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Jan 22 2016

Bergy Bits and Growlers Dot the Healthcare at Home Landscape

Posted by Merrily Orsini

Adventure awaits home health in the future

Exploring the unknown is akin to the home health landscape for 2016

At this exact time of the year 4 years ago in 2012, I was sailing to Antarctica on a National Geographic Expedition with some folks from NOAA who were tagging killer whales. One of the many joys of that once-in-a-lifetime trip was getting to stand watch on the bridge while the ship churned and rocked to look out for bergy bits and growlers. These small icebergs can be very dangerous to ships, because, as we all know, the tip of the iceberg is what one sees, and the mass is below water. Not a recipe for a good meeting between ship and berg.

Yesterday ended the Northeast Home Health Leadership Summit in Boston, and I could not get bergy bits and growlers off my mind as the realities about industry changes set in. At present, there are nine states that have been chosen to participate in the Value Based Purchasing trial. The baseline year for measurement for improvement in the chosen outcomes was 2015. That means that, for those nine states, their payment (reimbursement) for services in 2016 will be tied to their performance improvement in the chosen outcomes. So, the image of bergy bits and growlers in my mind is because this really is the tip of the iceberg for many home health companies. If a company does not know how they measure up against these 24 selected measures in both process and outcomes, then they have no clue as to what their reimbursement will be. Can you imagine running a business without knowing what you are getting paid for the service you are providing? That is exactly what is happening to these nine states. And, I truly believe that this pay for performance model will be extended to all healthcare in all states in the future.

So, think about being on the bridge and scanning for bergy bits and growlers as you plan for the future for your home health agency. Seems the government is serious about providing quality care at lower costs and making our population healthier as we continue down this path towards an aging society.

My latest presentation which will premiere at the MN Home Care Association’s Future of Home Care conference in Minneapolis next week is “Healthcare2030: Are You Prepared?” This interactive workshop takes the participant well into the future to envision life 15 years from now, and then backtracks to what we can do today to be prepared to meet the future. VBP is just one item that healthcare at home has to think about. Demographics, transportation, workforce, housing and technology are all pieces of the equation for the future.

Jan 15 2016

Home Care Sales and Marketing Working Together

Posted by Merrily Orsini

Home Care Sales

Deep Thoughts for a Friday

No one lives forever, and no business keeps employees forever. The shortest life span, however, for those in home care jobs are the “marketers”. In the home care industry, the employees tasked with cold calling, calling on doctors and discharge planners, and attending networking events all in order to get business, i.e., selling services, are called marketers, not sales people. Why? It seems that “selling” services that allow people to remain at home to recuperate or to age in place from frailty until death, is seen as tactless, and calling these folks marketers instead of sales people seems a better fit. And for government reimbursed services, sales are not included as a reimbursement. Creating strategy and being a community liaison in order to market home care services are OK, but direct sales or solicitation is not. So, how does a sales person/marketer get the best results? And how do those good results keep that sales person on staff longer?

That happens when marketing (strategy, branding, messaging and communication) and sales (calling, visiting, making an “ask” and following up) work together.

So what does a “Marketer” (AKA sales person) for home care services need to do to generate business? And what will keep him/her happy in the job and liking what he/she does?

First, the company needs some branding, visual appeal and a basis for design and messaging that are consistent. All communication that goes out should be consistent in design and messaging. Also, the company needs a business-wide mindset that any potential clients or referral sources are the most valuable persons in the world. The goal of the agency should be to provide the ultimate client experience, whether it is in the inquiry process or in the delivery of services, or in the sales and marketing processes.

Secondly, there must be a plan and a system in place that strives for success with goals they are attainable and some measurement so all will know when they have reached those goals.

  • A plan includes setting goals and objectives, and targeting those with the best chance of buying, or being interested in an ongoing relationship
  • The focus should be on the more high-potential opportunities, which can be high potential for revenue like 24-hour cases, or high potential for ongoing referrals, like a hospital discharge planner or a rehab facility, or an assisted living facility or Medicare certified agency that does not provide home care
  • After contact, whether inbound or outbound, consistent follow-up is needed. Plan on at least three to five meetings to get noticed and to be recognized. And, for these meetings, collateral material that is suited to the specific target and branded to the agency and provides helpful resources should be handed out. (Marketing and sales working together….)
  • When in person or on the phone, learn to listen more than talk. Really try to learn what the client or referral source needs and wants. Then use marketing to create something that will help them.
  • Ask for the business, when appropriate. Closing is hard, and that old “sales” feeling kicks in here, but you really have to ask not only for the business, but for others who might also want you to visit who might have needs.

Some people are natural “rainmakers”.  However, it is like luck and chance, those who succeed may be lucky and take advantage of chance, but usually they are where they are for a reason. Rainmakers start with a plan, take advantage of opportunities, set goals, and persist. Working with marketing first to have the right materials, the appropriate messaging, the content to deliver when necessary and the measurement in place to know when you are winning is the best way to go to market as a home care company. And, winning at sales is what keeps sales people on the job longer.

Conversely, but just as certain as over a long timeline the survival rate of everyone is eventually zero, over a long timeline when marketing and sales work together, the growth rate for the agency is bound to go upward. And be positive. And keep everyone working at the agency active and happy. Call corecubed and see what our marketing services can do to help your salespeople succeed and how much more beneficial it will be when you have marketing and sales working together.

Jan 12 2016

Does Your Business Convey These 3 Identifiers of Excellent Branding?

Posted by Merrily Orsini

A good brand draws the customer in

Branding should be professional and targeted

Once again, I find myself amidst my wonderful home care friends (in Florida this time at HCAF Winter Gathering), and as usual, our discussions naturally turn to home care marketing. Through these discussions, I’m realizing that one aspect of marketing in particular – branding – is often misunderstood. And since branding is so crucial to any business’ success, I wanted to share three quick identifiers of stellar branding that, if done correctly for your agency, will enhance the level of trust and confidence in your agency’s ability to provide the type of care families are seeking for their loved ones.

Familiarity. “I’ll know it when I see it” is something that many people feel when they’re searching for something. It is not so much the familiarity with the specific brand in home care, but the familiarity with feeling comfortable, safe, secure and trusted. A well branded agency will keep the look and feel professional but exude emotion about caring for those over for whom they have charge. Professional design and consistency are key, and when consistently using a well-developed brand, the appeal to those seeking home care is greater.

Reputation. A good reputation is built by consistent acts of excellence. The agency may have the highest level of quality and the most caring team in place, but is this being conveyed through their brand? Reputation begins with the first meeting, whether online, in a supermarket, or at a networking luncheon, and there’s only one chance to make a memorable first impression. That will happen if you have a professional brand developed and instilled throughout all marketing channels.

Impact. To better understand the impact of branding, look at it from both the buyers’ and the sellers’ perspectives. From the buyer’s perspective, the brand reinforces what the buyer will get. It should speak quality, caring, empathy, and professionalism. Your agency is just one in a long list of possible home care choices. A good brand will help your agency stand out as one that needs more exploration, resulting in more people looking at you as an option for their care choice.

From the seller’s perspective, the brand should serve to educate the potential buyer and perhaps even reduce the impact of price on the purchasing decision. Overcoming price as an objection is huge in home care. If the agency can make price less of a decision breaker, the agency can provide excellent service and get reimbursed commensurately. Having a good brand will allow you to change what you need to charge to offer excellent service to your customers.

Since 1981 I have been in home care, either as a provider or as a consultant. Branding is a service corecubed offers, and we do it in a way that makes it easy for all. Then we help you introduce it to your staff and incorporate it into all that you do.

Want better results in 2016? Try rebranding and focusing on how to best market your home care agency for success.

If you want to discuss your agency and your agency’s branding needs, contact the marketing experts at corecubed. We certainly do know how to help you develop a brand platform and execute. Happy New Year!


Dec 29 2015

Travel With Me to HCAF in Ft Lauderdale Jan 13th for a Psychological Journey with the Home Care Buyer

Posted by Merrily Orsini

Learning can be fun. Join me at HCAF Jan 13th.

Have a little fun with me in Florida at HCAF!

Take a journey with me. Take a journey to a “journey”. Wed Jan 13th I will be in Ft Lauderdale for the HCAF Winter Gathering (Home Care Association of Florida) to speak on the journey of the home care buyer. Since my sole work in marketing is currently in the aging care services field, I totally understand how agencies should best be presenting their services to achieve results. 35 years of marketing home care and being involved in the industry gives me some clout when it comes to how to do it. Understanding the psychology and behavior that is inherent in the searching and purchasing process for in-home care makes educating a vital component of the content that is necessary for a potential client to find which agency is right for the problem their loved one or client is encountering. Using the various online opportunities to share this content reaps rewards, and not only grows the client base but helps to enhance the agency’s reputation among referral sources.

The journey of the buyer of home care services is just that, a journey. There is no one answer that fits each person, and no one solution. Home care is right for some and not right for others. The psychology behind that journey, however, when understood, makes deciding how to go to market a bit easier. Although each person has a different time frame and a different issue that he or she is trying to find some solution for, there are some commonalities, and understanding where a person is in her journey will help you discuss it, provide the right information and possibly get that in-home assessment that is so vital to the sales process.

There is much more to see and hear in Florida on Jan 13th, so why not make plans today to come to the HCAF Winter Gathering. You will be glad you did!