Lab Testing Franchise: A Match Made in Health Care

Swooshing down the slopes in the winter, zip-lining through the Costa Rican rainforest in the summer or catching air off the back of a boat on a weekend lake getaway, the Toney family packs in as many family adventures as they can. As the owners of six, soon-to-be seven, Any Lab Test Now franchise locations in Austin and Dallas, Texas, Sean and Sarah Toney are reaping the rewards of a successful medical lab testing business that all started with… a blind date.


“We knew ‘of’ each other because we passed each other in the hallways of hospitals and doctors’ offices going after the same accounts,” recalled Sarah of their initial meeting eighteen years ago. “So, I guess it wasn’t completely blind.”


At the time, both Austin-area natives worked in pharmaceutical sales for two competing companies when they were set up on a date by co-workers. It didn’t take long for the competitors to become a couple. Then, eight years and four kids later, to become co-owners and one of the first franchisees at Any Lab Test Now, one of the country’s fastest-growing direct access lab testing companies.


“The main reason we bought a franchise was to create more flexibility and more family time. That was big on my heart,” said Sean, who has enjoyed coaching his three sons’ sports teams for the last 14 years and who grew up with entrepreneurial parents himself.


Sarah echoes that sentiment, “It is one of the best things I could have asked for. It is such a gift to be home with my kids after school instead of constantly traveling. Owning and running our own business is much more satisfying and rewarding to me than anything I ever did in pharma.”


An Insider’s Advantage

However, the Toneys’ background in health care is ultimately what drew them to Any Lab Test Now. With more than 15 years in the health care industry and sales, including countless hours in doctors’ offices and having the same conversations over and over with nurses, they had a unique perspective. Namely, as insiders, they knew the health care system was broken.


THEY KNEW… people were waiting for hours on end to see doctors and to get an order for a lab test.


THEY KNEW… people were paying outrageous amounts for lab tests and often, never even got to see the results.


THEY KNEW… people weren’t getting their lab tests done because of the high cost.


THEY KNEW… patients were tangled up in a bureaucracy and had no control over their health.


“There was a gap in the system and patients were falling through that gap. When it becomes all about profit, there are problems. At Any Lab Test Now, we saw solutions,” said Sarah.


Sean made a trip to the company headquarters in Atlanta for “Discovery Day” to learn more about what was involved in becoming a franchisee. He discovered a business model which included a small retail footprint, low overhead, a small employee base, and turnkey support from the home office. Maybe most appealing to them, it was an emerging business opportunity in the health care field. It took insurance out of the equation, in favor of up-front payment, and helped patients take back control of their health.


Sean came home to Sarah and declared, “We’re going to open this business. It’s a great concept. I love it!”


Making It Happen

Although they felt in their gut it was a great opportunity, they did their due diligence and sought feedback from friends in the health care field. Doctors, nurses, and office managers all gave them great encouragement, “Yes, it’s a need. Go for it!”


“We knew it was going to disrupt the industry,” explained Sarah. “And that was a good thing because it was going to help patients and make the system better.”


They pulled the trigger and bought the rights for the Austin market — three stores in three years.


“We drained our life savings, that was the scariest part. But we were confident because we were familiar with the industry. We loved pioneering this idea,” said Sarah.


Initially, Sean and Sarah both kept their careers. By the second year, Sarah left pharma to dedicate her full attention to the business and by the third year, Sean followed suit.


“We saw the success grow the more we were there as owners. After seeing success the first two years, I wasn’t as scared. I knew we could grow to new markets,” said Sarah.


A fourth store in Austin and two (soon-to-be-three) more in Dallas followed.


High Growth Vision

One way Any Lab Test Now offers built-in high growth opportunities is with its diversity of services. While health care lab tests represent about 65 percent of those offered, there are also drug screenings for employers and DNA testing for the courts, which makes the business a bit recession-proof. The Toneys relied on that and added their personal vision for continued growth.


“Early on, we realized we were spending too much time on things that were hindering our growth. We knew if we wanted to be growth-oriented, we had to offer growth opportunities, so key employees would stay with our company. Today we employ a team of 18 people and more than half have been with us for more than five years,” boasted Sarah.


By offering full benefits and paying slightly above the industry standard, the Toneys have assembled a team of experienced and qualified people to run their locations day-to-day. Sean focuses on operations, IT, and the financials for the group. Sarah brings her health care knowledge to sales, marketing, and human resources.


“It was an easy transition for me because we still get to see our doctor friends and interact with them on a daily basis. They are a huge part of our revenue and referrals; and important for our growth,” said Sarah.


From their days in pharma, Sarah and Sean always knew health care was a good fit for them. Their passion for the patient experience has never wavered. Today, instead of calling on doctors and nurses to sell drugs, Sarah calls on them to sell a service. A service that makes their and their patients’ lives easier; a service that offers the Toneys’ financial success, flexibility and personal fulfillment.

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