Saturday, June 15, 2024

Top three strategies care providers can use to weather economic downturns

An effective care home marketing strategy is crucial when faced with economic turmoil. The UK entered a recession at the end of 2023, following two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. High inflation and interest rates have damaged businesses across the UK.

Economic downturns like this can present several challenges for care providers. Among other difficulties, care providers can be faced with reduced funding and revenue, increased operating costs, staffing costs and fiercer competition.

However, even in a difficult market, there is always scope for care providers to succeed. So, if you are a care provider and you’re looking to not only survive but thrive during an economic downturn, what strategies should you adopt? In this article, we look at three key ways to help you weather the storm and ensure long-term success.

  1. Enhance your digital presence

In today’s digital age, having an online presence is key, especially for care providers. Families and customers have increasingly turned to the internet to find the best care facilities for their loved ones.

In the past potential clients may have often relied on word-of-mouth or direct referrals to choose a care home. These days it is common for families to look online for the highest-rated and most trusted care provider in their area. Having an informative and user-friendly website, engaging social media profiles, and positive online reviews can significantly influence their decision.

Consider optimising your website for search engines to ensure it ranks high in search results when potential clients search for care homes in your area. Regularly updating your website with blog posts, news updates, and current events can ensure that you remain relevant and engaging. Also, social media platforms, Facebook and LinkedIn especially, are particularly useful for care providers to show off the excellent care you provide and share the unique activities and events in your homes.

  1. Focus on differentiation and specialisation

In addition to being a crowded market, the care sector is facing falling occupancy rates. Despite approaching pre-pandemic levels of 87-89 per cent occupancy in 2023, the number of beds occupied fell again to 85.8 per cent in March 2024. One of the best ways to stand out is by offering something different or unique – you need a unique selling point. If your care home provides the same services or does the same things as all the rest, it can be difficult to grab people’s attention.

Think about what makes you and your home different and emphasise that. Do you cater to a particular market? Perhaps you have a unique wellness programme or a particular approach to holistic care. Highlighting features your competitors may not have can help you to look more attractive to potential clients who are looking for something specific.

If you don’t have a USP, consider developing innovative programmes or services that can cater to niche markets. Offering specialised therapies such as music therapy, pet therapy, or even art classes can significantly enhance the quality of life for your residents and set your care provider apart from the standard care home.

  1. Strengthen community and family engagement

Building strong relationships with the community and the families of your residents can be a great strategy during periods of economic hardship. Families are often reluctant to put their loved ones in a care home. Those that do want to know that their family members are in a supportive and caring environment. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, facilities that actively engage residents and families in decision-making processes see improves satisfaction rates and lower turnover rates.

Engaging with the local community through events, partnerships, and volunteer opportunities can help to raise the profile of your home. It is a good idea to host open days or charity events that not only attract potential clients but foster goodwill and cement bonds with the community which are beneficial in the long-to-medium term.

Regardless of the strategies you employ, remember that economic downturns are challenging but not impossible to overcome. Many care providers have even managed to grow during tough economic times by focusing on innovation, quality care, and community engagement.

If you can enhance your digital presence, ensure that you have a unique selling point, and strengthen your community and family engagement, you can ensure you not only survive but succeed, even in the face of economic challenges. When you come out on the other side, you’ll be a resilient and adaptable provider prepared for long-term success and stability.

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