The strategy building block is the core building block that all good businesses need if they are to achieve their aims – their goals.
In case you’re wondering if you really need to create a strategy for your care home business – because to be honest, it sounds like a lot of work and I’m busy making sure we give our residents the care they need whilst making sure we have enough staff who are trained to provide that care and I need to keep on top of the ever-changing government legislation and…
The answer is a resounding YES! With a strategy your care home will be so much stronger and more resilient, without a strategy in place it could stagnate, drift off course and be vulnerable to unexpected events.
A good strategy will give you certainty, direction, clarity and resilience. It will help you make better decisions. It will help you eliminate, reduce or avoid the threats and risks that could harm your care home. It will help you have the best care home around and take it to where you want it.
A good strategy will reduce your stress, increase your control and confidence and help you be the leader your care home, staff and residents need you to be.
A good strategy gives you the big picture you need to keep your ship on course.
There are a few definitions of strategy but very simply, a strategy outlines how you intend to get from where you are now to where you want to be in a specified time period. A good strategy helps you stay on course and helps you to identify and hence, avoid, eliminate or make irrelevant external factors that will strive to throw you off course.
Almost daily, we hear about ‘strategies’ that haven’t gone according to plan like government strategies to “improve the health system” or the “transport network”, or military strategies to “rid regions of terrorist groups”, or a business strategy “to increase profit”. These soundbites give ‘strategy’ a bad name and you may be justified in thinking that having a strategy is a waste of time.
They don’t share a strategy, they share their aims, their goals. Goals are important but a complete waste of time if not supported by a good strategy detailing how you intend to achieve that goal.
The Strategy That Saved my Career.
During the early stage of my career, I was an engineer for an electronics distributor – a company that sold products manufactured by other companies such as Intel, Motorola and Hitachi.
They had signed up to sell a new manufacturer’s products which were different enough from the usual products they sold and needed an engineer with the expertise to support their sales team and customers.
My background in designing silicon chips gave me that expertise and I started the job on the day my new employers launched the line. The problem was that the product had for 10 years been sold by a rival distributor.
This competitor was the only distributor for this manufacturer and, without any competition, complacency had set in and the business was flat. We were the new kids on the block and direct competition to a company that essentially owned 100% market share of the distribution business in the UK.
My manager was also responsible for the company’s 2nd biggest line, Motorola and so his focus (and bonus) was on that line.
I was young and new to customer support and sales, having previously been a pure engineer in Marconi, and so I assumed the sales teams and managers knew how to win business and grow the product line. And so I went where I was sent and travelled the country with different sales people trying to convince their customers to buy these new products.
The manufacturer had set quarterly and annual targets or goals based on the number of solutions we got their devices design into, the volumes of devices shipped and of course the revenue generated.
The problem was that any customers who needed this manufacturer’s products was already buying it from our competitor. 18 months in we had managed to gain only 5% market share.
My manager, sales colleagues and people above clearly didn’t know what to do and we were close to having the line taken off us by the manufacturer and to me being without a job.
I grew up and created a strategy that would I hoped keep us the line and me a job. I presented my strategy to my manager, his bosses and the manufacturer of the products and we were given 12 months to make it work.
The strategy itself isn’t so important but the fact that now we had one, whereas before we were simply visiting all customers to see if they wanted these devices.
In case you’re curious, the core of the strategy was to stop competing with the rival distributor who had all the traditional markets sown up. Instead, we identified new markets such as video and audio and mobile telecoms and digital TV. Now we were designing these products into video and audio production equipment, into mobile phone base stations and after months of effort, I got one of these products into Sky boxes.
2 years later I had grown the business to 35% market share and won a European award for the best design-ins of their flag-ship product line.
The difference was the strategy.
The targets or goals meant nothing because there was no coherent strategy to make it happen.
But because the focus was only on targets, whether they were hit or missed, there was no real understanding of why. And because of that, no real understanding of how to exploit what was working or address what wasn’t.
If you create the right strategy that will achieve your goals, then you will know that successfully implementing that strategy will result in your goals being met.
If you don’t have a strategy and are still not convinced that you need a one or clear goals that the right strategy will ensure you achieve, then take a moment and think about your struggles and challenges and where you want to be in a few years.
Even if you say have one care home and don’t want to expand beyond that a clear strategy will help you address the things that aren’t working within the home. Do you have the fee levels needed to cover your costs, deliver great care and return a healthy business profit? Is your average occupancy level high enough? Is your staff turnover low enough? Is spend too high? Do you have too many safeguarding incidents? Are you stressed? If you lost a key member of your staff what would be the impact?
A strategy doesn’t have to be empire building – it can be as simple as addressing some key issues in your care home so that the problems go away for good. This is in fact a great start if you haven’t created a strategy before.
A strategy plan becomes like a map that will show you how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Starting with your core statements, your plan builds out with your strategic destination, strategic priorities and an understanding of where you care home business is now.
From that broad picture you define the measurable goals, shorter milestones that will form the path from where you are now to where you want to be. You then define what you intend to do to meet those goals – your objectives – and the actual actions you are going to take – your tactics.
If you don’t traditionally set goals, then I urge you to start. And start with goals that address your key issues like those I listed above and set out how you intend to address them – that’s your strategy plan.
If you don’t have specific, measurable targets or goals then you can’t have expectations and basically anything will do. If you do have goals but no strategy detailing how you intend to hit them, then you won’t.
Without a strategy your care home will I’m sure, continue to deliver the care your residents need, but it will be a slog as you constantly stick plasters over the things that go wrong. And your business will at best be flat. Nothing will really get any better because you have no strategy plan to make it better.
When a strategy works well goals are met and its purpose is realised – things go according to plan. Should unforeseen events occur (as we well know they do) then a strategy will help you to adapt and get back on course. A strategy is a living, breathing companion that guides you and that you adapt to overcome unforeseen challenges and stay on course.
Whether building new aircraft, developing new products, producing a great movie or having an outstanding, stand-out care home, they all have one thing in common: a clear, coherent strategy.