By Stephen Tweed
The other morning I was sitting on my sun porch soaking up the sun and reading. I clicked on the online version of USA Today and found a fascinating article that caught my attention. Rhonda Abrams, the founder of a company called The Planning Shop wrote “Specialize to Find Your Greatest Success.” Her opening grabbed me:
“One of the best pieces of advice I can give is this: Find a niche.
Find a specialty that immediately and clearly distinguishes you from the competition, and then get really good at it. You’ll have more customers or clients, you’ll have a leg up on competitors, and best of all, you’ll make more money.”
I always like reading people who agree with me, so I eagerly consumed the whole article. For many years I’ve been talking about the concept of Strategic Focus. My first commercially published book in 1990 was called Strategic Focus: A Gameplan for Developing Competitive Advantage.
In my speeches to home care and hospice associations, and to private duty franchise meetings, I often speak about gaining competitive advantage through specialized disease specific programs and services. In order words, carve out a niche within the home care marketplace. We have lots of examples of home care company owners who have defined specialty programs on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, heart failure, or movement disorders like Parkinson’s or MS. When you create a specialty program and market it to health care providers who specialize in that specific disease state you set yourself apart as an expert in dealing with the home care needs of their patients.
In the article, Rhonda gives you four guidelines for picking a niche. Your niche should be:
This is terrific advice and you can get more details in the article.
Applying this Principle to Home Care
To expand your business by narrowing your focus, follow these seven steps:
1. Assess your local marketplace and find out what specialty programs your competitors are offering. Find a need that is not being filled.
2. Do some research on the specific chronic diseases most frequently seen in your local marketplace.
3. Explore the home care needs of clients and families experiencing these specific disease states.
4. Determine the knowledge and skills that your caregivers and office staff will need to offer home care services that are specific to your chosen niche.
5. Design and implement training for your caregivers. Build the knowledge and skill needed into your caregiver recruiting and selection process.
6. Identify the health care providers in your local marketplace that care for patients with these diseases. Develop a marketing strategy to get your message out to those providers.
7. Track your results. Get information and data to show how your program works for your clients. Get testimonials from family members.
Then repeat the process.
Let’s look at an example. We have a client in New England who started his business a number of years ago. Before he opened his franchise he studied the home care industry, the needs of seniors, and talked with some oldest daughters. He concluded that elderly people who have had a stroke will need many hours of home care per week over a long period of time. He researched stroke, studied the needs of stroke patients and their families, and outlined his home care business model. He recruited caregivers and trained them specifically to care for stroke patients. Then he developed specialty marketing materials describing his stroke program, the benefits to clients and family, and the benefits to his referral sources.
Once he got his business started, he made sales calls on every health care professional in his community that cared for stroke patients. He talked with trusted advisers such as bank trust officers, elder law attorneys, and geriatric care managers about caring for stroke patients.
Almost immediately, these referral sources said, “Why yes, I have a client who has had a stroke and they could benefit from your services. I’ll give them your brochure.” He got his first client in the first week. That client’s daughter told the members of her stroke support group, and he got more inquiries. Two years later he had a very successful and growing home care business focusing on stroke clients. And then a doctor said, “Gee, you are doing a great job with my stroke patients. I have a patient with Parkinson’s disease and he needs some help at home. Can you help him?”
And so they developed a second specialty program around Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. And the business continues to grow.
Many home care business owners are afraid to focus because they are afraid of losing clients who are outside their niche. But our experience is proven by these examples. When you focus, you expand.
To help you learn about creating specialty program, we have two recorded web conferences available through The Academy for Private Duty Home Care®.
“Building a Specialty Program for Parkinson’s Patients” with Katherine Autin and “What Your Caregivers Need to Know to Provide Disease Specific Programs and Services” with Ginny Kenyon.
You can view these recorded web conferences for Free if you are a Premium Member of The Academy for Private Duty Home Care® just by logging in to the web site at the “my account” button in the upper right hand corner. If not, you can purchase them on a Pay Per View basis at The Academy Story.
Go for it. Narrow Your Focus and Expand Your Business.