The word ‘consultant’ elicits images of a well-dressed, officious, impersonal business person licking their lips at the prospect of charging exorbitant hourly rates to those who come knocking. Is this really the case with consultants in 2017 or just a perception spilling over from the 90’s / 00’s when consultants were a dime a dozen, making choosing a consultant even more difficult?
Thanks to the advancements in communication (including social media and portable technology) immoral and unscrupulous businesses can’t get away with what they used to — particularly in the community sector where it’s all about people and relationships.
Remember, consultants are people coming into your business from the outside with a specific expertise to help you achieve your goals. So, it’s not just about whether they will deliver on their promises, it’s also about making sure they are the right fit so you can work effectively with them.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to do your homework so you get what you need from a consultancy relationship to ensure you maximise value, service and desired outcome.
Detailed below is what you should expect (and demand) when you engage any consultant to support you and your business.
Choosing a Consultant
Consulting in the community sector is all about people just as it is for the service providers who provide direct support to people across Australia. As with any relationship, it’s important to find a good match and work with an organisation who understands you, your business and what you’re trying to achieve.
We’ve heard some horror stories from clients who have experienced negative, costly support from consultants and ended up receiving poor service with a less than ideal outcome. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Ask them how long have they been operating for?
- Ask yourself whether they understand your needs?
- Ask to speak with some clients. Did they have a good experience / outcome?
- Check the fine print in the contract. Do you have any built-in assurances?
- Will they be accountable?
One of the most important factors that will shape a successful consultant outcome is structured communication. Having an ongoing dialogue ensures that expectations are clear and timelines are met. Working in partnership will always get you a better outcome than someone just ‘developing documentation’.
Every business offers different pricing, services and value. Do your research and make sure you’re not comparing apples with oranges. Value is often built into your experience and process that will support your best outcome. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Check their credentials, website and history – make sure everything checks out, be comfortable with what they stand for and that you are inspired with confidence.
If you’ve gone through this process and you’ve ticked the boxes, you can move forward with some level of confidence. Remember, it’s your business and it’s up to you to look after it.
Becoming a Provider under the Australian Aged Care System
Like most things in Australia’s political sphere, the media’s focus is generally directed toward those issues, initiatives, and people that offer a controversial or contentious story for the next day’s headlines.
The NDIS has certainly provided such a platform, which has seen sustained media coverage, from its inception through to now where the Scheme’s rollout is well underway across the country.
There is no doubt that the NDIS will be a great system for Australians with a permanent or severe disability. It replaces an archaic, unfair and fragmented disability system that left Australians with disability little, with regard to choice and control, to improve their quality of life.
It must be said however that the ongoing teething issues emerging as the Scheme rolls out are proving to be problematic for both participants and disability service providers respectively. These issues range from poor communication to pricing to poorly constructed participant plans.
Aged Care Provider Opportunity
However, as the relevant Government agencies look to knock these issues into place and drive the Scheme forward, there is another Scheme that is quietly experiencing its own evolution – the Australian Aged Care system.
Like the NDIS, Aged Care Home Care has shifted toward a person centred, or ‘consumer-directed care’ model – meaning people over 65 will get more choice and flexibility as to how they choose and receive these services.
These reforms began in 2012 and are part of a 3-phased process that will stretch out over 10 years. Like the NDIS, the transformation of the Aged Care sector is presenting a huge opportunity for businesses looking to deliver aged care services like Home Care. With Australia’s ageing population, the demand for these services is steadily increasing – a plus for providers looking to deliver quality, innovative services to Australians over 65.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an Aged Care Provider, download our free information guide and learn how we can assist in navigating the process.
Becoming an Approved Aged Care Provider can be a time-consuming and complex process. Get your free guide today!
The changing landscape of the Community Sector is being driven by mass reforms within the aged care and disability services sectors. This rapid evolution is forcing non-government organisations to rethink their position within the market to ensure a competitive advantage.
Why this is important in the Disability & Aged Care Sectors
One of the major necessities of successful marketing is having a comprehensive understanding of the environment in which you operate. This is of significant importance in the disability and aged care sectors as more and more businesses enter the market in order to capitalise on more open markets created by person-centred and consumer directed service delivery.
Most organisations have, at the very least, the standard marketing tools and functions in place – a website, an occasional newsletter to clients and maybe one or two social media accounts. Although this is a very good starting point, without understanding the market in which you are operating, efforts to increase engagement are often misguided and end up falling flat.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Do you understand what makes your organisation different to your major competitors?
- Are you finding it increasingly difficult to compete against new competitors?
- Do you have a plan or strategy in place to attract customers and drive growth?
Without an understanding of the impact these things can have on your broader marketing efforts, your organisation will find it increasingly difficult to thrive. So, where does this leave you?
Time to take action
Whether you’re just entering the market or are an established organisation, there’s no better time than now to undertake an audit of your current positioning. This will help you and your team to identify any areas that may require improvements or discover opportunities that you may be missing out on. Either way, having a better understanding of where you sit within the competitive landscape will provide valuable insight into what steps you need to take to position yourself for success and drive financial growth.
Start with your brand
How you communicate, what you communicate, when you communicate, what your values are and the emotional reaction you want your customers to feel when engaging with your business are all crucial parts that make up your brand. Unfortunately, these defining elements can be afterthoughts, or more often than not, neglected altogether. By reviewing your current brand and asking yourself a few simple questions about where it currently stands, you are well on your way to establishing yourself as a serious competitor in the disability and aged care sectors.
To help you get started, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to help you through this process and give you a valuable resource to share with and include your staff and stakeholders. Our free Position Your Brand for Success Guide provides comprehensive insight about where to start and what to think about to distinguish your business and drive financial growth in the Community Sector.
Where to start and what to think about to distinguish your business and drive financial growth in the Community Sector.
When we decided to update our website at the start of the year, the team spent hours writing, rewriting and fine tuning the copy on every single page until it was perfect. Developing content is often one of the most difficult (and important) aspects of defining your brand, and for us, we wanted to make sure it was just right. After all, we were developing our voice – how we would communicate our message and how that message would be perceived by the masses. It had to be perfect.
As a brand, we decided that if we were going to be heard, we needed to be bold, and this was reflected throughout all of our messaging. One of the subtleties that has truly stuck with me however, was in the form our Call to Action…
Make it Happen – Small Business Advice that Everyone should adopt.
At the time, it seemed like a simple phrase to use as a creative alternative to ‘Contact’ or ‘Enquire.’ Now however, as we delve even deeper into our business and continue pushing the boundaries in all directions, it’s becoming one of our defining attributes – our ethos, if you will.
Truth is, running a small business is tough – a sentiment to which many of our clients and partners can also attest. Hours are long, the workload immense, and we’re surprised the coffee machine hasn’t spontaneously combusted from overuse. So what is it that drives us and pushes us through the seemingly endless roadblocks? It’s our passion for what we do, our passion for the success of our clients and most of all, our drive to make it happen, no matter the circumstance. We’re in it because we love it – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
This doesn’t just apply to our own business of course – it applies to that of our clients’ too. We’re often engaged by people who want to work with Amergin based solely on our credibility. This speaks volumes to us as a business, because it’s that ethos – those three short words – that got us to where we are today, and it’s that same driver that we apply to all the work we put out. After all, without our valued clients, Amergin as we know it may not even exist.
For those of you are going through a similar phase of starting and maintaining a small business in today’s entrepreneurial landscape, I implore you to keep pushing. The days won’t get shorter and the workload will keep piling up, but as the old adage goes, you only get out what you put in. Keep pushing the boundaries, keep working, keep doing. When everything seems overwhelming or like you’re fighting an uphill battle, remember why you decided to do it in the first place. Make it happen and enjoy it for what it is – yours.
Federal Budget Update: The Federal Government announced its 2017-18 Budget on Tuesday, 9 May. It encouragingly included a range of measures that will support continued growth and security within the disability sector.
Key measures include:
- A commitment to fully fund the NDIS, which up until now faced an expected funding shortfall at full rollout of around $3.8 billion. Filling this gap will be enabled by an increase in the Medicare Levy by 2.5%.
- $209 million to establish an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to oversee the quality of Registered NDIS Providers and enforce the rights of participants. The Commission will be responsible for registering new NDIS Providers, responding to complaints and providing leadership to eliminate physical restraint practices. The Commission is part of a broader National Quality and Safeguarding Framework which will see registration requirements for NDIS Providers become consistent across states and territories as the Scheme rolls out.
- $33 million to ensure NDIS participants and older Australians requiring aged care services can access quality services in their local area. The Local Care Workforce Package will help service providers in the disability and aged care sectors grow their workforce to support the expected significant growth in demand in both areas.
While ultimately all measures need to be agreed by both sides of Parliament, this year’s Budget demonstrates a long-term commitment from the Government to fully implement the NDIS and support the service industry that will underpin it. It also provides new and existing disability service providers transitioning to the NDIS the confidence that the market to provide high quality, person-centred and innovative services is only set to grow.
Enjoy the Federal Budget recap and want to find out more?
Click Here to find out how you can become a NDIS provider. Amergin have a dedicated and knowledgeable team that can assist in navigating the NDIS registration process.
The changing face of disability services
Today, we’re seeing a growing segment of Australians realising they are no longer fulfilled by their jobs. Many are forced to work longer hours, expected to do more than ever before and with fewer resources. These expectations have left thousands of people working in organisations across Australia – quite simply – worn out.
While we’ve seen mining booms come and go, Australians are looking for new ways to build a business in a secure marketplace and move away from the old dynamic that’s simply not working anymore. The good news for the tired workforce is that Australia is poised to enter a significant economic shift that will change the landscape, forever. According to a recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey, Australia ranks third for total early-stage entrepreneurial activity among innovation-driven economies.
An agile Australian economy will need creators, innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs – more people will need to create, rather than apply for, their job.
So where does this opportunity present itself – technology startups? In part, yes. Technology will continue to shape our daily lives and thus economic and employment influence. However, a fundamental shift in the way governments conceptualise and fund essential support services is also creating new opportunities for innovative service providers wanting to give back to their communities.
For instance, the National Disability and Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing individualised support for Australians with disability, their families and carers across Australia. With the previous state disability systems throughout Australia seen as inefficient, fragmented, unfair, underfunded and leaving people with disability without the support they needed, the NDIS provides a national response to move Australia forward.
The NDIS presents huge growth opportunities for Australian businesses. As a Federal Government initiative with bipartisan political support, its future is secured. Once it’s fully operational, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be one of the biggest Government-funded programs after Medicare.
As a result, the disability services market is set to expand dramatically in the coming years, creating significant opportunities for the existing service sector and for new entrants, as well as mainstream businesses seeking to make their services accessible and inclusive. Nationally, the level of expenditure on disability supports will more than double, reaching approximately $22 billion per annum and supporting 460,000 participants, once the NDIS is fully implemented. As such, there has never been a bigger opportunity than right now to partner with the NDIS and realise your business goals, while providing quality person-centred, innovative and responsive community services.
Amergin is helping a number of Australian businesses to become Registered NDIS Providers, providing support at each stage of the process. This includes meeting state and Federal government registration requirements while also differentiating businesses to help them stand out above the crowd and lay a pathway for a postivie and successful future.
Becoming a Registered NDIS Provider can be an overwhelming task, requiring a lot of preparation and planning. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to step you through the key things you need to consider before applying to deliver services to NDIS participants.
Access our FREE Provider Guide now and take action to change your life and those of other Australians.
It’s been a very busy year for the team at Amergin and we want to reflect on a few of our highlights.
- A brand new website.
- Completion of several BIG projects including ‘Escape from the Desert’, to support children’s mental wellbeing.
- Helped several organisations prepare for or work with the NDIS so they can make a difference in our communities.
- Supported and attended the 12th Biennial Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference.
We are open for business until 23 December 2016 and recommence on 9 January 2017.
We wish you and your families a wonderful and safe Christmas break. If you (or any other businesses you know) could benefit from our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Thank you again and we hope to work with you in 2017!
Meet Jack, Yuri and Olivia. They’re your friends, and you’re stranded, alone, in a desert wilderness, trying to find them, and your way out. To do so, you need to solve a series of clues and puzzles and if you do, you’ll be a hero – the hero of your own story. Sounds fun – right?
What looks like a graphic novel-cross-adventure story-cross-activity booklet is actually a mental wellbeing resource for children aged 6 to 12 years old, developed recently by the Amergin team for Richmond Fellowship Queensland and UnitingCare Community Sunshine Coast.
A couple of months ago I blogged about the need for community organisations to start focussing on and prioritising their marketing and communications, in order to distinguish themselves in a rapidly changing market where your client is now your paying customer. In the article I discussed the need for imaginative and engaging marketing practices that clearly distinguish your service and your brand and appeal to your target stakeholders in an innovative and modern way.
Marketing and communications isn’t just about getting clients in the door; it’s also about engaging and helping them in the most effective ways possible. The Escape from the Desert story is an evidence-based, concept-tested product that provides information to kids in a way that really appeals to them, through a recognisable brand that can be built upon and leveraged in multiple ways and formats.
Connecting with your client base doesn’t have to be hard or onerous. It can be fun, interesting and incredibly effective, particularly when it’s done right. If you’d like to get your own copies of the Escape from the Desert story and the accompanying educational posters, or if you’d like more information about how Amergin can help you make your creative mark – get in touch!
Welcome to our new website! It represents the next phase for our business and we hope you like it as much as we do.
Amergin has come a long way since our first client over 4 years ago. Over the last few months our team has worked particularly hard to re-focus the business and expand its services to better cater for Australian community organisations and businesses.
Today, we’re ready to reveal the next phase of our journey.
What does this mean for our clients?
We have made some significant changes including consolidating our marketing and consultation services under one brand ‘Amergin’. Our business is built on credibility, expertise and trust. We are committed to the success of our clients (not making a quick dollar). This is what sets us apart from everyone else and means we go further for our clients.
As well as launching a new logo and website, we have enhanced our overall service provision while also looking to improve the journey our clients experience with us. This is represented in the following ways:
- A ‘hand-held approach’ that keeps us connected with our clients through the entire project journey. It means we’re on the same page and deliver exactly what clients want, on time and on budget;
- Keeping up-to-date with new strategic and digital marketing practices to keep our clients ahead of the game;
- Access to the best design tools to build stunning websites and collateral;
- First-class reporting mechanisms to measure campaign success; and
- Marketing Workshops to share the knowledge we’ve acquired from years of experience and research, to help businesses nurture their own growth and success. We will tailor topics and duration to suit your business needs.
This area of our business is growing rapidly, particularly due to the enormous changes currently occurring in the disability and mental health sectors. We are helping a long list of community organisations apply for State and Federal Government funding, assisting with business, program and policy development and supporting existing and new organisations through the varying State processes to apply for NDIS Provider registration.
To learn more about our services or to book a free 30-minute discussion to talk about your next project, contact us now!
In a time of unprecedented reform in Australia (particularly in the disability and mental health sectors), State and Federal governments are increasingly focussing taxpayer dollars on the individual, as well as towards willing community organisations geared to support this focus. Is your business one of these?
There is growing recognition that individualised, person-centred support produces the best outcomes for the people who need it. To stay relevant and financially viable, community organisations must clearly differentiate themselves to an increasingly discerning client base – or they will inevitably lose out.
Unfortunately, many organisations rely on traditional, out-dated methods of stakeholder engagement (particularly those solely reliant on government funding) or have never really worried about strong communication at all! However, community organisations need to be more competitive, outcomes focussed and financially efficient than ever before. Creativity and innovation are crucial to avoid falling behind.
Imaginative and engaging marketing practice is no longer an ‘optional extra’. Australian community services must remain competitive in the face of evolving service delivery requirements, increased competition from traditional and non-traditional providers, streamlined service provision and changing financial conditions.
The 7 top areas all community organisations in Australia should currently be seriously considering include:
- Appealing to your target audience in a modern and engaging manner;
- Stepping outside the box and engaging people in new and exciting ways;
- The importance of having both an offline and online footprint;
- Developing unique, clear and well-represented campaigns;
- Strategic market positioning;
- Being relevant in the modern digital age; and
- The value of working collaboratively with private sector experts in this field.
Community organisations must prioritise and evolve their marketing and communication practices to be able to provide the support they know achieves the best outcomes for people.
We’ll be covering some of these issues in more detail on the blog in the coming weeks. If you need help in the meantime, Amergin has the knowhow to help community organisations communicate with their audience better – so get in touch!