If there's one thing every home care agency struggles with, it's caregiver turnover. But there's another home care challenge that sits just beside turnover in priority and scale: gaining new clients.
One tried and true way to bring in new clients is to share success stories and testimonials. There's no better feeling than being able to tell others that your agency's top referral sources are your very own clients and their families. It reflects on the quality of care you provide, and gives every prospect a sense of trust in your capabilities. But getting these client referrals requires patience, tenacity and a set of strategies and tactics. We spoke with Andy Niska, owner at Love at Home Senior Care, to learn more.
What Can You Do to Start Boosting Client Referrals?
Depending on your current state of agency growth, you may not want to start trying to gain reviews and testimonials just yet. If your home care agency doesn't have a thriving business yet, it likely won't be a good approach, says Niska. You need to build your client base first, using other strategies right out of the gate.
But once you do have a strong client base, it's time to tune in.
Learn the Cues
Start understanding the cues that a client or family member is satisfied. That way, when you're speaking with a client or family member on the phone and they hint that they're happy, you can ask if they'd be interested in taking a satisfaction survey, which will help you more acutely discern future referral opportunities.
Keep it Simple
Set your surveys up for ease of use, advises Niska. "We invite people to go to our Facebook page or Google Plus page and type up something we could share. In our actual survey, we have an attachment that allows them to provide comments, giving them the opportunity to write anything, which could be a raving review," he says.
If you provide quality care and are attentive to client and family needs, your clients will be happy to provide recommendations.
"A good percentage of our mentally competent clientele are happy to take that survey. So the opportunity for us to get a recommendation is with pretty much all of our clients, if we seek it," says Niska. "If we pursue it, then we can get some form of it. Even if they're just willing to say 'we love your staff' over the phone, and that's all they say, and we ask if we can put that in writing, that's the simplest review acquisition possible."
Develop a Process
If you've never solicited reviews from clients before, getting started can be intimidating. But as long as you act the same way you've presented yourself in the past, with care and compassion, you should feel fine about asking for this piece of information. And some of the anxieties may disappear if you have a defined process in place.
"Have a process in place and act upon that process," says Niska. "Home care is a very personal, meaningful service. It's often not only the client who is the source for a review, but also their families who are so thankful for the things you're doing for them. So if you have a process, and you follow it, you will have success in obtaining referrals," he insists.
"In our industry, if you're running a good agency and hiring good people, there will be lots of opportunities for people to say thank you." It's just up to you to find and create those opportunities such that they can be shared with the rest of the world. That brings us to the next important step of increasing referrals:
Publish and Share
"We are in a much more competitive world and it's only going to get more competitive," says Niska. That competition can actually create opportunities. "It's not uncommon for us to be asked to an assessment or interview to assess us as one of two or three agencies. When we do that, I'll leave a packet that includes testimonials and other things that help us stand out. Other than that, we mostly just want to get it out there on the internet, on our site and pages. We're in a review-oriented world, so you have to have them," Niska explains.
Thwarting a Strange Challenge
Perhaps one of the more unexpected aspects of an effort to increase client referrals is that some prospects don't want to only see the positive experiences; they want to see it all.
"I've run into this twice: when a family member is shopping for a loved one, and they are ready to choose our agency over others, and they love the offering — but they want to see a negative review. They say, 'is it too good to be true? We want to choose you, but we didn't see a single negative review!'" says Niska. "Not everyone is satisfied. Things happen, and that's not uncommon. But we're resilient." And sometimes, showing that things actually do go wrong can help prospects understand just how your agency will adapt to make those things go right.