During these unsettled times, many people are focusing on a lot of the negative impacts that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will have on our society and the economy. Many are predicting that the landscape will change for the worst and that nothing will ever be as it is today nor will they get better. I, for one, disagree.
Like many of you, this isn't my first "end of the world" and the one thing that has remained consistent is that while much will remain the same, there will be some significant changes. Here are my thoughts:
Prediction 1: The client base will expand
Most of us know by now that there are those who are at a higher risk of complications and even death. Many of the reports indicate that the majority of those are older or have underlying health issues.
What about those who recover but end up with scarring in their lungs or with other, now chronic, conditions?
There will be younger people who will need assistance long-term due to COVID-19 related complications.
Prediction 2: There will be a surge of new clients
Social Distancing guidelines have caused many facilities to restrict or prohibit all visitors, but have done little to alleviate the concerns families have for their loved ones.
I predict there will be many families who will want to remove their loved ones from senior living facilities and the need for home care services will dramatically increase.
Prediction 3: Expect a shift in referral acquisitions
Many agencies were caught unprepared (not that anyone could have predicted this), but they were still not stocked with enough supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff.
Agencies failed to make initial contact to inform their referral sources how they are handling this crisis early on (See our post on Marketing in the era of COVID - 19)
Too many agencies are relying on their existing relationships with referral sources and take the relationships for granted, not understanding the shift in needs and, therefore, what is considered valuable during this time.
Some owners are stuck in their ways and not keeping up with the shifts in technology resulting in giving their local competitors the opportunity to surpass them as a valued resource.
I predict that those who were able to show high levels of client concern, speed in discharge, appropriate integrations of technology and resourcefulness will rise to the top of their respective markets leaving the laggards to play catch up or phase themselves out.
Prediction 4: Marketing and client acquisition strategies will change
The marketing mix will likely evolve to focus more equally on word of mouth and relationship marketing (reputation based client acquisition).
Digital marketing strategies will play a bigger role in client acquisition in the short term and will become roughly 25% - 30% of the marketing mix.
Relationship building and solid business development tactics will become even more important, and I predict it will stay difficult to make casual visits into referring facilities.
Developing a strong I.N. group (Influence Network) is going to be the key to long-term success as initial trust will be established through the reputations of known connections.
Prediction 5: The caregiver shortage will ease
In times of conflict, the military sees a surge of enlistment because of people's desire to want to be a part of the solution, I believe the same desire to help as a way to combat the feelings of impotence will lead to many seeking out healthcare jobs once things settle.
The economy will be taking a big hit and many retail businesses will reopen with smaller teams in order to recoup their losses leaving many without jobs for the time being.