The COVID-19 emergency has meant different things to different organizations. For home care giant ComForCare, it has meant pivoting to new ways of approaching recruitment and onboarding.
Owned by New York-based private equity firm Riverside Company, ComForCare is a home care franchise organization that has over 200 independently owned and operated locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Since the start of the public health emergency, ComForCare implemented the use of TextRecruit as a part of its recruitment process. The platform has allowed the franchiser to reach out to potential caregivers through text message, creating a crucial new line of communication at a time when applicants may be feeling overwhelmed.
“This is an additional form of communication to get in touch with our applicants,” Lauren LaParl, human resources program manager at ComForCare, told Home Health Care News. “We know that people are getting inundated with phone calls and emails. And especially with COVID-19, there was so much communication going on. TextRecruit became a way for our owners to be able to easily and quickly send a text to an applicant or any candidate in their system.”
ComForCare has been handling everything from scheduling interviews to sending out basic company information via text. The shift to text messaging during the recruitment process has yielded favorable results for the company thus far, particularly compared to emails and phone calls, according to LaParl.
“We’ve seen really great success in terms of response rate,” she said. “With email or phone calls, the response rates are usually quite a bit slower. The person needs to have more thoughtful responses, or they’re not near their email or their phone. But most of us have that text communication close.”
As COVID-19 spelled the end of traditional networking, ComForCare also began strategizing about new ways to tap into a pool of caregiver candidates.
Social media became one alternative to network and recruitment events.
“We used to encourage our owners to get out in the community, find different colleges or programs in the area to network with and to help build your recruitment,” LaParl said. “We often talk about how recruitment is similar to marketing, in that networking is so important. We unfortunately can’t use those more traditional techniques, so we’ve been focused on leveraging social media to share those jobs.”
ComForCare owners are more frequently using social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to promote job openings, for example.
“Whether it’s their personal or business social media pages, they can share that job to help boost their network, boost the visibility of the job and, in turn, increase the number of applicants,” LaParl said. “It has allowed us to continue to network, but in a way where we’re doing it virtually with our social media networks.”
Like the majority of its peers, ComForCare has also begun leaning on virtual interviews held through online meeting platforms.
With this shift, it was important not to lose the personal connection when it comes to recruitment, according to LaParl.
“We know how important it is to have that connection with your job seeker,” she said. “We always talk about how when you’re doing that virtual interview, it can really be a nice process for both the candidate and the owner. Your candidate can feel a little bit more comfortable at home. On the other side, whoever’s doing the interviewing can easily take notes and shorten their time when it comes to the recruitment process.”
Since implementing virtual interviews, ComForCare has held a series of internal webinars to educate and keep owners up to date when it comes to processes.
In addition to the success ComForCare has seen with the COVID-19-related revamp of its recruitment process, it has also been a fruitful time for franchise sales.
“We have actually seen, during this period of time, the sell of franchises to new owners has really been a popular choice for people who are looking to invest in a business,” Bobbie Doe, director of human resources at ComForCare, told HHCN. “I think it’s because it is a recession-proof business, and something that people feel confident in during difficult economic times like this. It’s a needed service that won’t go away.”
Overall, the company has opened 42 franchise locations across all brands this year.
The company is also seeing its current owners grow their businesses, according to Doe.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, things may have slowed initially, but we have remained pretty steady throughout,” she said. “After the initial spike in COVID, business actually started to take an upturn again. With senior care communities having to restrict admissions, there became more of a need for people to remain in their home and they needed home care.”
During the public health emergency various ComForCare locations began performing health screenings for local businesses and their workers.
This became another revenue generator, according to Doe.
“Some of our franchisees actually picked up those contracts to basically employ our caregivers to take temperatures and do the health screenings of their employees,” she said.