Welcome to Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast. I’m Miriam Allred with Home Care Pulse. My guest today is Gary Vogel, the Founder and CEO of Bayside home care, and also the new CEO of The Senior’s Choice. Gary, welcome to the show!
Thank you for having me. I’m really excited about it. I’ve been a big fan of Home Care Pulse for a long time. I’m kind of funny, but I actually knew Aaron Marcum until I was introduced to Home Care Pulse was a Senior’s Choice member. And I remember meeting him at a conference and I’ve always been a fan of Home Care Pulse ever since then.
Aaron Marcum, our Founder, you know, is a big advocate for The Senior’s Choice and Home Care Pulse has been a partner of The Senior’s Choice for many years. So excited to have you on you were appointed the CEO in January of this year, if I’m not mistaken. And The Senior’s Choice has accomplished a lot. And as a growing membership network for senior care providers across the country, and it’s exciting to have you fill the role of CEO.
I feel blessed and I honored and humbled to be in that role. Steve Everhart’s a dear friend of mine and I’ve always looked up to him and what he’s accomplished. So when I was provided this opportunity, I jumped at it because I seen how many hundreds of literally hundreds of agencies over the years that the seniors choice has helped, you know, and to see all these business owners become successful. And now being put in the role that I’m in is, is exciting and nervous at the same time.
I can only imagine, well today, you know, previous to this conversation, you know, you had mentioned, you’d like to talk about leadership and we both know this industry is moving so quickly. And like you’ve said, some days feel same old, same old, but there’s other days that feels like it’s, you know, your first day in the industry. So today’s conversation is really just going to be to kind of pick your brain as an executive and talk about what’s happening right now, how you’re feeling so much has taken place over the last 18 months. So just want to throw out some kind of big questions to, you know, give a sneak peek to our audience, into what, you know, a lot of executives are feeling right now. So if you’re ready, let’s, let’s really just dive right in.
I think with all the noise that’s been out there, of course in the last year, so many things being thrown at us, I think it’s keeping everybody in the office focused on what we’ve been doing well for the last 12 years, I keep getting constant distractions and it’s keeping our staff focused on, you know, what we’re committed to still, you know, providing good business taking care of each other and using really the, even though the industry has changed a lot in many ways, we still use the same tools and systems, you know, that I learned back in 2008 when I got in the industry. So I think it’s just kind of reinforcing those those systems and tools and keeping people motivated.
That’s a good reminder because it does feel like COVID has changed everything, but like you’ve said, a lot of the systems processes, the care that you were providing has remained the same with a couple of tweaks and changes, but a lot of what you had in place was working. So obviously there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of distractions, but just keeping your office staff and your caregivers focused, what are some ways that you’ve reinforced that concept to your staff?
A lot more communication, a lot more communication. I think you just can’t let people go rogue, you know, I need, you need to keep your thumbs on it a little bit more. We have a great administrator there at Bayside too. She does a great job for us. It really helps us you know, work on the business and not in the business, so that that’s been you know something that’s really been a big improvement for us as well.
Absolutely. And just kind of coming out of COVID, you know, I don’t know exactly where, where Michigan’s at in your area, but what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered as we’re transitioning out and looking ahead,
We’re, we’re meeting the same challenges as, you know, patient the same challenges as everybody else. And that’s of course, staffing. And I know it’s something that people probably get tired of talking about. It does seem like in the last, just in the last few weeks though, we seen, we seem to be having an uptick in applications and people, you know, coming back to work. So that that’s obviously something that we’re looking forward to and, and helping us out there.
That’s great to hear. And hopefully a lot of providers tuned in are, are having the same experience and that applications are going up and more people are being drawn in. That’s great to hear apart from biggest challenges, you know, what’s been some of the biggest surprises that you’ve had in the last few months and why those surprises particularly,
Oh boy, well, I, one of the biggest surprises, unfortunately for me personally, it was my father passing away in April kind, kinda came out of nowhere. So in the middle of all this that was something that you know, my, myself and my family dealt with or just we’re getting through that. And I guess their thing would be how quickly people already react. When is something information shared help quickly. People overreact to that information instead of just, you know, Hey, this let’s count to 10. Let’s look at the whole picture here and use some common sets. That just how quickly the information comes to us today is one thing. But we can’t really, we can control that somewhat, I guess, but the surprise has been how quickly, how quickly people then jump on board with that information, even in the workplace. Right. I, it just, it, it seems like people, if it’s a coworker saying something, it it’s like, people are like, oh no, what’s, you know, what did they say? What they mean by that? This seems like people are a little bit quicker to react nowadays. That’s been a surprise for me over the last hour. The last year really is, has been that
Well for starters, sorry to hear about your father. I know that’s a hard thing for anyone to go through, but at this time, you know, it just feels like we can’t keep up with everything that’s happening. So, sorry to hear about that. In regard to your second point here about we’re consuming so much content and information all the time, and it, like you’ve said, it’s entered into the workplace. I’d love to hear kind of putting you on the spot, any specific examples there in your office or amongst your caregivers, providers are experiencing this all the time, but any specific examples that you’ve seen and heard, and then how you dealt with it in the workplace you know, you as the owner or, you know, encouraging your office staff to tackle it.
Well, I think the first one would be to make sure that you don’t react as an employer until you get all the facts. If you throw out an opinion about a situation that you just became aware of and that information isn’t correct, you lose your credibility. So I think by, by maybe gathering the facts, whether it’s coming from the clients aspect or from the caregivers aspect is before throwing an opinion out there or trying to even manage the situation. I think it’s really important to just step back, let’s make sure we get all the facts and then we can decide how to proceed from there. I know that there’s instances of course in our office, whether it’s inside the office or whether it supports different situations outside the office, where we’ve jumped to a conclusion about something and then the next day go, whoa, whoa, look at this new piece of information that came our way and what do we have a little bit of egg on our face? And now we got, now we’ve got to deal with it, do some damage control, you know, and make sure that we’re sitting in a good space with our client and making sure that the caregiver knows that we have their back too
Really good points and just gathering all the information possible. And like you said, sometimes it comes in pieces over time. And so maybe you need to make a decision or form an opinion, you know, in the short term, but then information continues to trickle in and then you have to kind of adapt and assess as you go, just digging a little bit deeper there. What are some processes that you have in place to maybe avoid situations like that, where, you know, things are coming to come coming up on the fly, but I don’t know any other, any processes or, you know, specific forms of communication that you have in place to help with that.
I think that it’s important to train staff on all those because of the ones that are getting, they’re the ones that are usually getting the information first, right? They’re the ones that are taking the phone calls or getting an email or getting a text. Maybe you as a business owner, know how to handle that. Maybe your upper management knows and knows how to handle that, but perhaps a care coordinator or a scheduler maybe they don’t quite have the skills yet or have not really been, you know, trained to deal with certain situations. So I think that if you start there, because that’s where they had their first contact with, I think that’s, I think that would be important. That’s that’s one of our processes is let’s make sure that we, you know, get everybody together no matter where, where it started from all the way to upper management and then deal with it.
I love that. And training your caregivers that are there and they’re kind of the first responders there, but then training them to communicate and get that all the way back up to upper management. I love that. Just making sure that line of communication stays open from the bottom all the way to the top. So, well,
I’m sure we’ve had many instances where anybody that’s listening to the call has the caregiver said what, you know, so it’s hard because there is so much going on out there and the larger agency gets the harder it is to control that. So it’s something that needs to be again, it’s about communication, right? It’s about communication.
Absolutely. For context, you know, people know your, your agencies, Bayside Home Care there, and Michigan. Tell us a little bit about the size of your agency and the growth you’ve experienced from 2008. When you guys opened.
I I’m still be honest with you. I’m still amazed by it today. Still amazed that we’ve had consistent growth for the last 12 years. Every, every year I look and say, oh, we can’t, we can’t do that next year. Oh, we can’t do that next year. But every year we’ve continued to have pretty close to double digit growth. We’ve we’ve had a consistent growth. We haven’t had a lot of big peaks and valleys, and that helps with our staffing keeping continuity there. I mean, of course we’ve had our, you know, had our downturns at times, but we bounce back from them pretty quick. And I think that our agency has done very well through. COVID amazing. I know some agencies and some TSC members have struggled depending on their geographic region. And I feel blessed that Bayside is where it’s at. I think that the momentum is going to carry forward for the entire home care industry though, as in home care. I mean, obviously some people know who it was and it, but now it’s a lot more household name, which is great for our industry. We’re just gonna continue, I think, to Excel.
That’s great to hear that you’ve experienced such good growth through COVID because it’s kind of across the board. We’ve seen some agencies have just accelerated, but some have kind of remained stagnant or had kind of negative client growth, but we know staffing is a big issue and a big part of that. But like you said, demographically as well, varies pretty drastically across the country and metropolitan to more rural areas, but great to hear and appreciate the context there. Let’s talk a little bit about education. Like you’ve said, there’s so much noise and so much information coming at us from all different directions. What has helped you as a leader stay on top of the industry and where are you kind of getting a lot of your industry education from?
Well, one of the courses home care pulse, I look forward every year to the survey coming out and the information that you guys provide, it helps to confirm the things you’re doing right. And also point out the things you’re doing wrong. So that is, that is one of the tools that I use as a business owner in the Bayside. Conferences are always wonderful when we did have them. I hope we can be getting back to those, you know, very soon, but probably the, the most is the communication I have with the seniors choice members, the other members, cause they’re out there in the field, right? They’re all in different geographic areas all over the country and they are experiencing perhaps different issues than, than we are in Michigan. And maybe they’re coming our way or, and they’re going to be able to share those with us. But I find that talking with them is very gratifying. I mean, these are the kinds of people that I want to gravitate towards because they’re good people. They mean, well, they want the other members to be successful. So I, I looked at them a lot. I have ever since 2008 and still as CEO of The Senior’s Choice you know, I feel like they’re part of the reason why we’ve been able to have a successful agency
[Inaudible] we can’t emphasize that enough finding your community. And like you’ve said, the seniors choice is a membership that people can join, but getting associated with your, you know, your local state home care association, the national associations, you know, there’s communities, online Facebook groups that people are a part of. I think that’s great that, like you’ve said, there’s agencies all over the country that are experiencing similar large challenges, but some may not be. And so just keeping a pulse on the industry, through conversation with other agency owners is so impactful and, you know, conferences, like you said, at home, we’re excited to attend quite a few in-person this fall. And so just using those as a, an opportunity to ask questions and network and find what’s working for other agencies and express your own struggles so that you can learn and grow. I think that’s great.
Now all those, all those that are associations, et cetera, that you brought up are, are all, you know, pretty priceless, right. And there is so much information out there. It’s great that you can find what maybe works for you and for your agency and have that opportunity. You know, those tools you think about that back in oh eight even, you know, really, really pretty recently a lot of that wasn’t available to you. Facebook, for instance you know, and so all those are great avenues.
Well kind of two, two more big questions for you to pick your brain a little bit. Yeah. I’ll give you one, let’s talk about failures. Speaking of being vulnerable and you know, asking questions and speaking openly, I’d love to hear maybe one of your biggest failures over the last year, what you learned from it, and you know, how you’re moving forward from that learning experience.
I’m still working on my failures, overcome them yet clarifying expectations in the office and something that we have worked on pretty hard. And it’s, and it’s, I know it’s something that we’ve failed at. Our pregnancy has taken quite a few of our office staff from up in the field. There’s a lot of benefits with that because they understand the culture of our company. They understand our standard of care or maybe some of our communication, our expectations, and they just love working for Bayside. So when they get the opportunity to come in the office, they’re excited about that. However, a lot of, a lot of times, and maybe other agencies have experienced this, you bring somebody in from outside the office. It doesn’t mean you know, from out on the field, it doesn’t mean that they have office experience that perhaps we take for granted, like, well, everybody knows how to fax or everybody knows how to send an attachment on an email.
A lot of, a lot of everybody knows how to use a computer. Everybody knows the right thing to say, and we didn’t, I don’t feel we really did a great job and we could do a lot better job of communicating what our expectation is with our office staff. And it could be as simple as I want you to. I want you to put this quick report together for it, for me. And they would be like, oh, sure, come in, you know, three hours later with a half page and you’re expecting a 12 page report, right?
You’re like, what is this? And it’s kind of like, I feel like we’ve perhaps set, sometimes set them up for failure because we wasn’t clarified by the expectations. So now we go back to are the right systems and tools in place and making sure that we train our staff on those systems and tools. So they don’t have to be, you know, everybody has office turnover and as you grow, of course you need more staff. So instead of having all this one-on-one time with somebody, if you can at least have those tools and systems in place to then train your staff, that’s coming in, it makes things go a lot smoother,
Great concept there and super relevant in a recent study found that for every one office staff member that leaves on average five caregivers leave. And so we have continued to emphasize the importance of office staff retention as it directly correlates to caregiver retention. And I love what you’re saying. I think it’s great to pull caregivers from the field and bring them in because like you said, they have a love for the agency. They have firsthand experience as a caregiver, so they can empathize and work well with your existing caregivers. But like you said, there’s a lot of training that needs to take place to make sure they’re confident and comfortable in their role as an office admin. So, you know, I think that’s a great opportunity, you know, to improve your office staff training, to make sure that they’re equipped for the job. Yes.
And some of that’s been emphasized with, from Tim and Gina Murray that you recently had two, I believe on a podcast. There were, you know, former seniors choice members and very successful. And I know systems and tools were very, very important to them when they got to the point of exiting too. It was important that they had all those tools and systems in place. So I’ve learned a lot from them tutor there. They’re great people.
And that’s a great point that you bring up, making sure you have the processes in place, not only for the present, but also as your agency grows and scales. It’s so important that you establish those early on, so that you’re set up for, you know, what’s coming down the pipe for your specific agency. So great, great point there. Let’s hit on kind of one more, one more big question here. You know, like we talked about at the beginning, this industry is so fast paced and evolving pretty quickly. But what are a couple of things that you are keeping your eye on looking ahead, you know, there’s new legislature, there’s trends, there’s all sorts of things, you know, even there locally, probably for your agency, what are a couple of things that you’re looking ahead to, and just keeping your eye on in the industry?
Well, the most recent and pretty frustrating is the emergency temporary standards that OSHA came out with on the 21st of June. It’s just just now coming to light a little bit more, I believe throughout the industry. And that is, you know, what kind of requirements are we going to have as an agency for having our staff in homes? Because the, you know, our industry’s already strained with staff. So now they’re even add more to it. So this is something that I’ve been trying to get, dive into a little bit more of how we can help our members with it. As well as a course at Bayside home care and how that’s going to affect us and what kind of policy procedures I kinda think we’re gonna need to implement into Bayside and help our members with. So if they decide that they want to comply with these OSHA, you know, if they have the choice, obviously everybody, every business owner has a choice of if they want to comply or not.
And hopefully we can help out with the proper tools that they decide, that’s the direction they want to go. So that’s probably one of the newest and frustrating ones. And, but they’re thing I’ve been looking at, which was, is over you know, COVID is all the different systems and even some equipment that’s been coming out probably quicker than it normally would have. Like tele-health for instance, I think it really took a boom because of COVID and it was kind of, you know, something that was always been there, but it wasn’t really quite taken off until COVID hit. And then all of a sudden it was like, wow, tele-health really took off quick. And I think it’s your stay. So I look at, you know, that’s a great thing for the industry and the different equipment they’re coming out with because it helps us, it helps us stay in business. It helps our clients stay at home, you know, safer and longer. So those are all these things that I’m curious about. You know,
I hadn’t anticipated talking about this, but just briefly in the last couple of minutes, I know you have a version of, you know, kind of a, an electronic caregiver that you all offer there through Bayside. Tell our audience a little bit about that and when you implemented it and how it’s going.
Yeah. We’ve implemented a, probably a couple of years ago. The technology is, is pretty state of the art and we’ve actually had quite a bit of success with it. It’s basically a, either a GPS or cell signal type system. It’s not what I would say. It’s not going to be limited to just, you know, a few hundred square feet within your home. So it’s like a watch you wear it like a watch. It’s not really, you can wear the dependent as well. And the technology, like I said, between the GPS and the cell signal is somebody can leave their home. And if they’re in trouble somewhere, they can push a button and you know where they are. And of course they can talk to the person on the watch as well. And so it’s got a lot of, a lot of neat features and we’ve been doing pretty well with that. It seems like our, our, our clients have been a little bit more at ease with using it than they were some of the other systems that we, we did try some of the other systems before, but this, this one, they seem to be a little, I think because they can leave the home and, and still feel protected
Well, it’s one of the features they have. So you can be able to reach out to a doctor immediately. And it’s, it’s really full of all kinds of features. That’s just, again, the technology off asset all comes together. It is pretty amazing.
And it’s got prescription reminders and, you know, have some of their records on file in case something happens. So, yeah, just wanted to mention that briefly, we can put up a little bit more information on, on this podcast about that. Just so people are aware, because I think like you said, technology is moving so fast and COVID has sped up, you know, the need for technology in this industry so quickly. So it’s cool to see that your agency has adopted something already and is having success with it. And I think other providers can learn from that and, you know, do their own research and find out what will work best for their clients and the needs of their clients. So glad we hit on that. Just, just briefly here in the last couple of minutes for those listening, tell us a little bit more about the seniors choice. I know we’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but what, what exactly is it and how can people get connected if they’re interested? Sure.
The Senior’s Choice has been around for 20 years and well actually over 20 years and it was founded by Steve Everhart. We’re a membership network. So we’re unlike a franchise. We do not have like long-term commitments if it’s a month to month type situation. So if, if, if we do what we say, we’re going to do people stick with us. We’ve had our members with us for 15 years, some members, they just grow their businesses and they end up selling and obviously they leave the seniors choice. So it’s great to see people have that successful way to see people go at the same time. You know, and, and we believe in everybody we’re not here to tell you how to run your business. We’re here to help you run your business and help and give you the tools and the coaching we provide coaching. You know, it’s, it’s been something that I’ve obviously been very passionate about a long time. So I’ve seen all the success.
Thanks, Gary! Home care Pulse is a huge advocate for The Senior’s Choice. Like we mentioned at the beginning, the founder, Aaron Marcum, and of Home Care Pulse was an, a member of The Senior’s Choice and helped him achieve incredible success with his agency in Utah prior to starting Home Care Pulse. So it’s a great resource and, you know, just involving yourself in a community of other providers to get educated, you know, learn more about becoming a great leader and sharing, you know, like challenges and just collaborating is so important. So I appreciate you filling us in a little bit more about The Senior’s Choice. Thanks so much for joining me on the show. We look forward to following the seniors choice and, you know, following your leadership as you continue to progress into the next couple of years.
Thank you. Thank you. You know, and I know it’s challenging right now, and it’s not an easy business, but you know, this industry has so much going for it and there’s so much growth out there still to be had. I think, you know, helping others and giving back to the community and making your employees lives better, I just don’t really know what would be more rewarding than that. It is an exciting time for our industry.