7 Profitability Secrets Every Home Health Care Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Home Health Care Profitability Secrets

The home health care industry is growing. Grandview Research predicts a 7.9% growth rate through 2027 due to factors including an aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases, and increasing adoption of aging in place principles. While a lot is unknown about COVID-19 and its impact, there is reason to believe the long-term impact of the disease may also increase home health care needs.

So how can in-home care providers take advantage of this incredible growth? Tackling some of the major obstacles, and capitalizing on opportunities is key.

SECRET #1 – Hire & Retain Qualified Staff
Hiring and retaining staff is a top concern of home health care agencies. Even with rising unemployment, finding staff with the right skills and retaining them is a high priority. Losing employees affects morale and productivity and may cost your business from one half to two times the employee’s annual salary. According to AFLAC, 47% of employees will look for a new job in the next 12 months due to confusion or dissatisfaction with benefits.

What Can You Do?
Take time with the onboarding process and be sure explain benefits when a new person joins the team. Create an onboarding checklist to make sure you cover topics that are important to the business and the employee. Offering ongoing training and development opportunities is another great way to support your team but it can’t be random. Have each employee create a development plan and help them get the resources and schedule the time needed to fulfill it.

SECRET #2 – Navigate PGDM & Other Regulations
With the implementation of the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PGDM) in 2020, some organizations have seen a reduction in the number of visits allowed, and a need for increased follow-ups to get the right billing codes from physicians.

What Can You Do?
As regulations change or new programs are implemented, ramp up your training and create videos so staff can access operational information easily. Create a one-page summary with the important facts and procedures so the process is clear.

SECRET #3 – Implement Technology
The fast pace of technological change in the health care industry is something every health care business is grappling with. Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) is not new, but ensuring that records are entered accurately, and exceptions are addressed is essential for timely payment and compliance.

What Can You Do?
Most people struggle with change, so create a plan for technology changes with a clear timeline and involve the team in the process. Consider getting help with technology implementation and with time-consuming tasks that take you away from your customers. To reduce billing errors, some home health care agencies are outsourcing the coding of their charts to improve accuracy. Many organizations are moving to cloud-based accounting tools and outsourcing their bookkeeping and payroll to improve payment cycles and keep their team focused on service delivery.

SECRET #4 – Grow Your Referral Sources
Home health services continue to grow in acceptance within the healthcare system, so expect more referrals from doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Greater awareness of the benefits and options for home care means opportunities to collaborate on patient care, education, community engagement, and more.

What Can You Do?
Consider ways to partner and expand your referral sources with hospitals, doctors, senior living communities, and other health professionals. Get your team out networking in the community to grow referrals and create a development opportunity. Build a partner email list and map out some partner-specific communications. Connect with partners on social media pages and groups to maximize your reach.

SECRET #5 – Make Your Website Research Friendly
Studies show 70-80% of people research services online before they contact a company to learn more or purchase. This means your website needs to have all the important information providers, patients, and families need to understand your services and take the next step to contact you.

What Can You Do?
To make sure your website performs well in search results, create compelling website content that answers the top questions providers and consumers ask. Make sure your website clearly defines what makes your home care service unique from the others. A chart listing features is a great visual to highlight your strengths. Pictures and videos of the team help potential customers get to know you. Ask for feedback to make sure your website is easy to read and navigate.

SECRET #6 – Prepare for COVID-19 Patients

Some patients with COVID-19 experience lengthy hospital stays, and others are feeling the effects of the virus for months, which means home care services will be needed for a broad range of health issues. Growing healthcare needs during a pandemic is both a challenge and an opportunity.

What Can You Do?
If you don’t already have a strong pipeline of potential staff this is a great time to strengthen your recruitment plans. Where have you found the best employees in the past? How can your networking efforts boost referrals and staff? Develop the training, resources, and education needed to support patients recovering from COVID-19.

SECRET #7 – Adopt the Right Tools
Outfitting your team with the right tools can improve service delivery, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Tools might include documentation like a procedure manual, and forms, as well as supplies needed for care visits, phones, tablets, and other technology. Some home health care agencies are deploying small portable printers to enable providers to print medication lists, therapy instructions, and more.

What Can You Do?
Whether you are considering new manuals, forms, hardware or software, do a quick cost/benefit analysis before investing in new tools by estimating the actual or opportunity costs and the benefit in time saved or increased visits. For example, if you ask one of your senior care providers to update procedure documentation, the cost associated is revenue not realized while he or she is working on the project. If you are purchasing printers, the expense affects your cash, or credit position. When implementing new tools consider a phased approach to test the product, the workflow, and engage the team in the process.

Which of these is most important for your business?  Take the next step and schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

 

Working with TWA has been such a pleasure. The staff is friendly and extremely knowledgeable about various tax needs and services. Our transition to TWA from our previous CPA could not have gone more smoothly. I would highly recommend making them part of your business team.      Joanna

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Build Your Small Business Team

small business team

As a small business owner, you wear many hats and you need a supportive small business team to help you achieve your goals.

Consider adding these  resources to your team and get the advice and assistance you need to succeed.

Find a Financial Planner
According to Investopedia.com, only 40% of small businesses currently use a financial planner. Before you take your financial future in your hands, consider how a financial planner can help:

-Provide expert advice
-Support your financial goals
-Reduce taxes
-Connect you with other experts, i.e. legal, insurance, banking

Consider finding an expert who:

-Understands your industry
-Has a history of working with small business owners
-Is a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) with a clear fee structure, i.e., fee-only advisor
-Has a list of referrals with good reviews
-Offers a personalized experience that is specific to you

Join an Industry Association
Consider joining an industry association and attending events in order to expand your knowledge, learn tips and trends, and network with others to help expand your business’ reach. Belonging to an industry association also helps establish credibility for yourself and your business so don’t forget to update your website and Linked In profile with your membership. If you have an opportunity to be part of an industry directory, this may provide a valuable link to your website and improve your website authority.

Pick a consistent way to stay connected whether though monthly meetings, networking events, or education. Look for opportunities to contribute, for example, write a blog post or an article for the newsletter.

Be Active in Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Joining a chamber of commerce is a great networking, marketing, credibility, and money saving opportunity for small businesses. Your chamber of commerce most likely provides classes and partnership opportunities, and may provide leads groups and other connection options. Find a regular way to connect so you can get to know people. Some chambers are having zoom networking and education sessions.

In addition to networking, chamber membership adds weight to your name and makes customers more likely to purchase from your business because you are involved in a credible association. Look into opportunities to market your business through social media, events, or advertising. And consider offering a member discount to other businesses in the organization. Building local relationships is a great way to increase awareness and referrals in the community, and tap into experts you may want to add to your small business team.

Utilize the Small Business Administration
Most likely, you have heard of the Small Business Administration, however, have you taken full advantage of their services and resources? The SBA provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise and is a helpful go-to resource for small businesses. Connect with your local office for answers to questions and guidance on SBA programs and resources.

Checkout the SBA website to find financial program information on Corona Virus relief, the status of the PPP program, disaster relief, and more. In addition, the SBA website has a business planning section and courses to help you plan and grow your small business.

Find a Lawyer Before You Need One
If you are just setting up your business, you may want a lawyer to consult on business formation, contracts, leases, or other agreements. And, depending on the kind of work you do, you may want to identify a lawyer with experience in your industry, for example, construction projects, or healthcare.

A lawyer can help you:

-Protect your business from litigation
-Incorporate your business
-Sell your business
-Create partnership agreements
-Advise you on human resource situations

While many business owners find template legal agreements and opinions online, don’t risk your business. Find a lawyer before you need one, so you’ll have expert help when you need it.

Get Assistance from an Accountant

An accountant will not only help support your business goals but can also help reduce errors, improve planning, and reduce financial management expense. Get assistance from an accountant with critical aspects of your finances, including:

-Payroll
-Bookkeeping
-Tax Planning
-Statement Preparation
-Budgeting

Make sure your finances are in order so you can have an accurate financial picture, make sound decisions, and have peace of mind.

T. Williams and Associates is devoted to helping small businesses experience financial success by providing friendly, professional support at reasonable rates. If you have accounting questions, or would like to learn more about our accounting services, contact us for a free consultation, we’d love to be on your small business team.

Budget Guide for Starting Your Business

budget guide

For all stages of business growth, it’s important to track income and expenses and maintain a budget to accurately track the amount of cash on hand. But we often hear from new business owners that they don’t know how to set up a budget or create projections for their business.  In this guide, we will explain some common budgeting terms, highlight a few tips for planning budget and income projections, and explain some tools that can help you achieve your goals.

Track All  Income Sources – Most businesses have multiple streams of income. For example, your income may include, online sales, monthly contracts, and one-time projects. Or you may sell products through wholesale and retail channels. As an owner, it’s important to understand which products and services are making money.

Organizing services/sectors of a business in terms of revenue will help you understand the big revenue picture and dig into trends by product or service type, and year-over-year performance. For example, a landscaping service might have current year revenue growth, but flat or decreasing revenue in their most profitable service.

By looking at income details, you’ll also see the areas of the business that are experiencing growth so you can ramp up in that area. Once you have a good current year picture, estimate income based on projected growth for future years. Next let’s consider fixed costs.

Plan Fixed Costs – Not all expenses will fit into the same category. Fixed costs are expenses that do not change with an increase or decrease in the amount of goods/services produced or sold. Some examples of fixed costs may include: rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance, internet, work/cell phones, and accounting services. Reviewing past bank statements is a good way to create an initial list of fixed costs.

Consider whether fixed costs increase at some point due to product/service growth. For example, will you need to hire another person? And, don’t forget to create a fixed cost category to build an emergency fund. Once you have estimated fixed costs, the next step is to predict your variable costs.

Predict Variable costs– Variable costs are expenses that increase or decrease depending on the amount or goods or services sold. Some examples of variable expenses include, raw materials, direct labor costs, marketing costs, and transportation. Reviewing the costs needed for your business to sell a product or service, is a good way to start estimating variable costs for your budget.

Use your variable cost information to project expenses for the future based on your income growth projections. Consider whether some unit costs, e.g., raw materials, may decrease with greater volume due to purchase discounts.

Consider One-Time Purchases – Every business will have to allocate funds for purchases that aren’t fixed or variable. These are considered one-time purchases and planning these expenses can make or break a business. One-time purchases include items such as computers, software, and equipment. Businesses can plan these expenses by tracking equipment and other major purchases and predicting the timeframe for upgrades and new items the business will need as it expands. Constantly evaluating this category of expenses will help you build a budget that minimizes surprise expenses.

Building income and expense projections enables you to better track and manage your finances. There are also a variety of tools and apps that can help business owners create projections and track their budget for free.

Budgeting Tools

–Score’s Projection Spreadsheet will help you forecast income and expenses in an excel spreadsheet.

–Personal Capital is an app that provides a view of your financial accounts while also making suggestions for users. These suggestions include nudging investors into saving for long-term subsidiaries such as 401ks and college saving plans.

–Mint is another app that can be useful for business owners. Mint focuses on monthly budgets, evaluates spending and evaluates credit card debt. These features allow owners to stick to their budgets and allows owners to constantly evaluate spending habits.

— Credit Karma offers access to credit reports and also offers an explanation about your credit score and gives examples of how your credit score can affect loans, credit cards and other services.

These are just a few free tools that owners can use to improve their results and stay on top of their budgets. Wherever you are in your income and expense planning, we are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation.

How to Plan a Marketing Campaign without a Marketing Team

Small Business Marketing

Whether you are launching a new product or service, or simply looking to  revamp your brand image, it is important to have well planned marketing campaign strategy. Without a background in marketing or an expert on your team, it may seem intimidating to create a marketing campaign. However, we have created a short list of steps for you to start your journey to developing a successful marketing campaign.

Determine Your Goals
When developing a plan, use the S.M.A.R.T acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) to determine how to measure your marketing campaign. Are you looking to gain a following? Maybe you want to promote your product and create brand awareness, or increase sales and revenue?

Whatever your end goal, document the goal, the timeframe, and how you’ll measure success; i.e., leads, website traffic, followers. Validate the goals and get input from team members who are involved in planning or executing the next steps.

Select a Target Audience
Most likely, your business already has a target audience that resonates with your brand. Your target audience is defined by demographics such as age, location, gender, education, employment, hobbies, and other characteristics including behavior, and purchase history.

Are you targeting loyal customers, new customers, or those who haven’t purchased in a while? Consider breaking your larger audience into segments so you can make unique offers for each audience segment.

Develop a clear message
Maybe you are launching a new service, product, or aiming to highlight what your business already offers. Make sure your campaign messages address the unique problems your demographic may face. When planning your campaign, develop content that resonates with the stage your audience is in. If you are creating brand awareness, create content that is clear and introduces who you are. If you are connecting with current consumers, make sure they are aware of why they should upgrade to your new product or service. Regardless of what your S.M.A.R.T goals are, it is imperative that your campaign conveys a cohesive call to action and guides the customer to a response.

Pick Channels & Determine Campaign Budget
When deciding on how to reach an intended audience, take a moment to consider your goals and marketing campaign budget. If you are working on a tight budget, consider an online campaign.

Take time to research digital campaign options which might include, display ads, reaching out to influencers, promoting your blog, or implementing other digital methods to spread your message. Depending on your audience and budget, it may be beneficial to include traditional print, mail, television, radio, or local advertising.

Monitor and Modify
Based on campaign goals, establish ways to monitor results. For instance, you may measure your success based on organic websites visits, the number of sales you obtain, or simply the number of email addresses you collect. Regardless of what your method of defining success is, make sure to watch these metrics throughout the duration of your campaign. If you are not receiving the results you desire, consider adjusting the messaging, delivery, or offers in your marketing campaign.

The Key to a Great Marketing Plan is to Be Consistent
Similar to exercising, you will not be able to clearly see results immediately. Once your campaign has run its course, take the time to analyze your results and apply what worked to your next campaign. In order to see the full benefits of your marketing, continue to create marketing materials and measure their success. Marketing is all about learning and connecting with individuals, so remember to be consistent and intentional with your campaigns.

T. Williams & Associates is devoted to helping small business experience financial success by providing friendly, professional support at reasonable rates. Let us know how we can help.

How to Make Your Small Business Part of the Community

Look at the news across America, and you will see instances of racial tension, division, and financial struggles, in the midst of a pandemic. Small businesses are essential to the health and vitality of our communities, so let’s consider how we can strengthen community connections.

Start with a quick assessment to evaluate customer and community touch points. What’s working well? What are some areas for improvement?  How do you, as a business owner, interact with your clients? What’s happening in your community and how are you connecting?

Below are four ways to build connections and rapport with your community, partners, and customers.

Get to Know Your Customers
What do you know about your customers? Review purchase history, customer service processes, and reviews to look for trends. Get direct feedback from customers to help identify any issues.

Next, consider ways to improve the customer experience. Maybe you have noticed that your clients are calling before you open, you might need to adjust your hours. Or if you have non-English speaking customers, you could offer translations of signage and important documents and information.

Connect with Customer’s Culture
Think about ways to integrate the culture of your customers and the community into your business processes.  For companies in the home health care industry, find caregivers that share a similar background with clients. By having someone on your team that speaks the same language, understands traditions, or shares meals from their culture, you can smooth the transition time.

The same efforts can be applied to other industries as well. Celebrate holidays that resonate with customers and the community by offering specials, promotions, or creating events.  Also, make sure communications, website, and promotions reflect your audience in photography, language, and accessibility.

Outside of your establishment, consider collaborating with a local school or event in the community. By interacting with the community and recognizing how important they are, you will be able to embrace customer’s values and build a connection.

Consult Experts
If you find it that your customers have different demographics or culture than yourself, consider hiring and/or seeking counsel from someone your customers can resonate with. For example, no one can understand a teenager better than another teen. Hiring directly from the community you serve can help you connect with your customers and avoid making costly and offensive mistakes.

Be Authentic
If you are motivated with genuine interest in connecting and learning about your client’s culture, you will create trust, loyalty, and referrals. Ask your customers how you can improve, and accept feedback without defensiveness.

A business that welcomes customer input and works to correct any issues will improve their customer retention rate and reduce customer acquisition cost. Studies show that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.

What ways are you finding to address cultural, economic, and health issues in your community?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments or on social media.

Improving Worker Retention for Small Business

worker retention

Small businesses are often plagued with high turnover rates and business owners may not understand why. High turnover rates have a big impact on leaders by shifting their focus to day-to-day operational tasks, scheduling, and finding replacement employees.

Not only does turnover cost a business owner time, it can also cost a significant amount to recruit and train new employees. According to a report by the Centers for American Progress, “Turnover can cost anywhere from 16% to 213% of the lost employee’s salary.” High turnover rates can also be associated with low worker productivity.

If you are struggling to retain employees, here are a few ways to reduce turnover and improve productivity.

1. Improve Onboarding – Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into the organization. A successful onboarding process involves educating the employee about the business and their role, providing the training, resources, and tools they need to be successful, filling out required paperwork, introducing them to staff and partners, and answering questions. Some companies assign a peer to help answer questions and provide additional training. A checklist is a great way to ensure onboarding happens consistently. The investment in onboarding helps ensure employees have everything they need to be successful in their new role.

2. Build Strong Relationships – It’s crucial to establish strong relationships of mutual respect with employees, and among peers. Harvard Business Review research suggests people tend to quit on their bosses and not their job. As a business owner, it’s essential to connect with employees, to get to know them, provide feedback, listen to their ideas, and help with tasks they may be struggling with.  Also, asking employees for their input and opinions on how to improve productivity and satisfaction in the office can go a long way toward creating a sense of belonging. Avoid issues like lack of information, unrealistic timeframes, or arguing and blaming when a mistake is made. Stress is a big contributor to lack of productivity and job satisfaction.

3. Create an Engaging Experience – Most of us tend to lose interest in tasks easily and aren’t inclined to work harder when tasks become too repetitive. While it’s not the job of a business owner to keep employees entertained, recognizing good work, highlighting why the work matters, and showing employees how they contribute to the business can be a very beneficial way to engage employees. Improve teamwork by setting goals and offering “rewards” for completing goals. These rewards don’t have to be big, provide lunch, or use $10 gift cards to recognize good work. By creating a positive atmosphere, you’ll increase productivity and decrease the likelihood of turnover.

As many businesses are encouraging employees to work from home, some may struggle with being productive. Here are some ways to improve work-from-home productivity.

4. Create a Dedicated Workspace – Having a dedicated workspace will help employees feel prepared and empowered. It will also feel more like an office setting when a worker sets up an area where everything is centralized. When setting up a designated space, it’s important to find an area that limits distractions, is comfortable, provides storage and access to any other resources needed.

5. Encourage Remote Check-ins – Whether by phone, text, or video, encouraging check-ins between team members is a great way to increase productivity. It’s also important for managers to check in with employees. Team meetings and personal video conferences help employees feel more connected to their job and provide a forum to resolve issues workers may be struggling with at home. Meetings are also an opportunity to gain feedback from the team, to see what’s working, what’s not working, and what can be done to meet the organization’s goals.

6. Prioritize Personal Connections – It’s difficult in today’s environment to get together for lunch or happy hour, but get creative and find ways to build relationships with your team while following social distancing guidelines. Try a video lunchtime, or if you’re maxed out on video calls, send a card, or a note in the mail just for fun. Periodically call or text to see how your employees are doing. Personal interactions can be simple and are an important way to communicate each person’s value to the team.

While the pandemic puts unusual constraints on how we do our work, creating a positive, productive work environment and continually adjusting processes to meet the needs of your team, will help keep turnover low. A happy team that’s performing well will keep your customers happier too.