The perils of under-resourcing

One of my family members who is now rather frail but insistent on staying in her own home has carers to visit her four times a day, to get her in and out of bed and to prepare meals and attend to other needs as necessary.

Obviously we have to deal with the agencies providing the carers and it may surprise you to know that we are now employing the third agency in about four months.

The first two agencies were a disaster. Their visiting times were erratic and sometimes they failed to come at all, leaving the poor lady in bed until lunchtime as we only later found out. They failed in many other irritating and occasionally unfortunate ways, but I will spare you the details.

Some of those agency employees were indeed caring. They explained that things went wrong because they were understaffed and trying to cover too many clients. They had no back up if one had a major problem with a client and could not send a relief person to deal with the next client on the list, which was why our relative was left to lie in bed until lunchtime on that occasion.

Finally we were referred to another agency, who it has to be said are a bit more expensive. They have a smaller staff and fewer clients, but even so they have more than enough employees to cover all their clients’ requirements. Our invalid is very happy. She doesn’t worry about when the next visit will be. We don’t worry because we know that she is at last in good hands and we will not get that telephone call to go to the rescue at whatever time of the day or night.

There is a business lesson here, it seems to me. The first two agencies were chasing every bit of business they could and accepting everything flung at them by the local authority. They were never honest and said “we are at full capacity and we haven’t the resources to meet your or the clients’ needs.” That means that they will continue to fail and they will always lose clients as quickly as they get them. Even though it is a narrow sector they have a high client churn rate and lose what should be long-term business.

The current agency charges more. They provide a great service, which is why they get referrals rather than have to fight to stay afloat. They have the staff to cope. They do not have to tout for business; it finds them. They take away the clients’ pain and they take away our pain in terms of worry.

Most of us are in business to take away our clients’ and customers’ pain. If we can provide a great service we will get more referrals and we will be able to charge more too, because relief from stress is what everyone wants, and the price is worth paying. Don’t you agree?

© Jon Stow 2010

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