Ep. 69: What’s Happening in Home Care Sales and Marketing
Ep. 69: What’s Happening in Home Care Sales and Marketing
Marissa Snook, CEO and Erica Horner, Home Care Consultant at corecubed shed light on the current landscape of home care sales and marketing and how agencies need to adapt to the upcoming trends in 2022.
We’ve got some new updates and trends to cover with the current landscape and sales and marketing. So everyone strap in grab your pen and paper because I’m sure we’re gonna get some updates that you wanna jot down today. So with that being said, let’s go ahead and get started. I wanna start it off with you, Erica, just overviewing the current landscape of sales and marketing for home care agencies. It’s been a roller the last two years as the pandemic has thrown multiple curve balls. So let’s just start there overviewing what we’ve seen and where we’re at.
Yeah, certainly we’ve seen a lot of changes and we’ve all had to adapt. Uthe industry has become increasingly competitive. We have seen some intense competition for both client and caregivers, and this is fueled by several factors. Uthe great resignation, as we all know, it has inspired many folks with an entrepreneurial spirit to launch their own business. And so with a relatively low cost of entry and the job security that comes with an essential workforce, we’ve seen a lot of startups enter the industry. Unow fortunately, there’s also, we’ve seen more people choosing to in place recognizing the value of one on one care and in the comfort of home and relatively isolated. So we have more clients to work with as well. So the current landscape really has the home care industry moving into the spotlight as the preferred plan for aging care for many people. Uso this increased demand for care combined with the widespread staffing shortages that we’re seeing across multiple industries,ucombined with increased number of providers has created unprecedented staffing shortages. So that’s really, what’s on everybody’s mind. That’s what we’re seeing right now in the industry.
Thanks, Erica. I’m sure all of you could raise your hand and agree with what she’s just shared. All of you are experiencing that on some scale or another. So thanks for the overview. Well, let’s talk about, you know, what’s been the latest on inquiry management and the customer service side of, of a home care business right
Now. Oh, that’s one of my favorite topics. It’s such a great question. As it’s a hot topic, as we all try to improve our conversion rates. So lately we find ourselves asking, how do we stand out in this new, highly competitive crowded market? Well to answer that we really need to get back to the basics. So, I mean, in business school, we learn that in order to maintain a competitive advantage, a product or service needs to be one of three, things needs to be either the fastest, the cheapest or the best. Well, considering the staffing shortages, we can’t commit to being the fastest and nobody here wants to be the cheapest because we can’t recruit well, if we’re the cheapest in home care, but we can strive to be the best in care and topnotch customer service provides the framework for home care providers to sustain that competitive advantage.
So it’s really key. So how do we appeal to that private pay home care market that we all want to appeal to? And same with caregivers, how do we appeal to caregivers so that they choose to be committed to our agency? The answer to both is customer service. So that’s really a key, a key part of maintaining a competitive advantage is customer service. We need to offer a high level of customer service at every interaction. And we’re seeing now more than ever, not only does this apply to consumers, but also potential hires. So here’s a, a quick breakdown of what we’ve seen lately regarding what’s working and what’s not working. Sometimes we listen to call tracking and we hear live inquiries. So we get a, some good insight into what’s what’s working and what’s not, what’s not working as call’s going to voicemail. That’s still happening with, you know, calls coming into agencies, inquiry calls, going to voicemail, or we hear sometimes disinterested or burned out people answering the phone.
Not calling people back in a timely manner or forms that don’t work on a website, you know, making the, the, the making things user friendly is really important for customer service. Just kind of really poor communication practices are far too common. So what we’ve seen that is working is always answering calls of a live and engaged person who’s ready to help, which can be very difficult with some, you know, kind of the burnout that we’ve seen that comes with the staffing work just secondary to having trouble staffing. Sometimes people answer during the phone, have some compassion, fatigue, and they’re, they’re, they’re tired. So that can be a challenge. But you know, it’s important to have ease of use and all points of communication, be user friendly and really be a problem solver for the consumers. We really wanna take the opportunity on the phone to get to know them and make sure we’re identifying and solving problems for them. We need to project a sense of urgency around helping others because after all that’s, that’s why we’re really here. That’s at the heart of it. That’s, that’s what we’re all trying to do here. And of course the tried and true consultative sales approach works for every audience in home care. That’s a winning strategy for both clients and employees.
Great insights. I wanna talk about the transition to digital marketing, you know, taking an online approach. Like many of you have probably experienced. It’s hard to get in the door with a lot of referral partners. COVID has made it very difficult to have in person contact with a lot of the partners that you’re working with on a weekly basis. Marisa, maybe you can chime in and talk about this transition to digital marketing. What have we seen what’s working on the digital front? What are people receptive to?
Yeah, well, one of, I mean, we’ve been preaching the importance of digital marketing for years, looking at the home care pulse surveys. You’ll see that it’s at the top of the list year after year, but the pandemic really had home care agencies ready to listen to that. And people were slacking to digital marketing in droves because, you know, as you said, there, wasn’t a lot of other options to get the word out during the pandemic and the height of the pandemic when you really couldn’t see those referral sources at all. So that means there’s more competition online for that digital marketing. So SEO search engine optimization has, is very important. And if you tie that with a Google paper click, those are those when you do a search result and you see ad written across the top, that’s Google paper, click SEO are those organic listings and trying to get your agency seen on those first page of search results.
You know, having SEO and PPC work together has been giving people really good results, but they’re finding that with paid digital marketing, they’re typically having to spend a little bit more money than they used to a few years ago in order to get the same results. And that’s a direct result of that additional competition. And if you have a digital marketing partner that isn’t bringing you the best results that is going to be even more apparent with the really competitive marketplace digital flyers. I know Erica can probably talk about this. But the, the digital flyers have been huge during the pandemic because it’s something that is educational that you can still get into the hands of those referral sources. People have been changing their traditional trifold brochures into eight and a half by 11 digital flyers that they can email to people. And that’s been working
One question and you kind of touched on it, Maris. I wanna address that was pre-submitted by AVET. She said, how could I determine if an organization is capable of providing the best SEO results? I know that’s a little bit open ended, but what would you respond to that?
It is, you know, a bigger question, but a important thing to remember, to compare apples to apples, because when someone says they provide SEO, there’s a wide range of things that could be considered SEO services. So somebody may say, well, this is our price, and it looks very attractive, but they may be only offering, you know, one third of the services of another agency. And it’s much better to have an agency touches many of the pieces as possible that Google looks at to rank your website, because if you’re only touching one or two, you’re not going to get as good of results. Some agencies, for example, will not only work with keywords and getting links back to your website, but they’re also going to look at your competitors. They’re going to look at, and this is essential. How are people interacting with your site?
Because if you are driving a lot of people to the website and they’re not converting, they’re not calling you or filling out your forms, then the SEO is not working because at the end of the day, you’re trying to get more clients and more caregivers. So that’s a good question when you’re, or shopping for an SEO provider is how do you measure results? And do I get access to all of my data? Because I have seen companies that they’ve got their own proprietary data set, and when you leave them, you lose all of that data. And that’s horrible because you want to have that history. So you can see over time if you’re improving. And the other thing that’s important when you’re shopping around for an SEO provider is whether or not they know your audience because home care is very different from selling a product it’s very personal and the way that your customer are going to respond to your content and what type of content that you share is going to be very different than, you know, when you’re trying to sell, I don’t know, bandaids or something like that.
I’m just reading here in the chat too. It looks like we’ve got a diverse group on here, which is great. It looks like some marketers are here on the call. Some agencies have kinda a mixed approach where some of that work is contracted out and some of it’s taken in house. I’m sure we’ve got a number of owners on here as well that are probably have their hands and some of the marketing efforts and are, you know, transitioning to pass some of that off. So thanks everyone for commenting here. You touched on it briefly Marisa, but let’s talk about kind of taking a step back out online reputations for a while. It seemed like home care owners felt, you know, maybe we’re different than restaurants or stores in that people aren’t looking at reviews as much for home care, but I think that has changed drastically. So what, what are the key components of an online reputation and just the importance of managing your reputation on online?
Well, the statistics are really telling with how many people are using online reviews as a major way that they’re making a decision. And we’ve got a webinar coming up on the summit that goes much deeper into this conversation. So hopefully you’ll attend that as well. But it’s, I think the common mistake that I see with companies, well, two common mistakes, a not asking for reviews. They just expect them to appear magical and I hate to say it, but the ones that magically appear are typically the negative ones. You have to ask your clients who are happy to leave a review. And generally they’re, you know, more than willing to leave a review, especially if you give them an easy way to find you online you know, give them a link to your Google listing, give them a link to your Facebook so that they can easily leave you a review. And the other mistake is not monitoring those reviews. You can have a really horrible review out there on a website that you don’t know about, and it’s really negatively affecting how many calls you get, but you know, if you’re not responding to that, or if you don’t, don’t even know what’s out there, then you know, that’s not a great thing. So definitely monitor your reviews and ask for reviews. And there are services out there that help you do those things.
Great. Thanks for touching on the review piece. I’m sure many of you have actually had clients or caregivers come to you through, you know, a positive online review. They really do have an impact as people are searching and shopping around. So you wanna make sure that you have your best foot forward there and that you’re managing those reviews. Even if there are negative reviews, it’s inevitable, but how are you handling them? Are you taking care of them, you know, online or offline and resolving those issues? It’s, it’s really important. I wanna talk about having two brands, you know, your employer brand and your client facing brand. We had a really good question submitted from Heather who may be on the call today about feeling conflicted on posting. This is, this is Facebook in this case, but posting the same posts for geared towards caregivers as geared towards clients on the same Facebook page. How do you as a brand, as an agency, know how to distinguish those two brands and how do you talk to both of them using potentially the same channels?
Well, you use the same website to, to reach your caregivers as you do client. So I think it’s totally fine to use one Facebook page to both recruit caregivers and post educationally. Now having said that you can sort of quarantine those job listings onto Facebook jobs which is a very nice platform that they have where you can have people apply for your job directly through Facebook. So I would urge you guys to try out Facebook jobs put some nice graphics up there. Don’t just, you know, post a blank lifting, make it as attractive as possible. I know that’s something that Erica’s really good at talking about is that recruiting piece and, and how to talk to caregivers to make you stand out.
Erica, let’s kind of transition into that. We don’t wanna dive too deep into recruitment and retention, but I think this is top of mind, you know, how do we attract caregivers using these online platforms? What would you add, Erica?
Yeah, there’s so much to say about recruiting. I will try to consolidate. So we just talked about reputation management. This is a good, good segue, but so recruiting and reputation management are they’re really closely related. We used to think of online is the strategy to win clients. But what we’re seeing really happen is that the reviews have a huge impact on recruiting as well. Caregivers have a choice for their employers. We need to earn their trust. Not only do you wanna get out there and build our brand so that they see us, but we also need to earn their trust. So we need to show them that the reviews we’re getting back up and defend what we’re saying on our website and what, what are the, the brand language that we’re working into our job description. Our job description might be very well written and talk about mission and values and how we care for our employees, but do our reviews show that as well, we really have and manage the reviews to defend all the messaging that we have everywhere else, website, job description.
What does, what does it actually say? What does our online reputation really say about, about how we treat our employees? So a, a couple things that a couple common mistakes that we have seen to not be working here in, in today’s landscape is, is job ads as languages that focus on duties. Here’s what we expect from you. Here’s your responsibilities from this job without emphasizing the company values and mission. And then, like I said, of course that needs to match up with the reviews that are out there. Or a lot of people are still taking a passive role that lacks innovation, you know, doing things the way we’ve always done it, and it doesn’t work anymore. Or some people are continuing to target the same areas as competitors. There’s a lot of Intel to be had in following where our not only our referrals come from, from, from clients, but also where do our, in where geographically do our caregivers live, where are they coming from?
How are we reaching them? And then following those clues and adapting to it, adapting is, is really essential to stay afloat here. So, you know, we see some people failing some, some failure to follow those clues. If you’re having trouble recruiting in a certain area, then the that’s where your competitors are and, you know, you have to follow those clues and adapt to that. And also just kind of generally lacking a customer service mindset. So instead of those things, we’ve seen a lot of success recruiting. So I have a pretty kind of some, some ideas of, of what does work for recruiting. And, and foremost that’s customer service. I know I keep hitting that because it’s just so important to be successful in this very competitive market, we must treat our employees as customers as well, right? We have to earn their trust and take care of them.
It helps your attention, and it’s certainly easier to retain an employee than it is to hire one. Also for effective recruiting, we need to effectively manage our pay per click ads and SEO, strong pay per click ads are important. And with that, we need to plan to do some trial and error in messaging to find what’s reaching your target audience. Also we need to invest in ample ad budgets, paper, click, and social media. Those have really become a pay to play game and we need to play because it’s effective. But it does take some ample spending in that area, but it is effective if, if managed properly. Also what’s working is utilizing social media for content written specifically for applicants in job postings, as Marisa touched on just like we write blogs and we’re, we’re creating content for our clients.
We can do the same for caregivers, you know, not only helping them do their job better and giving them access to resources, but it demonstrates to them that, you know, their development is important to us. You know, what they need is important to us and that we’re in tune with what they need by providing those resources for caregivers. Make sure your application process is very quick and easy, even mobile and incorporate text messaging into your communication plan and always text applicants back as soon as possible to schedule an interview. And that may even be through Facebook messenger. If your ads are on Facebook also making your listing your online listings more attractive in many ways internal referrals are great, you know, try to get those and reward those as much as possible. So generally what we’ve seen is the sales and marketing strategies for recruitment.
They are working, especially pay per click ads and crafting compelling content for job ads and Facebook pages. Many of the outreach strategies that we’ve previously used to reach clients, we can really kind of rinse and repeat recycle OS modifying strategy, somewhat to reach caregiver and to reach the caregivers. And that’s, that’s working in many ways. Thanks, Erica. That was a lot to digest. I know. I, I, you can go into more details on all those things. I tried to give you like an effective little list. No, that was great, but it’s a lot, a lot to do. No,
That was great. A couple things that you mentioned, Erica, that I kind of stood out to me. One, one of ’em was having a cohesive brand, a cohesive look, you know, sometimes your job ad may say one thing and then they land on your website and it tells a different story. And then you hit, you know, maybe the Facebook page or you see an ad and it feels pretty disjointed. So I love what you said about really making sure the whole process for an applicant or a perspective client looks cohesive. Is there anything else you wanna,
Yeah. And even, I mean, take it a step further, you know, it’s say you have a potential client or caregiver who has, they’ve seen, maybe they’ve seen a brochure, a flyer, they saw your reviews, they saw your website, all of your methods are working and then they’re compelled to call, well, what happens next? Is the person answering the phone, defending that message even further? Or are they, are they too busy? Are they disconnected? Are they distracted? Are they, are they really does the person calling really feel that message that it’s true because that first call is your first opportunity to validate everything they’ve seen. So it, it even, you know, you could take it a step further and yes, it has to be cohesive across all your branding, but it even has to follow through to the human beings who are answering the phone that, that passion and Val the values and the mission really has to come through in their voice. And they have to be able to take the time and demonstrate the care that people are looking for in this industry. Cause this is really all about the people.
We’ve also heard time and time again, that caregivers take the first job offered to them. So you talking about customer service, like you said, if they get on the phone and have a negative first experience, chances are that they’ve already applied to five other eight agencies and very, could very easily go elsewhere because of that, you know, touch point. So I also appreciate, you know, what you’ve said about customer service. We’ve got a couple of really good questions coming in here in the chat. Let’s start with email campaigns, Gina saying, what do you think about email campaigns, Erica, or Marisa? Wanna talk about email?
Yeah. I mean, I think email is still the future. I know that there’s a lot of spam out there, but if you can show that you have information that people want and that means segmenting your audience. So for example, your inquiries should be getting a message specifically for them. Your current clients should be getting a different message. You can even do, you know, messaging for specific interests so that you are communicating regularly with the information that people want. And when you do that, email marketing definitely can work. It can nurture people along the sales path. It can keep them interested. You can upsell services all through that email communication.
Gina also asked about hard copy mail, you know, potentially snail mail. We talked a little bit about this actually last week. I think people are debating whether to invest in potentially hard copy mill thoughts on that Marisa.
Oh, it’s, it’s expensive. So I, I understand why people are shy at it. I still think it’s a valid way to try and reach an audience. There’s not as much noise out there in the print field. But one of the benefits of email and doing digital marketing is it’s so easy to track. You can see, you know, oh, you can track one thing with the direct mail and that’s, you know, whether they contact you or not and say it’s because they got your postcard with digital marketing, you can track, you know, what interests top are, what do they are? What topics are they interested in? Because you can see what they clicked on. You can see the time of day that is best to reach people. There’s just so much more data that you can get from a digital marketing strategy that I think it kind edges out the direct mail
Agreed. I, I think there’s pros and cons to both something that we touched on briefly actually last week a provider mentioned using the caregiver to take the mail to the client. If it’s a client that needs, you know, hard copies, if it’s a prospective client, there’s challenges there. But I think there’s opportunities to think outside the box with snail mail or with hard copy mail, but trying to find the most cost effective way to do it. And like Mesa saying it’s harder to track. So just putting processes in place to be able to track and to really just do what the client or the perspective client needs is probably your best bet. Another great question here is around buying leads. I know this, this gets into some hot water, so maybe some controversial territory, but I think it’s a top of mind question Kim is asking, you know, what I think others think about buying leads from caring.com or others I did several years ago, but maybe reconverting and retesting Kim, I might be watching that, but Eric or Marisa wanna address that? And then Kim, we’re happy to have any follow up questions from you.
I, I think it depends on the service that you use. I know for example, caring.com has gotten a lot more savvy about how they do those purchase leads and how they, I divvy them out to people. I I’ve heard clients be happier with them for that because they’re listening to their customer base. But yeah, even with those purchase leads, you’re typically competing with other agencies and who are also receiving those same leads. So it can be difficult to convert those clients.
I was gonna chime in. It is difficult. I mean, caring, dot com’s deal. That’s the only one I’ve used is basically it’s $50 a lead and they’ve already vetted them at a call center and it goes to four agencies at the same time. And what I imagine, you know, we’re a smaller, independent agency. I imagine that the big franchises have a call center someplace and they are the fir they’re the first ones to call the, the lead. And it’s really, if you’ve used Thumbtack for, you know, home repairs, it’s almost the exact same thing, but for home care. But I have over time gotten converted. Some of them it can be frustrating because they’ll they send them, you know, the minimum is 10 per month and they’ll send them all in the first week of each month and then try to sell you more. And, you know, invariably, they arrive at Saturday night at seven o’clock when you and your team are at the movies or something. So it it’s difficult and frustrating. Yeah. But I, I’m gonna try it a while longer.
Thanks for chiming in am. I, I would just add, we talk with hundreds of agency owners and we see it’s across the board. Some providers feel really strongly about purchasing leads and have a lot of success with it. And we see the opposite people that have had a really bad experience don’t get any, anything from it waste a lot of money. So to be honest, I think trial and error, every business is structured a little bit differently. Every market is a little bit different. So try your hand at a variety of, of opportunities and see what sticks and where, what really works for your own business. Cuz I don’t think there’s a silver bullet there and you’ve gotta kind of go through it to know if it works for you or not
Gotta give it time too, because I think a lot of marketing strategies people give up on after two months and you really need to stick with a strategy for six months, at least before you start really measuring those. I mean you’re measuring results all along, but before you take a big overview look of is this working, you’ve gotta be, make sure you’ve given enough time.
Yeah. And I just wanted to add to this topic that it’s important to continue to follow, just check in call with both clients and caregivers when they don’t, when they don’t commit. And they don’t convert check in with them later because often people are not satisfied with their original solution. So, you know, if you don’t convert the lead then just check in with them later because you know, whatever they came up with, maybe that other provider is not is not meeting their expectations. They’re not able to staff it and that can give you another opportunity. And the same is true for caregivers too. So, you know, no matter where leak came from, if it doesn’t convert, you know, it’s not over. So just check in with them later, two weeks, four weeks, six weeks later how are they doing? Are their needs met? We haven’t forgotten the bottom and we still care.
That’s reminding me of something you mentioned earlier, Erica, about standing out from your competition. The landscape is so competitive right now. The good thing is we all have the opportunity to jump online and shop our competitor, shop their job ads, shop they really everything, you know, do your own research and see what your competitors are doing and see how you can stand out. You know, I think it’s really easy for us to, you know, hit copy and paste on a job ad or, you know, model what we’re doing after potentially our competitors, rather people that we’re seeing, but get online and see what they’re doing. You and differentiate yourselves. I, you kind of hit on that before Erica, but I just wanted to, you know, drive that home that we can look and see what our competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate.
I, I would even say, take a look at your competitor’s reviews, not just to their customer reviews, but their caregiver reviews, because you can learn a lot about what is important to your caregivers and potential clients by looking at reviews.
Yeah. It gives insight. Yeah. It can give you a lot of insight into what’s happening in their offices. You know, the reviews that they don’t call me back, or it give me a lot of last minute shifts or, you know, it gives a lot of Intel from that. And like I said earlier, it’s important to adapt to those and, you know, use that Intel and adapt your strategy
Accordingly. I wanna take another step back. We’ve covered a lot of different things in a lot of different areas, but maybe Erica or Marissa could highlight maybe two to three action items that you feel are most important for an agency to take today.
I’d like to mention one Marisa I’m sure has some ideas as well, but one is definitely to check in on how your inquiries are handled in your office. You know, we all, we all train people how to answer the phone, what our expectations are, but you know, sometimes it, people get tied and they stray from the process a little bit. Are your inquiries being handled optimally? And it’s so important because we spend so much time and resources on trying to get the phone to ring and it all comes down to that moment. That’s the time that our conversion rate is really determined. That’s what our return on investment comes down to is our, when people call are we actually converting it? So, you know, I think people really need to listen to how their inquiry calls are really being handled. Are you happy with it? Are we starting from the process? Do people need more training? That’s, that’s a, it’s a common mistake to just kind of let the inquiry process kind of work itself out and hope for the best, but it’s critical. So one thing is to just kind of check in on your inquiry management process and identify opportunities for improvement and additional training.
Make sure that you’re measuring any marketing that you do. And you know, if it’s not, if it’s not working, then try something else. If it is working, do more of it, sort of the cornerstone of marketing that I think a lot of people forget, really have to measure everything that you do.
That’s that goes right along with what Erica shared, you know, just refining your processes, making sure you’re measuring you. Can’t, you know, if you can’t get better, you can’t improve something. If you don’t know where you’re at, you’ve gotta be able to track and trend over time. So the you can improve. I think we’ll, we’ll close with that. We’ve covered a lot of ground today. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and comments in the chat. I know we didn’t get to all of the pre-submitted questions, but we can reach out to some of you on an individual basis. I also just want to say Erica and Marisa and their team at core cubed are always here for each and every one of you. If any of you, any questions, or if you haven’t landed on their site, they’ve got a lot of free resources and there’s a way to get in contact with them very easily off their site. So we’ll, we’ll cap there. Marisa, Erica, thank you so much for joining us and thank you all for being here, live with us today.