Connor Ferguson took a bad situation—a layoff from HSBC Bank where he had worked for six years—and turned it into a life-changing opportunity.
"My overall goal is to give the community convenient access to physicians," he said, noting that all Doctors Express physicians have emergency room experience.
"The fact of the matter is that the urgent care world can be stigmatized by lack of expertise, knowledge and compassion," Ferguson said. Ferguson said that he hopes to change that through Doctors Express.
"The day I found out ... I knew I had to be self-employed," he said. "I worked an insane amount."
His routine was to work six days per week. Often those days began at 4:30 a.m., and ended at about 9 p.m.
"That was my choice," he said. "I was driven to be the best at what I was doing."
Finding a franchise
With some money saved, Ferguson set out to find a franchise to buy. His first stop was a national franchise exposition in Washington.
"There were a lot of good ideas, but nothing I particularly felt like I wanted to put my life savings into," he said.
"I found it to be a unique opportunity because when I went to urgent cares before, I felt there was a real lack of customer service and compassion," Ferguson said.
The diehard Ravens fan said he was thrilled to move back to Baltimore and to be near his parents who also live in Columbia.
"I'm a huge Ravens fan. I haven't missed a game since 2004. So it doesn't make sense to live anywhere else," he said.
His Pikesville franchise opened in January with a grand opening in March.
Doctors Express is an alternative to going to the emergency room. There, patients with non-life threatening emergencies can get quick care without the long waits.
At Doctors Express, located in Woodholme Square, at the intersection of Mt. Wilson Lane and Reisterstown Road, patients can get X-rays and blood tests and other services on site.
"And the average wait time right now is 7 minutes. The average time to get out the door is 47 minutes," Ferguson said.
Fellow franchise owner Sumner Miller, who owns the Doctors Express at 2219 York Road in Timonium, bought his franchise after being an executive who was hired by shareholders to fix healthcare companies that were in distress.
He said franchisees have to have "some sort of entrepreneurial bent."
"You have to be willing to take a financial risk, feel confident you can do something on your own, and you have to have leadership skills," Miller said.
He said Ferguson's strength is in his marketing abilities, and that Ferguson shares that knowledge with him.
"You have to have the right personality to do this. You can’t be a passive person who likes to take direction. For me it worked. For others it might not work," Miller said. His Doctors Express opened in June 2010.
"You have to have a vision for what you want to do. I am glad I did it," Miller said.