Brett Landrum, Founder and Co-CEO of Procare HR explains the benefits of partnering with an HR organization to develop strategies for labor management solutions.
There are technical and tactical things we can do to schedule better.
Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.Learn More ▶
Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.Learn More ▶
One of the biggest advantages you get with an HR partner is their trial and error, their intellectual property, their reps.
There are benefits in partnering with an HR organization to develop strategies for labor management solutions by helping teams manage labor and employee scheduling to create a positive impact on employee experience and resident care. Brett Landrum, Founder and Co-CEO of Procare HR explains on this week’s episode.
Procare HR is an exclusive sponsor of Bridge the Gap.
This episode was recorded at the NIC Fall Conference.
Produced by Solinity Marketing.
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Welcome to season six of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, NIC MAP Vision, ProCare HR, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, Patriot Angels, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.
Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas, another great episode here at the 2023 Fall NIC Conference in Chicago. We have a great friend and supporter on the show today. We wanna welcome Brett Landrum, the founder and co-CEO of ProCare HR. Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
It's so good to have you back on the show and we are so appreciative from us and from our audience to you for supporting the Bridge The Gap mission. It's a big part of how we're able to bring such great educational content to the industry. So we really appreciate your support. Today we're gonna be talking about all things HR. Labor is a big issue. Recruiting and retention, there are a lot of different issues on the table, but what do you want to center on today?
How we think about managing employee scheduling and you know, what's the impact on our payroll expense, what's the impact on resident care, on employee experience, et cetera. And we kind of fell backward into it really by accident where two years ago we were coming out of COVID and kept hearing from our customers that they've got this challenge where they're like, we're not reacting quickly enough to changes in census or staffing levels, et cetera. And so what's happening at the site level is we're either understaffed when we need to be fully staffed or we're overstaffed because something, again, something changed in the census either the employee or resident. And we're just not prepared to make those adjustments. And so we're spending a lot more money on labor than what would like to be, therefore it's taking some of those dollars or invested elsewhere in the business or operating margin or so on and so forth.
How do you build a structure where we can work with some of those folks that are actually doing the tactical scheduling every day because that's a real, you know, it's a tough job. They're managing 40 to 60% of our operators' P&Ls. How do we look at the data, be able to kind of synthesize it, and identify what are the causes of some of these gaps in how we schedule, how we manage labor and what's the impact that has both on the P&L and then with the other employee experiences.
So a lot of scalability issues up and down at the community level, but then I think also I see, I'd like for you to speak to it. A huge advantage. We're here obviously at NIC and we're dealing with thought leaders, big operating platforms that are scaling sometimes dozens of communities, onboarding, offboarding, mergers, and acquisitions happening all the time. And labor management becomes kind of an exponential factor because then you're not talking about one community. You may bring on 10, or 12, I mean I just talked to an operator that within the next six months they'll add 11 or 12 new communities and they only have seven right now, so they're more than doubling in size. But labor is such a huge part of the P&L at the community level and then that rolls up to be hugely scalable at that level. Talk to us a little bit about some of the strategies that you're seeing work to position operators for scale.
One, at its core, we had messed something up in ProCare, broke some part of our business and we were talking to our mentor and talking through the problem with him and kind of my "ah-ha!" moment was he's like, "Okay, so what you're telling me is this is a critical function, it's super important to your business. "Yep, yep. It is. "Who wakes up every single day and that's their focus? "Well, it's kind of this person and kind of that person. And these two they tag team on this thing and that thing. He's like, "Okay, so let me get this straight. Super important function, nobody focuses on it and nobody's accountable for it and there's no real way to measure success. Why do you think it broke?" Like, "huh, yeah, thanks." I apply that same logic to labor management where you think about in a big portfolio everybody's responsible for labor but nobody's responsible for labor because your scheduler's got a bunch of other things going on, your EDs have a bunch of other things going on and so it's the fire of the day and we end up just losing discipline where there's just not one person often and like that example of a portfolio of 11 properties, there's not one person that wakes up every day and is like my job on these five KPIs on overtime as a percentage of payroll on scheduled overtime as a percentage of total hours, dollars to the budget, et cetera.
Like it's stuff everybody looks at and talks about, but it's not something that's like somebody's core mission and focus is to really control that. Having somebody who owns that function and it's really clear how they're measured and will really clear what their metrics for success are like that's one. And then second is technical and tactical things we can do to schedule better. We buy these really cool tools we give them to to folks and we're like, "Hey, good luck." They don't have the skills or the techniques to actually kind of leverage that tool effectively. And so I think it's having the focus person and then really working on the reps with the folks actually responsible for doing scheduling. I'm like, "Hey, here's where we missed the mark overtime or budget or whatever. Here are two or three or four different tactical changes we can make to really improve or enhance that particular category."
If we were looking, in retrospect several years ago in our industry, we were probably “tool poor.” Meaning there weren't specifically designed products or software schedulers and things like that, that really understood senior living and was designed specifically for it. I would say while we could always improve today, I mean we could probably walk and probably find a dozen different schedulers just here, but to your point, somebody that is actually understanding that and is the champion of that. And that leads me to so many right now, you have your traditional, very large groups that manage a lot of assets, they have a lot of infrastructure, a lot of bandwidth to be able to have infrastructure. But a lot of the folks that we are talking with here, even at NIC, they're relatively small and it's really hard to be able to dedicate someone on your payroll at the management level, the corporate level, to be able to focus on that much less at the community level where you're just trying to staff caregivers a lot of time. So what would be some strategies that you would say would help companies to be able to scale and have someone to be able to do that and be able to dedicate some resources to that without sinking the ship on the payroll?
Yeah, totally. It's a little chicken and egg, right? Because it's like, I believe there's four to 6% in almost every senior living organization of payroll that can be captured some organizations. So it's more, some it's less. That's a huge number and particularly when you're talking about a number of, or maybe even three, four or five buildings like that really adds up quickly. The return for an investment like that is there, if you have confidence in the execution plan, you can say, "Okay, here's the categories of kind of payroll expense we're going to impact, here's the levers we're going to pull. If we do that and we're conservative in our estimations, like what do we think that produces and then what's the level of person we need to do that work and focus on it, et cetera." I think the math makes sense. It's just most people where the breakdown comes is confidence in the execution plan to be able to make that type of investment. I personally think senior living has done a really fantastic job of trying to adopt technology and being open and willing and driving towards adoption. I see it break down the breadth and depth use within the organization. As the executives get it, they know why they want the technology, but then usually it's at the site and the community level where the people who need to use those tools just aren't comfortable with them. They're not quite optimized actually utilizing a really high caliber tool.
Sure. So in your organization, put you on the spot a little bit. I know it's sometimes hard to talk about yourself. With what you guys do at ProCare, how do you come alongside specifically in this genre, manage the whole HR stack but also help them navigate potentially what tools are going to work right? It's very easy to fall victim and prey to flashy bells and whistles and you're like, oh my gosh. But then the implementation of that, it can be way more difficult and more than what they thought they were gonna have to tackle.
I'm obviously a proponent of outsourcing and one of the biggest advantages you get with an HR partner is their trial and error, their intellectual property, and their reps. They have so many at-bats with a particular tool or type of tool that hopefully the tool they've selected. In our case, take scheduling. I've used five different schedulers with customers over the last five years. That's been incredibly painful for our organization to go through the testing, the iteration, and the failures. But like we have so much resources and money and time and energy into finding the right tool, figuring out how to deploy it, how to train on it, and having a good clean implementation where hopefully we expect to do a lot of the heavy lifting. The ongoing labor management is really about us doing the analysis, working just as any executive on your team would with all the different levels and stakeholders in your organization to impact the change and outcomes they're driving towards.
We've got a three-person team, one person does all the tech configuration, implementation, et cetera. Other person's really heavy in training and data. And then the third is somebody who's been in operations, has run a small portfolio of buildings who's really focused on taking the analysis of what's driving the labor costs and saying, "Okay, what do we need to now do with this information to impact the change we want?" They work directly on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis with the individual leaders and schedulers of those sites to work on those tactical changes. Let's take the area with the greatest impact and let's really work on that thing. Let's grind on it for a period of time, let's get it to where we feel like we're 90% of the way there. And then let's move to the next piece of low-hanging fruit.
Unlike you, I've not had the advantage or disadvantage, whatever you want to call it, of going and vetting five different systems, for example, like you gave that example. From just a provider without having gone through and tried and aired them all, when I just look from the outside looking in, I don't see a whole huge level of differentiators between some of these systems, right? I'm wondering what you see as some of the things to look for that could be major differentiators or do you say this is pretty competitive and you just have to make the product you choose work and the tools that you choose work? Or is it really about asking the right questions that some of these tools are going to be better for your organization than others?
I do think some of them will be better. Whatever one is really great today, like hopefully there's enough competition where second place is going to catch up and come out with their own differentiator. So I would take an okay system with fantastic support over a great system with crappy support. I think you have to have the support function or you're going to have this really whizzbang tool and it's not going to be implemented properly. Nobody's going to know how to use it and your team's going to get frustrated. One thing that we've learned the hard way is we've bought some really sophisticated tools that proclaim to be able to do incredible things and I think they could, but it's like giving your 16-year-old kid a Ferrari in the middle of downtown Minneapolis with two feet of snow. They're not going to move, they don't want to drive and whatever.
One of the core things that we've learned the hard way is when we're deploying a tool, we've got to be really, really cognizant of how easy it is to just pick up the bike and go ride. And if it's really hard, they're going to get discouraged and you won't get the depth of use that you need in order for the tool to be effective. So I think we're really looking at how is the tool designed, like what are the actual workflows and steps that employee is going to go through to use the tool, and hopefully, the steps are minimized. The second thing that we're seeing now more than ever with staffing where it's at is having a really robust communication feature built into a scheduling system, which I think is critical. Employees expect to be able to communicate on the channel today. Like, "Hey, I want to be able to text and have that go to the scheduler. I want to be able to get texts from the scheduler, I want to be able to do it in email, I want to be able to just go in through the app and talk to people." So having a robust communication tool I think is really helpful. Everybody should be using the scheduler every day. So like having that communication feature built in is also I think just a great way to disseminate information. Personally, I think being able to get live access to the data and the reports. A lot of folks, it's like, "Hey, I know how we did on labor versus like, I know how we're going to do on labor based upon what we've scheduled thus far."
Yes, two things, right?
And it kind of goes back to proving the point of what you said earlier of having a champion that's dedicated to running and they wake up and they think about that every day because if you're having that much engagement and feedback and all of that, you obviously have to have somebody on the other end that's it's reciprocal, right? So yeah, Lucas, great conversation as always with Brett.
Always very good information and I know our audience thinks this is good information, I need some help with this. The way you do that is to connect with ProCare HR and Brett's team, they're going to walk you through this. So Brett, thank you so much for spending your busy schedule time with us here at the NIC Conference on the podcast.
Absolutely. Appreciate you guys having me.
And for our listeners, if you want to download this episode and connect with us on social and so much more content, btgvoice.com is the place to go check us out on LinkedIn. And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge The Gap.
Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.