Businesses that serve the aging in place needs of their clients come in a variety of sizes and services. We might be a contractor, carpenter, handyman, or some other type of building services that actually creates and constructs renovations for our clients. We could be a cabinet, closet outfitter, countertop, or flooring company that create great designs for the kitchen, bath, laundry, and other areas of the home using durable products as well as attractive ones that match the desires and needs of our clients.
We might be appliance or bathroom fixture suppliers, specifiers, or installers. We could be heating, ventilation, or air conditioning specialists that help to create the air quality, comfort, fresh air supply, air exchange, and exhaust that our clients require.
We could be painters or wallpaper installers, plumbers, electricians, security systems, landscapers, concrete and flatwork designers and finishers, or door and window suppliers or installers. We might supply light fixtures or home technology. We could be in the home maintenance service field of flooring repair and cleaning, chimney sweeps, appliance repair, pressure washing, roofing and gutters, or similar items.
If our businesses are part of one of these trades, professions, or similar pursuits, great. If we aren’t, we will need some, many, or nearly all of these services or individuals with these backgrounds to help us satisfy the needs and desires or our clients. We are going to need to look beyond ourselves and our capabilities.
Our aging in place services business (regardless of the nature or size of it) will grow, survive, and prosper to the extent that we have others in the community who are willing to work with us and share their needs and clients with us. There are two principal ways this happens.
For businesses that we contact to help us create or deliver a solution to a client we already have or that we are in the process of acquiring, or for those businesses that might need us to participate in something they are doing for one of their clients, we want to create a strategic relationship or strategic partnership. Everyone retains their own identity and business, but collaborate to serve a common client. No one goes to work for or is employed by the other. We simply cooperate in a limited joint-venture cooperation for the life of that one particular project. If it turns out well, the parties may agree to find other opportunities to partner and work together – or actively pursue finding such ventures.
To avoid confusing the client, the main contractor (regardless of the title used or company name) will be the lead contact and speak directly with the client. Everyone else will go through this person. They may interact with the client but not about the overall project or any deviation from the plans that is not discussed with and approved by the general contractor of record.
This person will have the ear of the client and should instruct the client of the rules for the project – that all requests, questions, complaints, and possible changes need to be addressed with the general contractor and no one else. This doesn’t mean that others can’t talk with the client, explain what they are doing if questioned about it, or be pleasant to the client. It does mean that the general contractor or main contact person is in control of all substantive client interactions.
Strategic partners are those other companies that we can use to be part of the solutions we want to create with our clients or those who invite us to help them. With a strategic relationship, all parties retain their independence and status except that the client primarily interfaces with just the main player.
The other type of relationship that is essential for our success is the referral. This can take on many forms, but the essence is that the people making the referral or introduction to us do not stay involved in the project. It is a handoff.
The client from a previous successful renovation may refer their friends or neighbors to us – or people they meet in their comings-and-goings in the community. It could come from a social media site like “Next Door” where people are often solicited for advice on finding a contractor for a specific need.
There are many social service and support organizations representing special interests that will have members and clients who need the services we provide. Also, there are rehab hospitals, case managers, prosthetists, nursing homes, acute care hospitals, and other health-related sources that may have a client in need.
Insurance companies, home inspectors, personal injury attorneys, public adjusters, and similar professionals have clients who have been traumatized that may need our help, and they can make the introduction.
Financial planners, elder-law attorneys, real estate agents, and similar professionals have clients that they are discussing improvements with that they can introduce to us to provide the assistance desired.
Both strategic and referral relationships are essential to our professional growth and our ability to serve the marketplace effectively. We can only reach so many people on our own, regardless of advertising (print or online), social media, home shows displays, or other types of marketing. Therefore, any help we can receive from others in the community that are known and respected by their clients will be a huge benefit. They will come ready to engage us also.