We know the NDIS ‘insurance approach’ requires the NDIA to find ways of minimising each participant’s lifetime costs. After all, it’s an Actuary who reports to the government on the scheme’s progress.
It is inevitable that the margins will be squeezed further and if that isn’t tough enough, new business models are emerging, both lowering costs and creating intense new competition in the NDIS. Better Caring is an example and it’s a serious challenge to the way business is done in the disability sector.
Better Caring is a website based service that connects consumers and care workers and cuts out the middle man, the service provider. In their own words: We are not a traditional care agency. For one thing, Better Caring does not provide the care. We are a web-venue that uses simple technology to help Customers, their families or chosen representative, find amazing Carers in their local communities. Customers can then contact Carers to discuss and agree schedule, hourly rate, services and then hire the Carer directly. We also enable Carers to run their own business on the Better Caring platform… And by hiring directly, we remove overhead, allowing Customers to save money, while Carers earn more and feel more valued.
But it’s not just the online challenges… Just Better Care is a different mob with a similar name. They are a franchise-based care service with 31 offices throughout Australia. It is a fast growing service model offering everything from nursing to meal prep and personal care. Yep, it’s Jim’s Mowing meets the care sector. It is driven by the franchisee’s need to succeed and will provide another strong source of competition to the not for profits.
So is it time to shut up shop because the competition is too tough? We don’t think so.
In Darwin recently we met a smart young Speech Pathologist who wants to set up her own business in the NDIS. We put our heads together to offer her some advice on how to succeed in this newly competitive world. I reckon the advice has merit whether you are a single operator or a large disability service provider. It is our advice on how to compete and succeed when the going gets tougher, as it will. It is our top five tips for NDIS success:
- Produce ‘remark’-able quality services. As marketeer Seth Goden says, when so much of your business is driven by word of mouth referral (and do not ignore online word of mouth) then you need people to ‘remark’ on how good you are. You have to focus on producing great services. While you must maintain a keen eye on minimising costs, both the NDIA and participants ultimately want the same thing: high quality, capacity building services that support people to be as independent as possible. It saves the NDIA money in the long run and meets consumer aspirations. It is a major challenge for any organisation to create an organisational culture to deliver on this ethos. And it’s a bridge too far for the pure web based players.
- Keep your overheads as low as possible. We just had to state the obvious. Any fixed costs from offices to plant and equipment need to be minimised and those you must keep, need to be really well utilised. This equally applies to management costs.
- Light touch management. We think you need to consider a coaching mentoring model of management support, if you are not there already. This means that management will no longer be the centre of the problem solving universe. This approach not only saves costs, it assists you to build capacity in participants. Empowerment needs to be driven throughout the entire organisation.
- Your communications hardware and software need to be excellent. This is everything from the software you use to send your invoices to the NDIA through to intra-staff communications. It is likely you will be moving to mobile computing and will need to capture every hour of service. As Greg Were says in the video in this issue, it is vital to make sure you get paid. It is just as vital that you make sure a mobile workforce remains connected to the mother ship.
- Be evidence based. The NDIA wants proof you are building capacity in participants. There is lots of literature about best practice out there. Study it, discuss it and then do it.
So in a world of online competition and new business models we reckon there’s plenty of room for fabulous services that deliver what both the funder and participants want. It’s not going to be easy but when the ducks line up you will be delivering remarkable services. And isn’t that what every great organisation wants?