks, was ahead of the curve, paying attention to the news far more than the average layperson. AFC swiftly crafted an education campaign to spread the word about how families could protect themselves. The franchisor also quickly distributed procedures for mock patient drills at its franchise locations nationwide. Within three days, as the country began shutting down, AFC built and rolled out a telehealth platform.

And because of a pre-existing relationship with a pharmaceutical company, AFC was able to offer the nation’s first rapid COVID-19 test — and quickly dispatched them to their locations in three states that had been especially hit hard — New York, Tennessee and Massachusetts.

Adams was ready. It also didn’t hurt that his medical director, Dr. Kristina Orio, was a U.S. Air Force battlefield ER doctor deployed to Iraq. Adams and Orio used their muscle memory from the military to quickly mobilize large-scale drive-through clinics.

When we spoke to Adams, he had been doing this for nine weeks, working 16-hour shifts — and hadn’t taken a day off since. His locations have averaged 150 tests daily, for both COVID-19 and the antibody test.

He has a few pieces of advice for any franchise owner toiling away in this pandemic.

Embrace flexibility.

As Adams puts it: “We’ve had to be willing to adapt to the ever-changing needs and science of this pandemic. Three months ago, nobody needed a test for the virus. One month ago, nobody needed antibody testing. Who knows what will happen a month from now?”

Stay attuned to the people you serve, more than ever.

You’ll be a better business owner if you are sensitive to how your customers are thinking. In the beginning, Adams says that patients were extremely grateful to have a place to go where they could be tested. Now patients visiting are tired and frustrated. “People are getting burned out by this, and you can see it,” Adams says.

Continually educate the public about your safety measures. 

That is, if you want employees and customers to wear a mask or to stand six feet apart, you need to remind them. “We really try to drive that point home, so they aren’t doing anything that might spread the virus,” Adams says.

Do your job well, and the public will likely notice. In Adams’ case, he says that they’ve had cars driving by his drive-through clinics, with people waving and honking horns in support.

“We’ve received many donations of PPE, masks from normal people off the street who walk in and say, ‘You need these more than we do,’” Adams says. “That’s been incredibly motivating.”


Dave Adams is a franchise owner of American Family Care urgent care clinics in Waltham, North Andover and Stoneham, MA. For franchise opportunities with International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisor member American Family Care, click here.