Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market share their advice. So, let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Shelly Hartley: https://www.mindfulhometransitions.com/

Hello. Well first, thank you Valerie for your work in the Senior Care Industry. We appreciate this opportunity to share a little bit about our business today and I’ve enjoyed watching the other Netcast as well. So, my name is Shelly Hartley and I’m with Mindful Home Transitions and we are a senior-based business. What we do is we assist seniors and their families with the physical and emotional demands of rightsizing, decluttering, moving, organizing, and the entire move process from start to finish.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is a huge job. Huge job. Especially if you lived in your house for, well, any length of time for me but for 30 years, 40 years. Oh my goodness. The amount of stuff that we accumulate naturally is crazy. So when someone’s lived in their amazing family home for years and years and years, I know it’s an emotional time. It is also a very physically challenging time to get everybody organized and to get moved. So what is the best thing about serving aging adults? And feel free to talk more about what you do and what that means.

Shelly Hartley:

Sure, of course. Okay. So, well, our tagline is we take the work in the worry out of moving because we know, I mean, I think it’s like the top three worst things you face going through life. So we understand that. And like you said, with the family home of 40 plus years, there’s a lot that accumulates. I think one of our fun stories is we were with a couple and they said, “Where did all this come from?” And they each were looking at each other and they thought, “Where did these things, where do they come from?” So, I mean, that is a challenge, but we have figured out a way to move somebody through that entire process rather quickly.

            And to answer your question, one of my favorite things really is when, after we moved somebody, to see them thriving in their new environment. Sometimes it’s a senior community, sometimes it’s just a condo, or a ranch home, but just to go back and to see how they’ve adapted. And I think a little story is, I was talking to somebody a month after we moved them. And the daughter said, “Every time I call my mom, I can’t reach her because she’s down playing bingo or she’s socializing with other ladies that she’d met.” Some new found friends. So that’s always good. That’s one of the things that we like to hear. And all the stories of course, but it really just to see them thrive in a new environment when it’s just everything’s new and they are enjoying it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. You know what, I would totally agree with you if I were in your shoes because just having done some care management in my lifetime, the folks that… It’s a scary time. It’s a scary time before the move. It’s an emotional time. It’s overwhelming. But when you hear somebody say, “I should have done this 10 years ago. I should’ve done this 20 years ago.” That is amazing. That is so nice to hear.

            And a lot of people do wait too long. I mean, they really could have a much more social environment or whatever they want to make out of that in a big senior living community where they have access to all kinds of amenities. So I would agree with [inaudible 00:04:01]. That has to be so rewarding to know they’re well cared for. They’re doing great and they’re enjoying it. And they have no reservations about that decision. They love it.

Shelly Hartley:

Right. And sometimes when we move somebody or even if they stay in their own house and we help them organize or declutter, and they say to us after like what we call the HGTV, The Big Reveal, and they come in and they’re so delighted and we get all the compliments. But I always have to let them know that these are your items. These are things from your house. And so when they are moving and we still lack the things that when they’re walking around their home, they’re pointing out things, but sometimes the way that they’re grouped or the way that they’re positioned in their home don’t highlight them. So when we can, in their new environment, we take all those things and we create a new environment and everything is decorated. They’re so delighted. And it’s like, “Well, these are your items. You have excellent taste. You picked out these.” So this a rediscover for them. And we really enjoy being a part of that process.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh my gosh. I want an HGTV with Big Reveal. Come to my house. I want a Big Reveal. Yeah. I know. I think at any age, we’ve lived, our families lived in our current home, same neighborhood for 15 years, but our current home for three years, we needed to up-size because our teenagers are getting older and bigger by the minute. And it’s the great decluttering process.

            But still, I think even after just a few years, it’s amazing how much you accumulate and you have to constantly be doing a Marie Kondo or whatever her name is. That wonderful woman. You constantly have to be redoing that, that it never stops. So it is a lot, it was a lot. So thankfully there are folks like you out there who can help these seniors and their families, because I’m sure there’s a lot of adult children who just look around and go, “Uh-oh, what am I going to do with all this stuff?”

Shelly Hartley:

Exactly. And that really the challenge. And it is. And a lot of times the adult children, they’re professionals, or they’re out of state, more people are transient now. And they don’t have time to work every weekend at mom and dad’s house, setting up a garage sale, or state sale, or going through everything and sorting. So there’s always been moving companies and moving companies started to pack, but there really hasn’t been companies that can go in and help with the decision-making. Sometimes we’re counselors or therapists, we’re social workers. There’s all different types of family dynamics that we have to work with. And you just need a neutral Switzerland in there sometimes to just keep the ball moving and working towards that goal.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. That is so great. You described that in such a nice way. Family dynamics are huge issues, so yes. Yeah. It’s nice to be just sort of the third party that comes in and can help everybody with whatever their needs are. So I would imagine in your career that there have been people or organizations that have really made an impact on you. They have guided you to where you are today. So who is it that you would like to shine the spotlight on or give a shout out to?

Shelly Hartley:

Okay. Well, a few. The first, my husband. He’s a hospice nurse and I know that that is challenging to be a nurse, but let alone in hospice. And so for him, first. And then I worked with… Actually NASMM. NASMM is the National Association of Senior Move Management. And that’s who actually started the whole senior move management, I would say, career or businesses. And so I think that I’m very fortunate that I found them and they’ve given us the training, the education. They’re constantly supporting the sisterhood of all of us out there. So definitely a shout out to NASMM.

            And then I would also say a community. I work with a lot of different communities but one in particular, St. Joseph’s Village in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti area in this outset of Detroit. They have really gone above and beyond, I think during this whole COVID crisis, to not only help the people that are currently in their community, but people that need to move in or maybe transition from independent to assisted living. Just every time I’m there, I’m always delighted with not only Patty Elbert who works with people moving in, but just everyone in the office down to maintenance. And they get my shout out today because they do a fantastic job.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Isn’t it nice to come across an organization that should be the model for everyone else and that you get to work with them. I love it when I find somebody out there who really just does the right thing and does a great job. They’re organized and they’re helpful and they understand the need of that client or that senior. [inaudible 00:09:15] That is wonderful to be able to have those kinds of people to work with. So that’s awesome.

            Awesome. All right. Let’s talk about online marketing a little bit. It’s been really hard to network in person for the last year, plus a little bit. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are getting better and we’re still kind of [inaudible 00:09:37] with getting together in big groups. So online marketing is become very important. So what has been your experience with online marketing, zoom calls and all those things that we do?

Shelly Hartley:

Well, I’m thankful for Zoom because we certainly use it a lot a year ago. And I think that for me, small business owner, it is one of, probably not one of, the biggest challenges that we have. It’s not an area of expertise, along with that, I just don’t have the time to put forth to learn the different platforms. I mean, I’m very proud of myself for doing this today. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about calling and canceling because of the… It’s something that you just don’t [inaudible 00:10:22].

            So I probably in the very, very, very near future will be a new customer of the approved senior network, because I think that’s something that I’m going to need. But we’ve used Facebook and of course a website. But all the other platforms, I found that we have been thankful to work off of referrals and that constantly gives us business. But to grow the business, we have to have a professional handle the marketing. That is something that can’t be done in-house. I mean, luckily we have scaled back, because we keep teams small because of COVID. However I do, like you believe right around the corner, we can start to have the freedoms that we once had. And so if I want my business to grow, I’m going to have to rely upon someone that’s an expert in that area.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You know what, I would say this. I mean, everybody has the same issue. You are an expert at what you do. I do not ever want to move somebody in my field. I will hire somebody to help them move and help them get to where they need to be. And oversight is fine, but that’s not my area of expertise. When you have a family… So just like anything, online marketing is a challenge. It’s a challenge for the experts. It’s a challenge for everybody. And I would say that no matter which way you turn, as long as you have a really good website and some social media presence.

            And I honestly, LinkedIn is great, because that’s how we met. And then Facebook is really where our demographic is. It’s really where it gets older by the day. So people our age and older are on Facebook, looking at their grandchild’s pictures and all the things that they like. And so those are the kinds of places that are important. You can narrow it down to one or two platforms and be fine, but it is a challenge, I would say for someone who’s very busy.

            But referrals, in-person referrals, will always be the number one way to get new business. Because nothing beats a person saying, “Well, I use so-and-so and they were awesome.” There is nothing else that can beat that. So it’s always going to be your first line of marketing. That’s what I tell everybody. But then online marketing can always help. So, yeah. I hear that a lot, it is a challenge, but definitely overcomeable. Okay. What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers out there?

Shelly Hartley:

Well, even as a professional in my industry, I am still learning every day from others. And I’ve learned a few tips actually from watching one of your Netcast. But I will say that I think that right now it’s important to refresh, recharge, regroup, and really organize. Because I feel like right around the corner, everyone is going to be swamped in the senior care industry. I think we always believe that during the holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, end of year, families tend to get together. And that’s when things are noticed a little bit. That maybe mom or dad, there’s been some changes that maybe with the hygiene, the way that they took care of their home, what they’re eating, and you notice those things during the holiday. And then you think, “Okay, the beginning of the year, let’s address these.” Well, people didn’t get together during the holidays.

            So now as things are opening up and families are flying to see one another, I think that people’s eyes are going to be opened and they’re going to see like, “Wow, some changes need to happen.” So I think the industry overall, it doesn’t matter if they’re moving, staying in their home, or just need additional care. I think that everyone’s going to be really swamped. So I think just getting ready, making sure that all of your systems are in place is going to be really important because I feel like all of a sudden, it’s just the calls are going to start coming in nonstop.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I would agree with you. I think you’re right. There are families who haven’t seen their loved ones easily in a year or more. And by the time the holidays roll around, it’ll be a year and a half maybe, or maybe two years since they’ve seen their family member. And there’s going to be a lot of shock out there about how people fared on their own without a whole lot of interaction over the last year. So I think you’re right.

            I think there’s going to be a lot of calls for what isolation can do and it’s not intentional. But it is something that can take a toll on folks and just energy levels. If you don’t leave the house and you’re not doing as much as you used to, your energy level for a year is going to decrease. And you’re not going to feel like cleaning the house so much. And you’re not going to feel like washing the dishes every day, or maybe there’s a bit of a mental decline. So I think you’re right.

            I think people are going to get a really good dose of what’s going on this holiday season and it’s going to be crazy. I think even the summer, as people start to travel a little bit more. People start to see what the reality has been for the last year. So those are going to be some interesting times. You’re right. We all need to refresh and recharge. I think you’re right. It’s coming. It’s coming. All right. When you have a win in `life or [inaudible 00:16:14], how do you like to celebrate?

Shelly Hartley:

So me, I am no stranger to a nice glass of wine or cocktail. So we definitely, to everyone that helps us along the way, we make sure that we celebrate together and always good meals, good food, really talking about that win. I mean wins come, they come in many forms. And to us, sometimes it’s just the referral, it’s the repeat business. If we’ve moved somebody independent to assisted, to memory care. Other times, it’s just knowing that the work that we did, they are safer. And that is just a big win to me. Just knowing that everyone’s safe and there’s no hazards in the home anymore. But we like to get together and really just to take some downtime and celebrate through a nice meal. I’d like to say vacation, but we can’t vacation quite yet. So hopefully soon. Hopefully soon.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. It would be nice to you say vacation again. It will be. We’re planning on taking our little summer vacation. We’re driving, we’re being careful and almost [inaudible 00:17:33] and not going that far. But it’s still going to be away from our house. So yeah. Those are great ways to celebrate. And I would imagine that when your job is done and the family’s happy, the senior is happy, and things are looking good, that just gives you awesome. You’re just so relieved for them. Relief for their family and happy that that person’s happy. I can imagine that’s a nice time to just sit back and relax for a while, I think. Whew, we did a good job today.

Shelly Hartley:

Yeah. It’s so rewarding. It really, it is. And especially because it’s so often dreaded. We say that sometimes it takes longer to dread something than to actually do it. And so I love when we get the calls and there’s all the barriers and we’re able to just start working and get that ball rolling. And by the end of the week, by Friday, everything’s set in place, their houses staged, ready to go on the market. We fixed all the little repairs and you can just feel the sense of relief come over everybody in the family. So, yeah. It is very rewarding. I feel like we found our calling.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. And I’m sure that listening to this, there’ll be other people who will be very intrigued by what you do and either… And my hope is always that, as doing these interviews, that there are people out there who will see them. They may be already thinking about being in some senior care type business or maybe they already are, and they will want to go down that path and start their career. And maybe they’ll be the next senior mover in their local area that’s well-educated and has a well-managed business. So everybody’s an inspiration I think that comes on and you’ve shared your wisdom and I appreciate that and so does everybody else. So thank you very much.

Shelly Hartley: Well, thank you. I appreciate the call.