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EP 147 SCI Netcast: Andy Howard, HomeCare Professionals, SF Bay and Sacramento

EP 147 SCI Netcast: Andy Howard, HomeCare Professionals, SF Bay and Sacramento
EP 147 SCI Netcast: Andy Howard, HomeCare Professionals, SF Bay and Sacramento
EP 147 SCI Netcast: Andy Howard, HomeCare Professionals, SF Bay and Sacramento

Visit HomeCare Professional’s website at https://www.hcprosonline.com

 

Full Transcript

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. Let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Andy Howard:

I am Andy Howard, I’m the CEO and Founder of HomeCare Professionals. We are a non-medical and home-care company based in the San Francisco Bay area. Started the company in 2005, so it’s been quite a while.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, definitely more than three years of experience. That’s awesome.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[inaudible 00:00:41]-

Andy Howard:

Just a few.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You guys have been around for a long time. You’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry and in the market, and you’ve been through all the ups and downs that everything could throw us at this point, I think. I know you guys do a really good job, and the last couple of years have been challenging for everybody across the board, no matter who you are. Every business has been affected. I know you guys are really thriving and doing great. We appreciate you sharing your wisdom with us today.

Andy Howard:

Well, thanks. I don’t know how much wisdom I have, but certainly a lot of practical experience, and you learn from your successes and failures. We’re still going, so we’re doing something right, I guess.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s right, you are. Tell us, what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Andy Howard:

The best thing is definitely the reward one gets, and that reward being, you realize what you’re doing is important. It’s making a difference in people’s lives. Obviously, there’s the seniors and their families. We enable people to remain living at home. That’s the bottom line, and living at home for as long as they can, and as safely as possible.

Andy Howard:

I think prior to getting into this industry, I had no idea of the just emotional lift you get when you’ve got a successful placement, and we’ve had clients that have gone for 10 years plus. But the other part that I also didn’t appreciate at first is, you’re making a difference in the caregivers’ lives too.

Andy Howard:

A lot of the caregivers are amazing people, often from very underserved communities, and you’re not just giving them employment, but stability and just all these things, that you realize you’re helping these people who really need help. You’re putting two needy groups together, and when it works well, it just really, really feels good.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. It’s great to be in a position where you know as a business owner, that you’re not only helping the frail elderly, or seniors who just need a little help around the house, but you’re also able to help other people feed their families.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And you’re able to contribute as a business owner to the health and wellbeing of all of your employees in some way.

Andy Howard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I know, and these caregivers, I know you’ve sung their praises many times on these interviews, but really they’re the feet on the street. They’re the people in the front line that have been helping these seniors, no matter how challenging it has been over the last two years, eighteen months, or however long we’ve been dealing with pandemics and things like that. So, they deserve definitely a recognition and praise, because they’ve really done a great job, most of them.

Andy Howard:

Yeah. It doesn’t happen without them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Yeah. All right. I would imagine that in your lifetime or in your career lifetime, that there have been organizations and people in the San Francisco Bay area, or maybe nationally, who’ve really made an impact on you, who you think really do a great job out there. Is there anybody in particular you’d like to talk about?

Andy Howard:

One group that comes to mind, I think, for people who aren’t in the business, especially in California, wouldn’t know of this group, but that’s CAHSAH, California Association of Health Services at Home. I’ve been very involved with CAHSAH, and CAHSAH’s a nonprofit organization. It is sort of an industry representative. They represent the interests of home-care companies legislatively.

Andy Howard:

They’re based in Sacramento, but also just generally speaking, they’ve really been a great resource navigating all the changes. As you alluded to earlier, things have changed so much since I’ve been in the business. When I started there wasn’t licensure, there was one tier of companies that tried to do things the right way, i.e employing their caregivers, and background checks. There were other agencies that cut corners at every opportunity.

Andy Howard:

That’s all changed now, but it’s all these different regulations, and things that have happened over the years, court cases and now of course, the pandemic. CAHSAH’s been a great resource, of how to navigate those things and try to sift through what you do, what you don’t need to worry about, legal resources, and just provides a great community for… and it’s not just business owners.

Andy Howard:

I happen to be a business owner, but really it’s business leaders in the industry. Of, “Hey, how are you handling this new [inaudible 00:05:36] requirement,” or whatever the case may be. It’s really been a great resource. Again, you wouldn’t know anything about it unless you’re in the business in California.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, no, we’ve seen their logo a million times over the years, and we know that it is a great organization that is well supported, and that it does a good job for everybody there in California. So, that’s good.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It’s good to be a member, and it’s good to see those agencies that are members and are participants. Because I think it’s really important. Important organization. So, great. That’s awesome.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. I would… let’s talk about online marketing for a minute.

Andy Howard:

Okay.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Now, full disclosure, you’ve been a client of ours for a long time.

Andy Howard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But I know that in the last couple of years, online marketing has been challenging for a variety of reasons. The pandemic has helped people understand the value of online marketing, which also makes people get online more, and you have more competition in your online marketing space. Also, Google has made a tremendous amount of changes in the last couple of years.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think every six months we go through this, big algorithm changes and things like that. So, online marketing is complicated, but it’s very valuable in your day-to-day business. What have you guys found? There’s so much you can do out there, from leads, and other companies that have people that need help, that you get information from, and your own website. What have you guys found?

Andy Howard:

Yeah. To me, that’s been one of the big evolutions of our company, and definitely a driver of growth. Like most people who got into the home-care business, 90-some-odd percent of my business at first was coming directly from local referral sources, people who I built an in-person relationship with, and maintained those relationships over the years, and you service those referral sources and provide good care, and you wind up getting more referrals.

Andy Howard:

To scale, however, you really need to have diversified referral streams. I think the pandemic has really driven that home, because you can’t just walk into skilled nursing, or an acute-care hospital, or an acute rehab, and go visit these people who you’ve been building and maintaining these relationships with over the years. Of course, by the way, they move all the time. They leave this facility, they go to that facility. So, you’re constantly, in the past, just always out there being that marketer, to really build and maintain those relationships.

Andy Howard:

Well, that has changed. Yes, we try to email them and [inaudible 00:08:32] very helpful in putting email campaigns, drip marketing together. But you really need to have referral streams that are separate from that, because when that went away with COVID, most scary, and you really worry about the viability, at least in the near term, of your business.

Andy Howard:

So, the nice thing about the online avenue is you can scale it based on budget, of course. We needed more referrals, we just increased our spending and sure enough, more referrals, more clients come in. So it’s really been a very helpful tool. Of course, once you look at scaling your business, you need to get out of your local area, and you don’t have referral… or excuse me, relationships in those areas.

Andy Howard:

So again, now, then it becomes, it’s the building block that you’re starting your expanded business upon, or your expanded coverage upon, while you’re still trying to build those personal relationships. Those are always going to be important, but it’s nice to be able to use these things in tandem, and not have all your eggs in one referral basket.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Andy Howard:

A long-winded answer, but that’s… Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, I think that you’re right. You’re right. You’re right, and I think a lot of people learn that the hard way. We have always said that referral marketing, probably as long as we’re alive, will always be one of the most important things you could ever do, is have that in-person networking, referral relationship, getting to know people, looking them in the eyes. Then suddenly, that was taken away.

Andy Howard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:10:09] in the eye right now, except if they’re on Zoom. So, yeah, it did rattle a lot of cages and it was very concerning for the first few months. Then people started to get creative via email or Zoom meetings, or we all got very creative about how we interview people and how we connected with our referral partners, and still to this day, and I know California is in and out of lockdown a lot, and a hotbed for things that come first before the rest of us experience them, a lot of times. The East Coast and the West Coast get hit, then it comes to where I am in the middle.

Andy Howard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, you guys still are in and out of lockdowns. We experience that a little bit here too.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:10:57] challenging to get together and have a big meeting, or even a happy hour with a bunch of people you don’t know. All that stuff is a little [crosstalk 00:11:09]-

Andy Howard:

Right. Right. Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… your seniors safe. So yeah, I think online marketing has, I guess, a renewed viability. I think it’s always been viable, and obviously I’ve been doing this a long time, but I don’t think people understood the value of it, when it’s done correctly, that it really can have a good impact on your business. It’s an investment.

Andy Howard:

Yeah. It’s not only just the client side of things. Now, we’re so dependent upon online marketing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[inaudible 00:11:44].

Andy Howard:

Just as important, getting new clients, it’s bringing in, keeping your flow of caregivers coming in.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely.

Andy Howard:

This industry, just by its nature, has a tremendous amount of turnover. We don’t know how long our clients are going to be clients, and we don’t know how many hours they’re going to request until we sign them up. So it’s very hard to give employees long-term stable employment. So they go from company to company, and they need to, right? They’re trying to pay the bills.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Right.

Andy Howard:

But without a real online campaign to keep bringing in people who want to work in this industry, [inaudible 00:12:24] be lost again. When I started out, it was all word of mouth and we put up little flyers here and there, little tear-off sheets, and that worked then, in the early 2000s.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:12:33].

Andy Howard:

That doesn’t cut it anymore.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

No. My, how things have changed. Yes.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

We absolutely have to, we almost have to be just as good of a marketer for recruiting as we do for achieving [crosstalk 00:12:48].

Andy Howard:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It’s a challenging time, but yeah, I think online marketing helps a lot. Thank you for your insight on that. I know that a lot of startups and a lot of folks who haven’t done a whole lot of online marketing, they get confused about what they should be doing and who they should be listening to. It really is a bit of a challenge out there.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, I appreciate the fact that this has gone well for you guys, and continues to do that. Well, this is the next question. I think everybody, no matter how new you are to this business or how old you are in this business, always could use a good tip or some advice. What piece of advice would you give to other senior-care providers out there today?

Andy Howard:

Can’t fake it, don’t try to fake it. The people in this business that do well, that I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot of them over the years, they’re people who have a passion for helping people. I didn’t know I had that passion, to be honest, when I started doing it, when I first took a job. I began initially working for another home-care company, essentially as a salesperson. I grew up with a lot of grandparents around, had a good respect for seniors ingrained in me, but I was a young 20-something at the time. It wasn’t a very sexy occupation.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Andy Howard:

But I did it, I did it, which I thought would be a stepping stone in furthering sort of a medical career. I discovered I really liked it. For me, it went back to the outcomes. I was amazed at how often you placed this caregiver, who was working largely unsupervised, with someone who’s a very needy person, and vulnerable, and could easily be taken advantage of, and how often that just worked well and really made you feel good about people.

Andy Howard:

I really liked it. After a couple of years, I decided, “[inaudible 00:14:50] could do this on my own.” So I did, but a lot of people get into this industry because they read the demographics of how many baby boomers are, I guess, they’re starting to turn close to 75 now-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Andy Howard:

… every day and, “Oh, it’s this huge market.” It is, it is those things, but if you don’t really feel it, it’s challenging to really build that name and that brand recognition that people trust. That’s really what it comes down to. You got to have your clients, and your caregivers for that matter, trust that you’re going to do right by them. That would be my tip.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think that’s a good tip. Truly, you guys work so hard to keep everybody well and happy, and fully staffed, and do all the things that you do for your clients and your caregivers. You really do have to have a heart in this to be able to go with the flow of every day-

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… of all the ups and downs that can happen. It’s not an easy business. It’s very rewarding, but it is also very challenging.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, you have to have your heart in it. So, you’re right. You’re right. Thank you for that. All right. Last question’s supposed to be a fun one. When you have a win in life or in business, how do you like to celebrate?

Andy Howard:

I think I celebrate by trying to recognize someone who maybe doesn’t get a lot of recognition, be it a caregiver or someone who works behind the scenes. Who just maybe doesn’t get just a lot of accolade in what they do, just by nature of the position. Really try to point them out and recognize them in front of the group.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Andy Howard:

I think acknowledgement goes a long way. We take a lot of pride in our team, especially the team of people who aren’t the caregivers, who are working in various administrative roles, and yeah, they don’t get a lot of that reward from… They talk to the clients, they talk to the caregivers, so they know what’s happening, but it’s fun to really recognize those folks when something really goes right. It often does, so we definitely try to do that as much as possible. I don’t know if that’s much of a celebration.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:17:28].

Andy Howard:

That’s what comes to mind for me.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. Your scheduler, what’s a scheduler?

Andy Howard:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But that person has one of the hardest jobs in the whole [crosstalk 00:17:40].

Andy Howard:

Oh yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Your recruiters have a really hard job. So, yes, I think you’re right, recognizing those people that the clients don’t see every day, the adult children don’t talk to every day, and the other staff sometimes don’t know the challenges behind their roles. It’s great to recognize them.

Andy Howard:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Give them some extra chocolate cake or something, because [inaudible 00:18:02]-

Andy Howard:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… extra cup of coffee. Anyway, so that’s great. Now, I’m glad you guys do that. It really helps everybody get through the week, the day, the month, the year, when people recognize us for the good things we do.

Andy Howard:

Yeah. We try, we try.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, you guys have been around a long time. I will make sure that your contact information is with this video. So, if folks in the San Francisco Bay area are looking for help or assistance, or just have questions, they can call HomeCare Professionals and get all their questions answered. Thanks for doing the show.

Andy Howard:

Sounds great. Thank you. We’re also in Sacramento.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, that’s right.

Andy Howard:

We started in the Bay Area, and now we’re up in Sacramento and that office is really starting to blossom. We’re very pleased about that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, we’ll make sure the Sacramento office is right along with that.

Andy Howard:

Perfect.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Andy Howard:

All right, Valerie, take care and happy holidays to you. We’ll talk to soon.

 

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN

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