Make the Downturn Your Upturn
When faced with a crisis, that results in a downturn in traffic, calls, and admissions, there are many actions that you can make. Most of them at the time may seem like the correct decision but ultimately they may turn out to be counterproductive. Below we will discuss some of the actions many have taken because of the crisis.
- Reducing your staff: We have heard from many facilities that they immediately cut staff in anticipation of a downturn in admissions. Many felt the reduction in calls, the inability of their Outreach Team to see referrers would lead to an overall reduction in admissions.
- Not directly address the Crisis in statements to prospective clients and referrers. Indecision during a crisis can lead to a type of paralysis that leaves your prospective clients, loved ones and referrers confused as to your messaging.
- Cutting your advertising budget as you are seeing rising costs and a weaker response. Many have seen a reduction in organic traffic and some have seen that PPC costs have risen slightly but it is not generating the number of calls as the dollars spent before the crisis generated.
- Keeping everything the same and not doing anything different.
This can be one of the most drastic actions that you can take when your census begins to dip, especially faced with the unknown of the future that this crisis presents. Layoffs are very difficult as your staff in many cases may almost feel like an extended family. There is also the camaraderie that has built up in your facilities between your staff. Once layoffs start, you may find that overall morale begins to suffer and your quality of care may also begin to deteriorate. Your staff is one of your most valuable assets and in tough times numbers on a spreadsheet may override clearer thought. Being concerned about making payroll in tough times can be one of the most stressful decisions and they are reoccurring, making them even worse.
Before making any decisions about cutting staff, here is a list of questions that you should answer before pulling the trigger:
- How much money are you looking to save by cutting staff?
- Can you reduce some hours and spread them out so that no cuts need to be made?
- How much does it cost to recruit new employees?
- How long does it take to train a new employee?
- How will the layoffs affect employees that survive the layoff?
- How will the layoffs affect your clients?
Be honest with yourself with these answers as they will help give you some clarity in making these tough decisions.
Not Addressing the Crisis Publicly
The crisis has unfolded and you are deciding what type of statement to make to potential prospects, loved ones, and referrers. The first thing that you need to do is work with your staff and marketing department to craft a consistent and effective message to these groups. The message must contain details, be concise and impactful. Once this message has been produced it should be posted on your website, social media and given to your outreach department so that they can get it to their referrer base.
Here are some more creative approaches:
- Holding Video Conferences with some of your key staff members for loved ones.
- Holding video conferences for referrers.
- Holding more general video conferences for prospects snd loved ones.
- Use of on-line alumni support via video conferencing.
- Direct mail to referrers and loved ones.
- Use of video to explain how the implementation is working in your facility.
It is always better to directly confront the situation or crisis with your best foot forward. This will not only instill confidence with your staff but trust with potential clients loved ones and referrers.
Cutting Your Advertising Budget
When a crisis hits and your advertising is not producing the results you expect based on past performance, almost everyone immediately cuts their budget. This has the doubling effect of reducing your call volume and inquiries even further and creating an even greater problem. Compounding a problem is not the answer it only makes things worse. It is at this point that you have to apply time-tested metrics to your advertising based against your costs. In this day and age of attribution and so many different platforms and audience segmentation, it is easy to lose sight of what your advertising really is, Direct Response.
In order to accurately gauge your advertising bang for the buck, even in crisis times, you must have a firm grasp on the following:
- How much does it cost on a monthly basis to run your facility?
- What is the average monthly billing from a client?
- Is there any bad debt associated with the average monthly billing?
- How many clients with their average monthly billing does it take to break even?
- What did it cost you pre-crisis to acquire a client? This should include both Outreach costs and advertising costs.
- What percentage of your clients re-admit?
- What percentage of your clients refer?
If you have these numbers, then from here it becomes just math. The math will tell you how much you can now spend to acquire a client, you will feel confident and comfortable spending when your competitors have pulled back. There are also some other things that you will learn by mastering these numbers that will put you above your competition. The need has not gone away, it has increased. Now is the time to build your census, not pull back.
This is perhaps the worst decision that you can make. The crisis at hand is the most dominant thing on the planet currently and it is adversely affecting the entire nation. It is creating a whole new language, way of living and a worsening addiction and mental health crisis. It is our mission to help as many people suffering as possible. Not following any of the steps outlined above in addressing the crisis will be shouting to prospective clients, loved ones and referrers that you really don’t care about them. Don’t wait to get in front of this, you are a critical provider of much-needed services and you need to let everyone in need know that you are here to help.