Senior Care companies can face the economic downturn with boldness and action
Posted Dec 20 2008 7:14pm
Look outside your window today. In most parts of the country you’ll see bare tree branches, leaves on the ground, and other signs that Mother Nature has gone into hibernation.
Turn on the TV and you’ll see the stock market and other economic indicators looking much the same: they’re heading toward a dormant state, if not a near death moment.
"There is a tendency for companies to simply cut costs and then hibernate to ride out economic recessions," said Alan Black, CEO of Intelliden, in a recent press release containing five strategies for navigating the downturn.
Black goes on to say, "However, as history has shown, by taking smart, pro-active steps during a downturn, technology managers can help their companies be much better placed when the upturn arrives. The current economic downturn will undoubtedly end at some point and those companies that are leaner, fitter and more innovative will likely have the most to gain from the upturn."
While Intelliden is an IT and networking company, some of the strategies are useful for all business managers:
1. Control costs without compromising the business. In the senior care world payroll costs are the biggest cost center. Can you control your overtime or other costs without compromising the service you deliver? Look at areas of employee cost that can be reduced like those related to turnover and training. Don’t skimp on new employee or current employee compliance training, but do look for ways to reduce cost of that training, for example by reducing the need for overtime or higher cost instructors. Do you use agency staff to fill in gaps? If so, you know this is a significant cost center that does nothing to improve your service. Make it a point during this period of economic downturn to eliminate agency staffing and turn that money to improved training and retention programs that have proven effectiveness for quality outcome.
2. Simplify your technology environment. This is an excellent time to look at all of the ways you use technology. Most senior care providers use a mixture of paper and pen record-keeping along with technological solutions. Now is an excellent time to look at all the systems you use. Find overlap and eliminate it. Seek off-the-shelf packages that meet your needs in a more robust, complete manner. A small investment in electronic records now, for example, may save you millions in labor costs over the coming years.
3. Don’t stop innovating. Downturns are times when we may be forced into creative solutions to problems that, in the past, we just kept pushing off to a future date. Don’t shy away from looking at your key problems or challenges as well as your core strengths and objectives. Look for new ways to improve outcomes, increase customer satisfaction and bring in new revenue. Seek solutions – technological or otherwise – to become more efficient at the same time you’re increasing effectiveness. Are you spending too much time on things that aren’t your core business? Contract them out or change the way you manage them.
In nature, the period of a winter “downturn” leads to a vigorous growth phase in the spring. That seems like a pretty great business model to follow.
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