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Posted: March 29, 2006

Professional Caregiving

Selling Value Over Price Is Worth Every Effort

My "regular" job every day is helping more than 500 financial planners across the country learn how to market themselves and their services in a better way. It occurs to me that a lot of us (whether it be a financial planner, home care agency, nursing home, or adult day care), are selling on price and not value.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s a huge mistake! Price has its place, but as long as we are in the ballpark of what is usually customary and reasonable, then we need to start selling on value.

Here are a few examples that can apply to many senior service providers.

Offering a Coupon for a PERS

Personal emergency response systems keep seniors safe and in their own homes an average of six years longer than otherwise. Wouldn’t it be a kick if home care agencies, financial planners, elder law attorneys, geriatric care managers, and other senior service providers offered a coupon for "free" setup or installation? All anyone has to do is call one of the many PERS (personal emergency response service) providers in their area and ask them if they can work out a deal. It’s that simple.

With that in mind, I would not only give out that coupon to my current clients as a "thank you," but I also would hand that coupon out at senior fairs, seminars, and to anyone who was a referral to my business.

Find a way to add value to your community beyond the services you already provide.

The ‘Vial of Life’

Many of us in the healthcare industry have heard of the "Vial of Life" project. You can find more information by "Googling" Vial of Life. This isn’t a new concept, but a very important one!

The Vial of Life is a simple container that is placed in the refrigerator. In that container is a piece of paper that contains vital information about the person or people living in the home. There is a list of medications, insurance information, next of kin, etc. The senior puts a sticker or magnet on the inside of their front door telling EMS that important information is kept on the door of the refrigerator or freezer. EMS across the country are now trained to look for this information.

This is an inexpensive and positive way to help the seniors in your community, and it’s great PR! Think about it this way: if your company name and phone number is on that magnet or sticker, and it’s placed on the back of the front door, then every time someone goes in or out of that door, they see your name! Who do you think that family will call when it’s time to implement services, or when a friend tells them that they think they need some help at home? You will be on the top of their mind, because they see your name every single day.


Finally, I had the pleasure of sitting with a sales executive and the president of a local home care agency. They wanted to know the same thing that everyone asks me: how to attain and maintain more private pay clients.

My answer started with a question: How much do you know about your client’s financial situation?

The answer: Not much.

My response: Innovation is difficult, but the elephant in the room for almost every family is money. How are we going to pay for long-term care for mom or dad?

If, as a home care agency, you train your intake people how to not only assess the physical and mental needs of your clients, but to also ask a few simple financial questions (nursing homes do it!!), you can head off trouble from the very beginning.

What I mean is: regardless of the amount of assets a client has, it would be an ADDED VALUE service if you referred the family to a trusted advisor in their area, who could help them make the most of the money they have. That financial advisor might uncover assets (like the equity in their home) that they can use to pay for care privately much longer than they ever thought possible. Now you have done that family a favor, and done your business a favor by adding a touch of positive innovation.

Sell value, not price. Remember that. This will pay dividends for you.


Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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