Similar to some of its peers, Griswold Home Care is building its own “test kitchens” to experiment with new programs for clients and caregivers. The home care franchiser is doing so while simultaneously refocusing its related foundation.
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Griswold provides personal care services across 168 locations in 29 states. The franchiser also offers hospice care at some of its locations.
Last September, Christina Sommerfield was hired as Griswold’s vice president of company-owned offices, a unique position for the home care franchising world. Broadly, these offices function as test kitchens for recruitment automation and operational models.
Caregiver recruitment and retention has historically been one of the biggest challenges in the home care industry — and it’s a hurdle that has only grown larger amid the COVIID-10 pandemic. One of the things Griswold has zeroed in on with its test kitchens is its caregiver conversion rate, CEO Michael Slupecki told Home Health Care News.
“We think there’s more opportunity in converting more applicants to caregivers than necessarily driving more applicants,” he said. “We’ve significantly streamlined the paperwork aspect of [the hiring process].”
In the past, Slupecki has been fond of saying that providers should adopt an “Amazon Prime mentality” when it comes to caregiver recruitment. In other words, in an age when services allow people to order products and receive them quickly, the recruitment and onboarding process should keep up with the times.
In terms of the employment process, Griswold is focused on condensing the time frame and the number of pre-employment “touches.” So far, the company has been able to shorten the time it takes to hire an applicant by ten days while tripling its recruitment-conversion rate.
The company’s test kitchens are also tackling reengagement, according to Slupecki.
“We’ve gotten success by pinging [potential caregivers] with specific information,” he said. “‘We have a shift available in this area and on this time day.’ We don’t have to go through the same paperwork with somebody that’s worked for us in the past. If it’s close by and it fits in their schedule, all they got to do is click ‘yes.’ We’ve had good success filling in some shifts that would otherwise have gone empty.”
For Griswold, test kitchens have been a space for trial and error. The company has more room to explore new ideas and walk through the drawbacks and benefits.
“We’re doing these things, and we’re learning our lessons because we didn’t do it right the first time,” Slupecki said. “When we tweak it, we have more success. That’s the whole idea of a test kitchen.”
The test kitchen concept has gained a lot of momentum in the home care space over the past few years.
In 2019, home care franchise Right at Home, for example, added some corporate-owned locations to its portfolio. Since then, the company has utilized these locations as test sites for new technologies and operational models.
Slupecki views Griswold’s company-owned test kitchens as an advantage that favors the franchise business model.
“For us to be effective, we have to do things well,” he said. “I don’t want to have the question of ‘how did it work for you’ posed to me, with my response being, ‘I don’t know.’ That’s what it feels like when you didn’t have your own stores.”
The downside of taking a more traditional pilot approach is less room to test out multiple models — while working out the kinks — at once, according to Slupecki.
Aside from its focus on its company-owned locations, Griswold also has plans to add 15 new franchise locations this year. The company has added five new locations since Slupecki joined as CEO in February 2020.
“We have a targeted campaign right now for some open markets in Florida,” Slupecki said. “We have one franchisee in California. I know California is a crazy state with respect to employment law. … It’s a challenging business environment, but you’re not just going to not go.”
Additionally, the company has thrown significant effort behind revamping Griswold’s Jean Griswold Foundation.
Currently, the foundation is in the process of transitioning to a public nonprofit with a focus on supporting caregivers. This includes financial assistance and educational advancement scholarships.
Funds from the foundation will be given to caregivers that desire to make a career transition to roles such as certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. The foundation has also earmarked funds for caregivers who are experiencing financial hardships.
The restructuring of the Jean Griswold Foundation is slated to be completed in the next few months.