From your first contact with a potential client, whether it’s by phone or in person, keep track of what you learn and what you’ve promised.
When you get started, you may think, “Why do I need to write down every detail? I can remember what I told him!”
But what if the prospective client doesn’t call you back for several weeks? Or what happens the minute you have a second client with similar needs? Even if it’s just an inquiry – you’ll begin to mix up their stories, their needs, your promises – any part of the conversations with them. What you tell a prospective this week might be entirely different than what you’ll need to tell her in a few weeks. But to be consistent, and to sound professional, you need to have documentation to remind you of what you told her.
In fact, you’ll want to track much more than you can carry around in your head, no matter how well you remember things. The best practice is to record everything – from client details to family members, providers, medications, and new prescriptions, discussion summaries, to-do lists, decisions, ideas, wishes, advance directives (as appropriate), other documentation and its location – anything that might be helpful at another time.
Especially in the early days of building a new advocacy or care management practice, you might be very tempted to attempt to fulfill any request that comes your way.
But smart business owners know when to say NO.
Sometimes it seems almost impossible to eek that small word out of our mouths! But there will be as many times it’s important for NO to be your answer as they will be times you can agree. Maybe more.
So many advocates, because they have such HUGE hearts, want to please the person they respond to. But being a people pleaser at the wrong time won’t help you build a strong business.
When might NO be the right answer?
Nobody is perfect and you will make mistakes. We all do!
You might forget to return a phone call, or you may invoice a client for too much or too little. You might run late, or even fail to appear at an appointment, or you might make a math mistake on a medical bill review … or thousands of other errors, large and small.
There are three “must dos” when you learn you’ve messed up in some way, as follows:
You’ve got a real live potential new client on the phone… you dive right in and begin asking questions, letting them answer, listening carefully, taking copious notes… a good start, right?
The potential new client seems very ready to speak with you. He seems to know just how to answer your questions. He seems pretty savvy about what the advocate-patient relationship might look like.
What a joy!
Or…. is it?
New advocates are often surprised to hear the advice, “Never transport a patient yourself.”
At first it seems like transportation would be a great service to provide, especially to seniors who may no longer want to, or be able to, drive themselves. How convenient for their patient advocate to provide transportation!
But let’s examine the idea for a moment, and you’ll see why transporting a client is a bad idea.