8 Small Changes that Can Help Your Business
Reputation is everything. Build yours with these steps.
Do you own a care-related business, such as a day care, kennel or senior care facility? Business owners like you are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. But those ways don't have to be expensive or costly.
Mary O’Gara, a senior care expert and Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFC, CMC, executive director of Elder Care Services in Walnut Creek, Calif., offer their tips on small changes you can make to help your business become more successful.
Listening to your clients is an imperative part of operating a successful business. O’Gara cites this as the best change any owner can make. You need to learn about each client as a person. What's his/her story? Ask questions about the problems the person faces. This will help you and your staff provide personalized care and help make them feel more at ease.
Hire the Right People
Your staff is a reflection of you, so make sure they are all providing top-notch care at all times. “Be sure to supervise and give good training to your caregivers,” shares Fodrini-Johnsons. “Check in with families for quality standards. Have a time-card system that is electronic to prove time of arrival and departure.”
- Be Attentive
One of the most obvious red flags that stands out to people when choosing a business is inattentiveness. Are you and your staff putting your customers first? “Texting, checking emails and playing games could send red flags,” O’Gara says. Make sure your staff members are engaged in their jobs and don't look like they're goofing off or not paying attention to clients. If they need personal time to check their email, phone and return calls, ask them to request a break.
Answer the Phone
Fodrini-Johnson recommends paying extra attention to your phones. “Have caring, smart people answering the phones and taking the request for the services, or you will lose business. First impressions are big.”
Make sure everyone answers the phone professionally, with a standard greeting like: "Hello, [name of business], this is [person's name], how may I help you."
If you have an answering service, call and check on it regularly to make sure your customers are getting a professional experience.
If a current or potential customer leaves you a voicemail or sends you an email, return it promptly. If people have to wait for a response, they're likely to give up and move on to your competitor. If you're going to be unavailable, ask a knowledgeable employee to handle responding to requests.
Join Groups and Organizations
Businesses can always take advantage of traditional marketing channels, like print and visual media, but there are many other options available that are inexpensive, yet effective.
“This is a relationship business -- those most successful are already known in the community,” says Fodrini-Jackson. Get involved in local networking groups in your industry and/or serve on a nonprofit board that serves the same community. Become a part of other organizations that benefit your customers. Getting your name known will bring people to your business.
Talk to Other Businesses
Reach out to other professionals who provide services in the same industry, such as elder lawyers, pediatricians or veterinarians. Let them know about your business, so they can pass that information on to their clients.
Display Your Accomplishments
People want a sense of reassurance when they turn to a caregiving business. Make them feel at ease by prominently displaying your credentials. “Your education and license demonstrate your professional standards,” states Fodrini-Johnson, and they should be where customers can see them.
If you belong to important industry organizations, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, display those connections as well. They will be reassuring to families.
Additionally, follow up with past clients and add testimonials to your company’s website. “Obtain recommendations from other patients. Consider what unique services you offer,” O’Gara says.
Building a caregiving business is hard work, but the rewards are worth it. Take pride in the smallest details and ensure your employees do the same so you build a reputation worthy of recommendation. The return of customers and word of mouth will be worth the extra effort.
Alaina Brandenburger is a freelance writer living in Denver.