Thursday, April 8, 2010

Choosing the 'A-Team': Pros Who Work on Your Behalf

Remember B. A. Baracus? In the 80s blockbuster tv show, "The A-Team," B. A. led the charge. Buildings caved in, cars exploded and in the end, good triumphed over bad. Boys of all ages loved it!

We Boomers need an A-Team: pros who will charge forth on behalf of our parents, clearing obstacles, ripping through red tape, paving a way for excellence in eldercare.

Whether you're looking for home care, retirement living, assisted living, an adult family home or nursing care, or even in-home electronic devices, the first person you meet--the sales or marketing representative--might end up being a member of your "A-Team."

A great pro, of the A-plus variety will:

1. Put your parent on a pedestal. OK, not literally, but a great marketing rep will be more concerned about your parent's needs than "selling" unneeded services. In a friendly manner, the rep should ask open-ended questions, such as, "Tell me about your mom?" and "What prompted you to seek help?" and "What kind of timetable are you looking at?"

If your parent is with you, the rep should ask her some of the questions directly, and especially, "How do you feel about this?" Other questions will address finances, as well as the needs and desires of the entire family.

Hopefully, you won't feel like you're being grilled--the conversation aims to ferret out all the needs, and maybe unearth some you hadn't thought of earlier. Once everything is on the table, the marketer and you together can determine whether the services they have to offer will work.

2. Answer your questions. You may have questions relating to the quality of their services, such as, What is your caregiver turnover rate? Can I examine your state survey report? How long has leadership worked together in this organization? These are all potential indicators of quality. If the rep doesn't have the answer immediately, he or she should tell you that you'll get a phone call within a few days with the answer. Most important, he or she will keep this promise.

3. Never let "no" be the last word. If this company isn't the right fit for any reason, a great marketer should give you a next step: perhaps two referrals for local organizations that will work for you. And if you happen to see him or her on the street later, you'll receive a big smile, and a question, "How are things going with your mom?"

Have you met marketers that meet A-Team standards? Do you have experiences with others that you'd like to share?

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