Dear Homecare Agency Owner,
Today’s Blog is much loooonger, because we wanted to include as many details for you as we could. We know that many of you waited impatiently for this article.
Which Homecare Agency will win the hearts and minds of local Discharge Planners? What can your Agency do to receive those referrals?
The answer is actually very predictable. The Homecare Agency that will get referrals is the Agency that will win the hearts and minds of local Discharge Planners by consistently giving Discharge Planners what they want, and demonstrating that… you and your team members are:
- sincere and devoted to serving the Elderly
- trustworthy and consistent
- dependable and punctual/someone who makes and keeps promises
- organized and reliable
The irony is that Discharge Planners actually need Homecare Agencies. Yes, allow us to repeat that:
Discharge Planners need Homecare Agencies
Without Homecare Agencies, Discharge Planners would not be able to do their jobs. However, they do not need 30-40 Agencies. The average Discharge Planner needs 3-5 Agencies, and those Agencies must, must, must demonstrate the aforementioned qualities.
The question that begs to be asked is: How, providing you allegedly have those qualities, can you demonstrate to Discharge Planners that you actually have them? Today’s Blog will offer exact answers to this question.
Note: We are assuming you have completed the prerequisite steps we have outlined in our previous Blog.
Assuming that you have, here is a …
Step-by-Step Plan that worked for us, and we guarantee it will work for your Agency:
Step One: Be Sincere and Personable
Before you learn the Discharge Planner’s schedule preferences, we suggest you visit with her on Wednesday at 10:15 am. Show up with a sincere (being sincere is a key quality) smile — demonstrating that you are sincerely happy to be in Homecare and you are devoted to serving the Elderly. If you have done your homework and online research, you should know the first and last name of the Discharge Planner. You are now able to greet her in a more personable way.
For the purpose of this Blog, let’s assume her name is “Barbara”. Barbara will give you extra credit points for being personable. Doing your homework allows you to demonstrate that you are sincerely interested in establishing a working relationship with her.
Step Two: ADAPT to Her Schedule
Introduce yourself to Barbara and ask sincerely if you do not bother her. Tell her that you don’t want to show up on Mondays or Fridays because you know how busy she is before or after weekends. She will take a notice of your thoughtfulness. Inform her that from experience you know that midweek, perhaps Wednesday, may be a good day to come and see her.
Again, Barbara will appreciate that you are being selfless as compared to most sales and marketing people who show up to bother her when it is convenient for them. Ask if Wednesday is a good day for her. Again, she is busy all the time, but certain days are busier than others. After confirming that Wednesday is acceptable, ask if she prefers that you stop by in the morning or afternoon. ADAPT to her. You must fit into her schedule — not the other way around. If you ADAPT to her schedule, Barbara, because of your sincere actions, will give you extra credit points for that.
Step Three: Ask for a Permission
Ask Barbara if she has a brochure display rack for Homecare Agencies. Most of them do. Ask if she would be kind enough to allow you to place your Agency’s brochures on the rack. You want your brochures on that rack, and you want to have a spot with a good visibility. Asking Barbara for a permission to place your Agency’s brochures on the rack will score you extra sincerity points.
Step Four: Consistently Apply a Rule of 25
After receiving permission, leave 25 brochures on the rack. Why 25? There are two reasons. Firstly, most brochure racks will not fit more that 25 tri-fold brochures. Secondly, and more importantly, you want to start your accounting log. You want to always leave 25 brochures behind you. When you replenish the brochures, you count how many were taken last week. If 10 were taken, you need to replenish 10.
Always leave the same number of brochures behind you — and do so within each and every facility. Be organized and consistent. If you have 50 facilities that you visit every week, you make 50 notations on how many brochures exactly you replenished within each facility. The 80/20 Rule applies everywhere. Over time you will learn that 20% of those facilities are using 80% of your brochures. You want to pay special attention to those top facilities.
There is a direct correlation between brochure replenishment and eventual referrals. In other words, the facilities, where your brochures need to be replaced most often, will account for most of your incoming referrals. You never, ever want to have a brochure rack without brochures. Allow us to repeat and rephrase that: you never want to receive a call from Barbara asking you to please stop by to replenish your brochures. When she is forced to do that, you have lost any and all extra credit points you have earned. If you are not organized and dependable, you will lose your spot on a display rack and a chance for any referrals from Barbara.
Keeping the brochure rack filled demonstrates that you are sincere and consistent about your efforts, and that you are organized, dependable and, therefore, trustworthy.
Step Five: Before you Leave, Make a Promise
After replenishing brochures, always say thank you, and wish Barbara a good day. Right before you leave, make a promise: “If I may, I will be back next Wednesday at 10:15 am”. Barbara’s eyebrows will be raised. She is not used to someonemaking promises, being so organized and punctual.
Step Six: Keep your Promises
Visit with Barabara every Wednesday at 10:15 am like a clockwork. This is the key step. This is how you keep your promise. This is what starts to build the relationship. This is when you make and deliver the promise week after week, month after month. When you show up every Wednesday at 10:15 am and you greet Barbara with a sincere smile, when you ask her sincerely how was her week, when you replenish your brochures to have 25 pieces on the rack, when you sincerely thank her and wish her a good day… She cannot help but develop positive feelings towards you and your Agency.
Your actions, over time, consistently demonstrate that you and, therefore, your Agency, are sincerely interested in serving the Elderly. That you and, therefore, your Agency, are consistent in your actions and, therefore, are trustworthy. That you and, therefore, your Agency, are organized and punctual. That you are trustworthybecause, like a clockwork, you make and keep your promises.
Step Seven: Earn a Spot on the List
By now, you have earned a spot on the list. Ask Barbara if she would be willing to officially add your Agency’s name on the list. Most Discharge Planners have a list that is often provided to potential Clients whose aging loved ones are soon going to be discharged Home. Such lists, to be politically correct, are alphabetized. Most Clients, therefore, habitually ask Discharge Planners for some guidance.
Discharge Planners should not make specific recommendations, but they will point out 3-5 Agencies on the list that have proved over time to be: sincerely interested in serving the Elderly, trustworthy and consistent, organized and reliable, dependable and punctual, willing and able to make and keep promises — like a clockwork.
Give Discharge Planners what They Want
First you have to give, only then you can receive. Give the Discharge Planners what they want, and you will be allowed to get what you want. Agency that consistently demonstrates those key qualities is exactly the type of an Agency that Barbara wants her patients to be discharged to. Discharge Planners hate sales and marketing people. Most of us do. Most sales and marketing people are commission-focused, short-term thinkers. Discharge Planners, however, need and want Agencies that possess the key qualities we discussed here.
Allow us to repeat: Discharge Planners actually need to have working relationships with such Agencies. Discharge Planners cannot do their jobs without Homecare Agencies. The problem is that few Agencies are willing to consistently demonstrate those qualities. Be different. Follow the steps we have outlined for you. We promise you that you will stand out. You will differentiate your Agency from the crowd.
If you have not done so, please review the prerequisite research assignment that will build the foundation for the above-outlined steps. Also here is a link to an article that will help you better understand the important job and process of discharge planning.
Some of you have already offered your thoughts on your frustrating efforts to try to build relationships with Discharge Planners. Share your thoughts and experiences with us by clicking here.
Become a consistently reliable and punctual, organized and dependable Agency, that is sincerely interested in serving the needs of the Elderly and Discharge Planners.
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I have worked with hundreds of people, but never with someone more passionate about Homecare, more dedicated to his client, more focused than Christopher. (…) Those qualities, and his unlimited energy, make him a very sought-after partner in the field of Homecare. He is definitely someone you want on your team!
Bruno S. of Los Angeles, California