Whenever an agency encounters a barrier to desired revenue growth, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Here’s how.
Unlike facility-based care providers, there is effectively no limit to a home care agency’s revenue goals. There aren’t any caps on numbers of beds or rooms, so a home care provider can basically serve as many clients as staffing levels will allow.
Yet revenue plateaus are, in fact, quite common in the home care industry, impacting agencies of all sizes throughout the country, whether the agency owner is striving to grow revenue by just a few thousand dollars or a million or more.
Whenever an agency encounters a barrier to desired revenue growth, the leadership team needs to take a step back to evaluate why these limitations are in place, according to Erica Horner, home care sales and operations coach for corecubed, and speaker at the Decision Health 2021 Private Duty National Conference & Expo.
To think through the reasoning behind a revenue plateau, Horner suggests that home care agencies ask themselves, “What bottlenecks do we create in our business that are causing this plateau? What investments do we need to make, and what resources do we need to infuse into the business?”
Revenue plateaus typically follow a number of red flags. Being able to detect these warning signs is crucial to overcoming and preventing lapses in growth. These red flags can include:
A decline in hiring levels for the home care agency
Finding the need to send office staff out into the field for direct client care
A reduction in inquiry calls and website contact forms filled out
Eric Pumfery, CEO and founder of Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, with multiple locations in Michigan, adds, “[Another] red flag is when we see that key employees are starting to get too comfortable and almost bored with their jobs. We also see it as a red flag when our hours are stagnating. … You’re stuck between 9,000 or 9,500 hours per week, for example, and you just cannot seem to make it over that 10,000-hour mark.”
Overcoming the hurdles
One key breakthrough strategy to overcome revenue plateaus is to think of the “Field of Dreams” mantra: “Build it, and they will come.” Preparing in advance for future growth is key, ensuring sufficient numbers of highly skilled and trained caregivers are at the ready.
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Horner explains that when looking to prevent or overcome a revenue plateau, home care agency owners should build their staff with growth in mind, and not attrition. Bolstering staff levels above an agency’s present needs actually can create an influx of new clients.
“Any time an agency tells me sales are stalling or plateauing, the first thing I look at is the last year’s worth of new hires and net hires — how many people it’s maintaining,” Horner says.
Without adequate numbers of high-quality care staff, expecting an agency’s revenue to grow is unrealistic. Instead, agencies should hire for where they want the business to be, rather than where it currently is, to push the business over that plateau.
Pumfrey explains, “If you hire to maintain, that’s exactly what you’ll do — [maintain]. Hire as many qualified candidates as you can, and that’s when you will be able to grow.”
A revenue plateau signals that it may be time to think outside of the box and get creative. Below are some ideas to increase your caregiver census:
Focus on retention. It takes less resources to retain an employee than to hire a new one. Establish loyalty amongst your current caregivers by listening to their needs, providing the support they need, and demonstrating that you value them in a meaningful way.
Manage your reputation. Ask your caregivers to leave online reviews to optimize your positive caregiver reviews on Indeed and Glassdoor.
Capitalize on positive reviews. After you have received positive reviews from employees, post those reviews on social media, including LinkedIn too, as an intro to your job listings. Add positive reviews on your Careers web page. Get a video testimonial or two from your caregivers to make a personal connection.
Appeal to entry-level caregivers by offering a training program, sponsorship, or tuition reimbursement for CNA classes.
Be involved with CNA classes. One approach to this is to offer to speak in front of the class to educate them on the home care industry so they can make an informed choice for their career path.
Choose a day for open interviews, no appointment needed. Advertise on yard signs, cards to distribute, and social media.
Utilize local communication tools, such as the Nextdoor app, all career centers, local social media groups, and other resources that families frequent. Where do caregivers live and what do they do, both in person and digitally? Be present where they are.
Have a professional digital employment flyer that can be emailed and easily forwarded. Offer to send this additional information to interested caregivers. Keep in touch and follow-up.
Target other industries. Caring people can be found in other industries and perhaps your agency is exactly what they didn’t know they needed. Consider being flexible on the experience requirement and searching for caregivers among organizations that may attract the type of personality you are seeking in an employee. Host a Lunch and Learn to educate them on the world of caregiving.
Once caregiver staffing levels are elevated, the next step is to similarly boost the agency’s marketing and sales efforts. This should include the following key components:
Verify your mission. Start with the basics: your mission statement. Is your current mission statement still applicable, or has your mission evolved over time? Or, has your agency been veering off course from its mission?
Build your brand. If you’ve never invested in building brand messaging for your home care business, now is the time to embark on that important process. When many home care agencies offer essentially the same types of services, a company’s brand messaging is what sets one company apart from another, helping consumers to make an emotional connection with your business and align themselves with what your brand stands for.
Review and revise your strategic plan. Your sales plan should provide you with the analysis and implement the steps required for your sales staff to succeed. It needs to include details on your inquiry to sales process, tracking of caregiver turnover and utilization rates, client lengths of stay and referral sources, information on client and caregiver satisfaction, your return on investment, goals, costs, a SWOT analysis, and more.
Refresh or redo your website. An agency’s website is its number one marketing vehicle, and often its first introduction to those in need of care. More people are online now than ever before, partially due to our need to become more tech-savvy during the pandemic. An outdated, difficult-to-navigate site can quickly turn prospects away. A review of the existing website by a home care industry expert and user experience professionals can help uncover any website modifications that can make a world of difference in convincing visitors to take the next step and contact the agency.
Ensure the website can be found. Having an appealing, informative, and user-friendly site is great, but if no one can find it when searching for home care services, it defeats the entire purpose. Search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are fundamental to ensuring your home care website’s visibility in online searches. If you are not an expert in search marketing, hire someone who is.
Get social. Social media platforms are more popular now than ever before, and are a great way to build your brand and stay top-of-mind with potential clients through the sharing of regular, helpful educational resources and content related to aging. They’re also an effective way to recruit care staff. But don’t stop at just posting a job on social media; be sure to share the post in relevant groups where potential caregivers are members.
Nurture referral sources. Throughout the pandemic, in-person meetings with referral sources were paused. Agencies that didn’t find creative ways to stay connected and nurture those all-important relationships virtually may now be floundering to keep those relationships afloat. Taking time now to reconnect and re-establish those ties, and to build new ones, is vital to future growth.
Mystery shop. Professional mystery shopping by someone with expertise in the nuances of home care can be a very effective way to gauge not only how competitors are handling their inquiries and other processes, but their own as well.
Think through market expansion ideas. There are a number of ways an agency can grow outside of current direct care efforts, such as by acquiring competitors in other markets, adding a new service offering, or offering specialized training and certification to caregivers which can translate to a higher level of service at a higher rate.
Engage the services of a home care sales consultant. Home care sales training, performed by a sales professional with particular expertise in the aging care market, is a great way to evaluate current sales tactics and hone sales staff’s skills to ultimately increase conversion and retention rates.
Hiring an industry expert can help in all of these areas, validating what an agency is currently doing well and exposing issues that may be hard to recognize internally. “One of the simplest things you can do as an owner of a company is to reevaluate any kind of restrictions you’re putting on your agency right now,” Horner says.
Home care agency owners facing a revenue plateau have a number of options available to break through and continue on the path to growth. It may seem overwhelming to take on all of these additional commitments to achieve new growth and overcome revenue plateaus; however, partnering with an aging care sales and marketing specialist makes it a simple, smooth process. An expert in home care sales and marketing can provide an objective, professional review of current efforts and provide recommendations for any adjustments needed to set and achieve new revenue goals.