According to a recent report, the home care industry is expected to generate revenue of over $390 billion in 2021. While this rapid growth will offer home care providers an abundance of new business opportunities, it will also inevitably spark an influx of yet more competition.
The success of your home care agency in this crowded market will clearly depend on many factors, including empowering your agency with a complete home care automation solution.
An annual study (sponsored by Home Care Pulse and the Home Care Association of America), reports that a key factor and top strategic priority for most home care agencies is ‘to increase the number of clients’.
Get the word out
In order to continue growing your home care business, you must promote your agency to those who need to know about it. If you aren’t getting the word out about why people should choose your agency over others, you’re going to fall behind in the race to win those new clients.
Smart home care providers understand the huge competitive advantage of using their software platform and coming up with creative ways to find and engage families that are in need of their services.
However, as with all areas of your business, trying to build your client base without first putting a detailed plan in place, is like setting out on a road trip without a map. You will have limited success if you only have a broad idea of where you’d like to go, and don’t know exactly how you are going to get there.
Targeting plan of action
Some necessary steps to being prepared and having a plan of action for finding new clients should include:
- planning exactly how you are going to target potential new clients
- identifying the resources you will need (including people)
- setting up your home care software to support tracking progress (e.g. where referrals come from, the volume from each source, cost, and conversion rates) so you are aware which sources have the most significant impact and can use this information to continually refine your approach. Progress can easily be tracked in home care automation platforms like Smartcare.
Top 6 client sources
Taking input from leading home care providers, we’ve put together a list of six creative ways you can target potential new clients, to help get your planning off to a flying start:
1 – Referral sources
Referral sources are a critical part of building and maintaining any robust home care business, as this is where the majority of your new clients will come from. Providing excellent, compassionate care is the single best way to guarantee you get plenty of referrals from existing clients, but you can also take proactive steps to increase your agency’s chances of getting referrals elsewhere, such as:
- Clients/families (existing and former)
The best referral source is always word of mouth, so encourage your current and former clients and caregivers to share information about the quality services your agency provides. If you have an online presence, you can set up referral forms that can easily be shared with those in need of a home care solution. You can also offer incentives for referrals, for example, through referral cards that offer a service discount or bonus service when friends are referred to your agency.
- Healthcare professionals
Take the time to find referral partners in the healthcare sector – such as care consultants, social workers, nursing staff and hospital discharge planners. Seek out those who will be prepared to provide your agency with recommendations and referrals. This can be as simple as regularly visiting hospitals, assisted living communities and clinics in your local area for a friendly chat, dropping off a tasty treat for the nurses, and seeing if you can leave some brochures at Reception or in their waiting rooms.
It’s important to build up a good reputation of being a friendly and reliable resource to healthcare authorities – and can guarantee clients/patients being referred to you when the time comes. These more organic, word of mouth referrals generate the best results.
- Hospital discharge planners
Think about how your home care agency can support the discharge planner, make their job easier, help senior citizens with recovery, reduce hospital readmission rates, and so on. Make sure they are aware of who you are and how your business can help them.
These can provide an additional marketing or lead generation source but are most often used by early-stage businesses. They can be expensive, as they charge a fee per lead. You may receive a lot of referrals, but these will also be sent to multiple agencies simultaneously, leaving you with a lot of work to do to convert them into clients. It is recommended that you keep track of conversion rates if using third-party sites, to make sure it is a workable/affordable model for your business.
Remember, it is important to have a plan in place to generate and track each client referral –using home care software – to give you deep insights into your best sources and those needing more attention. Also, make sure to regularly ‘thank’ those who are recommending you.
2 – Digital marketing (website/blog content, SEO)
However, a potential new client first gets to hear about your agency, the next step for almost everyone will be an online search to find out more information about you. They will want to find out more about the services you provide, the quality of your caregivers, to read testimonials and to get your contact details – before they approach you.
According to Google Trends, searches for ‘home care agencies’ have surged by 58% and ‘caregivers’ by 62% in the last five years. You cannot afford to ignore the significant power of online searches when planning to build your home care client base.
You can capitalize on this current ‘online search’ trend, boost your agency’s online presence and get a more significant share of the home care business in your area by:
- Making sure your website is up-to-date, informative, and easy to navigate/functional. Don’t forget to regularly review your top competitors’ websites too, to gain valuable insights into the techniques and strategies they are using.
- Optimizing your website with SEO – which is essential to increase the number of visitors and page views you receive. Providing current and potential clients with informative, authentic, and unique content is a great way to stand out from your competition – and attract new clients.
- Getting online customer reviews and sharing them on your site will help your business to rate higher in search results and make you more credible and appealing.
- Getting on the map. The first page of all search results has a map showing where all businesses can be found in your area. Test Google, Yelp and Facebook to make sure your agency is listed and your current information is up-to-date.
- Ensuring high-quality copy and graphics across your site pages and a strong brand image. You want potential clients and their families – as well as your community partners – to see your agency as a professional business that pays attention to detail.
- Making sure your agency automation software has a client intake feature so you can post the ‘Request Care Here’ button and links on your website, Google Maps, and across your social sites.
It is essential to keep in mind that digital marketing doesn’t replace your face-to-face efforts – it supplements them.
Avoid getting so caught up in asserting your online presence that you neglect your main goal: providing outstanding care.
3 – Social media
While your primary clients might not be into social media – although 62% of online seniors aged 65+ are reportedly on Facebook – their families certainly will be. It’s crucial to be active on social media and start building your brand awareness. Having a Facebook business page is necessary these days, but other top platforms where potential new clients can be found include Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
- Use the same name for all your social media accounts, to avoid confusing users – and research your name across multiple platforms to check that it isn’t already being used elsewhere.
- Use your official logo and design/color scheme across all platforms, to appear professional and establish your brand identity.
- Be active and frequently post, using an online scheduling tool. You can keep followers informed of the services you offer, special offers, latest blogs, upcoming events, reviews and testimonials. Social media algorithms promote those who post frequently.
- Study and use hashtags that are most relevant to the home care industry and the services your agency provides.
- Always take the time to reply to user enquiries, comments and other online interactions – whilst not the same as face-to-face communication, it can still be a valuable tool to build relationships and gain trust.
- Share photos and video media to appeal to a broader audience and attract attention. If possible, use professional photography, graphics, animations and videos, relevant to your home care agency, to show you are modern and professional.
- Take advantage of Facebook’s Ads Manager, which can be a cost-effective way to set up ad campaigns and reach more people.
4 – Networking and building relationships
Networking plays a significant role in growing any type of business, especially a home care agency.
Up to 50% of high-quality client introductions will come from health service providers you meet with regularly, so it is worth taking the time to meet with them and build their trust and confidence in the quality of your services.
- Attend local networking events with doctors, healthcare insurance agents, pharmacists, etc, to establish useful professional connections.
- Get to know everyone in your area who works with seniors, including those who work (or volunteer) at care facilities, local senior centers, and senior care managers. Those working with seniors every day can be really cooperative and a great resource in helping you find new clients.
- Sign up for medical conferences and healthcare networking events. In addition to building professional connections and increasing the likelihood of your agency receiving referrals and recommendations, you’ll also gain access to inside information about sales, marketing and managing client lists.
- Dedicate time to regularly reach out to potential referral sources, whether through email or in person. Staying in touch and routinely reminding people about the benefits of your services, makes it more likely that they’ll remember you when the time comes for them to make a referral.
- Partner with complementary businesses such as hospice agencies, rehab centers, or skilled health facilities. While these may already be providing a daily therapist or nurse home visit, there are often gaps in other support services that your agency could fill.
Communities are full of individuals who potentially need the help and support of qualified caregivers but don’t know how to gain access to them. Networking will help you spread the word about your agency’s services and have a positive impact on the number of referrals and recommendations you receive.
Again, make sure you are using your agency’s software automation to track and manage all your referrals.
5 – Community events and volunteering/sponsorships
Building a thriving home care agency, and continuously finding new clients, requires you to be involved in the community you serve. It’s important, as a home care provider, to get out into the community and really connect with people, interacting in a caring and compassionate way. There are numerous ways to get more active in your local community, which include:
- Joining the local Chamber of Commerce.
- Getting involved in a service organization.
- Volunteering at – or sponsoring – local events, such as Alzheimer’s Walks, local health fairs, soup kitchens, and other community charities. Not only are these fun to get involved with and support, but they are also full of opportunities to find clients.
- Being a guest speaker at local senior centers, assisted living facilities, retirement communities or nursing facilities. Select interesting topics on healthy ageing, such as exercise, nutrition, and improving memory. Not only do you get to meet residents and their care staff, who may require additional personal and supportive care services, you also get to share your knowledge and expertise for the benefit of others.
- Researching and reaching out to local businesses/entrepreneurs that serve the same community as you do, to identify potential partnership opportunities.
By meeting people in your community, and building connection, you will be able to educate them about home care and highlight/promote your business services.
Many people are unaware that home care is an option for their loved ones, that could, for example, alleviate them from caregiver burnout or improve a seniors’ physical and mental well-being.
Having these genuine connections with people in your community about home care is one of the most effective and personal ways you can increase your client base.
6 – Printed materials (newspaper/magazine ads, direct mail, branded goods, etc.)
In order to expand your reach locally, consider taking out a regular local newspaper or magazine ad. Local ads can help to build your reputation in the community, especially with those who do not use social media or simply prefer to read their news the old-fashioned way.
Keep potential new clients and their families informed with press releases announcing your latest services, products, and team members, and distribute them to local media outlets in addition to posting on your social media pages. This will help to stimulate interest in your home care agency and show potential clients that your organization is continuously evolving.
Other print-based materials you can utilize to attract new clients include:
- Direct mail flyers/postcards
- Sponsored signs or ads at local businesses
- Senior directory ads
- Weekly newspaper op-eds
- Community bulletin boards
- Posters to display at events and local healthcare services (e.g. doctors, dentists, health centers, etc.)
- Business cards (which can include a special offer or bonus service on the reverse)
- Branded merchandise to hand out at events (e.g. pens, notebooks, drink bottles, etc.).
Always be mindful of using good-quality copy and graphics, which are especially important with printed materials, as they can’t be fixed as easily/cheaply as online content. These will ensure any potential clients and their families, along with community partners, see you as a professional agency that pays attention to detail. Use a professional designer, if necessary.
There are many opportunities to promote your home care agency and find new clients, so try taking advantage of some of these marketing ideas and start improving your lead generation today.
It’s important to remember that not all marketing channels are created equal. Every home care agency has different requirements, and you will need to make your own decision about which marketing efforts work best for you when seeking new clients in your area.
You can identify your best channels by using your home care software to track how your clients learn about your services, the volume from each source, acquisition cost, and conversion rates. (You can also take advantage of this same software automation to allow potential clients to enquire right into your software platform, immediately alerting you to any new leads.) This will ensure you know precisely which avenues are best to invest in, as you continue to grow your client base.
Having a complete digital home care platform like Smartcare gives you total access to home care’s most powerful CRM and sales/marketing tools. You can access everything you need from one platform to save time, win more clients, build strong relationships with your referral sources and gain insights into the effectiveness of different channels in your specific area. If you aren’t already tracking how you find new clients, now is the time to start.
Smartcare is a Complete Home Care Platform with Just the Right Amount of Everything Designed by Caregivers for Caregivers. With Smartcare, you can manage, schedule, and operate everything you need for your home care business. Achieve better outcomes, higher satisfaction, and increase caregiver retention with a system that supports your business and its goals.
Smartcare is currently offering our COVID-19 Toolset at no charge to all home care agencies. The Toolset App includes reminders, agency notices, symptom checks, contact tracing and other important virus risk mitigation tools to help you manage your response to the pandemic.
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To find out how SmartCare™ software and support can help you differentiate your service and strategy, please contact us at 1+ (800) 450-9104 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org