Because we truly love what we do, we want to serve as many people as we can. Nevertheless, we can’t undertake every job possibility that comes our way. There simply isn’t enough time to do that – even if we wanted to. Therefore, we have to apply some guidelines to our business, and the best way to do this is with a business model.
We get to decide what we are good at (with a little validation from our clientele and the marketplace). We get to decide the scope of our services and determine our pricing (again in concert with the marketplace and mindful of our competition).
We don’t have to bid on a job or provide a quote just because someone calls us up and requests it. We may choose to do so if we determine that they are serious about engaging us, they have already done their homework, they aren’t price shopping or collecting bids, and they are ready to begin work.
Otherwise, we may determine that this is not a good use of our time to take the time prepare an estimate and then get outbid by someone who will do the job for less – there is always someone willing to do whatever the job is for less money. It is a fact of life (and business). It doesn’t matter how experienced we are or how much we want to help someone.
If they are just shopping for a low bid, someone else can always come along and do it for less than us so we need to be very careful in learning about our potential clients and their needs to determine a reasonable comfort level that they are serious and not just getting bids. It doesn’t mean that we will get every job, but it should mean that we are spending an inordinate amount of time – for no return – chasing jobs that aren’t likely to come our way.
A better way of earning new business, for those who would like to pursue this strategy, is to align with referring professionals and get business directly from healthcare, insurance, legal, and other professionals who are looking out for their clients and know how we can help them. This won’t happen overnight, but our business model might center around serving referring professionals.
When someone is released (or about to be released) from a rehab center, when a case manager is looking for help to modify their client’s residence, when an attorney has a client that has been injured on the job or through the negligence of someone else, or when an insurance agent needs their client’s home repaired after a natural disaster or other catastrophic event, we can be someone they call. This means bypassing the bidding process and getting the job directly because of the friendship and professional association we have established with those professionals who are in a position to refer work directly to us. We get the jobs, and they get the simplicity of picking up the phone and making just a single call to us to get help for their clients.
Regardless of how we structure of aging in place services business, some jobs may be too small for us to consider, and some likely are going to be too large or complex. Some will involve suggested solutions by the client that we can’t support. Sometimes the budget won’t cover the work we feel needs to be done. Sometimes the time frame allotted for the work will be too short. Sometimes, there may not be a clear decision maker but several people trying to suggest what needs to be done.
As much as we would like to help everyone who contacts us, we just can’t. We have to go with the ones that align with our business model the closest in terms of the type of project we are the most comfortable in doing, the amount of money a typical job represents, and the complexity of the project. Having a business model that we can rely upon for the type and scope of a project and how we are contacted about it is key to helping as many people as we can.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the “Aging & Accessibility” groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.