Post COVID-19 Growth Strategies for Homecare The COVID-19 crisis has been a tough time for many industries, and home care is no exception. Agencies across the country have reported losing revenue (as much as 30%) due to clients pausing or canceling services during the crisis. As agencies search for ways to keep their revenue up, we’ve seen some truly innovative steps, like providing staffing for temperature checks at the entrances to airports and other essential public places. However, absent from many conversations about maintaining revenue is a fundamental idea necessary to establishing a well-rounded revenue strategy. It’s a basic idea—but easy to overlook. Here’s a look at these Post COVID-19 Growth Strategies for Homecare The 3 Revenue Tiers In any business, there are three steps you can take to earn more revenue:
Acquiring new customers
Increasing per-customer revenue
Retaining existing customers longer
Of the three, by far the most talked about is typically the hardest and least cost-effective—new client acquisition.
Tier 1: Acquiring New Customers At this point, most agencies have taken steps to adapt to the reality of marketers being locked out of facilities and other institutions that traditionally have been steady sources of referrals. Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. As our team has analyzed the situation, what we’ve found is that the tactics that successful home care marketers are shifting to are many of the same ones that business-to-business software sales teams, including ours, have been using for a long time. Our sales team is remote, in the sense that rarely makes in-person sales calls when our sales team is located in New Jersey, and North Carolina and our customers are scattered across the United States There’s an established way of doing remote business-to-business sales that software and CRM companies base their business model on. While not every aspect of these companies’ playbooks is transferrable to a home care referral-marketing setting, many are. Here are some of the things we’ve learned that might be relevant for home care agencies right now:
You need a system for organizing touchpoints, progress, and next steps.
Your marketers can attempt many more touchpoints in a day than they used to since they’re reliant on calls and emails instead of driving around to meet in person.
The more touchpoints, the more potential to over-communicate or let important messages slip through the cracks. At the very least, you should have a detailed spreadsheet tracking every target account and every touchpoint with them. However, this can get cumbersome and time-consuming. We strongly recommend you start using a CRM system if you haven’t already, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re exponentially more effective than we’d be without it.
Metrics, goals, and quotas have become more important than ever in remote settings as a way of ensuring accountability and tracking the success of new methods.
You can optimize your process much more quickly as a remote salesperson—take advantage of this.
Analyzing what works best and doubling down on it is an instinctive process for most marketers; however, remote selling is even more conducive to quickly iterating and optimizing your approach because you can complete more actions and track them more closely.
If you’re attempting for the first time or in the early stages of remote sales, it is important to analyze the open rates and response rates for your different emails and begin to optimize the approaches that work best.
Keep in mind the balance between personalization and scalability.
This tip mainly concerns emails. Emails are always more effective when personalized to the receiver. No one likes getting an email that feels robotic. At the same time, you’ll be able to be much more effective if you’re not creating every new email completely from scratch—a level of scalability and duplication speeds up your process significantly.
Work on creating templates for each outreach stage that can be used across accounts. Always take a moment to put yourself in the recipient's shoes before you send an email and ask whether there’s anything that would come across as robotic or irrelevant, then customize accordingly.
When someone calls your agency for the first time, the importance of that call can be the difference between that inquiry becoming a client or reaching out to your competition.
Ensure these calls are routed with a high priority
Have dedicated staff that manage these calls to pre-qualify and help increase your closing ratios
Ask the appropriate questions and document all collected data
Book a Client Assessment Appointment. Studies have proven that if an appointment is scheduled, the likelihood they will continue shopping is drastically reduced. Moreover, it immediately assigns the case to someone to follow up and shows the potential client how important they are in the care they will receive
Tier 2: Increasing Per-Client Revenue In a home care setting, increasing per-client revenue typically comes down to a couple of options: adding hours or increasing rates. Both of these make the most sense if the client is looking to add additional types of service to the care plan. Admittedly, this tier might be the most difficult in the COVID-19 setting. From what many home care agencies are reporting, the factors that are reducing agency revenue are most directly tied to per-client hours (clients reducing or pausing services). One way of addressing this problem is a route that many agencies are already taking: offering flexible formats for visits and expanding your services to include offerings relevant during COVID-19. We’re keeping a running list of ways in which we’ve seen home care agencies innovate with their visits (and use of staffing), which includes:
Virtual check-ins are billed in short increments (15-30 minutes)
Abbreviated home visits to fill needs like medication (this is one to be careful with, as it can easily lead to a high volume of low-margin visits; you’ll need to carefully balance your rate, average time of visit, caregiver travel time, and other factors to ensure that this is effective).
Staffing for the COVID screening process (temperature checks, etc.) at essential gathering places like airports, grocery stores, and hardware stores
These are unlikely to replace all lost revenue, but each can serve to increase revenue overall. Tier 3: Retain existing clients longer While adopting a strategy that employs all three tiers, a retention-focused revenue strategy is especially important when cash flow is a major concern. Client retention is high-impact and largely within your control. Frederick Reichheld, a business strategist at Bain & Company known for inventing the Net Promoter Score, has estimated that increasing customer retention by 5% increases net profits by anywhere between 25% and 95% depending on the business model. Increasing client retention is as much about mindset as it is strategy. It means putting client needs under a microscope and seeking to understand every aspect of the experience you’re providing to your clients, even when it results in some painful self-examination on your part. Client turnover can be significantly reduced by initiating frequent check-in calls and performing prior shift confirmations, incrementally improving filled-shift rates. We have over 7 years of experience collecting feedback from our clients and have confirmed a significant decrease in no-shows. Retention and turnover are often about the details. Here’s where you can start:
If it seems a little excessive on your end, it’s probably about right. This is also critically important with paused clients. Staying top of mind with them will help ensure that it’s you, not a competitor, that they go to when they decide to start home care services again.
Establish multiple processes to learn if there’s a problem that needs your attention.
A three-pronged approach of frequent check-in calls, consistent quality assurance surveys, and online review monitoring helps to give you a clear view of what’s happening.
Commit to closing the loop rapidly on any negative feedback.
Perform "Pre-Shift Confirmations", similar to how a doctor's office confirms appointments. This will drastically reduce no-show rates and shift cancelations. It is far easier to fill a cancelation during the week than on the weekends.
Listening to your clients is an important first step. The company must adopt a culture to commit to acting on the feedback you receive and quickly. Moreover, ensuring accountability, on every level of your company will improve your clients' experience and ensure things do not slip through the cracks.