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.

Ken Accardi:

So my name is Ken Accardi. I run a software company called Ankota, and we make software for basically running non-medical home care agencies. Also, I am a college professor and I teach the next generation of the best and brightest how to do great things with computers and that’s that’s me in a nutshell.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, that’s awesome and you guys have been around for a long time. You want to tell us a little bit more about Ankota and what you guys do?

Ken Accardi:

Sure. So we started the company in 2014 and we actually started focusing on the Medicaid market. So most of our… I guess there’s a very interesting split in the home care industry where a lot of the agencies take care of the wealthy that are being paid with private pay and long-term care insurance, and then there’s this whole other group that takes care of the clients who are more the poor, through Medicaid. It’s interesting I would say that we started on the Medicaid side and most of our Medicaid customers are 90 plus percent Medicaid, maybe some VA, and we’re actually moving more and more into the private pay and long-term care insurance side, which is very exciting for us. Another thing that we’re moving toward is long… Is I’m sorry, about dealing with adult daycare, because we think that with a shortage of caregivers, that we’re seeing more of a growth of adult daycare around the country. So those are a few of our specialty areas.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I just interviewed someone who does adult daycare, and we were talking about that and I said, “You know what I think it’s such a”, we talk about home care, home health care, assisted living, nursing homes, care homes. We talk about all these things and the missing piece here is that adult daycare can be an amazing resource and it’s so much less expensive than anything else out there. It really does a whole lot of good for folks who need more socialization, and some of these adult daycares can really take on some pretty sick people. I mean, they, they can take on folks that are very not well, if you have the right adult daycare. And so it’s a really a nice resource for families out there. [crosstalk 00:02:46]

Ken Accardi:

Exactly. The battle of 2021 and beyond is the battle for caregivers. This is a way where instead of sending a hundred caregivers to a hundred homes, you could have a hundred people come through your day center and staff it with 25 people. As Valerie said, “Provide excellent services”, there’s on one extreme, there’s something called the pace programs, which are designed to be an alternative to nursing homes with a much higher quality of life, another great thing is the seniors get to have friends at the day centers when that works out as well. I think it is a really important area and we’re seeing more and more of our home care agency customers add adult daycare centers.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think that’s a great idea for everybody. All right. Well, what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Ken Accardi:

So this is something I am real passionate about. I actually am now seven years into my company. I do have a mom who’s 84 and she is suffering some short-term memory loss and had some stability issues in the earlier parts of the days of COVID and things like that. So it is really personal to me, but I really think that we are in a fantastic industry, where we can do well by doing good, and I really am happy to be here.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think this is a great place to be, and it’s… And the last year has taught us a whole lot about how we could do things a little bit better or what things are working really well and what things are not working really well in some cases. And so we’ve learned a lot and I think it’s before COVID after COVID. This is a nice, this is a wonderful industry to participate in absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I would imagine that there are successful leaders, organizations, people who have been mentors in your life inspirations to you, who would you like to talk about?

Ken Accardi:

I would really like to give a shout out to a company in our industry that I don’t know them personally, but I really benefit from them and I hope that all your listeners know who they are and they’re called Home Care Pulse. And so Home Care Pulse… The big thing that really benefits me is that they do a benchmarking study of home care agencies, and it’s really a great way for you to see what other agencies are doing. What are they charging?, How are they recruiting caregivers?, and lots of things like that. They also have other programs and they also provide excellent internet content. I’m going to give my shout out to home care pulse, because I really learned a lot from them in their content.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. They do a fantastic job, they’ve been doing a great job for years and years. I know it’s funny because as a part of our services in my real job, not interviewing people, is just like, you have a kind of two real jobs is web development and every year at certain times we get an influx of support tickets from our clients, put this badge on my website, put this badge on my website, put this badge on my website. So we know all of our clients who have won those amazing Home Care Pulse awards, and they get their badges and their press releases. So we’re busy for a good couple of weeks trying to get everybody caught up on their badges and their new 2021s and all the things that that home care pulse provides. So it is a lot of fun for them, they really do work hard to get that information, and it’s good for them on an individual home care agency level, and it’s good for all of us as an industry to know what’s going on out there. So thanks for mentioning those folks, that’s awesome.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Well, let’s talk about online marketing a little bit. Obviously you provide software as a service and that is an online marketing, something that you probably have done a lot of in-person networking and marketing for over time at conferences and things like that, but online marketing has become a little bit more important in my mind then, maybe we thought about it. How we thought about it in the past, home care agencies typically love that in-person networking, and I don’t think that’ll ever go away it’s very important, it’s a trust builder. But online marketing took a turn for the better, I think, to shear, so what has been your experience?

Ken Accardi:

Great question. And this might not be appropriate for our meeting today, but is there a way I can share a screen?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Can. I should be able to share your screen.

Ken Accardi:

Okay, perfect. I am going to share a screen here and we’ll… In my experiences again, we’re marketing in a different way than a home care agency is, but we definitely do find that everything changes all the time and it’s very frustrating and that’s why you need friends and helpers like Valerie and her company to keep on top of things, but a couple of things I’d say is one is keep on top of your metrics. So here we see that in whatever time period we’re looking at here, we’ve got 42,000 site visitors and we’re up almost a hundred percent over the last year and that the people who are filling out forms are almost triple from where they are last year and things like that.

Ken Accardi:

So one thing I’d say is definitely look at your metrics, this is people who come to a page with a forum and what forms are performing and so on and so forth. And so just interestingly, if we go to our website, one thing that we learned that is really working well for us is that Google seems to really like pages with a lot of information. So this is a page here that we have, we call it our starting a home care agency-ultimate guide, and instead of just being a short page, it’s literally a chapter book that has all of these chapters of why do you want to be in home care and so on and so forth. And as you go down through this, there’s a lot of content, and this is a page that we created last summer, and now it gets over a thousand views in a month.

Ken Accardi:

That might be an idea if most of the pages on your site are really short, you might want to think about going for these longer, what they call long form content pages. Another little trick we’ve done recently is we tried to make interactive pages and things like that, so make it a little game. Even on Google, every once in a while they have a little game you could play and you just… You can’t help the click. This is a related, I guess, more to the Medicaid side, electronic visit verification, but if somebody wants to come in and say, “Okay, well we did 1200 visits in the last week and out of those, 1,127 of them had a good clock-in and a clock-out, do you have some caregivers who are avoiding time sheets?”

Ken Accardi:

I could say right here, yes. And then it’s going to say, “You’re grade is incomplete”, right? You’re trying to make it fun and interesting, and that’s a one last idea. And then another idea is that we have tried to follow in the footsteps of Valerie and we’ve added a podcast and now we’ve had some great guests and we are lucky that we’re even going to have miss Valerie VanBooven on our podcast. So those are a couple of things I wanted to share, and with that, I will try to figure out how to stop sharing my screen.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

No, you did a great job. That’s awesome. First of all, I want to say this. I just did, and I know there’s no way you could know this, but I just did a live broadcast on Facebook today to our group members, which you’re more than welcome to join. I know you need to be in another group, right? We did this for our Facebook group members and what I talked about was long formed content, and I totally get it that most of our home care agencies, when we develop a website, usually we’re looking at an old website or maybe none at all, but usually we’re looking at their old website and under companion care or under homemaker services or under private duty home care, they have a whole paragraph. And what [inaudible 00:10:48] I mean, that’s all they have it’s because it’s hard, if you’re not a writer to write all this content.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

What I illustrated in that live video, we went through a couple of our more recent websites and I said, “You see how long this page is, and do you see how we answered all the frequently asked questions that Google lists on a Google search people also ask”, and we go through and answer those frequently asked questions on this page in unique content but still answering the same question that everybody else needs to answer about what is companion care, how does Medicare paid for companion care or whatever the topic is.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And so, I just went through that and illustrated that the long form content is what gets you not only more visitors, but how to rank better and do a better job. So having said that, it not being a writer by trade, being someone who owns and manages a very busy home care agency or of startup a home care agency, that can be… It’s like you’re looking at the page going, “Oh my goodness, I don’t know what I’m going to new here”. So we write it for our clients, and of course they get to look at it and make sure it says everything they would normally say and most people are like, “Oh, awesome, thank you!” because I don’t want to write that stuff.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Having been in the market for 13 years, I’m being a nurse and doing all this stuff, we know what we can say and what we cannot say and what we should say and what we should not say and how to define the terms. And I think when you go to a traditional webs developer, which I’m nothing against [inaudible 00:12:27] developers, but if they’re generalist, they’re not going to be able to write this content, not without hiring someone who knows how to write it. I would suggest highly that, what do you just recommended and I have no doubt that it works really well for you too obviously long form content on pages that matter that answer, the frequently asked questions is really absolutely… And anything you can do interactive is great, but long form content is where it’s at and metrics are important. Sometimes our client’s eyes will glaze over with metrics, but it is important to know what’s going on for websites.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So thank you for illustrating that cause you’re exactly right.

Ken Accardi:

Yeah, for sure. I do remember one of your articles recently had a great suggestion of where to get some long-form content, which is to be sort of a magnet for what’s going on for seniors in your community, right? So what’s going on at the local area agency on aging or this event or that event, or if there’s a speaker at an assisted living. And if you could kind of aggregate onto a page what’s going on in your community, then think about all the searches that are going to happen for senior care and how you’re really going to bubble to the top, especially in the local search area. And I think that’ll really help you out a lot. That was a great suggestion from Valerie on her weekly email a few weeks back.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I do think if you can illustrate upcoming events that are important to seniors, important to families in your community, doesn’t even have to be senior related. If it’s a good family event, something that anyone would enjoy. It’s really nice to highlight that in your own local… Because you’re a local business, you should be a resource and often tell people you don’t need resource pages on your website. I get it. Everybody wants a resource page, but you come the resource, stop giving away those links. You become the resource and you talk about those things on your website and people will come to you. So you’re right about that, thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Let’s talk a little bit about advice. So you’ve been around the block a while you’ve talked to startups, people who’ve been in business for a long time. What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Ken Accardi:

Well, I’m going to put on my hat as a software vendor here and say that the one piece of advice I could give is try to make your software vendor into a partner in your growth and your success. As we were having more and more customers come over to us. We have almost a mantra internally. They come for the software, but they stay for the people and they love our customer support, and they love the fact that we are open to their ideas, and if they have a new feature requests that we don’t say, “Come to our conference next year and lobby for it, we just do it for them and that sort of thing”. So I would say, if you don’t feel like that’s how you’re dealing with your software vendor as a partner, that’s something to think about. They shouldn’t be an adversary, they should be somebody who really helps you grow and succeed and look for that.

Ken Accardi:

We hope that if you’re in our market, that you’ll consider looking at our software, but even if you’re not whoever you are, there’s a good chance that, that agency will… That company will want to really help you and support you in your growth and goals, that’s my piece of advice. It’s probably a little unique compared to other guests on Valerie’s program.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Stay for the people. That’s a great mantra. That’s a great thing. I mean, customer service is challenging these days. We all know that we have to press a thousand little (peep) when we call to get someone, either in support who understands and takes care of the issue or on the phone, or whatever is really nice, and it is the people that make that difference, absolutely. Last question, when you have a win in life or in business, how do you like to celebrate?

Ken Accardi:

Yeah. Perfect. So I am going to, again, where my CEO had here and I, as the CEO, you get to participate in all the wins. And for me, the biggest thing I want to do is make sure that we share the win. And so, first of all, there’s a great story about some employee, whether it was one of our customer support people or customer success manager, or project manager, or a sales person, or just a funny story, we add a customer who called us on their way to the hospital. They were delivering a baby, but I want to get my software in place before… I’ve heard about nesting before you have a baby, but we literally had somebody buy our software on their way to delivering a baby last week. So I think it’s… For me, it’s all about sharing the stories and really trying to give credit to your team members.

Ken Accardi:

Think about your caregivers, especially there in the home with that client, you maybe don’t see them that often, and if you can share the successes of the great stories about some caregivers and share those stories with your other caregivers, I think it’ll show to them. I’m just not working here with Mrs. Johnson, I’m working with a company that cares about me and they recognize me when I did something well, and I think that’ll, that’ll go a long way. For me, it’s giving thanks and sharing the good news.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. Absolutely. It’s all about the team effort. So thank you for that. If I tell my folks and I tell everybody, without the folks that work with me, there is no way that all of this would get done every day. So it’s really their successes as a whole, it’s our, our team as a whole. So yes, absolutely. That’s so nice. All right. So I want to thank you for being on the show for sharing your wisdom with us and sharing your screen, which is awesome. And letting us know more about what you all do there. So what we’ll do is we’ll put all of your contact information with your video, and if folks would like to get in touch with you, learn more about what you do, learn more about the difference between you and maybe someone else out there. I would love for them to get to know more about you. You guys should do a great job and have for a long time.

Ken Accardi:

Well, fantastic. Thanks so much and bye everybody.