As Customer Success Managers at Home Care Pulse, Nick Mecham and Garth Crane have consulted with thousands of agency owners over the last five years. Here’s what they’ve observed about the agency owners who succeed.
Hey, this is Miriam Allred. The host of Vision | The Home Care Leaders podcast. After you listen to today’s episode, head on over to our website, homecarepulse.com/podcast to view episode related resources.
Today, I’m excited to be joined by Nick Mecham and Garth Crane. Nick and Garth are Customer Success Managers at Home Care Pulse. Everyday they consult with home care agency owners about how to implement best practices and grow their business. In the course of their time at Home Care Pulse combined, they’ve consulted with over 4,000 agencies. And today they’re here to tell us about the top seven habits they’ve learned from highly effective home care owners. So welcome to the show, Nick and Garth.
Yeah, so I was actually born in Southern California in the city of Temecula, but when I was six years old, my parents moved to Sugar City, Idaho, just a very, very small town, just outside of Rexburg where our main Home Care Pulse office is located. And my parents have lived there for the past 27 years. So I’ve I’ve lived there and have just really loved the small community lifestyle, but it didn’t go too far when I joined up with home care pulse. So that’s kind of where my upbringing was.
So I grew up in a small town called Rupert Idaho which is about two hours away from Rexburg in the Southeast area. So it’s kind of like central South central Idaho grew up working on a farm with sugar beets and potatoes and grain. My dad had his own farm for quite a while. Then he sold it to the guy that he is the farm foreman for now. So still in that small farm town of Rupert Idaho. And so yeah, I’m from a small town as well.
Very cool. And now you guys are working in home care. Who, what a thought. Cool. So yeah, one other question, a little more exciting. What animal would you ride into battle Garth? Let’s start with you.
So I have an incredible fear of the ocean, so I would definitely not support Garth’s decision in that matter, but with with regards to land that I would definitely ride a cheetah into battle and it would definitely overtake a line over there pretty easily. So I just want to throw that out.
Wow. Both of you into the cats only one way to find out true. Well, we’ll have to round up some local cats here in Idaho. Well, cool. Well, yeah, once again, we’re really excited to have you guys on the show and appreciate you taking the time. We’ve got a lot to talk about today, so let’s go ahead and get started. Garth, why don’t you kick us off with the first habit what it is and why it’s been so important?
Absolutely. So the first habit is to document a proven process. What basically what we see is you, you don’t want to have to deal with office turnover, but, but unfortunately it happens. It’s the reality of, of everything. And so a documented process helps with keeping the status quo among your, your clients and caregivers. If your office staff is turning over and there’s not a documented process you’re probably gonna see a dip in overall client and caregiver satisfaction while there’s a ramp up process. If they’re not real sure what they’re supposed to do it can be difficult for the clients and caregivers to be patient with that turnover. And so it helps to kind of preemptively avoid any big dip in overall satisfaction as well as increased productivity. If there’s something that’s working among you and your team, being able to document that.
And so that everybody knows exactly where they fit in and what their part is in that, as it pertains to individual roles and being able to, to continually move forward. If you’re in the situation where you’re able to spread out and start creating separate locations in multiple locations you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but that proven process is going to be something that can be followed up on and utilized in that growth process. And so being able to, to help with that and, and increase the overall effectiveness of, of the business and get the most from your, your team at all places and in every position, I think is going to be a huge, huge piece of, of starting that out. And I think it’s important that this is the first one, because you know, everything that’s going to be talked about after this is something that could definitely be documented to have its own piece inside of that documented process.
Yeah. I love what you said at the beginning about document documenting proven processes in regard to office staff, because we, and we talk often about office staff turnover, you know, there’s even, we’ve got the stat that for every office staff member that, you know, that leaves on average, you’re losing about five caregivers. So that’s huge to streamline that process and that documentation to avoid, you know, turnover throughout your staff. So, so appreciate that. Let’s go ahead and, and get into number two. Nick, tell us what the second habit is.
Yeah. The second habit would be to get feedback from your clients now kind of piggybacking on what Garth had said, you know, with the proven process you and your team want to find out, you know, what’s working, what’s not working. And then for those things that are very successful for your business, you want to be able to establish that from the feedback from your clients, otherwise, how are you even going to know what is working for your business? And so, you know, obviously home care polls, we have our experience surveys program, which we’re able to conduct those monthly surveys on your behalf, but, you know, in home surveys or any other kind of process that you have in place to be able to measure the satisfaction of your clients is going to be incredibly crucial to your business in going forward. You want to be able to gather that feedback for your clients.
So that way you can be able to, you know, seek out your prime clients, those who are happiest about your services, if there are clients that are unhappy for one reason or another, how are you even going to determine how to resolve their issues if you’re not measuring that feedback from them? And so when it comes to, you know, that feedback that you’re gathering from your clients, you know, you’re able to reach out to them. They provide you with that meaningful feedback for you to take action on. And then after taking that action on it, you want to make sure that you are following up with those clients. Again, you want to keep track of how that progress is going. If you have implemented action plans or other processes like Garth had mentioned about documenting those processes, you want to make sure that those are still going just as well.
So the consistency of that feedback that you’re gathering from your clients is incredibly important. And along with that is, you know, with seeking feedback from your clients, this is an incredible opportunity also to take the moment to ask for reviews from these individuals. Any business wants to be able to put their name out there even more. And what better to not only come from you as the owner or the office staff, but to be able to say, this is what our clients are saying about our business. So as you’re having those conversations with them about how the services are going, you want to take that opportunity to also ask them to leave you a review. If you’re having a pleasant conversation with these people, take that time, beat bold, tell them that you as a company are striving for excellence and that it would really help you out if they could leave a review for you. And then, you know, you can always write down your link to a review site that you’re hoping
To build more reviews on and handed to them or give it to them through an email or over the phone, whatever that may be, but it is vital to the business to be able to keep track of what is working and what is not. And then once again, going back to the habit, number one, being able to document those processes so that going forward, nothing falls through the cracks.
Yes. So then the third habit is get feedback from caregivers. And this is one that can often be overlooked. I hear it a lot that people say, well, we know our caregivers really well. And then when they do get to the point of starting to develop a process of getting feedback from caregivers that allows opportunity for anonymous feedback, they’re shocked at how much they’re learning from how their caregivers really feel and what their true perception is and how that will, could echo out into the community as far as the reputation goes. And so it’s important to create the opportunity. It can be really scary because the reality is is these are your employees, but it’s absolutely necessary to create a, in order to create a successful company culture, you have to know exactly what the perspective of your caregivers is. And so for example, one of the customers I’ve worked with, they truly felt that they knew what their caregivers wanted in terms of recognition.
And when, as soon as they began getting feedback from their caregivers, they found out that what they were giving to their caregivers to recognize them was completely off the Mark from what the caregivers actually wanted. And they were able to glean that from the feedback process and being able to say, okay, we gotta change our paradigm and, and go forward with, with the way that our caregivers, most like to be recognized. And immediately they started getting more positive feedback from their caregivers, not just in the surveys themselves and in the process, they’d set up to gather that feedback, but overall satisfaction across excitement to show up, to work and take advantage of the incentives and utilize, you know, show up on time and be there the whole time of their shifts. It affected every aspect of the caregiver’s experience and the operational process for the schedulers.
They felt like their job was easier when the caregivers were a lot more excited because they were being recognized in the way they want it to be recognized. And so being able to dive in and know the exact process and perspective that your caregivers want to follow with how they feel in regards to training and the way they feel that that works best for them recognition. We’ve touched on that and being able to know how to keep on how they feel about their overall employment experience and whether or not they would recommend you to their friends. If their friends were looking for a job as a caregiver those are things that are absolutely vital instead of just assuming that we know it’s important to know exactly what those caregivers are feeling. And then again, being able to, to make sure that’s available for everybody in the office who has touchpoints with caregivers, that they know exactly what that looks like, and it’s, it’s, it’s documented. And it’s, it’s somewhere that everybody who is going to be in that role or as the company grows and gets added to that connection with the caregivers that they’re able to know exactly what that, what that voice of the caregivers means to them.
That’s fantastic. Exactly. Yeah. Level, both of you have said about client and caregiver, caregiver feedback. So yeah, once these, you know, these agency owners have those feedback loops in place and are receiving this feedback, you know, what can they do with that? Let’s talk about a habit. Number four, Garth, what, you know, once they have that feedback, then why.
So I would say the next habit would be to integrate your client feedback and caregiver feedback into a marketing plan. Nick touched on this base a little bit with asking for reviews from clients. I think the same goes from caregivers. But specifically on the client feedback and this works for caregivers as well. We respond so much better when it’s our own peers talking to us, so to speak. So as consumers of various products, we check out reviews because we’re looking at what other consumers are saying. We have that in common, even though we don’t know who they are, and it’s the same with clients and caregivers, they want to see what other clients and other caregivers experience is with this with various agencies. And so when they see any type of testimonial or review from any other clients or caregivers, they respond to that a lot more than an agency saying, we’re the best, we’re the best we, we do so well in this area, but when they see it coming from their own peer, so to speak, it has a lot more of an, of a, of power and impact upon them to, to make a move and inspire them to make a decision.
And so finding ways to do that, you know, with actual Ross, you know, comments, a review type comments, the other is any information, as far as statistics go being able to present that in recruiting when you say, you know, we really are one of the best agencies and then being able to present graphs, charts, statistics to say, don’t, don’t take my word for it, but this is what our own caregivers are saying in these various areas. Being able to present that to potential caregivers and clients and making sure that that there’s either a member of T of your team who is dedicated to marketing, or that it’s brought up in any monthly, quarterly, weekly, that’s being held,
Where marketing’s discussed, how are you utilizing that client and caregiver feedback into your marketing plan? And that’s going to affect it. You know, that’s gonna affect recruitment, that’s gonna affect retention. That’s going to affect online reputation and being able to utilize all the contacts and network that you have. But this is such a key piece because of the language that you’re speaking to the clients and caregivers by using your own clients and caregivers in that process. Yeah.
That’s great feedback. That’s great feedback. I know a lot of the, our listeners ask a lot of questions about marketing, you know, how better can we market, especially right now during COVID, you know, there’s a demand for our services. And so you’ve just got to get your agency out there and where there’s this, you know, stiff competition out there, there’s agencies, many agencies in, you know, cities around the country. And so you’ve gotta, you know, do whatever you can to stand out from the competition. So using, like you said, that client and caregiver feedback to Mark your agency is huge. Let’s keep moving through Nick. What, what’s the habit, number five that you found?
Yeah. Have it, number five would be to focus on the promoters of your business. Now, this seems kind of backwards in our mentality, you know, with, especially when it comes to the industry, the first thing we want to do is put out any fires that are occurring. You know, if we have an unhappy client, the first thing we want to do is take care of their needs, make sure that it’s fixed as much as possible, which is totally fine. We want to be able to make sure that everyone’s having a positive experience with our company, but the problem with taking so much time and effort in trying to put out these fires is that we have now made the unconscious decision to put our promoters on the back burner. And that’s where the issue comes into play. You know, the vast majority of our clients, I would say are very, very pleased with the services they’re being provided.
You know, this is a good opportunity for them to, you know, have loved ones being taken care of while family members are away. But when we are ignoring the fact that they are our happiest clients to really focus on the negative side of the business, we then allow them to not feel like they are important, and they’re no longer going to be giving you such raving comments or reviews anymore. They just don’t feel that it’s making any kind of influence. So the first thing that I would say is identify who your promoters are in your business. And then as often as they are leaving reviews, or as often as they are saying great comments about you, you want to take the opportunity to thank them for that. And if you do have kind of an in house service or a third party service to gather feedback for you, this is a good opportunity to find out who those promoters are.
And then a reaction to that is to reach out to them, you know, through a phone call or even send a thank you card just to merely let them know that you have seen their results and that you really appreciate them being such a loyal customer of yours at that point, then they start getting more and more excited about your business and they want to continue spreading the word because it makes them feel good inside, you know Walt Disney, you know, said do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. And so that that’s comes back to those promoters is you want to be able to let them know that you appreciate that. So that way they feel confident in sharing how great your business is with, you know, their friends or their other family members who may be needing the same type of service.
You know, our founder, Aaron Marcum had a great experience with this himself. You know, when he, you’ve probably heard this story before, if you’re familiar with home care pulse, but you know, back in the day when he opened up his own home care business, he had one client and, you know he really struggled with pleasing this client. So after taking care of everyone else, he finally had the time to focus in on this one particular client. And after resolving some of her, her needs and her issues that she was having with the business, she was so impressed with how it was handled, that she referred enough business to errands company that they gathered over $50,000 in revenue. And so the fact that she’s had this great experience and then the followup that is occurring with that particular client to make sure everything’s still going okay, that she still is very in love with this business, made her want to spread the word more and more over time. And eventually this became the most profitable client that Erin had ever had for his business. And so, again, focusing on those that are happiest, making sure that they feel that love and care from you, despite the fact that they may not be raising a bunch of red flags, but you want to let them know that they are important to you. Otherwise you will slowly see that their satisfaction will decrease because they have no way of knowing that it is very important to your business.
Great points, Nick. Thank you. That was, that was awesome. I love the way you started that by talking about how a lot of agency owners focus on, you know, the, the negative feedback that they receive from clients, but shifting that paradigm and focusing on your promoters or your, you know, your best clients, you know, that are most happy with the services and focusing on them and thanking them and you use using them to obtain referrals. That’s great. Let’s, let’s keep moving here. Garth, what is habit? Number six,
Habit. Number six would have to be communicate, communicate, communicate. There’s I don’t think there’s such thing as over communication in every aspect. So when it comes to building your and your community,
Communicating with referral sources and, you know, potential clients and staff who you are, you know, what are your core values? What what’s gonna set you apart from other competition in the area, what makes you different? Why what’s your vision, what’s your, your, your goal and objective. And being able to communicate that openly and often to everybody. So they know exactly who you are as you create opportunities to try new things and add new people to your team, communicate everything about new processes, new opportunities introducing any new feedback process among your clients and caregivers, making sure that you’re communicating to your clients and caregivers, what that’s gonna look like for them, so that they can be familiar with that process. And they’re not totally taken back by it and you can get there, they’re buying into it as well as clients, families is whenever that’s appropriate.
If the client’s not able to speak for themselves and give feedback that you’re communicating to their families and helping them know what to expect and, and caregivers, and then like, Nick’s talked a little bit about closing that feedback loop. Once you receive feedback, make sure you’re saying, thank you, make sure you’re saying it, helping them understand how much you appreciate that they would take time to give feedback to you and your team. And because what that does is that lets them know not only that you want their feedback, but that you’re listening to it and it helps build some trust there that, you know, we live in a world where everybody’s asked to take a, a survey or to leave a review. But you know, what we’re finding is a lot of the things that people look for, isn’t so much the number of reviews, but it also another big part is the response, you know, is it a real person giving a response other side of that that says, thank you so much.
You know, even even the simple two word responses. Thank you. But it’s just the idea that you’re listening. And so, you know, never forget to communicate with anything that’s going on in the business. This whether that’s opportunities in your internal office staff have updated changes to opportunities, incentives, bonuses coverage, and plans that are part of being an employee or other, other things. So we’ve always seen the happiest clients and caregivers are those who feel like their provider or employer is communicating openly and frequently enough with them, whether that be the schedulers, talking to the clients and caregivers and getting all that updated changes and schedules for shifts to just simply communicating times when you’re aware that somebody’s having a bad day being thought of and communicated in a way that matters to them. It just all the difference
In the world to, to those clients and caregivers and bills and amazing culture of, of accountability, of trust of loyalty to, to your agency. So I just, you can’t say it enough, there’s just any way that needs to be communicated, definitely make sure that communication is happening. And then going back to habit, number one, documenting every time that communication has to happen, that documented process is going to be a live process. It’s not once it’s documented once it’s set in stone and that should definitely be something that’s, that’s live and moving and changing and updating as often as it needs to be. And then communicating when that needs to be updated so that it can keep changing. So definitely taking advantage of that and not being afraid to do that cause the biggest breaks and satisfaction that we’ve seen have come from lacks of communication down the line somewhere,
Definitely. And across the board, we’ve seen, you know, a focus on communication during the pandemic agencies now more than ever are communicating as much and as frequently as possible to both clients and, and their caregivers because you know, there’s a lot going on and there needs to be additional communication to keep up with everything that’s happening. So appreciate the comments there. Nick, why don’t you close this out with habit number seven?
Yeah. Habit number seven would be to not be afraid to refer any clients or caregivers to other agencies, if they’re not a good fit for your business. And you know, obviously with the last point that I made with focusing on your promoters, not necessarily focusing on the negative, you, you don’t want to ignore these folks. That’s definitely not what we’re trying to inform you about here. We want you to handle as many of those situations as possible. You want to make sure that you are doing the best that you can to take care of those that have been entrusted to you, but in the end, if they’re not a good fit for your business and you have bent over backwards for these individuals either on the client or caregivers side, and nothing seems to be resolving itself, it may be time to forward them to a local company that’s in your area.
And so with that in mind, you know, one thing to do is, you know, you can set a limit for yourself, you know, three strikes and they’re out, or, you know, whether it’s 10 times or whatever it may be. That’s a process you’ll want to be able to establish for your company. But I was actually having this discussion with one of our customers here at home care pulse. And, and she had brought up that they were taking care of a couple that, you know, they’ve switched out their caregivers multiple, multiple times. They’ve tried their very, very best to provide them with the care that they’ve needed. And they have really succeeded in what they’ve done, but the couple was always dissatisfied, no matter what it was. And so finally she, she took the initiative and she sat down the home of the client obviously before COVID-19 hit, but took that time to go over a list of agencies in the local area.
And she said, look, we, we really appreciate the business that we’ve had with you up to this point. But based on your experience, I don’t feel that we’re able to provide you with the best care that you’re in need of at this time. So let’s help you find someone that can provide that care that you’re looking for. And so she worked out that list for them and they took some time and they reflected on two or three of those agencies. And then she called the agencies up and said, I have a client that is looking to have a different agency. Would you mind taking on this client? And at that point, the company accepted it, the couple then left this agency and went to the other company a week later, the couple called this owner back and said, we are so sorry. We did not know how good we had it with you folks.
You have definitely been the ideal provider of ours. And if it’s okay, we would like to come back to your services. Now I’m not going to say that that’s going to happen every single time, but it helps you to be able to one, if the best case scenario they want to come back, great, you’ve now established what you intend to do as an agency to best help them. And then they can have that perspective that you are providing the best care possible. On the other hand, if they never come back to you, at least now you have kind of unburden yourself from trying to please this client or caregiver that simply is not a good fit for your company. And that’s okay to admit, you know, every company goes through this process. They have individuals that work very well with their business. On the other hand, there’s those that this may not be the company for them and they need to go look somewhere else, but you may need to be that guiding hand in that process. Don’t be afraid to take that action. If you feel it is needed. Again, this is not, you know, one situation where they’re displeased. You get rid of them as quickly as possible. That’s not what we’re here for, but you want to do what is best for your business to be able to move forward rather than being stationary or even worse, taking step backs, to be able to please these individuals.
Interesting. I’m really glad you brought that up. You know, I think it’s something that agencies may over a look or not think a lot about. So I’m really glad that you brought that up. To be honest, I don’t have a lot more to say I’m honestly, just so grateful that you both had, could take the time to join us today and share with us what you’ve learned from the hundreds and thousands of agencies that you’ve worked with. I think we’ve talked about some fundamental concepts here, but also some really insightful, additional comments, you know, the agencies can learn from. So thank you both for joining us.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode! For those of you in learning more about Home Care Pulse and what we do besides the podcast, blogs and industry data, visit our website. We work with thousands of home care agencies across the country, providing client and caregiver, experience surveys and caregiver training. Our solutions are customizable and designed to help you improve your client and caregiver experience. Learn more at homecarepulse.com. Thanks for listening and tune in next week.