Ep.12: Key Leadership Skills That Can Make or Break a Post-Acute Care Business
Emily Isbell, CEO at Emily Isbell & Company, shares the skills that post-acute care leaders need to develop, and how they can set their businesses up for success.
Linda Leekley (00:14):
Hi everyone, this is Linda, chief Clinical Officer from hcp.
Amanda Sternklar (00:18):
And I’m Amanda Sternklar, our director of marketing,
Linda Leekley (00:22):
And we’re listening to Vision, the podcast for leaders and forward thinkers in the care industry. Today our discussion is gonna be about the key leadership skills that can make or break a post-acute care business. And to do that, we’re we’re joined by Emily Isbell. Let me tell you about Emily. She began her career, her home care career in 2007 as a caregiver, love caregivers. She was with home instead. Within five years, she worked her way up to second in command and prior to Emily’s departure from home instead, seven units across rural and metro territories throughout three states totaled a monthly revenue of 1.79 million with a projected annual revenue of 20.4 million in 2020. That’s amazing. Today, Emily is the CEO and founder of EI and company where she and her team provide co-leadership services to home care franchise owners. Their biggest success thus far has been helping a client improve operations and revenue by 650% in less than six months. Thank
Amanda Sternklar (01:34):
You for joining us. Those are some impressive successes. Emily, what do you think was the big differentiator that led you to doing so well?
Emily Isbell (01:43):
Well, thank you for having me. So I think the biggest differentiator is that we were consistent in systems. It was both, everything we did had a system and every system was underpinned with consistency, meaning we always did it. If we said we were gonna do something, we did it. And that was from the top down. So for me, I modeled that for my team. If I said I was gonna get back with them on that, that afternoon for something, I made sure I did it. Aside from an act of God, we would always make sure we kept our commitments and kept our word. So for the systems piece, we figured out what systems needed to to be created, but we kept those systems realistic. Meaning we didn’t have these lofty goals of, oh, it’d be nice if we did X, Y, and Z. We would say, what can we actually guarantee we’ll always do? And what is good enough? I mean, we wouldn’t go below standards just because it was maybe harder, but we definitely wouldn’t go way above standard. We wanted to at least make sure we had a system in place that we could execute on a hundred percent of the time. And so with that, to sum up our success was develop, is that we developed practical systems to accomplish what others may believe were impractical goals, which is the goals that the results that, and that was through cons, consistency in our execution and our word.
Linda Leekley (03:13):
Well that’s obvious because you couldn’t have gotten there without that consistency. Right. But something you said made me think you were not going for perfection. Right. Perfection is, is what, what’s the quote, the <laugh> downfall of, of success, you know? So I can appreciate that, that you say you wanted your standards to be at a certain level, but attainable. Yeah. What’s the most common reason that that business owners bring you in to consult?
Emily Isbell (03:44):
Well, to what you were just talking about before I answer that question. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, the theme I have with my business that I’ve carried over is don’t let perfection get in the way of excellence. So it kind of does tie back to what you’re saying. Yeah. And so, but I’ll we’ll add a caveat. We were perfect. Perfect. So to speak. I mean, acts of God, barring those on executing the systems. So the systems may not have been exactly perfect in the best case scenario. We did everything we possibly could mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but we did create practical systems mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and executed those perfectly. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So that was kind of the lens we looked through. As far as your question, a about reason, business owners might bring us in, it’s usually three things happening all together the same time. Number one, their desire for growth in their business, revenues and profits.
Emily Isbell (04:38):
Cuz sometimes revenue is well going well, but profits aren’t. So it’s usually both of those and the desire for that, that’s a given mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But the other two are that they desire for, to have a healthier work-life balance. They, they went into entrepreneurship for this freedom of not ever having a boss again. And then they realize depending on how many caregivers they have and how many clients they have, they have a lot more bosses than they ever expected <laugh>. And so they’re letting their days are being ran not in within their control in a lot of ways. And so having that healthier work-life balance is a big part of it. Getting back to what that entrepreneurial dream was really supposed to look like. And then thirdly, recognition that they can’t continue going like they are for another year. Maybe it’s three, maybe it’s five, but they’ve realized their, their tank is emptying every day more and more. And they need that help to kind of figure out a way to grow their business and get their business in a more running itself more without their immediate input and and direction.
Linda Leekley (05:43):
Do you think that’s really hard for entrepreneurs to, to, to let go?
Emily Isbell (05:48):
For sure. For sure. And that goes back to that quote, the perfection over excellence mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so it’s, it’s, it’s something that we work together on and, and my approach with co-leadership is to never bulldoze and them and their, their values out of the way and say, this is what you need to do exactly what we did. No, no question. Instead, I work, call it co-leadership because they’re 50% in the process and I’m 50%, we make up a hundred percent on what they’re gonna do for their business, and they have non-negotiables that they need to honor, that I don’t need to say they shouldn’t honor. If it matters to them, then it would be a detriment to, to take that away just because I didn’t see it mattering for my past and my successes before. Similarly, I have non-negotiables that I will bring to the table and, and that they, I have to get them on board with. But yeah, it is hard for owners to let go, but through this process they, they realize that freedom that we’re talking about and they see the growth. And so you, you start to recognize if you do let go, your business is growing. What was I so afraid of before? So,
Amanda Sternklar (06:59):
Absolutely. That was something when we were first talking about this episode that was really interesting and, and different to me about your approach was your, your co-leadership approach with owners. Can you share a little bit more about what that looks like?
Emily Isbell (07:15):
Sure. So co-leadership is defined. It’s, it’s twofold. There is the concept of what I just said where it’s 50% each. We come together. I’m not setting, they’re saying, you must do this, and they’re not. And they’re working with me on things that I say need to happen, right? The non-negotiables from both sides. So I don’t just come in and give ’em the prescription, then leave and hope, hope for the best for them. It’s a, it’s a partnership, a temporary partnership. And that’s key. A lot of, in multiple industries, a lot of consultants and coaches, they want to stick around kind of indefinitely because that’s their job, right? They want that income from that job. For me, I work to try to make myself very much irrelevant so that when they’re finished with me, their growth presents the way it presents. And other people are saying, how did that happen?
Emily Isbell (08:06):
And they’re saying, you need to call AI and company. So that’s really key for me and really important to me. I I use the saying, teach Amanda fish versus giving, give them a fish. And that’s, that’s really important for, for the co-leadership piece. The other part is that it’s equal parts coaching, consulting, and leadership development. So that’s the other part of co-leadership. It’s those three things working together. I think that if you just do consulting, then there’s, there’s p part of that stool is lacking those three legs right, of that stool. It’s gonna fall over. If you’re just there to do consulting, then when they go to implement, they need that support to further implement it, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> similarly, if you just do coaching, they need to know the, the, what they’re supposed to be doing, what they, they reached out for for that expertise and the, the years of experience I had.
Emily Isbell (08:58):
And then thirdly, you can’t get anywhere without leadership development. If you’re not willing to develop as a leader, then maybe I, I shouldn’t say you can’t get anywhere. Maybe through coaching and consulting you can get to a certain level, but then I’m not making myself irrelevant. Right? If I don’t teach them how to develop as leaders beyond me, and after I’m long gone, then they’re only gonna get to a certain place in plateau with what I’ve trained them. So it’s important that through that leadership development that they become, they are able to, later on take the business to the next level without necessarily having to call me.
Amanda Sternklar (09:36):
Absolutely. Something that’s been kind of a, a through line in what you’ve, you’ve been saying is setting up the, the foundation, right? Of those processes that you handle, that you execute on every time, the foundation of understanding those leadership skills that are, are fundamental for them being able to continue. What are the first skills that you work on with leaders?
Emily Isbell (10:02):
Yeah. So the, the very first skill, the most important one, really is self-leadership. And so what that is, is, is just the, is what it sounds like leading yourself. Many leaders specifically in home care actually do a pretty good job of looking in the mirror and kind of calling out their flaws. The, the caregiver mentality exists for a lot of owners cuz they started off as a wanting to give back to seniors cuz they had a caregiver heart already. And a lot of the caregiver types are always typically harder on themselves, and they tend to worry that they could have done something better to improve a situation. So a lot of owners aren’t really failing to look in the mirror, but they struggle to get past the recognition of those falls and actually get to better habits. They, they can say, these are, this is my weakness, but they don’t really know how to problem solve to make it a not necessarily a strength.
Emily Isbell (10:55):
We’re not trying to do the impossible. We don’t some if, if I’m not Michael Jordan, I’m not gonna try to compare, right? Like that’s not my strength to be that level of a, a athlete. So we’re, we’re not doing that, but to try to improve where we were before and make better habits. And so through co-leadership, I start all owners fo focusing out on their self-leadership. And then we progress into how that applies into the home care world. And then we consult on systems they need in place for their operations to help their business flourish. And honestly, in a world that where the demand, the home care world where the demand is much higher than the supply mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I strongly believe the issue isn’t marketing or sales. And the really, really, the issue falls into self-leadership and system ex execution. So operations, but specifically even peeling back that layer the layers even more self-leadership on executing the operational systems that need to, the business needs to succeed.
Linda Leekley (11:59):
So do you feel like that it’s those execution skills that trip your clients up the most? Or, or is there another aspect of leadership that, that they’re having some struggles with in general?
Emily Isbell (12:16):
I, I, yes. And <laugh>, I think there is a challenge with a lot of owners being a fixer. It’s a common personality type just wanting to fix things. Yeah. It’s an entrepreneurial hat that we have to wear. And in the beginning it’s important. Unfortunately though, as you grow and as you have a team, you, you fall into this fixer trap, they’re constant. You’re constantly trying to solve problems, everyone’s problems. And as a result, you never actually problem solve any problem fully. And I think this behavior tend lends itself to falling into a second trap, which you may have heard of, which is what they call shiny object syndrome. <Laugh>, just this concept of you’re always looking for the next shiny new thing that comes along to, to fix a problem. And then they completely, so for example, there’s an issue with caregiver recruitment and you’ve, you problems solved with the latest shiny object.
Emily Isbell (13:13):
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> a week goes by, you still need caregivers and you forgot that shiny object to where you put in another shiny object. Your team is kind of like starting to spin and not sure what’s up and what’s down. On top of that, you’ve created a culture where they fall into shiny object syndrome as well to where nobody’s ever actually fully executing on any one thing that was agreed at one point as a good idea. And so I think that people fail, failed to be consistent with the plan. And so what, so what I do to try to help owners get around that is develop the systems. Many of the ones that we use to build our revenues up to 20.4 million. But again, some of their non-negotiables as well, and build systems that they can commit to for consistent amount of time, at minimum six months, ideally 12 months, and every day, every day.
Emily Isbell (14:13):
Not just once a month, not just once a week, every day, they’re gonna dive into those results, the results of those systems. So it’s back to, not back to, it’s the first time I mentioned it, but, but it’s very important in what I do, it’s data tracking, right. Keeping good data. And so from there, something I say to my clients is, do you have irrefutable evidence that this system isn’t working? Mm-Hmm. And if you don’t, we’re gonna keep going now six months later or 12, whatever you agree on the timeframe, go back to it. And if it’s still not getting the effects you wish for, then yeah, there’s a, there’s a design in that, that you would stop and say, okay, we only got this amount of growth from this particular process. Whatever you’re trying to grow, whether that’s inquiries for services or inquiries for caregivers, or whatever it might be.
Emily Isbell (15:05):
And you might then change it, but it’s not shiny object, right? It wasn’t just, you saw something, it looked good, you actually go about it in a much more methodical way. And then the fix fixer tendencies, the behavior of fixing, that’s where self-leadership comes into play and kind of recognizing where you, you have this tendency to fix. And so through myself, leadership, work with clients, we can kind of work to tame that. You don’t want it to go away entirely. It’s part of what makes you a good entrepreneur, but it’s how to tame it or, or direct it in in a systematic way. You’re gonna hear system a lot today, <laugh>,
Amanda Sternklar (15:48):
Tell me if this fits what, what I’m hearing a lot, what, what I’ve heard from other folks is getting out of that fixer mentality allows you to be proactive. Whereas in in that mentality, you can only by definition be reactive. Yeah. Cause you, if you’re only fixing problems there, there has to be a problem to react to, which stops you from creating those systems, stops you from creating a strategy that works for your business. You know, stops you from addressing any systematic change that isn’t just prompted by, oh, here’s a problem, let’s run in and fix this one before it’s on to the next.
Emily Isbell (16:25):
Amanda Sternklar (16:27):
I know that you, you mentioned that you work with a lot of franchise owners specifically because you said you like the challenge. Can you expand on that a little bit more? You know, what, what is the challenge and, and what do franchise owners need to do differently for success?
Emily Isbell (16:43):
So I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily differently, but it is to succeed than, than home care owners. But it is something that I work through. So to elaborate on why I like the challenge. So backgrounds with franchises specifically with home instead mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so I enjoyed, and I believe there is a lot of value of the franchise system. I am a fan of it. And so I, I think there’s a lot of owners out there in the franchise world who wouldn’t be owners today if it weren’t for a franchise system. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So I’m definitely a fan of it and I want to help continue seeing success of franchises. So why, what is the challenge or what do I see owners face a lot? I, I, for me, what I’ve seen be the problem for an owner is that they don’t accept their reality. Franchise owners specifically, and this is true everywhere, this is not just home care ownership, but I’ve seen it be so bad that they’re not accepting their reality, that they end up going bankrupt because they were so upset with the reality they were in and fighting it that they forgot to focus on growing their business.
Emily Isbell (17:54):
If they had just simply said, it is what it is now, what am I gonna do about it? Their business would’ve grown. Because as I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have an issue of demand in this industry. It’s more of how are we gonna supply it? So there tends to be with franchises and us versus them mentality after you get past a honeymoon phase, unfortunately I’m not for that. I was not of that mentality. I, we work very hard not to be, but it’s very common. That’s true outside of home care, that’s just the franchising industry. And so what ends up happening is an owner stops looking in the mirror quite as much and starts to look at the franchise as the place to blame why they might not be growing. And if you stop and think about that and just apply logical sense to it, that doesn’t make any sense.
Emily Isbell (18:45):
The franchise would never want you to stop growing. They, they succeed from your success, success. But yet that happens so often. And so for us, there were times we were successful because we would look at the franchiser relationship as a partnership. And there were times we didn’t always agree with the franchisor. That’s, I’m not trying to put a positive patsy spin on it and say that it was always blissful. There were times where we just didn’t think what they asked us to do made perfect sense. And so we would express that we would have that open communication. But once a decision was made, once we, once it was made period into story, we would accept that reality and work to succeed within it, not against it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, so something to keep in mind is that franchisers part of their franchiser and franchisee relationship that maybe franchisees don’t understand is the franchise franchisor.
Emily Isbell (19:47):
It’s easy to get those switched around. The franchisor has to protect the entire network, everybody. So there are issues with joint, joint employment law and Vicarious LI liability are two major things that the, that forces the franchiser to be very careful in their guidance to individual franchisees. And my recognition of that challenge for a franchisor to kind of have say in how an a business could be run is why I realized this that AI and company needed to start. Because I can sort of work as a mediator between the franchisee and the franchisor. I can say the things they can’t say to guide their business. I take that liability on, it’s a risk I take on, but it’s something I’m willing to do because I believe in the senior getting the care they deserve without the, just that the senior getting the care they deserve. So mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, so
Linda Leekley (20:46):
As you’ve worked with, with franchisees, especially those that have more than one location, are there differences there? What, what, what really ensures success when they have multiple locations like that?
Emily Isbell (21:02):
So I think I’ll share my personal story on what well some, some of the, the, one of the hardest lessons we’ve learned, and the lesson is that you need to put, when it comes to multiple franchises, you need to put positions before people or profit. So I wanna elaborate on what that means. That doesn’t, that’s not saying a coldhearted approach or cutthroat approach that people don’t matter. What I mean by that is that you need to have back to systems, a system of positions that are going to be in place to provide the care you need for the business. Whether, whether that would be departments and people within certain departments, and just kind of having this understood organizational chart mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that provides the service necessary to do well by a senior. And when we, we would honor that. And so what did, what did that mean?
Emily Isbell (21:56):
When we took over our third unit, we took over it and we, the same people that were there when we took over from the previous ownership who retired a year later, they were still there. They were the same exact people. And we had grown by 200%. So not cutthroat. It wasn’t go in and clean out, clean the house. So it was positions before people. But what I would do is look at those people and say, where can you fit in our positions that we have established? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And people then realize what their jobs were, what they were supposed to do, why they showed up to work every day. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And together they work towards the mission of helping those seniors get care. So then the hard lesson that I mentioned already, so the hard lesson that we learned is that we had that figured out and decided, you know what, we’ll do it differently this fourth time around.
Emily Isbell (22:50):
So upon the acquisition of the fourth unit, we said we, instead of putting people first and putting positions first, we put profit first. We recognized that we could maybe get more with less. So essentially we scraped our positions plan that we always did when we acquired a new location, and we found a way to maybe blend, and I’m not just without going all into the details of it all, just try to get more out of these people with, with less positions. And so as a result, we ended up still growing. So I don’t wanna act like it didn’t work from a, on a, a paper, it technically did. We grew about 24%. However, we were working, I was working 80 plus hours a week, canceled more than one vacation. My team members were similarly working 60 to 70 hours a week, being a caregiver at night.
Emily Isbell (23:51):
And during the weekends, everybody was doing their part just to make sure we kept our word to the seniors. And so it wasn’t working on paper, yes, we grew by 24%, but in reality, our culture was shot. I mean, we, we were all just kind of looking around and crying every now and then because we were sad that, you know, we were struggling so much and couldn’t figure out what to do. And finally, you know, I, I made the decision to unwind what I had done with profit being of mine first and investment into positions. And when we did that, when we unwound from what we had done to a more approach of putting people or positions first, which then let us put the people before profit, we ended up growing by 109% in 12 months. So after growing by 20, so a year later after unwinding, so positions first, then before people and before profit. And essentially that leans back to systems, right? Having an agreed upon system that works, a framework that works, and then hiring people for those positions or making, training ’em for those positions.
Linda Leekley (25:06):
Yeah. So, so let me just make sure that everybody, I’ll repeat what I’ve heard you say. See if it’s, sure. It’s that your systems obviously can’t work without structured positions,
Emily Isbell (25:18):
Linda Leekley (25:19):
And once you have those positions in place, then you, you either move around people who are already there and get them in the right seat for their skill, the skills that they offer, or you hire additional people to fill those positions. Is that what, is that what I’m hearing?
Emily Isbell (25:33):
Linda Leekley (25:34):
Okay. Set it better.
Emily Isbell (25:36):
Linda Leekley (25:37):
No, no, no, no. <Laugh> I, you know, I, I’m on a number of message boards of home care owners, and a lot of them are talking about how they’re having to staff cases themselves and you know that this is a huge issue and that they’re about at their wits end. And so to me it sounds like your process could really alleviate some of the pain that they’re feeling. Is that right?
Emily Isbell (26:06):
I believe so. It, it’s, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it’s been true for clients that I’ve worked with and true for my past. Mm-Hmm.
Linda Leekley (26:11):
Amanda Sternklar (26:12):
That seems like probably your, your answer for one of these, but for, for folks who are not already subscribed to Emily’s newsletter every week they send out Tuesday takeaways, and that’s the number two in Tuesday, which are two, you know, major takeaways that can make an impact on your business by Friday. So what, what you, what are your Tuesday takeaways? If folks are listening on a Tuesday for, for this conversation, what two big takeaways do you want owners to take away from from this episode?
Emily Isbell (26:44):
Sure. You’re, and you’re right that I think what I just said about positions before people are a profit. So investing in your business through systems would be number one. And then number two, stop chasing shiny objects. Stick to something and to, and prove that it works or prove that it doesn’t, but stick to one thing for every problem you’re trying to solve. So stop chasing shiny, shiny objects,
Amanda Sternklar (27:09):
But they’re so shiny
Linda Leekley (27:10):
<Laugh>, you know, in relation to that, as you consult owners, how often do you find that they collect no data whatsoever?
Emily Isbell (27:22):
Unfortunately, quite a bit. So whether, and I work primarily I work with franchise owners, I have one in my past that’s not been a franchise owner mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and even within a franchise system, that is still true. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm.
Linda Leekley (27:38):
<Affirmative>, there’s, and it’s hard to have a system with, hard to have a system without data, right?
Emily Isbell (27:43):
That’s right. Yeah, exactly. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. Exactly. And some, some data is easy. Their software naturally, they could pull it up if they wanted to. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And I think that’s a good starting point. If your da, if your software gives it to you, then start putting it into one place that you actually go and look at on a regular basis and evaluating why is this week down compared to last week? Or why is this month down compared or up? And what are we doing? Right? Start there, start with what your software already naturally gives you, and then you can improve upon that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>
Linda Leekley (28:14):
Amanda Sternklar (28:15):
Because I know if I don’t ask, there will be folks like yelling this at whatever device they’re listening on. What are, this is the, the question every time this comes up, what are the first couple of data points that you recommend folks start tracking?
Emily Isbell (28:30):
Oh man, we, we tracked so many, first of all hours. I mean, that is such an easy one. I know that seems like that’s a given, but if you’re not tracking your hours, comparing it to last week or whatever you choose, whether you do monthly or hour, weekly mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you, you should always be checking it. So I’m gonna dive deeper on that and, and just say that we checked our projection daily, if not multiple times a day of one business. Not because we had seven, but because we wanted to check. I needed to know if there were any major losses or major gains that somehow didn’t get to me yet. So it kept me having a pulse on the business. And so if you as an owner aren’t at the very least checking your hours regularly, minimally, every day, then you are losing access to problems that you actually do need to solve.
Emily Isbell (29:27):
And the ability to be proactive. If, if you find out, well, the client went to skilled facility, finding out why, what can you do differently next time to prevent that if it’s necessary? Or did you, did you cause something? There’s so many, I I, I could spend all day going into different flow charts of, of how to problem solve somebody going into higher skilled care. Sometimes it’s necessary, but sometimes it’s not. But I’m not gonna waste our time with that. So at a minimum, tracking your hours, I am more advanced data tracking piece would be optimization of your caregivers. But you can only do that based on putting data in, in the first place you get out of it what you put into it. So if you haven’t put into your software system the number of hours a caregiver wants to work, then you’re not gonna be able to find out are you optimizing ’em to what they want to work.
Emily Isbell (30:25):
So knowing if your caregiver’s at full capacity is really key compared to if you have 20 caregivers who are working 20 hours but want 40, and yet your staffing department or staffing individual says, I can’t get anybody to work when you have 20 hours times 20 people just sitting there not being optimized. And it, it’s a puzzle. You, you’re not just gonna be, oh, okay, well that’s just easy. Put the 20 in. No, you gotta figure out availability. There’s more to it. But if you’re tracking that optimization, then you’re getting out of your caregivers more, but not more than they want to give, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you’re still taking care of the caregiver mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So that one’s a little bit more advanced, but I think that one’s a key one. Go ahead. Yeah,
Linda Leekley (31:13):
No, I was gonna say, you’re creating a balance then for your, for your caregivers, which is so vital for them not to burn out. Right, exactly. Or to look elsewhere for more hours, <laugh>. Exactly.
Emily Isbell (31:24):
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Linda Leekley (31:28):
If, if an owner said to you, you know what? I can only institute one new system this month, what would you tell them to institute?
Emily Isbell (31:39):
Ooh, good question. I would, I would, I would start with our goals because I believe if we stop and think about the reason we opened up our doors was to serve seniors in their home mm-hmm. <Affirmative> or serve seniors, period. And if that’s why we opened up our doors, then everything kind of falls within that. So if we start with an hour’s goal, meaning by, if you do it for a month mm-hmm. If you, if you look at it in month terms, you could say, in the month of January, we want to achieve this many hours the whole month. And so set that goal one. But I would, as a system, I would recommend establishing a bonus tied to that for your administrative team. Some sort of way to reward them and have them bought in to that mission of ours. In effect, if you’re trying to achieve hours, you’re going to do a lot of other things Right.
Emily Isbell (32:45):
To get there. So I think the big first system would be that, and some people listening to this are like, yeah, I’ve been doing that for years. So there, there’s, there’s definitely different levels, but elementary level and to your question, that’s the first thing I would make sure is in place. And then let me add to that and say, don’t just say it and put it on a bulletin board somewhere or in one single email before January gets there. You need to revisit it, if not daily, definitely multiple times a week to remind your team the hours goal, tell them where they’re at in status, ask them questions about how we might be able to get there, point out losses and say that this happened. How can we make sure we don’t lose somebody for this reason? Again, all of those things make it a part of your culture with that hours goal.
Linda Leekley (33:39):
So for, so for agencies that are dealing with the staffing shortages that, that are so common now and being successful in recruiting and retaining caregivers, and then there’s those that are not as successful, what do you think might be the main difference between those two buckets of folks, if you will? Could it stem back to the leadership skills that you teach? So as part of your business,
Emily Isbell (34:11):
I want to make sure I captured your question. What is the difference between those being more successful in recruiting caregivers versus the ones that aren’t? Right. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So I, I think to elaborate on the question Amanda asked him before about certain things to track, I think it starts with looking at the data. So I would say most, almost very confidently that the people who are more successful are looking at the, the number of applicants they get, the number of those applicants that turn into an interview, the number of those interviews that turn into a offer. Someone you actually want the number of those offers that actually turn into a depending on your process, but let, let’s say an orientee, someone that shows up for orientation, then the number of those people who turn into actually working their first shift. And you can keep going the number of those people that make it 30 days, 90 days.
Linda Leekley (35:08):
Emily Isbell (35:08):
I would, yeah. I would say the ones that are more successful in recruiting actually first of all know that information about their business. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> know how many inquiries turn into applications if, if it’s a, if it’s an inquiry process versus an application. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And so I would say they’re also, not only do they know it, they’re digging into the details of it. So if, if we had a hundred people inquire, 80 of those actually fully applied, did the full application, the next month we had a hundred inquire and only 60 fully applied, we’d have to ask ourselves, well why did it drop by 20? Why was the conversion rate lower and was it our ad, was it the platform we used like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> constantly dissecting what the data is telling. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So I really think that the difference between those being more successful is, is the data tracking, but also what that data tracking breeds for the culture,
Linda Leekley (36:08):
Right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.
Emily Isbell (36:09):
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah. I think also the people who are more apt to data, track data are also more likely to recognize they don’t need to wait to hire. And that’s a challenge in the home care world. A lot of home care owners now, it’s changed today is a lot different than 10 years ago, but 10 years ago it was very common for us to meet with a family and they chose us because the other provider told ’em it would be a week and a half or so before they would hire someone to provide the care. Yeah. I don’t think that’s as common at all anymore. But, but that mentality can still be present today. It’s just kind of under a different cloak I guess in that with, with today we might be looking to constantly hire, but we’re also not like looking at what do our clients need?
Emily Isbell (37:03):
So for example, you have a ca you have, you know, your client case load, you know what people, where people live, you know how much care they need, the type of care they need. Are you actually ready if you were to have a no call, no show, if you were to add a 24 7 person who needed 24 7 care in this area and actually be thinking more in detail about that, right. And so that you actually recruit three weeks before that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> Oh no. Happens. And so I think that’s another key difference is that people are ahead of, of the problem that comes with its own set of challenges and I’m, we were missed to not mention that and that, you know, if you hire someone for a 24 7 care and then that 24 7 care, you never get the phone call. Well now you have somebody who’s looking for work and, and you need to find work for them. But that is a much better place to be and to solve, problem solve for than to say no to a client who
Linda Leekley (38:02):
Care. Right, right, right. Yeah. Well that’s Emily, that’s like Amanda was saying, with the proactive versus reactive. Right. It’s, it kind of falls into that <laugh>.
Emily Isbell (38:13):
Linda Leekley (38:15):
Amanda Sternklar (38:16):
And if you’re tracking and you know your, your hours goals and you know your team is on track to them, then you’re able to, you’re able to do that.
Emily Isbell (38:24):
Yeah. And I think I wanna elaborate a little bit more on the tracking piece cuz it can be daunting for an owner. When I said we’ve kept so many, so much data and we’ve tracked so much, it wasn’t me tracking it. Now I would spot check it. I would make sure, first of all, I would train people to make sure they knew how to, to, to track it. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, but then I would spot check it to make sure that they were doing that right. Not because I didn’t trust them and and their intent, but because mistakes happen and we were taught in elementary school, always check your math more than once. <Laugh>. So I I it’s really important that to know that the o owner or the leader of the operation is not the person who’s going to sit down and spend hours on hours getting this data.
Emily Isbell (39:07):
It should be being reported to you. You should develop a plan and know, and they should know, this is why I show up to work back to positions and these, this is the data points I am responsible for hitting and also for reporting. And then you compile that together and the owner honestly doesn’t have to pull up anything because you’ve trained your team to submit it to you. If anything, you might make it clean <laugh>, you might put it all in one report or there might be some logistical things you have to do, but at the end of the day, it’s reported to you and you utilize that data to inspect further and make leadership decisions as a result.
Linda Leekley (39:48):
Well yeah. And giving that sense of ownership to employees for their, you know, they own that data data point. It’s really empowering, don’t you think? You know, they know that they’ve gotta hit that and
Emily Isbell (40:01):
Exactly. And some people, I’m glad you said that because there are people who see it as micromanagement, which I don’t fully understand because it is data that you’re reporting out on, but they don’t, they’re, they’re shy away from it because they feel that way. And that’s just opposite in truth. They go, they report their numbers, they report the results and they’re, they’re telling you what they’re gonna do differently because they realize it’s not as good as they want it to be. Not because you’re micromanaging them, otherwise they wouldn’t be telling you what they’re gonna do. You have to tell them. Right.
Linda Leekley (40:40):
Or they’ve done it or they’ve gone over their numbers and they can tell you what they did to achieve that too. So. Yeah,
Emily Isbell (40:47):
Exactly. It’s a chance to celebrate.
Linda Leekley (40:49):
That’s right. Yeah, absolutely.
Amanda Sternklar (40:52):
Well Emily, if folks want to learn more about your approach, more about how to to do, implement all the systems we’ve been talking about, where is the best place for folks to find you and find out more about you?
Emily Isbell (41:04):
Yes, sure. So my website is definitely the best place and it’s e i and company. So all letters, no, no symbols.com. And when you go there, I think the best place to start is just start with the Tuesday takeaways. That’s a free email newsletter that comes, like you mentioned on Tuesdays. It’s two things you can, that you can implement in your business to impact revenue and operations by Friday. Very succinct things that they can take away. Some people you might look at it and you got this Tuesday and you’re like, oh, I’m already doing it. Follow it away. Move on next Tuesday. It’s like, ooh, that’s a good reminder. I used to do that and I’m not anymore <laugh>. So.
Amanda Sternklar (41:47):
Awesome. And Linda, if folks would like to reach you about anything we’ve talked about here today, where’s the best place?
Linda Leekley (41:54):
I’m always available on LinkedIn or you can email me my name, Linda Lek, l e e k l e y, home care pulse.com.
Amanda Sternklar (42:02):
Awesome. And I’m also best reachable on LinkedIn. That is at Amanda Stern Clark, s t e r n k l a r. And as a reminder, if you want to listen to this episode again or hear any of the rest of our episodes, you can go to home care pulse.com/podcast or find us on any of your favorite podcast listening platforms while you’re there on the [email protected] slash podcast, you can also apply to become a guest on vision if you have a story like Emily’s that you’d like to share. Until next time, we’ll talk to y’all in two weeks. Thank you so much.
Linda Leekley (42:35):
Emily Isbell (42:37):
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