Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” When it comes to your aging care business, the real thing (or tree) is what everyone at your company does every day – every interaction with clients and their loved ones – from simple telephone conversations to in-depth provisions of service to clients receiving your invoices in the mail. The shadow (your company’s reputation) is how your customers feel about those interactions, how they rate their interactions with you, and what they say about your business to others online and off.
When running any business, but particularly an aging care business that provides very personal services to people and families who are often in crisis or coping with decline, reputation can make or break your success. Bad reputations now spread like fire in today’s social media-saturated world. With new businesses entering the aging care services marketplace weekly, those who continually seek, implement, provide and then showcase quality are the only ones who will bring in new business, grow and profit. Managing your reputation online and off is more important than ever before.
The 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study reports that an agency’s reputation is the #1 reason consumers choose one home care agency over another. The next two top reasons consumers report choosing a home care company are referrals from family and friends, and then from referral sources. These next two reasons also have to do with reputation: how the agency performs, and how people perceive the agency.
How Does a Reputation Get Made?
Your reputation has a lot to do how well you perform, of course, but it’s also about how you market your business. The following all play a role in determining whether an agency gets a gold star from clients:
- Differentiation: How do you stand out from the crowd? What can your agency offer that others can’t?
- Positioning: Are you marketing yourself as an expert in the home care industry? When potential clients visit your website, read your blog, pick up your brochures, or call your office will their questions about care be answered?
- Over time: A reputation isn’t built overnight. A good reputation is built and solidified over time.
- Consistent communication: Are you emailing your leads, referral sources and clients regularly? Are you staying top of mind? Consistent communication is vital to help build a strong reputation.
- Branded everything: Your brand is the visual reputation of your business. All your marketing materials must be branded to retain the recognition you’ve been working to build.
- Walking the talk: Of course the biggest aspect of your reputation is walking the talk. Saying you provide expert services means very little if you can’t back it up with quality caregivers and professional, compassionate care. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
How Can Your Agency Earn a Great Reputation?
Home care is still a hands-on, people-to-people business, and most seniors want to remain independent at home for as long as possible, which is great for the home care industry as a whole; however, competition for clients is fierce. Earning a great reputation in today’s market means that your service to clients must be high quality and delivered safely and effectively and your marketing must grab attention of potential clients and generate interest for your agency.
Want to find out more about our MOST marketing program and how it has helped agencies across the country build stellar reputations and increase their business? Visit the MOST marketing site or contact us for more information!