Any professional or even casual observer in long-term care knows we need assisted living in local communities, inner-city neighborhoods. These programs assist in keeping families together and/or reasonably close to one another and strengthen urban America.
While most entrepreneurs enter this realm of commercial caregiving with the best motives and reasonably well orchestrated plans, we believe that not ignoring these 5 critical elements is crucial to success. Here they are:
1. Build Credibility with Realism
Professionals who will refer to your program from independent case managers to discharge planners in nursing homes and hospitals want to associate a person with a program. This is why an owner or a closely connected designee should be the face of the business. Knowing that a person comes from a clinical background is often helpful although not required. However, success in other previous entrepreneurial endeavors can be a real relationship stabilizer. Freely share if this is the case.
Knowing these things about you creates a recipe for credibility. Another item looked for is how much time this entrepreneur spends talking about what they need to earn or plan to earn from the assisted living business as opposed to how the program can enrich the lives of others. Perhaps profit oriented conversations can be saved for friends and investors.
Realistically if the wrong vibe is generated, building credibility is a process that can be slowed.
2. Avoid Sense of Entitlement
Imagine receiving this email: “Bruce your advocacy for adult foster care providers is impressive. However, since so many of them have served under contracts with community mental health agencies and those contracts have dried up, their perception of what they should expect from an office like mine is out of bounds. Many of them went into business one month and had a contract with one of these agencies the next month. This seemingly has created a sense of entitlement. When they approach our offices it is almost with the spirit of demanding that we figure out ways to steer patients to their homes. Perhaps discussions about this can be incorporated into some of the continuing education products you develop for them.”
How would you feel if you received that email from a chief social worker in a major urban hospital? I did in 2010. A business owner has to have a sense of responsibility. We owe it to ourselves to establish our brand, work that brand and devise a workable formula that keeps us moving forward. Perpetual motion is the creed of the successful business owner.
If you are entering the business now but still must maintain your full-time employment why not devise a schedule of 1 to 2 hours per day that you devote to moving your project forward. Put 1 or 2 specific items on each day’s roster that you will accomplish. This keeps you in the loop of what needs to be done and early on removes any sense of entitlement that could come across when you later interact with long-term care professionals.
3. Do Not Skimp on Quality
No one said there is something sinful about purchasing the leftover carpeting from the auto show to decorate your new assisted living home. But even then let’s be sure it is clean, not jagged and odor-free. Cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms should match that room’s decor. Porches, ramps, decks and landings should be well constructed and safe.
The same is true of your selection and development of personnel. They need to be trained, properly supervised and governed by enforceable guidelines. They should not be slovenly in appearance or have such incredibly low self-esteem that they cannot look residents or resident families in the eye. If you want credibility, most areas of quality cannot be skimped upon.
4. Accept Training in Customer Relations
Regardless of your pedigree or professional protocol customer service in the care business is different. It is not comparable to professional education, auto sales, cosmetic sales, property management or product distribution. Specialized, easy to complete courses in customer relations with a specific focus on long-term care can equip you to better manage:
a. Issues of Resident Privacy
b. Learning from Resident Family Dynamics
c. Diffusing Disagreements when Emotions Run High
d. Staying a Step Ahead of Potential Accusations
Such an investment demonstrates a real commitment to the success of your new endeavor.
5. Give the Growth Curve Time
The very one in a rush is often the very one who will make the most mistakes. In ideal circumstances give yourself 6-15 months to bring a project from identifying and securing real estate to licensing and being able to serve your first resident. It takes time to bring a house into licensing standards, get it furnished properly, obtain the needed insurances and develop neighborhood recognition.
Much of the time in the interim can be devoted to building your brand, chucking up the search engine ladder, refining your on-line presence and making new friends. Even if a technical advisor is leading your processes of regulatory compliance and program development, the real fun comes from being immersed in your new business agenda.
So have fun with the right temperament and a workable plan. Here is our wish that these 5 items will help take you straight to the top.
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