The Story Behind SOS Franchising
By Nichole Daher, Owner/Founder, Success On The Spectrum and SOS Franchising
I never planned to own a national franchise. Rather, it was borne out of necessity. After working for 7 years in Nuclear Medicine Technology, I was still an employee and I simply reached the ceiling of how much money I could earn in my career. I wanted a change that would allow me to grow, but didn't know where to start.
As fate would have it, I met and married the man of my dreams. Along with him, I gained two beautiful step daughters, one of which, has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I was thrown into a world I had never known before. Not only was I suddenly a full-time parent, but I also had to care for a special needs child. I read everything that I could find and I even took Autism Caregiver Training classes. Loving this child radically changed how I viewed the world. I experienced fear, frustration, helplessness, joy, and everything in between. I wanted to do anything to help her have a happy, independent life.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the golden standard of treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctors, the Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, etc. all recommend it. The problem is... finding ABA services can be a challenge. Doctors have waiting lists to diagnose a child, some insurances don't pay for ABA treatment, and there are way more children with Autism than treatment centers are able to handle.
As I searched for an ABA center to enroll my daughter, I found that most treatment centers had long waiting lists. One ABA center owner told me that I should give up searching, because my daughter was "too old" and would never be approved by insurance. I was angry that a child who needed help would be so harshly rejected. Instead of giving up, I decided that if I couldn't find an ABA center... then I would open one myself.
I researched the ABA industry. I confirmed that the autism population is greatly under-serviced. Much to my surprise, I discovered that the ABA market is growing at twice the rate of other healthcare businesses. I also found that lawmakers were furiously working to mandate ABA coverage on publicly funded health plans. I quickly realized that I could meet my daughter's needs and fuel my career ambition all at once. My husband generously gave me his life savings and full moral support. I left my career in nuclear medicine and took the scary leap into owning my own business.
In 2015, I opened Success On The Spectrum, or SOS for short (my brilliant husband picked the name). I hired the best Behavior Analyst and Behavior Technician that I could find. I taught myself to do insurance billing. I read everything I could about book-keeping and corporate taxes. I learned a lot, mostly by trial and error... but I felt happy to get up in the morning and go to work. I was making more money than I ever had before. I felt pride in helping other children. My daughter got the help that she needed and the business grew faster than I could keep up.
In 2016, I had to double the size of the office space. We quickly filled that space up with kids and were forced to put clients on a waiting list. As much as I hated being the desperate mother of a child who couldn't find help, I hated being the provider that turned others away even more. In 2018, I opened a second office on the opposite side of town. Even though that office was even bigger than the original, it was at capacity in 9 months. Each center was making over $1 million in gross revenue each year, but I still hated turning children away. I knew that I could never satisfy the demand for ABA on my own.
In 2018, I took another scary leap. I opened SOS Franchising, the only ABA franchise in the country. The original Behavior Analyst and Behavior Technician that I hired are still with me. Together, our new mission is to teach others how to open and run successful ABA centers. I want to help standardize quality treatment. I want to make treatment available to more kids, in every corner of the US.