In 2005 I was given the responsibility of starting a new homecare company from scratch for the Cleveland Clinic. It was structured to focus only on providing respiratory products and services for the home. We were classified not as a DME but as a DMR (Durable Medical Respiratory) company.
For those of you not familiar with the Cleveland Clinic, it’s a huge medical system consisting of 10 hospitals, 18 family practice centers, and over 47,000 employees. U.S. News & World Report ranked it the #2 medical system in the country.
I knew it was going to be a daunting task, but I felt the experiences I had obtained in my career had well prepared me for the challenge. During that journey, I was fortunate to pick up tips along the way that helped me sustain yearly double-digit financial growth and keep our turnover rate around 0.4%.
Here are five of the tips I found to be among the most beneficial over the years:
1. Make your employees your number one priority and the rest will follow.
Unless you are superman (or woman), you cannot run your company by yourself. View your employees as your number one asset. Employees that are happy at the workplace generate a positive energy that is contagious. Don’t always hire based on skills. You can train the person to perform the skills necessary for the job. What you can’t teach is personality. An employee with a positive, upbeat, attitude is loved by patients, has great camaraderie with fellow employees and is liked by referral sources.
2. Never take your referral sources for granted.
If you slack off on customer service, the word will get around. You will lose both customer and professional referrals over time. Understand, your competition is working hard to build a relationship with your customers. If you begin paying them less attention, your competition will be able to grab some of that business. Letting that happen will be hazardous to your financial health.
3. Set quarterly goals.
Every quarter, set two or three obtainable goals that are focused on growing your business and on better training your employees. These might include reviewing product lines to determine if you need to add or remove products from your inventory. Your goals may include providing in-services to your employees to keep them knowledgeable of the products you currently carry, as well as introducing them to new products in the marketplace.
4. Be flexible.
Don’t be a stick in the mud. The DME business today is more challenging than ever. It is constantly changing, and you need to be able to adapt to what the industry is throwing at you. This may include looking at how you are currently providing services. Is there a better more cost-efficient way? Listen to your employees. They often have great ideas. (Refer to tip #1) Employees that feel they are important to the company will be more engaged and invested in the business. Engaged employees will have a positive effect over all phases of your business.
5. Accept that you can’t do everything.
Don’t try to be something that you are not. Just because you are in the DME business, doesn’t mean you have to carry or provide every item that is on the market. Determine your scope of business and focus on being the best you can be in those areas. Your business will be respected more if you provide the products and services that you do well rather than to attempt to be a jack-of-all-trades.