published on
June 27, 2023

How to grow your care home business sustainably

Katie Reynolds
posted on
Care organisations
How to grow your care home business sustainably

As a care home manager, you'll spend much of your energy focusing on how to make your home the very best environment for your staff and residents.

However, with today’s rising running costs and as well as the increased demand for care services, you might also be thinking about ways to grow your business and increase your revenue. 

Growing a business requires careful planning, thorough research and a genuine commitment to providing the next level of exceptional care. 

If you’re considering ways to expand your services, this guide will help you target areas for potential growth, with three phases of expansion to consider.

Here’s what we’ll look at:

  • Before you begin: is it a good time to grow?
  • Phase one – the here and now: get your care home operating at 100% occupancy
  • Phase two – thinking ahead: expanding your current home
  • Phase three – thinking big: expand your brand with new home
  • About Florence: what we do and how we can support your growing business 

Before you begin: is it a good time to grow?

As our population gets older, demand for care service is on the rise. If your care home has earned a reputation for excellence, you’ll be well-positioned to help meet this growing need by growing your business.

According to Knight Frank’s 2023 report on healthcare development opportunities, care home bed supply has grown by only 2.7% in the last 10 years, while the over-65 population has grown by around 19%. It’s clear that demand for care home places will quickly exceed supply. In fact, Knight Frank estimates that by 2050, there will be a shortfall of over 200,000 beds. 

If you’re prepared to invest in your facilities, staff and marketing efforts, this makes now a great time to start growing your business with phase one.

Phase one – the here and now: get your care home operating at 100% occupancy 

Are you currently caring for the maximum number of clients you have the capacity for? If not, the first step in growing your business is to get to 100% occupancy. 

How do you attract new families to your service? Here are five practical tips.

1. Achieve or maintain a good – or outstanding – CQC rating

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspects care homes in England to make sure they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. Your care home’s CQC inspection report attests to the quality of care you deliver. This is often a major consideration for families searching for a care provider, and an outstanding rating is likely to give you a real edge. 

The CQC website provides a comprehensive source of information on the assessment process, as well as procedures and guidelines for care home managers. The bar for being rated outstanding is set high: only 5% of adult social care services achieve this. 

Looking for inspiration on how to improve your own service before your next inspection? Start by reading reports from care homes that have achieved the elusive outstanding rating. You’re likely to notice some common characteristics, including creative approaches to care, excellent leadership and consistently going above and beyond in what they offer.

Tip: Looking for more ways to demonstrate to the CQC that your care home is outstanding? Check out our comprehensive guide here.

2. Encourage referrals and testimonials

Never underestimate the power of personal, word-of-mouth recommendations. These might come from current clients and their families or from community organisations, GPs or other healthcare providers who know and trust your service. 

If you’re actively seeking to grow your business, you might consider launching a referral scheme to incentivise referring new clients. Some rewards or incentives could include entry into a prize draw or offering a special temporary discount for current residents.

Here are a few great ways for people to positively spread the word:

  • Online reviews

Facebook reviews, Trustpilot and Google reviews are go-tos for many people researching care homes. Make it easy for would-be reviewers to use these sites by including links to them in email newsletters, leaflets or on bulletin boards in your care home.

  • Printed marketing material

Make sure families have access to physical marketing materials they can share. Leaflets or referral cards highlighting your USPs are good to have readily available.

  • Social posting

Encourage families to share positive experiences of your care home on their social platforms. (It’s essential to have an active social media presence for your care home too – more on this later.)

 You can also ask clients and their families to share their thoughts through testimonials or a satisfaction survey. With their permission, you can then feature the best of these powerful firsthand testimonials in your marketing materials.

3. Be involved in your community

How do you establish a great reputation locally? Make sure your community knows and trusts you. Get personally involved with relevant events and organisations, particularly those that cater to potential future clients and their families. 

For example:

  • Connect with local GP practices, retirement communities and other community organisations that serve older or disabled people.
  • Offer to give presentations or educational workshops on care.
  • Provide special tours or host community events at your care home.

By demonstrating your expertise, offering a warm welcome and showcasing your services, you can establish trust and ultimately gain new clients.

4. Advertise locally

Network with relevant community groups, GPs, hospitals and other care providers to educate them on what sets your care home apart. Make sure they have your marketing materials on hand or on display, such as leaflets or brochures.

Your local newspaper and radio station are excellent platforms to promote your services, too. The best way to get them interested? Offer them a great story. 

Maybe your care home hosted some unusual animal visitors? Perhaps you celebrated a resident’s milestone birthday in a unique way? Or maybe your home resident is a veteran who would love to be interviewed? Fascinating and heartwarming stories can make a lasting positive impression without being hard advertising.

5. Improve your online presence

Improving the web presence of your care home can help you reach an even wider audience. 

Here are a few strategies:

  • Update your website 

Your website is often people’s first impression of your care home. It’s essential that it’s up-to-date, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate and full of useful content showcasing your unique features, services and amenities. 

  • Get your website found by search engines

Google is generally where people’s research for potential care homes begins. You can implement search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to improve your website's ranking.

Tip: Don’t know where to begin? Google offers a free SEO Starter Guide here

  • Be active on social media 

It’s important to recognise where the audience you’re targeting spends their time online, and to make sure you’re there too. Because key decision-makers are often the children and younger family members of potential residents, social media can be a powerful tool to connect with them.

Create and maintain a presence on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share engaging content, including success stories and photos. 

Encourage interactions, and be sure to promptly respond to all comments and messages.

  • Develop a content strategy

Publish high-quality and informative content on your website's blog or through guest posting on other relevant sites. Write articles or create videos that provide valuable insights and answer common questions related to the care you provide. 

Useful content will position you as a trustworthy authority, attracting more traffic to your website, and, ultimately, more clients to your care home.

  • Use paid online advertising

Test out online ad platforms such as Facebook or Google Ads to reach a targeted audience or appear among the top search results. 

Create campaigns that highlight your unique selling points, monitor their performance and optimise the content of your ads based on the results.

Consistency and active engagement are key to maintaining a strong online presence. So, remember to regularly update your website, post content on social media, respond to messages and monitor online reviews.

Once your care home has reached 100% capacity and is continuing to deliver excellent care, you might consider opportunities for further growth. If so, it could be time to launch the next phase.

Phase two – think ahead: expand your current home

If you’re operating at full capacity, the logical next step is increasing your capacity. If you’re considering this, here are a few key questions you need to think about.

1. Will you renovate, extend, convert or construct?

How you add more accommodation will depend on the space and layout of your current site. You might consider employing an architect to provide some design options.

One way to increase capacity is to look at your existing floor plan and see where there might be potential to convert shared rooms or reconfigure underutilised common areas to create additional bedrooms. 

Other more labour-intensive options include building an extension to add an additional wing, converting unused outbuildings into usable accommodation, or even constructing an entirely new building on your site.

2. Will you need planning permission?

Any expansion or reconfiguration to your care home is very likely to require planning permission.

To apply for planning permission, contact your local planning authority through your council.

Important: While the extra paperwork might seem like a hassle it’s essential to get the right planning permission. If you don’t, you can be served an “enforcement notice” to undo all the work.

3. What will it cost?

Once you have a design proposal, it’s a good idea to get quotes from at least a few specialised firms to get an idea of costs. Prices can vary considerably depending on the scale of the required work.

Beyond the building costs, you also need to consider the costs of fitting out the new bedrooms with necessary amenities, including big-ticket items like new hospital beds. 

It’s a good idea to have a contingency budget too, to cover any unforeseen problems that might crop up. 

4. How will you fund it?

If the costs involved are substantial, you may need to weigh up different financing options or sources of funding.

One option to consider is a commercial remortgage. If your property has risen in value since the initial mortgage was secured, a commercial remortgage can allow you to access equity to fund your project. 

Of course, remortgaging has pros and cons. It’s worthwhile to speak to a financial advisor at your bank while considering your options. You may find that a business loan, for example, is a better solution.

Your local authority might also be able to offer funding to support the growth of your business. You can research potential options on the finance and support for your business page on the GOV.UK website.

Tip: If you’re looking for more financial inspiration, find more funding options available for care homes here.

5. How will you minimise disruption for your current residents?

As you grow your business, it’s important not to lose sight of your core purpose: to provide the highest level of care and comfort for your residents and staff. 

With building work happening on site, you’ll want to make every effort to minimise the mess, noise and inconvenience that goes along with it. The safety and wellbeing of those in your care must be your top priority. Keep vulnerable residents well away from construction zones, identify potential hazards and promptly address any safety concerns. 

Be sure to communicate clearly about what’s happening at every stage of the project. Answer any questions and, where possible, get input from your staff and residents to help them feel involved in the process.

6. Will you need to hire and train more staff?

Depending on how many rooms you’re adding to your care home, you might need to recruit additional staff to accommodate the incoming residents. 

If so, start this process sooner rather than later. You’ll want to be ready to fill the new rooms as soon as they’re up and running.

Once building works are complete and your staff are prepared, it’s time to attract new clients. All the tips outlined in phase one are still relevant here. 

Bonus: you now have a new marketing message to promote with the grand opening of your newly built accommodation.

Interested in growing your business and brand further? It might be time for phase three.

Phase 3 – think big: expand your brand with new homes

This third phase of business growth is the most ambitious, meriting very careful consideration, planning and commitment. 

If you’re serious about expanding your care brand by acquiring or opening more care homes, you’ll want to consult with business experts and financial advisors to help you with things like viability studies, market research, business strategy, risk analysis and financing options. 

As a starting point, you’ll want to consider:

1. Location

Will you stay close to home or launch your new care home venture somewhere else? Making a decision on location requires the careful consideration of several factors, including:

  • Where is there demand?
  • What is the competition like?
  • What are the local amenities?
  • What are the local property and building costs?
  • How easy will it be to hire the necessary staff?
  • What local regulations might I need to consider?

Choosing the ideal location for your care home will be critical for the success and future sustainability of your business. It’s a big decision.

Further reading: Download the Knight Frank report on Healthcare Development Opportunities for up-to-date insight on launching new care homes.

2. Will you buy an existing care home or build a new one?

The decision to buy an existing care home or open a new one depends on your specific business goals and available resources.There are pros and cons to both approaches. 

For example, if you buy an existing home, you will have some insight into its success and profitability. There will already be staff on board, saving you effort in hiring and training. Plus, there’s likely to be a resident base in place, too. 

However, you’ll need to evaluate the care home's existing reputation, home and ways of working, which may require significant improvements or changes.

On the other hand, opening a new home has the instant competitive advantage of simply being new. 81% of care homes in England are more than 20 years old, and many are significantly outdated.

But a new home will need time to recruit specialist staff, attract residents and establish its reputation. And because of the big upfront costs, it can be several years before a new care home is profitable. 

3. What’s your business plan?

Writing a business plan for your growing care home venture is an important step in outlining your goals, defining your business strategy and clarifying your overall vision. It’s also a useful way to hone in on your USPs and, ideally, attract investment.

Never written a business plan before? The Prince’s Trust website is a useful resource to get you started. Aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs, you’ll find valuable tips and free templates to help you structure your plan.

Achieve your business vision

Expanding your care home business to meet today’s growing need for excellent care is a fantastic ambition. It can be a truly rewarding one, too. We hope the tips in this guide will help you to grow your business successfully.

About Florence: what we do and how we can support your growing business 

If you’re ready to expand your business, Florence can help you grow. 

The more residents you have, the more qualified team members you’ll need to provide continuity of care. That’s where we come in.

We can help you find high-quality, experienced nurses, care assistants and support workers to fill vacant shifts and support the staff you already have.

  1. Autofill shifts with permanent team members to keep your agency spend low.
  2. Fill gaps with our 90,000+ fully vetted Florence care professionals, inviting them back again to improve continuity of care.
  3. Permanently hire Florence care professionals who meet your organisation’s needs for free

As you expand, working with Florence can help you save up to 30% on agency fees, plus valuable admin time. The result? You can focus on what’s really important: providing your residents with high-quality care.

There are never any hidden fees or additional costs, so you can set your budget and stick to it – and 96% of the organisations we work with say our system is super easy to use.

Curious about Florence? Book a demo today...

Book a demo with Florence

Find out more about how Florence can help you find, retain and train an experienced team here.

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