Continuing our series on the business side of operating an effective aged care service. This week we look at understanding your product.
Once you have defined the target market and their needs, you need to turn your attention to defining just what you have to offer that market.
How the Demographic and Psychographic profiles can help you
This is where you go into depth use the demographic and psychographic profile of your target market.
For example, are you operating in an area where there are a lot of high equity individuals, people who expect and demand quality care and support? The information you have gathered from research indicates they don’t see themselves as needing aged care, they may prefer a ‘companion’ rather than a ‘care worker’. Perhaps a boutique service could be your product.
Or are you operating in a multicultural area, one where people have experienced change and upheaval in their long lives? These individuals may need something quite different, perhaps connection to their old cultural interests and language or foods. Perhaps some of these individuals have been traumatised at some point in their lives, this is going to impact on the care and support you provide to them.
Ok, so you have identified the profile of your target client base, or perhaps you have narrowed it down to one or two potential markets. Remember that bigger is not necessarily better, a niche market can be as profitable as a large, non-targeted market.
To decide which is the better of two or more options, a potential business owner will often carry out a gap analysis. This analysis will consider all the identified needs of the market (use your market research) and see if there are gaps in the market that can be filled.
- High income individuals and no bespoke home care service in the area – there’s a possible gap;
- Large population of elderly Chinese migrants in an area and no specialty aged care services – there’s another possibility;
- No provider of specialty transport and activities in a region – hmm another option.
At this point all you are doing is looking for gaps in the market using your market research and thinking about how these might be filled.
While you are doing this gap analysis also seek to identify any markets that are saturated, these are ones to keep away from if you want to see a profit – and after all that is what business is all about – even for not for profits.
Look at Yourself
At some point you also need to look at yourself, your current organisation. Sometimes you can expand what you are doing, expand into new areas, but sometimes you need to pivot – totally change what you are doing or your target market.
When looking at yourself you need to consider what you do really well. Can you do more of this?
How do you know what you do well in? This is where client surveys and feedback are really handy. If you find a positive theme in the surveys perhaps this is because you are working to your strengths. Perhaps you are getting a number of people saying they like the service because the care staff are able to speak to them in their own language – that’s obviously a strength in your organisation which you can capitalize on.
Look at your staff
This leads on from the last example, having the right staff is important. Whatever your venture, whether aged care or other, you need to ensure that your clients are comfortable interacting with your organisation. In aged care your front line care staff are your face so ensure you match your service to the market.
If you are going to offer a boutique care support service to individuals, then ensure your staff are properly dressed. This might mean smart casual wear when they are escorting a person to an appointment or out shopping rather than a polo shirt and long shorts and an id badge, or it might mean your personal care staff wear smart nursing scrub shirts or specialised uniforms. The language used by your staff is also likely to be more refined. You want to ensure you portray quality.
Conversely if you are supporting people where the expectation is for a more generic, everyday aged care service, your staff need to be seen as approachable and relatable, a neat polo shirt with a logo and the long shorts might be just right here.
So as part of your business planning consider the profile of the staff members that you have or need to attract, as well as their skill sets.
Cost v Returns
Of course you also need to consider the cost of any enterprise and ensure that it will make enough of a return to make it worthwhile. There might be more profit in setting up a boutique care service however, it might take longer to identify and attract a client base and find and retain the right sort of staff. Your operating costs might be higher – maintaining an office in the ‘right’ area, paying higher wages and allowances to staff, training staff, presenting the right sort of advertising etc.
Consider also the timeframe for making a profit. Some options might make a lower profit but they return that profit in a shorter period of time allowing you to keep trading and developing your business.
Once you know who it is you’re going after, you can begin to design a plan around how you will market to them. Before you even look at this though you need develop a strategic approach, that’s our next topic.
This podcast is part of a series on the business side of running a profitable and effective community based aged care service. Other topics in this series include:
CD013 A Strategic Approach for Community Based Care services
In her spare time, while she ages gracefully, she helps out with kids theatre, rides an electric bike and drags her husband off to explore the world as often as possible.
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