The Bookkeeper client Haley Gray is Chief Extension Officer at Extension of You Home Care, an in-home companion care and transportation provider based in the Triangle.  Haley has received her MBA from Duke University and published her first book, Choosing a Caregiver: Expect the Best and Know How to Ask for It, last year.  The book is a best-seller in four categories on Amazon.

You originally went to NC State for Computer Science and Spanish literature.  What drew you to elder care?

My dad, my parents…the whole experience with my parents.  I saw a lot being done right but also a lot of things that could be improved. I saw a lot of senior homecare businesses which were not doing right by their patients.   For example, we had one caregiver who worked with my dad for two years from 5:30 AM to 5:30 PM, who never once saw a caregiver during a work shift.  I saw my dad who had dementia being asked to sign a paper timecard.  He had no idea what he was signing.  I talked to friends who also reported similar stories. To me, that is not acceptable- you shouldn’t be asking someone to sign a document that they don’t understand, yet it happens every day.

To improve upon the standard level of care, what we (Extension of You) do differently is things like using telephony for time cards, random, unannounced visits when our caregivers are on duty, and providing ongoing training for our caregivers.  We also do nationwide background searches, paid time-off, 401Ks, financial education, and we pay above market standards while maintaining a profit.  Our caregivers earn a living wage, which helps us keep them longer.

You mentioned your employees receive financial education.  What motivated you to go back for your MBA when you did?

It had been a long-term goal of mine.  I was going to go back in 2002, but got pregnant with my third child.  So I decided to wait until I was done having children.  I went back when my youngest was about to enter 4-days-a-week preschool and my oldest was about to enter high school, which allowed me to finish my MBA before my oldest graduated high school.

Financial education of my employees, and giving them opportunities is important to me, because I’ve seen the huge benefits of a little bit of education.

Was writing a book a long-term goal as well?

That came more recently.  I’d thought about it in the back of my head, but never thought I’d really do it.  Once I got into my blogging it began to feel more like a real possibility.  I ended up writing it last year in 5 months, start-to-finish, so it was a whirlwind.

With four children, do you see any of them following in your footsteps?

I have no idea.  They all have very different interests, so I will be curious to see what they do.  But anything they do will be earned, not given.  I expect them to forge their own paths.

What is your favorite thing you do on a day-to-day basis in your work?

My favorite thing on a day-to-day basis is getting out and meeting people.  The buckets into which I divide my time are sales and marketing, dealing with business challenges, and managing people.  But my favorite is getting out and seeing people, improving their lives, and helping them out at a difficult time.  I also really enjoy seeing my companies grow and, as a manager, “nudging” people to grow.  And, really, growth can be measured in different ways.  I like looking at all the different metrics to see all the ways we’re growing.  I’m a nurturing soul, so it comes out in taking care of our clients, but also in taking care of employees.