One of the questions I get asked the most by people starting out their own home care business in Canada is:
“Should I hire people first? Or should I start with marketing?”
I get the question so often I thought it would be best just to write an article about it.
So let me start by telling you what I did…
When I started out several years ago I agonized over what I should do first.
On the one hand I was really afraid of what would happen if I started marketing and was flooded with new clients but had absolutely no staff to help me fill all those shifts!
On the other hand I really didn’t know what to tell caregivers I was interviewing when they asked me how many clients we had and when they could start work! These people would be coming to my interview hoping for a job - what would I say to them???
So here is what I did.
I decided I would hire first.
I worked for a week building an interview guide, designing job descriptions, and building a skills matrix in order to help me hire a strong starting team with a good mix of skills.
Then I set myself up in my local Tim Horton’s with a binder of resumes and did a dozen interviews.
Through that process I hired a team of 5 capable, hardworking, lovely caregivers who were all very eager to start work right away.
And here’s the catch…
Not one of those caregivers I hired ever actually worked with a client on behalf of my company
The reason is because it took me around 8 weeks from the date of those interviews before I actually had a client to work with.
In that time, all of those talented hard working caregivers had moved on to other companies who actually had clients and hours to offer them.
So when I finally did get a client wanting to hire my company, I scrambled like crazy to book as many interviews in the next 48 hours as I could.
And I ended up hiring a caregiver that was perfect for that client and stayed working with him as long as he was with my company.
What I realized through this process is...
You can’t do one or the other first, you have to market and hire SIMULTANEOUSLY.
You go out looking for clients and when you get one you start hiring for that right away.
This simultaneous process has some huge benefits as well:
Benefit #1 - You can hire caregivers into specific schedules that work really well for them
Caregivers are often working multiple jobs, have young families and have commitments outside of work. They have extremely busy schedules already.
But now you have an advantage!
Because you’re hiring for a particular client you already know what your client wants you can be very specific about what days and hours you’re looking for.
You can ask an interview question like this:
“I have a client I think you would be perfect for but they are looking for someone to visit them Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4pm-8pm every week. Is that something you can commit to in your schedule?”
Being this specific up front means the caregiver knows what they’re committing to and so they’ll be much less likely to want to change it later.
Better for the caregiver and better for the client.
Benefit #2 – You can ask interview questions that are specific to the client’s environment.
For instance, since you’ve visited the client you may already know that he has a cat. So you can ask the caregiver specifically if they are ok with cats.
Believe me, it matters.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve forgotten little detail like that and then the caregiver goes to visit the client once and calls right after their shift saying they’ll never go back because they’re allergic to the pet.
Hiring and marketing simultaneously helps you avoid situations like that.
Benefit #3 – Word spreads FAST about your company and your ability to provide hours
So if you’re able to hire someone and get them into a good schedule that matches their availability right in the interview, you better believe they’re going have good things to say about you and your company to their friends.
You will start to build a reputation as a busy company that finds great fits for caregivers and has lots of hours to give.
That reputation will help you more than any marketing campaign could.
That all sounds great, but what do I do if I can’t hire someone fast enough for a client I just got???
Well I know that you already read The Most Important Ingredient for Success and so you already know that if you promised a client you would fill a shift then you need to deliver what you promised.
That means if you can’t find someone, then YOU ARE GOING TO THE SHIFT YOURSELF.
Even if that’s 12 hour night shifts…they are yours until you find the perfect person for that client. So get your shoes on!
And keep in mind, there’s no better way for you to get to know the client than to work with them yourself!
I’ve worked my share of night shifts to get where I am, so if you want to build a successful business, you better be ready to do the same!
I get asked all the time what to do first.
And my answer is...neither.
You don’t need to market first or hire first, you need to do both simultaneously.
Not only does it prevent you from hiring people you don't need, but it helps set you up for success once you do get some clients!
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