Planning for Goodness

Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, Canberra. Picture James Horan

Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, Canberra.
Picture James Horan

POSTED BY SARLA HOLMES – 98358963.

Why bother…with planning?

We’ve heard it all before. Prior preparation prevents poor performance. Or my personal favourite – failing to plan is planning to fail. These are well known adages, so why then are there so many examples of failing businesses?

Let’s take the aged care sector as an example. Its booming. Literally. The baby boomers are aging and as a result the next 30 years will see exponential growth and demand for aged care services.

Picture4

Yet as I enter the aged care sector, I am astounded to note no marketing strategy is in place and a business strategy that can only be described as skeletal at best. Yet we’re debt free, profitable across most product lines and experiencing sustainable business growth.

Does exponential growth and excess demand make strategy and planning obsolete? Is there enough slices of the pie for everyone to be profitable?

Or have the lessons not been learnt?

Be bothered…with planning

Where there’s a boom, there’s a bust. Well illustrated by the magnitude of businesses currently entering administration led by the previous boom industries of mining and retail. Did these businesses fail to plan? Or, like Dick Smith, are the plans flawed?

Will the next 30 years just provide us with a magnitude of examples of failing aged care services who failed to plan? Failed to determine a path of differentiation to distinguish one’s products as unique in the industry (Iacobucci, 2013, p.214) with a customer orientation featured around what the customer actually wants? Who failed to map the journey ahead?

Not for The Salvation Army’s Aged Care Plus. Not on my watch anyway.

Bother Basics

With various marketing strategies at hand, there’s no one size fits all, nor one size fits always. So following a quick situation analysis, it became abundantly clear that Aged Care Plus are well positioned to align with Michael Porter’s differentiation strategy theory.

In what Bruce Henderson would describe as a Star brand – Aged Care Plus experiences a relatively large share in a growing market in terms of spiritual aged care services. With personalised spiritual care plans and 24 hour chaplains in all their Centres, they provide a key point of difference to their competitors.

BCG-Matrix

Aged Care Plus is also quickly establishing themselves as experts in specialist care (palliative, mental health and dementia care) – a fabulous way to attract new customers with their existing products (Ansoff’s Product-Market Growth Matrix).

However, the latest announcements of an imminent dementia vaccine starkly highlights the importance of environment scanning to ensure your market strategy remains relevant and continues to drive competitive advantage and profitability.

If a cure for dementia is on the horizon, would you invest precious human and financial resources in positioning your aged care service as specialists in dementia care?

Competitor repellent

Undertaking this sort of SWOT analysis should not be a once off. Opportunities and threats emerge constantly in the external environment and internal strengths and weaknesses can change with investment and operational decisions, as well as adjustments to the company’s strategic goals. Regular and ongoing monitoring of these various micro- and macro-environments is paramount.

The aged care sector is heavily influenced by its macroenvironments. With the next round of government reforms due in February 2017, regular scanning of the political, technological, economic, legal and societal macro-environments is critical for ensure strategies remain aligned with industry.

Great strategy. Who’s it for?

Although the situation analysis was heartening, the market analysis highlighted some key issues. Especially in relation to target markets.

Defined by differing communication needs and profitability, a business can easily find itself investing in specific segments yielding small returns if market segments are not analysed comprehensively.

It seems intuitive to target care receivers or their families, however the return on investment is increased by targeting care referrers – predominantly 40+, female, clinical experts, geographically closes to the aged care facility, well educated and time poor. Care referrers provide the greatest opportunity for profitability. More referrals = more profit.

Keep bothering…

With the foundations now identified, Aged Care Plus is ready to establish a clear positioning statement, develop key messages and formulate specific and measurable goals and objectives to maximise longevity in what is, and will increasingly become, a highly competitive playing field.

As we enter the boom times for aged care, one has to lament as to who is planning for the post boom phenomenon? What to do with all those residential aged care beds? Those retirement living resorts? For the forward thinkers in the tourism sector, the opportunities appear endless…

However, as the aged care sector grows, it’s good to see some providers are embracing strategy and planning for goodness.

Additional References

Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason, Ohio.

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