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Business in the Treatment Industry with Asana Recovery’s Mark Shandrow

March 28, 2020

Moving Recovery Forward.

Mark Shandrow is the CEO of Asana Recovery.

Asana Recovery uses a series of rehab programs to individuals with drug and alcohol recovery: medical detox, and inpatient and outpatient treatment. Asana provides an approach to addiction treatment that incorporates both traditional and alternative therapeutic methods and provides a truly individualized program of treatment for each client, thereby increasing the chances for real recovery.

Learn more about how Asana Recovery can help you with your drug or alcohol addiction by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

On with us right now we've got Mark Shandrow. Mark, you are the CEO of Asana Recovery in Costa Mesa, California. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, Josh. I appreciate the opportunity.

And so to kind of get started what is Asana Recovery? What do you do? Great. We're a family owned business here in Orange County. And what we do is just you know basically provide people with a problem, provide people with a problem with alcohol and drug addiction, and help them solve that. So, you know, as you know, the heroin epidemic is going crazy in the United States. So, you know, 45,070 thousand people are affected every year. And what we do is essentially, it's our residential alcohol and drug treatment program. Wow. That means his clients come to us from all around the United States, and they stay between 30 and 90 days. And we first do what's called a medical detox, where they work with a medical team and our doctor and our nurses to detox off their drug of choice, whether it's alcohol, whether it might be the opiates with heroin, methamphetamines, prescription drugs, you know, any of those and they'll go on what's called a taper and will taper them down so that they detox safely. The biggest challenges if you're detoxing, for example, with alcohol and benzodiazepine It means you can have a, you can have a stroke and die. So, once we do that, you know, they get a clear head, you know, and hopefully they're going into treatment with a clear head and and what that means is they're meeting with a therapist regularly, they're meeting with a case manager regularly to kind of organize their lives. And then they're going to daily group sessions, whether meeting with a therapist and other people in the program to kind of help work out the problems and also learn how to live their life without drugs and alcohol and, and even more understand the underlying problems of why they have that addiction.

Wow. So I would imagine, mark that, that the treatment industry is probably just because of some of the addiction issues that we've seen over the past 5, 10 years. I would imagine that the treatment hopefully, the treatment industry is kind of grown and scaled along with that to help solve the problem.

Yes and No, ironically, you know, it has grown rapidly. I know you're in south south Florida or Florida.

I'm in Orlando,

Orlando area. Okay. So southern Florida and Southern California or Florida in general have seen a huge increase over the last 10 years. Yeah, in private residential treatment programs. The challenge that we're seeing now is those number of those beds is actually contracting and going down. Because the insurance payers, which primarily represent 80 to 90% of the people paying the bill are cutting back on what they want to spend on addiction treatment. Just a few years ago, five years ago, there was this thing called the Parity Act, which basically told demanded that the insurance companies treat mental health the same way they treat physical health. For example, let's say if cancer you go in you have your chemotherapy, but then you're going to continue to have follow up therapy with addiction. They were treating it like you know that first of all, Before the Parity Act, they weren't authorizing it all. So what happened was the parody came in the insurance companies now had to pay for the service. It blew up went into the billions of dollars in a year and billing new billing for them. And now they've clamped back down on it. So it's, you know, unfortunately, it's kind of gone the wrong direction. And there's still quite a lack of the number of beds for the people that are suffering from

Yeah. So what does that ultimately mean? Does that mean that you know, if you if you have an insurance provider that says, Sorry, you know, I know all these treatment facilities charge this, but that's not in your plan. So I know you're addicted at all, but is that kind of their approach? It's kind of like, yeah, throw their hands up and go, sorry. I said, you know, you're gonna have to find telehealth or

something like that, or pay cash or find a nonprofit program. That's, you know, the challenge with a lot of those is of course, you know, they're they have limited funds. You're going to get limited treatment.

Wow. So what I would imagine then what does it take to run a treatment facility?

You know, you know, this is my third business industry that I've been in, you know, this is certainly, you know, from being in the nonprofit world earlier in my 20s and then real estate and my 30s and now in my 40s, doing treatment, it takes a tremendous amount of patience. And it also takes a lot of being able to handle high risk situations with with while being calm, you know, example, you know, clients are, especially with his disease can be incredibly erratic, you know, they, you know, they get involved with the police, sometimes they get involved with fights, they get involved with altercations, or or, you know, even worse, they they smuggle drugs into the facility and possibly might overdose, you know, so it requires a, you know, for an owner and also for my employees, they really need to be calm. It requires calmness and the ability to make smart decisions while you know, you know, while looking out for the best interests of the client, you know, it's it's so it's a constant struggle between those two things.

And prior to Asana and I should point out for those listening, you can see Asana Recovery is on the web at AsanaRecovery.com that's A S A N A recovery dot com. We'll talk a little bit more about what makes Asana unique, but how did you how did you migrate into starting or how a creating Asana?

Yeah, good question. You know, it started way back when actually I was in college, you know, one of my good college friends and in my business school at the time, you know, we connected we would hang out a lot and you know, he had, you know, he was it was my, you know, pot dealer, even in college, you know, and then he He stepped it up, you know, first he started dealing marijuana, then he started dealing cocaine. Then he started doing heroin and got hooked, and then ended up having, you know, a long journey of addiction, including five years in prison. And, you know, I stayed in contact with him because I, you know, we had a good friendship. And he was, he was a very smart businessman. And then eventually, you know, he flew out to California, about 11 years ago, entered a treatment program here, and then saw that I was doing really well in real estate and reached out and goes, Hey, Mark, I have this great idea, you know, your real estate skills, my treatment history skills, and another partner, who also was in treatment, we started and built the company pretty quickly. Because what I mentioned earlier, the money was flowing, you know, the Parity Act had just been passed, insurance companies were spending a tremendous amount of money so we're able to scale the business rather rapidly, up to about 500 beds and 1600 and 50 employees and Oh, wow. Gosh, yeah. And 2015 we actually did 100 million in revenue. And then the insurance companies pulled put the brakes on. Yeah, full speed, cut us off, you know, our expenses were at 2 million a year, and then eventually driving the company into bankruptcy, which was, you know, long couple years and now out of that bankruptcy, you know, for whatever, you know, just miraculously we were able to go, the owners were able to go back into the bankruptcy court bid on the company, and we actually bought it back out of bankruptcy. And my old partner took his piece of the company and started his business and I took a piece of the company and started a sauna recovery with my, my partner, my brother.

Wow, wow. Yeah. What is that, like? When you I mean, and listen, you know, that can happen in you know, no business is immune from environmental factors, or all of a sudden there's this rapid shift in consumer opinion. That can happen. So we suffered with that with savings Angel, we were doing great six figure a month revenue. And then people decided that they weren't really interested in using coupons anymore. So it was kind of a slow steady death. Thankfully, you know, we had enough, you know, exit, figure some things out, but what can happen? And so, knowing what you know, now, how does that affect how you operate business?

You know, great question. You know, I learned, you know, it was a great experience, you know, although very, very challenging, you know, fortunately, what set me up to manage it a lot better as I had done a similar thing in real estate when the market crashed, I lost a lot of apartments, my houses I had to rebuild up, and then I did it again the second time. This time, I think I'm learning and really the things that I am doing differently are, you know, making sure that every single month we reserve and take out cash Put it aside for the slow months, you know, having enough cash on hand, the goal is six months operating income in the bank, that is a big thing. You know, we expanded the other business too fast, we grew too fast, we didn't build up enough reserves. And when, excuse my language when the shit hit the fan, you know, we had to reach out to a bank, the bank provided financing, but they also wrapped everything up in a big fat promissory note, which then dragged everything down. So the other thing is, you know, making sure that you have the credit when you when you don't need it.

There. So some

people say that all the time, but it's so true. Yeah, you cannot take credit when you need

it. I cannot stress that enough. And you know, one thing so I've spoken to Tony Robbins for Tony Robbins organization, I've, you know, been to business mastery, and that's one of the biggest like headlines when you go to business mastery is you build your business for winter because Winter is coming. It's not

if it is when and when every market changes. Yeah, no matter what, right? It's hard. And if you don't adapt and change, and have the reserves to whether, when you're finally figuring it out, and for us, we had 1600 employees, that is like a battleship, right? And then you get into all these crazy laws that prevent you from laying off employees, the number of sides and then it just drags you down. You know, and it's hard to shed quick enough. And, you know, that's, that's no fun, first of all, but secondly, if you can't, you know, it's like catching a falling knife. Right. It's just it's very difficult.

Yeah. Yeah. My gosh, so. So talk to me about the I guess the success or the outcome that Asana creates today, with with the patients met the lions. People are coming to stay for a while.

Yeah, no good question. You know, based on a lot of what I learned with the other company saw landings, behavioral health, I with Asana Recovery, the main thing is we're keeping it small, you know, keeping it manageable. And the benefit to our clients is, number one, you know, the intimacy and the size of it allows us to give up much more individualized care. And how that impacts them is. gives them a little bit more sense of comfort and empathy. And the biggest thing that clients suffering from addiction need is empathy. They can't have people judging them, because they've done a lot of bad things in the past, right. And the goal is to get them to the to the future, to get them to be a productive member of society, and we can't judge them. So what we do as an example is you know, we have welcome calls with our clients coming in, and we find out exactly what their what their needs are from their basic dietary needs, to their mental health needs to maybe they want a special You know, if that's something that they do that would make them more comfortable in our program, for example, you know, we had a marathon runner come in, and we set up a treadmill, so he could continue to run 10 miles a day, just like what he needed to do. And we were and then he was able to do that, and then go to groups and meet with his counselors and therapists. And so really making that little special touch that has a big impact on somebody will change your life. So our are just to answer your question, and it was a little long, but right, the goal is to get them back into society. And basically, if everyone if they listen to exactly what we tell them and how we teach them, they're going to be successful. There's no doubt.

You know, and, of course, there's no judgment in this but I wonder how and, you know, again, this may not have scientific data, maybe just kind of, you know, your subjective view of this but I wonder now with recreational marijuana kind of lighting up was unintentional. You know, but but, you know, becoming legal throughout the United States now, I wonder how that impacts other you know, opiate use and addiction and that sort of thing. Any kind of

questions? That's a good question I'm at from our small window. Yeah.

Although I am a proponent of legalization of marijuana and other drugs, I think it confuses a lot of the clients and, and some of them may think that they can handle smoking marijuana when they shouldn't be doing any drugs and they should be 100% clear headed. So it does create some issues. I also think there is evidence that it it kind of accelerates schizophrenia, especially in it's called marijuana into schizophrenia, and it's just seeing people in their 20s so that's in the in the marijuana now is so strong.

Oh, I know. Yeah, you know, I shouldn't say From here is not neither confirming nor denying. But I've we serve a lot of clients in this space. And yeah, they're like Josh, it is nothing like when you went to high school.

Exactly. And so if people are excessively abusing it, it can have major impact. So we're starting to see more marijuana users come into the program and try and get off it. Yeah. However, the insurance companies don't reimburse for that they won't pay for that. They don't consider that an addiction.

Yeah. Do you think that I mean, do you see that this is just a trend that's going to continue with the insurance industry or do you see them lightening up at all and and being more supportive it I wonder how much of this is going to come from legislature legislators in DC, as opposed to the health industry just deciding that they're going to be good guys.

Right. And, you know, I'm going to help you know, the insurance providers are publicly traded companies. Yeah, they have to report bottom lines. I mean, they squeeze the heck out of us at the end of the year. So I this is going to be good. Continuing trend unless the government steps in and forces them to change because some of the there's two issues one is providers are not really adhering to legislation and essentially doing what they want to deny claims. And the second is they're just you know, squeezing out the reimbursements so smaller companies like ourselves and even bigger companies I mean, the largest publicly traded addiction program as American addiction centers, they're like, I'll 1200 beds out of Tennessee and they were delisted off the NASDAQ because their their their company value dropped too low.

So Mark, you compared to other treatment facilities do a couple things I think that are fairly unique and, and one specifically I'll just mention is that thank you so much for including me on the on the gift box. But it tell me a little bit about some of the extras that you provide that you think are really helpful for the recovery process? Absolutely. That's a great question.

The main thing really, is the treatment that we provide, regardless of whether you provide, you know, private chef, Ocean View, swimming pool, sauna, all of those extra amenities, which we don't provide are a distraction to the real issue. And the real issue is making sure the clients feel safe, comfortable, and work with the therapist, whether it's one on one and in groups and really work on themselves and make that commitment that change. The best thing we can do is create an environment where that will happen. And that comes with an empathetic staff, but also a staff and a team, from the therapist to the support staff that have strong boundaries. I mean, you have to, you know, almost treat people in like toddlers. You can't go out this time the TV goes off at this, you lose your phone at this time. And being very strict and they need to create those boundaries, which will then help them create the positive habits. And we all know habits are what drive your life to, you know, survive and thrive in a life of recovery. And then also working, a lot of people are doing this because they have underlying issues. And that could take longer than us that could take longer than a stay at our facility to deal with.

And what do you do? I'm curious, what a residential treatment is it? Are you residential treatment. Yes, I know that term because that's what my wife and I did during college is we worked at residential treatment facilities, mainly exclusively with youth. Okay, yeah. high risk youth and at risk youth and that sort of thing. But I guess what, I forgot what I was gonna, what was I asking somebody? Well, I've never I've never had this happen in 203 hundred interviews last year. train of thought, yeah, I forgot my train of thought I started telling stories about how that's my wife will use. Yeah, yeah, my wife and I did.

But we were talking previously about what we do differently with the clients and the outcomes and things like that. Yeah, I'm not sure where you're gonna say,

yeah, I'm not sure either. So we'll keep we'll keep that that question for the heavens, I suppose. So, Mark, in terms of, Oh, yeah, I know what I was going to ask what is a residential treatment facility do to market their services? How is it just networking?

Yeah, that's a good question. You know, like any business that's, I feel is one of the most challenging parts is getting out there and doing marketing. So that's primarily what I do. I do quite a bit of that. I spend most of my time doing that. What my my partner, my brother does the operations. He manages the staff. I'm out there. You're right. I'm out there networking. I'm out there meeting with other facilities. I'm putting him in people that I mean, as you know, the Go into, you know, marketing program that I have where I sent, you know, I'm coming, you know, again, just to back up a little bit, you know, I'm from the real estate world. And Gary Keller had a tremendous impact on me when I was going through that I was at Keller Williams agent for a while, and then I went to other courses. And what he taught me about marketing, especially one to one is simple. There's two programs he uses once called the eight by eight, and one's called the 33 touch. So when you first meet a PR person, the objective is in real estate is to get to know them. So they can a refer you business or be they themselves could be a client. And that's about that that is about relationships. So when you meet somebody, we put them in what we call an eight by eight program. So it's let's say it's, for example, it's a lawyer, that's dealing with probation issues, and sometimes it's sent clients to care, you know, to avoid jail, and basically, a lot of people come here to avoid jail. Not a lot, but some. What we do is We put them on a BIOS, we would touch them eight times in a week's telephone, email postcard text telephone Bubba Ray a week. And that's all automated through system. The other thing which you experiences, then we put them in what we call our 33 Touch program. And we touch with 33 times a calendar year. And that's, you know, for us, we kind of, you know, borrowed the birch box idea, yeah, branded our own box that we send in with emails and texts. So we essentially hit him three times with that system every month. And that basically works out to about 3336 times a year. So that's how I do the business networking side of our business

now. And and then I'd say for the next couple years, what are the plans to continue to either grow and scale or increase your impact with Asana

continuing to do what I just said, and the business development side, continuing to add beds, so we're doing that adding houses to our program so that we can increase the number of clients we take. Yeah, spending. a tremendous amount of energy and resources on our website. You know, as that, you know, we have over 3000 articles on the website, let's go and do a little change right now, but it'll be, you know, fully operational in a couple of days. That's huge. That's huge for us, you know, driving backlinks, you know, that's just know

what a commitment to content marketing lots like

we are doing for some time, I was doing 10 a day for a while. And then and then, you know, we contact our alumni, that's very important for our program, you know, keeping in touch with the people that that have graduated, we, we offer a travel scholarship if they want to come back and speak at our program after a year of sobriety. So we do that every month. Right, you know, and then they refer us clients, and then, you know, unfortunately this disease is is a challenge and it takes some people more than once to get sober. So we get a lot of versus recidivism as well.

Yeah. I'm sure I'm sure. Well, Mark, Shandrow, I want to thank you so much for spending your time. You know, congratulations, I, you know, having that experience of, you know, being a part of something so huge, so good. Being able to, you know, rebuild that in a way that you have and to create the level of success that you have is really remarkable. And congratulations again on so much content. You know, you think about what a gift that was what an investment that was at the beginning.

Yeah. And now that Google's got that all indexed. I mean, that is a gift that's going to keep on giving for life and so choosy Yeah, usually, yeah. Yeah. Really, congratulations on on, you know, taking that step and it's, you know, it feels risky. Like, why are we really going to do 10 pieces of content a day, is this going to pay off and, you know, as you've seen evidence, it's very helpful and, and also, what I'm doing today is we're doing a lot of research, you got tons of research life, you're going to reach out You're going to find information online. And you know how wonderful that is that you've got Asana that's there to assist you in that and pro bono. You know, it's a great way to build a relationship.

Absolutely. And you know, like you said, people are searching constantly. The other thing I'm doing with the help of your firm is, you know, talking with reporters, you know, working with reporters working with and becoming industry professional. Yeah, no, I think the benefit of that is, I mean, just from a 3d point of view, too, so to speak, is the backlinks are great. They help the website that gives you credibility. The other thing is, you can get there and spread the message. We can talk about addiction, we can provide, hopefully, some useful content, like you mentioned, we can help people and just get the word out there. And you know, I enjoy doing that. I think that's a big part of any, especially if you're a CEO, I think you have to take a responsibility to educate the public on why what you're doing is important.

I love it. I love it make the world a better place. And that's absolutely right. Asana Recovery, Mark Shandrow, you're the CEO Asana Recovery on the web at AsanaRecovery.com. Thank you so much for joining us, Mark.

My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

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