We Understand Group Home Businesses
I understand what Group Home businesses need for success because I have been deeply involved in the group home community since 2004 in various capacities from entry level direct care support and now to ownership. It takes a special group of people to compassionately and wholeheartedly put the needs of others before their own. I salute you group home business owners for sacrificing your time and efforts to enrich the lives of America’s vulnerable population.
In a positive way and with pride – I consider the group home community the janitors of the healthcare industrial complex, the trenches of the healthcare delivery system where we play the role of groundskeepers or gatekeepers of America’s most vulnerable population.
The group home business owners/operator’s community does most of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting in the healthcare service delivery pipeline. It is time we have a peer-to-peer thriving community for support and growth. We provide such a critical buffer between higher levels of care and lower levels of independent/autonomous living for vulnerable individuals in recovery. Often, we provide families of our vulnerable population with the respites, hope and structure necessary to support their skills and confidence to regain control of their lives. However, many group home business owners feel unprepared, undertrained, unsupported, undervalued, unappreciated, and overwhelmed by complex legislation, bureaucratic red tape, overregulation, disparities and inconsistency in reimbursement for services, ambiguity with Insurance providers contractual requirements, and slow response time in the continuum of care chain. Amongst other things, this community is to share best practices, support our peers to grow because there is immense power and strength in numbers especially when we cooperate rather than compete.
Whether you own a single or multiple homes, this online resource is designed to provide you with the space to learn, leverage, collaborate, cooperate, engage, network, share, build, grow and thrive with your peers. For you who feels the crippling stress of running your business with no experience, I remember the early days with all my experience, I averaged 2 hours of sleep daily for almost 6 months starting out. I can relate, you now have a safe place to vent, share best practices and your wins, a place to inspire your peers who now occupy the rights of passage seat you once held with pride. A good place to begin is ask yourself why you started your business; the WHY often resets most people to their purpose and serves as a morale boost to continue with courage and conviction. For you who feels your business runs like a well-oiled machine and needs no improvement, I suggest you replicate and improve what is working now. Always remember what gets measured gets managed and improved, what gets improved builds confidence, what builds confidence boosts morale, what boosts morale motivates action, what motivates action inspires positive change, what inspires positive change creates desired outcomes, what creates desired outcomes gets REWARDED, what gets rewarded gets REPEATED……. what gets REWARDED AND REPEATED builds HABIT. Of course, positive habits that WIN. If that doesn’t kick your productivity juices into overdrive consider this; elite Olympic athletes, who are considered the best in the world train 10 hours a day, 5 days a week for four years just to reduce their records for one tenth of a second. Let that sink in for a while.
One of my personal and professional core values is the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen- it is about continuous improvement, no matter how it may be there are ten levels up you have never thought about, never let complacency catch you. Always seek to improve and optimize your methods, systems and models. Practice compassionate leadership and cultivate the growth mindset and be open to learn even from your most inexperienced team members. Humility is great and teaches us priceless lessons- more on my lessons learned from humility another day. Whether you own a mental health program, substance abuse facility, halfway home, transitional living program, vocational program, outpatient clinic, juvenile facility etc. the challenges are the same. The MAIN reason for this platform is to help fellow group home business owners who reach out to me for advice. The goal is a one stop shop to learn the critical skills and focus on the high impact aspects of growing their businesses. When I ask them their biggest business challenges which should be obvious, they seem to take forever to respond, they have difficulty spotting the 800 lbs. gorilla in the room.
The biggest problem has always been, the problem remains, and the problem shall always be……obviously the PEOPLE. Why may you ask me? Because without your people, you have an empty facility full of furniture, files and fixtures BUT no business, without your people you cannot do all the work alone. Without your people you cannot even last a week in business. We may be naïve, oblivious, delusional or a combination of the three. The reality is human beings are as charismatic as they are chaotic, can be as predictable as they can be unpredictable, can be super dependable and ultra-reliable just like they can dubious and unreliable. CONCLUSION- PEOPLE-WILL-MAKE-OR-BREAK-YOUR-BUSINESS. Period. Another reason why PEOPLE are the most important variable in your business; most businesses spend between a quarter and half of their revenue on payroll/incentives/bonuses alone annually. When you factor in mandatory training for certifications/licensing and professional development that increases your PEOPLE expenditure exponentially. You may take some comfort in knowing that even the biggest Fortune Inc 500 companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon etc. spend billions of dollars annually on training and developing their workforces. It would appear the bigger and more complex, the more investment of resources is needed.
I am not advocating you roll the red carpet and bend over backwards to everyone who works with you, I am sounding the overdue alarm bells with a clear message; the era when group home employees tolerated the callous indifference from group home business owners is long gone and buried. I usually do not believe in bad news because all news is good depending on how you perceive and process it, however the reality is that old-time group home barons are desperately clinging onto their antiquated status. The good news: there is a surprisingly simple fix for all the concerns I am highlighting here. I said it is a simple fix because anybody can implement but it is not easy because not everybody has the discipline and focus to implement. We all have lofty aspirations, however people never attain their goals because of the implementation phase.
The 21st century brought lots of technological advances that transformed our lives like air travel, quantum computing, medical marvels etc. and opened the world. The 21st century technology is also killing factory jobs using bots today. Fortunately for us, Elon Musk has not YET figured out how to automate our industry……for now. Most group home jobs are unskilled and akin to the manual labor of a 100 years ago. The 21st century gave us the gift of ultra-fast transportation like airplanes…….we just did not envision the accompanying curse of even ultra-faster transmission of deadly airborne diseases like COVID. Are you beginning to follow the trend here? I hope you are following unless you have been hiding under a rock. What we have here is the evolution of the 21st century employee. The 21st century post COVID employee is not only requesting a seat at the decision-making table, but she is also demanding and grabbing it with authority and alacrity. The 21st century employee is a tour de force to be reckoned with and can no longer be brushed aside for the part HR Generalist to handle. The savvy group home business owners need to realize and accept the new world order, a co-existence ecosystem based on shared prosperity for posterity. This uncomfortable mindset shift is essential for survival and more importantly for the vulnerable population we serve. I suggest a partnership model to get more skin in the game for both sides. We can flesh out several different scenarios later. What is it exactly that the group home business employees of today have that their predecessors lacked? I should know because I have spent the better part of my adult life in this noble field. I started out in Germantown, Maryland working for a small agency called Amos Associates in 2004 in what I thought was a part time summer side hustle. I built an unimaginable bond with the member I worked with and have been building similar stronger bonds ever since in different capacities.
My perspective is informed from several years working in direct care as a behavioral health tech, case manager, respite care provider, certified special education substitute teacher, program manager etc. in outpatient clinics, psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, group homes and everything in between. Did I also mention my hundreds of hours volunteering in various organizations? I also have the benefit of two graduate degrees in Psychology and Law from two of Arizona’s finest universities- Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University.
The icing on the cake is the transition from all those experiences to co-founding and successfully operating multiple facilities in Laveen, Arizona the last five + years. I have occupied front row seats on both sides of the proverbial aisle, battle tested with enough scars to prove my chops. What does that mean? I speak from real world experience, not just theoretical esoteric concepts gleaned from a fictional book. In other words, I was the entry level least qualified employee 18 years ago who has traveled the winding, meandering and thorny road to management and ultimately proud ownership. What do the 21st century group home business owners NEED to understand? That the 21st century employee has what I refer to as a “pick your poison double headed bow and arrow”. The double headed bow is LEVERAGE and POWER. The double headed arrow is CHOICE and OPTIONS. With Amazon able to throw out up to $20 an hour loosely, sorry you can no longer hold employees back without options. You need to show up ready to negotiate and act fast. Remember I mentioned earlier that they are demanding a seat at the table? With COVID, the Great Resignation has rightfully brought employees’ choices and options to the national consciousness. Options like remote and hybrid work once formerly reserved for C-Suite executives are now within grasp and have now become mainstays and perks in the recruitment and retention chess match. When you consider the group home community operates under a very hard cap on revenue based on limited billable services, it is paralyzing to fathom how you can compete with Walmart, McDonald’s, Home Depot and not to mention the invisible giant Amazon. If you want to take a deeper dive on the Great Resignation and how it affects your business, email me.
Like I promised earlier, no matter how much Amazon is willing to pay per hour, not everyone is willing to work at breakneck speed packing boxes in their warehouse. That leaves you with a few employees. The good news is that YOU can do something to attract and retain top talent. The emphasis here is YOU because everything starts and ends with YOU, which is how well you run your business. Remember it is simple BUT not easy. Is it possible with limited resources to attract and retain top talent in the group home business? The answer may surprise you, and it begins with having a mindset shift. A massive PARADIGM SHIFT. More on the PARADIGM SHIFT PROCESS down the road. As group home business owners and operators, we operate in a uniquely complex situation which some of us take lightly. Not only are we responsible for managing our primary workforce- PEOPLE-, but we also have the secondary and critical fiduciary responsibility of serving and protecting a vulnerable population.
I hope you are beginning to understand why PEOPLE are our most important asset. I can say with certainty that if you have been in business for more than 30 days, you have probably had a grievance in your business. Grievances are largely a preventable PEOPLE problem, and if not handled properly can snowball rapidly out of control into major investigations, resulting into citations, resulting into fines, resulting into Plans of Correction etc. If you are not yet putting 1+1 together, I can help you. The answer is always 2 and the ONLY cause of all your grievances is your PEOPLE aka your staff. Because you cannot administer medications, and answer the phone, and prepare dinner, and facilitate groups, and de-escalate potential conflict, and intervene in a crisis, and enter your notes etc. all at the same time you NEED DEDICATED PEOPLE to help. I like to assume you trained your people all to perfection, but I doubt it, even then there is always that break in communication or commitment and then stuff happens. Welcome again to the CONCLUSION I mentioned above that PEOPLE-WILL-MAKE-OR-BREAK-YOUR-BUSINESS.
By now you must notice a consistent theme about the importance of people. Pro Tip: please do not fall into the usual trap of paying people more money for better performance. There is a methodology for that with the proper structure in place, so resist the temptation of throwing your scarce and hard-earned dollars at fixable problems. I have paid the price, feel free to use my experience and battle tested scars for proof-of-concept data. Have you attempted to put yourself in your employees’ shoes? I mean by genuinely asking them what they desire in life? This sounds simplistic for most and I urge you to take this seriously. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs the three major categories are self-actualization, physiological needs and basic needs. I did not think of it until recently and I bet that most of you have NEVER taken the time to know to know where your team members are on that scale. Translation: how can you lead people you do not even know that well? For some that may be a head scratcher and for others, it may be a snoozer. All your employees aspire to do better in life. They all want to be YOU and have what you have and do what you do. They want the glory but not the work that makes them glorious. They want the good life but not the sacrifice it takes to get there. Most of us do not take time to connect and bond with our team. If you’re patient enough to harness and leverage your team’s true potential, you’d realize you’ve been sitting on your acre of diamonds. Watch out for our newsletter blog posts and video content coming soon for more actionable insights. The last piece of this newsletter is about your personal development. Your continued success in life and business is directly proportional to the work and progress you invest in yourself. Look at any business leader you admire, and the common threads are a growth mindset, lots of mentors and continuous learning in their respective fields. Success does not just happen overnight; it takes repetition and sacrifice.
To grow and thrive means to learn new concepts, challenge your old ideologies and adapt new principles. You must continuously stretch yourself into uncomfortable dimensions, remember that what gives light must endure the heat and fire to change form. There is not a single great leader who does not have mentors, there is not a single change maker who has not ‘failed’ in life on their way to success. To be transformational you need to get out of your comfort zone and embrace discomfort. You need to step your game up literally and figuratively. You need a paradigm shift. I will be posting videos, blog posts, and newsletters here for our community. Feel free to engage and share your thoughts and ideas to help your peers. Invite your friends who are interested in growing their businesses. There will be mastermind group opportunities for a select few and inner circle opportunities as well.
Finally, if you have not taken our free Business Optimization Assessment, I highly recommend you do so. At best you will realize areas for improvement and growth where you can take massive action, at worst you will be aware of overlooked blind spots in your business to watch out for.