The holiday season is here! And with some of us still nursing our Black Friday shopping injuries (whether physical or financial), we here at SONO thought you'd enjoy 3 insider tips on how to shop like a pro (and avoid any injuries) when it comes to navigating the sea of hospice and home care vendors.
With hundreds of hospice vendors all doing pretty much the same thing, how in the world are we supposed to choose a vendor? The answer is simple, but first we need to ask the question: What do we want and need? Is it Cost savings? Technology solutions? Geographical advantages? Availability? Convenience? All of these factors will play a part in who we ultimately choose. Does having hundreds of vendors to choose from make the shopping process more difficult? Yes. However, it is important to remember that these vendors are competing to serve YOUR hospice. This puts you, the hospice, in the power position. Let these vendors duke it out over your business. Consider using these 3 strategies the next time you decide to shop around for a hospice vendor.
1. Let your current vendor know that you are shopping
This technique serves two purposes. First, it alerts your current vendor that you are not satisfied with the way things are going. Whether it is something that your vendor is doing or is not doing, it at the very least gives them a chance to change course - to make it right. The fear of losing you as a client will likely result in sweet deals and services that may cause you to want to stick around after all. Especially if these are accompanied by a change in course by your vendor to better accommodate you as their client. It is possible that these new services end up being exactly what you needed. In fact, you might end up being more than satisfied with your vendor after all is said and done.
Second, you will benefit from your vendor's connections and muscle in the industry. Let’s say, for example, you currently use an EMR software that you really like but it lacks an ePrescribing capability. You inform your EMR that you need to switch to another software that has ePrescribing capabilities. This may be the first time they are aware of your need for new capabilities, and because they are now aware of it, they can refer you to a company that satisfies this need without losing you as a customer. Understand, this is a win-win for your vendor: they keep you as a client, and they bring business to one of their friends in the marketplace. The good news is, by voicing your need, your vendor is highly motivated to make sure you stay happy and keep your business. And all you had to do was be the squeaky wheel!
Bonus: Since they referred you to the ePrescribing company, you may end up getting a HUGE discount that wouldn’t have been available without your vendor’s referral.
Your need is met - probably at a discount and with little to no extra effort.
Your vendor keeps your business.
The ePrescriber gets a new client.
Everyone is happy.
No matter how sweet your current setup is, it can always get sweeter. Don’t believe us? Try calling your cable provider and telling them that you are leaving to get a sweeter deal with their number one competitor. They will offer everything they can to keep you on their service and all you had to do was voice your dissatisfaction. There really is power in walking away so don’t be afraid to wave it around if you are unhappy. And remember! It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!
2. Show interest and be transparent
When a vendor is selling to you, they can pretty easily determine the level of your interest you have in using their product or service. If they begin to suspect that you aren’t seriously considering them, they will become less enthused about your hospice and therefore not as likely to give you their full attention and best deal. On the other hand, if, right out of the gate, you express your serious interest in changing vendors, you will have their undivided attention.
Tell them what you are looking for and let them give you the whole spiel about their service. After hearing all the details of what they do and what it will cost, it is time for you to be transparent. When we say transparent, we mean that you should disclose the other offers and services you have been quoted from the other vendors you are in contact with. By doing this you are, once again, establishing your power position.
The vendors will know that you are seriously considering using their service and they will also know that their competitors have offered you just as sweet, if not sweeter, of a deal already. Be prepared for all the good stuff coming to you now. A vendor, hungry for your business, will throw in free this, discounted that, and anything it takes to win your business. Make sure you document all the offers you get from each vendor. You never know when you might need to refer back to them.
The more time and effort a vendor puts into "discovery" of your needs (i.e. learning about what you want, why you want it, and how best to meet your needs) the more the vendor will want to win your business. You see, the vendor now has invested considerable time and effort into winning your business and doesnt want all that time to go to waste!
You probably aren't going to get a big discount after a 5 minute call, but you most likely will after 2 months of back and forth conversations.
Contract terms are ALWAYS negotiable - though no one will ever tell you this
There is nothing worse than falling victim to the “oversell, under-deliver” tactic. This is what happens when a salesperson says anything to get your business, even if it means making false promises. You DO NOT want to end up in a long contract with a company that turns out to be nothing like what they promised to be. How can we avoid this?
The easiest way is to start with a “trial period” with your new vendor before signing any type of long term contract. Remember, YOU are in the power position! You'd be surprised how flexible a vendor can be to get new business.
A trial period serves two benefits. First, you avoid getting locked in for two years with a vendor who "misrepresented" their ability to meet your needs. Second, you keep your position of power for as long as possible. As long as you are still on a trial period, you remain in the power position. The vendor, knowing that you could still choose another company at any time, will provide you with an unparalleled level of service to ensure that they get your business for the long term.
The best part is, if you end up dissatisfied with the vendor you entered into a trial period with, you can rest easy knowing that you can switch to another vendor as soon as you wish (perk of not rushing into a long-term contract). You can always revisit one of the other vendors that was competing to serve your hospice. It will be much easier this time because you already know the price options and services that each vendor offers.
Now that you are armed with the 3 secrets to shopping in hospice, we wish your hospice the best of luck with your vendor shopping. Never forget that as a hospice, you are in the power position. And in the words of Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Go get em!
Is there anything that you have found useful when shopping for a new vendor or service for your hospice? Drop it in the comments below!