When it comes to increasing revenue, home-based care agencies will always have an advantage in the markets they serve, because they will never be capped by a room or bed count like facility-based settings.
But revenue plateaus are still very common in the space and something that torments agencies nationwide, whether operators are looking to grow revenues by a few thousand dollars or upwards of $1 million.
When there’s a barrier stymying an agency’s growth, its leaders should step back and see where they may be handicapping themselves, Shelle Womble, the home care sales and operations coach for corecubed, said at the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) Virtual Leadership Conference last week.
“What do we bottleneck in our business that’s creating this plateau?” Womble said. “What kinds of investments do we need to make, and what resources do we need to infuse into the business?”
The aging care marketing company corecubed specializes in assisting home care companies with content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media engagement, among other things.
Revenue plateaus generally come with warning signs. Recognizing those could be vital in curtailing an elongated period of stunted growth.
Those usually include sending office staff to cover a case, seeing hiring levels decline, not seeing net growth in the caregiver or clientele rosters and weekly inquiries drying up, according to Womble.
“[Another] red flag for me is key employees starting to get too comfortable and almost bored with their job,” Eric Pumfrey, the CEO and founder of Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, also said at the HCAOA conference. “Another indicator is when you notice that your hours are stagnating. … You’re stuck between 9,000 or 9,500 hours per week, for example, and you just cannot seem to make it over that 10,000-hour mark.”
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care operates out of four offices in southwest Michigan and offers customized in-home care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and home-safety assessments as part of its business.
Abiding by the mantra from “Fields of Dreams,” agencies should hire for the level of census they want to have, not what they have right now — “build it, and they will come.”
When looking to avoid a revenue plateau, providers should build their staff out for growth and not attrition, Womble said. Building a staff above an agency’s current need can create an influx of new clients.
“Any time an agency tells me its sales are stalling or plateauing, the first thing I look at is its last year’s worth of new hires and net hires — how many people it’s maintaining,” Womble said.
Without enough capable workers, expecting one’s business to grow is unrealistic. Hiring for where you want your business to be, as opposed to where it’s at, can push a company over that plateau.
“If you hire to maintain, that’s exactly what you’ll do — [maintain],” Pumfrey said. “Hire as many qualified candidates as you can.”
The next strategy is for an agency to bolster its marketing and sales efforts.
Developing and implementing a detailed sales plan, investing in SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) strategies and building strong relationships with referral sources are all good places to start.
Taking a look at an agency with a pair of fresh eyes is another strategy, but it also helps with the other ways to breakthrough. Sometimes when a company is plateauing, bringing in consultants to aid in the effort can go a long way.
Hiring an expert can validate the things a company is doing well and also expose issues that may be baked into workflow or the business plan that may be hard to recognize internally.
Finally, an agency needs to find out how it can expand its market. Acquiring competitors in other markets, reevaluating artificial barriers that an agency is putting on itself or simply hiring a salesperson in a new market without opening an office are all ways to begin exploring a larger market.
“One of the most simple things you can do as an owner of a company is to reevaluate any kind of restrictions you’re putting on your agency right now,” Womble said.