31 Hospice Marketing Insights in March–Numbers 21-31
21. Watch out for negative marketing in your facilities. Not by competitors, that’s a given. But by your own staff. Negative and complaining clinicians in the facilities are poison. You need to be in the facilities so frequently that you pick on the little indicators of negativity from your team. Then you have to get that person out of the facilities before more damage is done, and better yet, out of the organization.
22. If you’re the CEO of a small Hospice . . . for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll define a small Hospice as any Hospice that does not have a full-time marketing employee . . . YOU are the full-time marketing employee. That means every facility manager needs to see you regularly. Every potential referral source needs to know your smiling face. And every Rotary club member, garden club and large church must hear you speak. I know, you’re the operations manager and chief-fire-putter-outer too, but that’s just the way it is. (There’s a very special remnant left of Hospice CEOs who are smiling. They remember, fresh out of nursing school, being the only Hospice employee. They did everything from fund-raising to visits to budgets to maintenance. These are the great women who started Hospice as we know it.)
23. Most people are quite superficial and are impressed with production, glitz and portrayal. They do not see the “essence” or meaning of things. Realize that I am not putting people down here, but the truth is that most people do not do a great deal of deep contemplation of things. If they did, there would be a great deal more sensitivity and consideration regarding how we interact with each other as individuals and corporately. What I am saying is that people naturally judge others. It is a survival and instinctual thing. There is no point in trying to demonize it or make it wrong. It is just the way it is! We judge in SECONDS! Appearance, voice, smell, context and setting… ALL play into the impressions that are created. All top Marketers understand the utter importance of first impressions. Put it this way… A BAD first impression is difficult to overcome and will require vastly more Energy than an unoffensive, average or spectacular impression!
What we are really trying to do is REMOVE any barriers of judgement. Therefore, you want to consider a Marketer’s:
- Language (every word and phrase)
- Energy – Physical and Spiritual
- Emotional State
24. W Most Hospices sell “glittering generalities” and stereotypes that do not take much imagination or horsepower to create. I have dissected and trained hundreds of Hospice Marketers, sometimes doing some crazy things to find out what they are really communicating to referral sources. Based on hundreds of “pitches,” here is what I usually get!
- “We the Bestest!”
- “We Care Mo!”
- “We Not-Fo-Profit!”
- “We the Oldest!”
- “We the Largest!”
- “We have Mo Stuff than any other Hospice!”
25. What are you selling? This may seem like such a basic question. But is it? If it is so basic, then why don’t Marketers articulate it when asked? You are selling a “near-flawless” system of care on a day-to-day basis (see section on Standards for explanation of what day-to-day means)! That system of care is rooted in People Development! Something that people count on, something in which they place trust! To satisfy their need for CERTAINTY. The point is that in Hospice, you can have a Cadillac or a Pinto experience for the same price! There is no variation in price or what the customer is charged for the experience. – Andrew Reed
26. The Hospice that gets there first wins. That’s why the Manager of Admissions is so important. Top Admissions Managers are characterized by high Energy, can-do attitudes, admissions boards cleared daily, might drive a red sports car… you get the idea. These are clearly “sparkplug” personalities. You want this type of individual because their example will be transferred to the entire Admissions team. I call this the Principle of Replication. Managers can only reproduce what they are. A slow, low-Energy Manager will reproduce a slow, low- Energy team. In Admissions, we want a sense of urgency! Speed is the name of the game in a competitive Hospice environment. Understand that the speed of the Manager is the speed of the team. Evaluate the person running Admissions. We have seen Hospice’s double census with this one move.
27. How do we handle calls at our Hospice? Does everyone that could use our services get in? It is estimated that most Hospice miss 10-15% of potential patients through misinterpreted phone calls. That is, a typical Hospice could increase its census IF it learned to “dig” into calls. Nobody calls Hospice without a reason. People call Hospice because there is a need. In the Model workbooks, this area is covered. It is a mistake to assume that people are just “good” on the phones. This is an area that needs special attention. The tone of voice, message, training at meeting the unspoken needs (digging), and even the hold music or message needs careful evaluation. You Hospice could have its own “play list”!
28. Hiring your first marketer? Don’t know how to compensate her? Don’t pay a straight salary, but don’t pay a straight commission either. Set the salary low. And set bonuses high. Set a standard weekly or monthly admissions expectation. Meet the standard and a bonus is paid. Exceed the standard by two admissions another bonus is paid. And so on. Andrew details the process in his Compensation and the Model Workshop. But, you don’t want the new marketer to simply ride on your current admissions and referral sources. You already have those. Instead give the marketing a list of prospects. It needs to be a long list. The list should contain every potential referral source that your organization doesn’t get referrals from plus sources that the organization doesn’t get enough referrals from. That’s the white list, and that’s your new marketer’s target. Later as you add marketers you’ll define territories for each.
29. Today is Webinar day! Tune in anytime to hear Andrew Reed teach Marketing & the Model (short version).
30. At present, many Hospices are complaining about shortened lengths of stay and census issues. They are blaming it on referral sources and the “external world.” This is what most of humankind does because it is easy. However, the more evolved understand that it is in the “internal world” where most of the real issues lie. The problem is us! Has fear caused your Hospice to become more conservative? By becoming more conservative in your admissions and discharge process have you sent “unintended messages” to your referral sources and community that you only take certain types of patients. Have you made your Hospice Box smaller? I can say with utter certainty that a Hospices census is tied directly to the Hospice’s beliefs about what a patient looks like…its Box. So, the key is to expand the paradigm and your Hospice will increase census. If discharges are more than a few percent 2-5%, then I’d have to say that your Hospice is TOO conservative. Are your clinicians documenting to decline on a long-term view or short-term as so many patients “plateau” for weeks or months? Can you say that a patient has declined from one month to another? Far too many clinicians document what they have “done” and not to this longer-term view. AND then these patients get discharged…referral sources are puzzled…and are census decreases…and we BLAME the external world.
31. Nutschell. Three Important Points:
a. Do they know you exist?
b. Have a fast message
c. Have a value-rich message