Bevis spoke with HealthLeaders about the importance of technology and the role branding and messaging plays in private duty marketing.
Caring Senior Services recently announced that Jeff Bevis joined the private duty organization as its chief operating officer. With almost 20 years of experience in the sector, and 10 more in franchise operations, Bevis has a track record for building successful brands. HealthLeaders talks to him about the importance of technology, recruiting the right franchise owners, and private duty agency branding.
HealthLeaders: What from your operational experience did you bring with you to Caring Senior Services?
Jeff Bevis: The power of data, the importance of data in the industry. Brands, operations, and franchise owners, they need to better leverage the data they have or put more importance on it.
From a quality and service standpoint, I continue to be a big believer that we need to get the industry to where we have a JD Power index of satisfaction for clients as well as for caregivers. We've done a pretty good job in the industry over the last several years trying to raise the importance of caregiver satisfaction and employee satisfaction management, but I think we still lag as it relates to client and patient satisfaction.
HL: What are ways you anticipate technology and the use of data coming to the forefront for the private duty sector?
Bevis: I think it's pushing a couple of things for us as an industry, leveraging technology as it relates to staffing or augmenting the staffing challenges. We're all aware that we can't seem to recruit enough quality staff members fast enough. Whether it's through telehealth or remote patient monitoring or other ways we can use technology when we have a staffing shortage or when they're [working] around the clock.
I also think [we can expect changes in] the use of technology as it relates to trying to deliver more services into the home. One example would be using a tablet-based platform and having apps or services on the tablet that the client or client's family could tap into that would increase their quality of life, overall service delivery, or their needs for different services. I don't think we're there yet, but I think we need to work on delivering more services into the home using technology and I'm just thinking that a tablet-based platform is going to be key to being able to do that.
In our case here at Caring, one of the big draws is working alongside the founder, Jeff Salter, and elevating this brand, as we already have a tablet-based platform. We've had it in place since 2015, and I think that's kind of a best-kept secret in the whole industry, because when I built FirstLight with my son, we had 200 iPads out in the field as a test. We thought we were trailblazers in the home care world and that was the first true tablet platform that was out in the field and turns out that we were doing that at Caring years ago.
HL: How important is branding and messaging for agencies?
Bevis: I think, unfortunately, most of the brands in our space have not established themselves as a solid brand. They don't have quality metrics to measure awareness or market share, brand presence both online and locally. A lot goes into branding to do it well. I'm not saying all the home care brands have to be like Coke, but from a brand awareness standpoint, I think that's one of the big differentiators that you see in the franchising world.
You see probably a small handful of home care franchises that get it; they focus on branding, they're consistent in messaging. Most of those are the larger networks, so they have multimillion dollar advertising funds and that's a big part of that branding position because it's not cheap. I think the larger networks are doing a good job of branding themselves in a dominant way in the home care franchising space. Everybody else, I think there's some room for improvement.
I don't think it's a matter of who has the largest checkbook. I do think there's some efficiency, some proactive branding steps that even smaller brands can take to look as big as the rest of the industry and to do a good job. I think a lot of it comes down to the messaging and content online, the online positioning of your services and your successes and your consistency in caring for your clients and having great caregiver retention numbers.
HL: How do you recruit franchise owners?
Bevis: The most successful brands are selective in their recruiting, so they're always looking for and marketing towards, in what's called the franchise development side of the business, the right fit of person with experience, background, working capital, culture, ethics, and integrity that matches what the brand is looking for. That, to me, is a big differentiation point.
In other franchise systems and businesses, there are some that have zero qualifications, so if anyone reaches out and says they want to be part of a franchise, some franchises will take that person. The better franchise systems, and this goes for home care because we provide such a personal service, have a well-defined qualification process. Their franchise development recruiting budget is well established, the criteria is consistent. That's also how you build stronger brands because your brand is only as strong as your weakest franchise.
To pay close attention to the criteria and qualifications, you're making sure you're bringing in strong candidates— strong franchise owners that meet your requirements [and] have the same vision, mission, focus as the franchise has. That makes a big difference.
“"A lot goes into branding to do it well. I'm not saying all the home care brands have to be like Coke, but from a brand awareness standpoint, I think that's one of the big differentiators that you see in the franchising world."”
Jeff Bevis, COO, Caring Senior Services
Agencies need to better leverage the data they have or put more importance on it.
Tech innovations like tablet-based platforms enable caregivers to provide more services in the home.
Most agencies lack solid brand poistioning and messaging.