This post is part one of a series about managing your sales process and getting home care referrals from professional referral partners. Read part two to learn how to create a referral marketing strategy and part three to learn how to network with professional referral partners.
Home care agencies are fraught with challenges, especially in their opening stages of growth. Many of the greatest challenges, like generating referrals, ensuring consistent care, and building up a solid group of caregivers, can be solved by hiring great staff members to help you carry your vision forward.
However, it can be difficult to decide when to bring on new staff, and how many to bring on. In particular, many home care owners wonder when it’s the appropriate time to bring on a sales rep/marketer. While this position is critical to help speed up your agency’s growth, it can be extremely daunting to bring on a new staff member if you’re still building up your client base.
It’s important to remember that no two agencies are alike, and you may find that your agency requires a different solution than our suggestions here. However, it’s always good to have a ballpark idea of what other agencies are doing, and what’s generally recommended—and we’re happy to provide that here.
We’ll offer three perspectives on the question: first, we’ll look at what other agencies are doing, per the Home Care Benchmarking Study and what’s generally recommended; second, we’ll turn to Shelle Womble, home care sales and operations coach at corecubed; third, we’ll see what Grant Gaston, president of 52 Weeks Marketing, has to say.
Their answers vary a little—but they’ll help to provide you with a broad view of the question that you can use to make an educated decision for your agency.
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What Are Other Agencies Doing?
First, let’s see what the Home Care Benchmarking Study has to say. This is the staffing summary from the 2017 Study, showing how many staff members agencies employed depending on their level of revenue. What’s clear from this is that most agencies had hired a sales rep by the time they’d reached $1.6 million in revenue, if not before.
Note: for a full discussion on when to hire for other roles in your offices, see this article. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the Fall Edition of the 2019 Home Care Benchmarking Study, due to be released in September, will include updated information and staffing summaries.
Let’s break this down a little bit: $1.6 million in revenue, based on industry standards of $22/hour billing rates, translates to just under 1400 billable hours every week. It’s important to keep in mind that this was the point by which most agencies had already hired a sales rep, not when they started looking.
Most agencies we talk to cite 1,000 billable hours as a good benchmark to start looking for a sales rep. We talked to Shelle Womble, a seasoned veteran who’s worked in many roles in home care and now works as a home care sales and operations coach at corecubed.
“I think 1000 weekly billable hours is a good mark,” says Shelle. “I wouldn’t hire a full time sales person until I was generating enough revenue to cover a full time owner, scheduler, and nurse if the nurse is required as in some states. You most definitely should be adding one when the branch hits 2000 hours if you have not already.”
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A Different Perspective: Hit the Ground Running
We also talked to Grant Gaston, president of 52 Weeks Marketing, who advocates a different approach. Another veteran of home care marketing, Grant suggests that you move to hire a sales rep quickly upon launching your agency—“By month two or three, especially if you’re a franchise,” says Grant. “But you need to have your databases [of referral sources] somewhat ready to go before you do.”
Grant’s strategy is essentially that the sooner you have a dedicated sales rep, the sooner your agency will take off. However, you need to ensure that you’ve built up a baseline network of potential referral partners in your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) before you do so.
Ultimately, Grant’s strategy suggests a much stronger focus on referral networking in the early stages of operation than many home care owners take. It certainly requires the ability to scale more quickly while keeping other aspects of operations, like recruitment and client experience, operating optimally; however, it’s a powerful strategy that reflects how home care marketing is changing to become more competitive.
Do What’s Right For Your Agency
In the end, your staffing decisions need to be made based on the needs and circumstances of your agency. Consider the following questions:
How extensive is your network of referral partners?
How much of your own time will be freed up by having a dedicated rep, and what will you be able to accomplish with that time?
Does your agency have the caregivers to staff new cases that referral partners send your way, or are you going to end up turning some of them down for lack of caregivers? (According to a poll of approximately 400 home care owners that we conducted during one of our webinars, over 60% of agencies have turned down a case in the last 90 days because they didn’t have the caregivers to staff it.)
How quickly do you want to grow, and are you ready to scale from an operational standpoint?
The Right People in the Right Seats
There’s a mantra we live by at Home Care Pulse: have the right people in the right seats. This idea originally comes from Jim Collins, author of bestselling business book Good to Great, who describes as a business as a bus. Before you get moving, it’s important to get the right people on your bus with you, and it’s important to have everyone in the right seats on the bus.
It can be easy to justify hiring an applicant who isn’t the best fit for your agency because you really someone to fill the seat, or because the applicant market is tight right now. It’s nearly always best to put in the work to find the right person, even if it means you have to wait just a little longer to find them. Find the right sales rep for your home care agency, and you’ve just added one of the most essential pieces to your agency’s growth.
This article is part one of a series we’re writing on referral marketing. Stay with us the next few weeks as we further explore this topic. Next week we’ll be address how to create a referral marketing strategy to make your home care sales rep more effective and grow your home care agency more quickly.
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