Caregiving might be described as "the business of caring," but it is a business nonetheless. Both sides of this equation need to be balanced for a caregiver to be as successful as possible. After all, how useful can we really be, as caregivers, if we're constantly overworked or desperately hunting for new clients?
Mastering the business side of caregiving is going to become more and more essential as time goes on. The number of long-term care recipients is expected to double by the year 2050, as reported by the Family Caregiving Alliance. We must begin focusing on the business side now, as well as the caregiving, to survive the transition.
We recently checked in with Stephen Tweed of Leading Home Care to learn more about how caregivers should be managing their businesses.
When you begin working with a new client, you begin with a conversation. What are some of the topics you cover in this initial conversation? What do these insights tell you about the client you're working with?
We work with home care agencies in the top 10 percent of the industry, and those who want to be in the top 10 percent, and our focus is working with owners and CEOs to grow their business and get ready for the future. Our initial conversation is to learn about their business, their goals, and what type of assistance they are seeking. Then I ask some questions to see if we are a good fit to work together.
If it looks like a good fit, I describe our process for creating "Strategic Focus": Vision - Strategy - Talent. I define "Strategic Focus" as "Having a clear vision for what you want your company to be, having a clear strategy to get there, and having the right talent to execute with excellence."
After a discussion of the Strategic Focus process, I ask more questions to learn if this makes sense to the CEO, and if this is an approach that feels like a good fit. I also want to know their level of commitment and how much they are willing to invest in the future growth of their business.
The home care business has exploded in the past two decades. What are some of the reasons for the increased popularity of home caregiving? How has this effected the business side of caregiving?
The biggest reason that the home care industry is exploding is that aging seniors want to stay in their own homes, and the oldest daughter, who is usually the primary family caregiver, wants Mom or Dad to be safe and secure at home. We are also meeting many home care company owners who have their own story of caring for a family member that motivates them to go into this business.
We also realize that owning a home care company is a great way to make a living doing something of significance for other people, and when it is time to exit, the owner has something of value that can be sold.
You offer a sales and marketing strategy seminar, which teaches someone's sales team to generate more referrals. What are some topics you touch on to help get a sales team focused and motivated?
In our work with home care CEOs, we often are asked to provide education and training for sales representatives. Research in the industry shows that the No. 1 way to generate new business is to make personal sales calls on high potential referral sources. Our program on "The Six Secrets of Selling Home Care" begins with a focus on finding the right prospect. Understanding the five sources of new clients, and which referral sources in each category have the highest potential, are critical to success in home care sales.
Then we focus on applying the Seven Step Sales Process. For a salesperson to be successful in home care, they must have the knowledge, the skills, the tools and the willingness to apply the seven steps.
It can be hard to find the right help, particularly in the caregiving industry. What are some different recruitment methods to find the best employees? What difference can this make for a company's reputation?
The biggest challenge to growing a home care business in today's marketplace is finding and keeping enough caregivers to meet the growing demands of clients and referral sources. Caregiver turnover reached 61.6 percent in 2014, according to the 2015 Private Duty Benchmarking Study from Home Care Pulse. Recruiting is a critical skill set that every home care company has to master.
In early 2015 we conducted an industry recruiting survey to identify the most effective techniques for recruiting high-quality caregivers. The results of this study are available in a Sponsored Research Report.
The conclusion of our research is that a home care company needs to have a three-pronged recruiting strategy:
- Online recruiting
- Employee and Client referrals
- Face-to-face recruiting.
Reputation is always important, no matter what industry, but it's particularly essential for caregivers. The problem is, people are much more likely to spread bad news than good. Do you have any advice on how to get satisfied customers and clientele to spread positive word-of-mouth recommendations?
We did a series of short videos as part of our "Monday Morning Marketing Meeting" about WOMM - Word of Mouth Marketing. In this video series we talk about how and why people talk about their customer experience, and how a home care company can promote WOMM.
First, you must create an exceptional customer experience. That means that every customer every time has a positive feeling about their experience with your company. Then you need to reach out to those customers on a regular basis to nurture the relationship and to encourage them to share their experience with friends and neighbors.
One of the most effective marketing methods is using testimonials from enthusiastic customers, and video testimonials are best.
One of the things that makes Leading Home Care unique is your storyboarding process. Can you give a brief overview of this process, and how it can help to grow the business side of caregiving?
Storyboarding is a technique that comes out of the Walt Disney organization. It is a tool for making ideas visible. We use storyboarding in our strategy sessions to ask key questions, develop answers, and document the results. After a full day of storyboarding, the picture of what we are doing is seen around the room on strings of index cards. It's a way to get all members of the team actively involved in the process, and in the outcomes.
I've found that leadership teams that have participated in our Strategic Focus process using storyboarding come away with a clear vision for what they want to accomplish, a clear action plan to get there and detailed steps of who will do what by when. There is a high level of ownership for the plan, and a level of commitment to taking action.
The key to strategy is execution. The keys to execution are having the right talent, having the right tools and having the right plan. Of the three, talent is the most important. That's why we at Leading Home Care are in the process of re-engineering the "Talent Solutions" part of our business to help clients find the right person for each critical role in the company.
To learn more about growing your caregiving business, access our free online caregiver videos.