Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
-John Ed Pearce
Aging in Place
I seldom request to post other’s comments on my website unless I know them and their work; this time I made an acceptation. This post was unsolicited by Jim Costello, he wrote it in response to a LinkedIn Piece I did. Jim is the kind of professional you wish you had access to on your next aging-in-place home remodel. He is Managing Partner at Affordable Adaptive Solutions, and IS part of the solution.
So thoughtful and revealing was his writing, I felt it needed to be shared. With permission from this author, I re-post it here. I also encourage you to consider his points of view carefully and contact him with comments or feedback.
Patrick, this was great reading!
As someone who has been involved in all types of home modifications for over 25 years, I’m well acquainted with this dynamic, but, I never really thought about it in terms of the SCM model.
Anyone starting out in this business will quickly learn, that many older clients will resist, or even fight against, changes to their normal routine, or to the home they have loved and cared for throughout their lifetime. Some will ask me: “Why in the world would anyone want to struggle up the stairs, when a stairlift could make it so much easier and safer?” I have always taught them to recognize that when people (not always seniors) are in the Pre-contemplation, or contemplation stages, all you can do is share what options are available, and, if they are receptive, share some stories about the difference the right adaptations have made for other customers. But, if they are not ready to accept the fact that change would be to their benefit, and the tradeoff is worth the effort and expense; it’s time to just leave your card and invite them to call you when they would like to discuss how this might help them.
We have even had cases where concerned adult children, in another city, will instruct us to “just go ahead and make the changes and send me the bill, Mom or Dad doesn’t know what is good for them”. This never works out, and we will politely refuse the request. Even the best solution is only as good as the person’s willingness to use it. I find myself set in my ways about some things, like clinging to older versions of software or smartphone that I’m comfortable with, and indeed, when I’m forced to change (even for my own good), I do get the sense that I’m losing, or giving up something.
I think the real key here is patience, you need to take the time to build trust with your older client. If they get the feeling that your end game is to just sell them something, they won’t be receptive to anything you have to offer, and you have left them with a bad impression, On the other hand, if you break the ice by solving a real problem that they do acknowledge, (like stepping over the side of a bathtub) without bombarding them with a million other changes you could do, you go a long way toward building trust. This will, more often than not, lead to future calls when THEY decide that, the way they are doing things is unsafe, or just too difficult, and they need a little more help.
As business owners, we all know that making repeated trips to a customer’s home adds to the cost in the short term, and completing as much as possible at one time is ideal. That sales strategy may work for replacement windows or cable TV contracts, but, that strategy does not apply well to the aging in place market. When you make a business decision to take a longer range approach, and make the relationship the goal rather than the highest value sale on the first visit, you will find that, once an older client decides they can trust you, and your company, to look out for their best interest they will call whenever they need help or advise.
These are also the customers who will tell all their friends and relatives how you listened to them, treated them fairly, and got them what they needed when you promised you would. This may cost a little more in terms of time and effort at the start, but those relationships and word of mouth referrals are worth their weight in gold as time goes on, so, we regard them as not just smart business, but one of the keystones that support our business.
As always, just my two cents; I’d love to hear what others think.
I’m Jim Costello and I specialize in Accessible and Adaptive Design. I have been actively involved in creating accessible solutions for more than twenty five years, as a person with a disability, I’m passionate about what I do, and I love to help people. Nothing is more fulfilling than being part of a team with similar interests, and an organization that values its customers, clients and employees equally. My partners, Diane Salvagio and Don Schuckert, and I have just recently taken the leap into ownership and management of our own accessible design, consulting, and contracting firm named, Affordable Adaptive Solutions.
We hope you will get to know us and consider us for your current or future needs in the areas of;
ADA Consultation, Plan Review, Barrier Removal Plans and Expert Witness Services
Commercial Accessibility, Including Automatic Door Openers and Lifts
Worker’s Compensation Cases
Residential Services, Including Professional Assessment, and Home Modifications
Website: Affordable Adaptable Solutions