As community based services, independent private ambulance services are known for their personal touch and excellent levels of customer service. However, in an industry that has become increasingly competitive and even saturated in certain regions, excellent customer service is no longer enough to stay ahead.
As business owners and operators, we all need to pause and ask ourselves what the next step is for us in evolving our service quality. A lot of the work that goes into developing a better service takes significant time, but that time spent is worth it because your business won’t grow without it.
Some of the areas that an ambulance service owner or manager can focus on developing include:
1) Staff development
A happy workforce is a productive workforce. There are plenty of articles available on the internet that will give any business owner a range of ideas on how to motivate and get the best results out of your workforce. We often see staff as being motivated by money, and while this is true, staff are also motivated by good treatment, a brand that they are proud to work for, and a consistently appreciative manager. The old adage of ‘being a leader and not a boss’ is particularly relevant in EMS.
2) Relationship Management
Managing relationships is a key marketing strategy. Seek out and nurture relationships with people and businesses that will support the growth and development of your business. Take care of your regular clients on an ongoing basis. There is nothing more frustrating to a client than being forgotten. Forgotten clients easily become targets and opportunities for competing ambulance services.
3) Asset Management
Take care of your equipment and your vehicles. Members of the public, patients, and customers take note of how you maintain your assets. Ensure that your vehicles are neatly presented, clean, well maintained, sterile, and properly equipped at all times. Just because there are ambulance services that have been able to continue to operate below the minimum accreditation criteria is no excuse to do the same. Below par ambulance services are not permitted as SAPAESA members and we expect each and every one of our members to maintain only the highest standards regarding vehicles and equipment. Remember, as an industry that is in the public eye, we are constantly being evaluated and compared to other providers in the market. We have to constantly put in the effort to keep the image of SAPAESA ahead of the rest.
4) Administrative Efficiency
Is your business as administratively efficient as it can be? Are your files stored properly stored and secure? Can you provide a full audit trail of equipment and vehicle maintenance, compliance with labour legislation, confidential storage of patient records, tax compliance, and audited financial statements? A poor system of administration is often what ultimately leads to poorly paid accounts and cash flow issues. Ensure that you have an administration system that is both efficient and effective. Check your patient report forms to ensure that they are complete and correctly filled out as soon as you receive them, in order to allow you to submit your claims as early as possible. Patient report forms that are checked in advance and medical aid invoices that are correctly submitted the first time around have the best chance of being accepted on the first submission.
Remember: don’t just be good enough, be the best. In an emergency, nobody wants an ambulance that is merely ‘good enough’ – they want the best!