12 Feb Get Out of the Office
Before jumping into this post, we’d like to welcome Sean to the blog! Sean will contribute in his areas of health care compliance, small business growth, construction law, contracts, and general small biz need-to-knows. He brings with him his background in health care regulations, construction and insurance, law enforcement, and most recently as a small business owner himself where Sean and his wife grew their home care agency from 35 employees to over 140 employees in the span of four years.
As the owner of a small business you have a thousand things competing for your time. You have management, invoices, day-to-day tasks, communication, social media, and tons of other important things that you have to address on a daily basis. Many of these things require you to address them immediately – such as client complaints and issues – but others can wait until you accomplish more important things. You have to prioritize the issues to be addressed so that you do not waste valuable time taking care of things that should wait until the important things are done. In order to prioritize the activities you should do first, you have to ask yourself which of these activities are going to help me grow and sustain my business. Also, you have to ask yourself which of the issues have to be addressed by you, the owner, and which can be given to a staff member to handle. If you do not prioritize and handle the most important tasks first, your business will not grow and flourish like you want it to do.
One of the worst things a new business owner can do is stay in the office all day taking care of things that can wait. Small business owners have to get out of the office regularly and out into the community. In my experience, the most successful businesses are owned by people who regularly get out of their office and talk to the right people. In my opinion, all agency owners must do at least some of the marketing. Owners of new businesses should do all or almost all of their organization’s marketing. Marketing reps can be great, but an owner doing the marketing has at least twice the impact of a non-owner marketing rep.
Prior to buying a home care agency, I had no marketing experience whatsoever. When I bought the agency, it was struggling to stay afloat. It came with a marketer who, we were told, had significant health care marketing experience. She stuck around for four months after we bought the business and then she quit. During the four months where our “professional” marketer was doing the bulk of the marketing, our hours went sideways. Once she quit, I decided that I would do all the marketing for 6-8 hours per day. In five months of full-time marketing by me, the owner, our hours almost tripled. Remember, I had no marketing experience whatsoever. I just went out to potential referral sources and talked to them. Nothing fancy.
Another thing I found out while doing all of our marketing was that I was the only owner doing his own marketing. I also found out that my agency was the fastest growing agency in the territory while I was doing all of the marketing. Social workers, discharge planners, nursing home administrators and families love it when the owner comes and talks to them. Referral sources get a stream of marketers trying to talk to them all day long. What they do not get are a lot of owners who are ultimately responsible for the quality of care provided to the clients/patients referred to their agency. When the owner shows up to talk to a referral source, that lets them know that you care about what you and your agency are doing. The impact of this cannot be overstated.
At one of the first health care networking events I went to after we bought our agency, I sat next to another agency owner. As we were talking, he told me that he was part of a franchise system and that he had a very large territory. He also told me that he was having difficulty getting clients and could not figure out why. During our conversation, he introduced me to his marketer who seemed somewhat socially awkward. This agency owner told me that he did not have the time or the inclination to do any of his own marketing – he relied on his marketer for this. Although I had only been in the business for a few weeks, I immediately knew what his problem was – he wasn’t getting out and marketing like he needed to do. Sure, he was at a networking function, but he confided in me that his marketer dragged him to it.
If you are the owner of your own business – GET OUT OF THE OFFICE. If you are a one-person operation, you still need to get out of the office regularly. Plan for time to be out of the office and out in the community talking to people that can refer business to you. You do not need to have extensive marketing training. Just be genuine, let others know you care and ask them for referrals. It really is not very complicated in my experience, but it is crucial to your business. Step out of the office, get some fresh air and grow your business.