Monday, March 28, 2016

"The One Essential Tool We Can't Afford To Be Missing"

As contractors, renovators, remodelers, and handymen, tools are commonplace. They are how we create solutions and deliver them to our aging-in-place clients. Most professions have tools of one kind or another, but tool for construction, maintenance, and repair are quite well known. In fact, many people have a hammer, saw, screwdriver, pliers, or wrench - and often several of them.

Tools come in a variety of sizes and complexity - from simple, one piece items to expensive, power equipment and ranging in price from a few dollars to several thousands.

Yet, there is one tool that all of us possess - or should - that enables us to meet people initially and record information about their needs that will allow us to suggest and provide solutions for them that will allow them to lead more comfortable lives in their home as they remain living in them.

In today's electronic world of computers, tablets, and smartphones, the lowly pen or pencil, by comparison, seems severely outclassed. It doesn't perform multiple functions or have a display for us to read the information it creates, transmits, or receives. Still, the pen or pencil is the one tool we can never afford to be without if we expect to meet people and be responsive to their needs.

Of course, something to write on - a piece of paper, a pad, the back of a business card, or even a scrap of paper, Post-It note or a piece of cardboard - is required to use the pen or pencil effectively. People have been known to write on the palms of their hands in a pinch, but that is unreliable because the information recorded can smear or disappear before it can be transferred to a more permanent record.

As we meet people in the course of our daily lives - in public, at the market, at the home improvement center, the plumbing or lighting store, the rehab center, the hospital, or wherever our particular occupation might take us - and for off-duty hours as well - we need to be able to record essential information about people we are meeting and have a way of reaching out to them again.

For people that express a need for a specific service or solution that we offer - after they learn what we do - we need to make a note of their needs and have their names and a phone number and email address to contact them again after this initial meeting.

Business cards run a close second as an essential business tool to make sure we are never without, because this is how we convey our contact information to the people we are meeting. Since it is unlikely they will be carrying a business card to share with us, we need to take a second business card and write their contact information in the white space on the back of the card. Make sure there is white space specifically for this purpose and that the cards do not have a glossy surface.

So, as important as the medical, construction, and assessment tools are for working with people to provide aging-in-place solutions for them, none of that will matter much if we can't record some initial notes and contact information from the people we are meeting - or those referred to us by our strategic partners. Nothing really takes the place of a basic pen or pencil to do this.

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.