Assistance Home Care: Helping Families Navigate What Comes Next.
As Sally Serfas watched her mother’s dementia worsen, the last thing she wanted to do was remove her from the comfort and familiarity her home provided.
In the years that followed, Sally and her husband Allen experienced first-hand the many challenges families face when respecting a parent’s desire to age at home, while also getting them the quality of care they need to remain there safely.
In 2011, the St. Louis couple went a step further. In honor of Sally’s mother, they founded Assistance Home Care. Their mission: to help other families successfully navigate this difficult, but important leg of their loved one’s life journey.
A company built to serve
Drawing from her personal experience, Sally brought valuable insights to their business’ services and operations. Allen added considerable startup acumen, having previously helped launch the commercial truck division for a national rental car company.
Allen’s twenty-one years at his former job influenced the Serfas’ decision to open their first checking account for their new business with Commerce Bank, his former employer’s long-time financial institution. “If Commerce was good enough for the largest rental company in the world,” Allen recalled, “it was good enough for us.”
In their emerging company, the couple built a team of home care professionals that fit a simple formula. “Great caregivers want to work around other great caregivers,” Allen explained. “So, we look for people who feel called to serve with empathy and respect.”
Now that they had the right team, they focused on building up the business.
“We felt like farmers planting seeds,” he continued. “It took four months to get our first customer. Then opportunities started popping up all over.”
The company has since grown to six locations ─ five in the St. Louis-area and one in Chicago. With multiple “Best Place to Work” accolades from Fortune magazine under their belt, the Serfases were positioning Assistance Home Care to be among the leading home care companies in the country.
Then came COVID-19.
Running point for others
The threat the pandemic posed to their business was immediate.
“Families were scared,” Allen recalled. “Some were afraid to let our care professionals into their homes and put our services on hold.” His staff had concerns for their own safety as well.
The federal government’s announcement of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) gave Allen hope. It also gave him a reason to call Commerce Bank.
“Having a single, designated contact at Commerce made all the difference,” he said. “My banker provided me with all of the details to secure a PPP loan and guided me down the path to get it done quickly.”
Thanks to those funds, Assistance Home Care made it through the pandemic’s darkest days with no layoffs. “Even with so many moving parts, Commerce made it easy,” Allen said.
That wasn’t the first ─ or ─ last time he turned to his banker for help.
Another phone call to Commerce in early 2021 resulted in the automation of Assistance Home Care’s payment system. “We were processing 25 to 50 invoices per week and sending the same number of checks through online banking, which at the time, I thought was pretty streamlined,” Allen said.
However, his penchant for paying invoices as soon as he received them was resulting in many unwanted daily interruptions. After another discussion with his banker, Assistance Home Care was made aware of CashFlow Complete, a digital solution offered by Commerce Bank that streamlines both the payables and receivables process, making it easy for small businesses to authorize, schedule and accept payments.
“Our new approach still gets people paid on time while maximizing our cash flow,” said Allen. “But the thing I appreciate most is that I don’t have to think about it.”
That same sentiment also explains why the Serfases have stuck with Commerce for both their business and personal banking needs for so many years.
“With a growing business, I am pulled in many directions,” Allen said. “My banker at Commerce may not always know the answer to every question I ask him in that moment, but he always finds it. He runs point for me, so I can focus on my business.”
“We take a similar approach with the families we serve,” he said. “We run point for them so they can focus on their family time.”
“Our business is built around delivering excellent service,” Allen added. “I also want to receive it. That’s why I appreciate Commerce. I am always met by positive people who follow up and follow through. They care. It’s just a great relationship.”