Your support service product(s)
Your idea may well be the delivery of a support product already available but in a different way or place or may be something new. The information below may help you when developing your idea into an actual product you might wish to provide:
Whatever product you decide to deliver, it is likely that under Personalisation quality providers who can provide support products that clients want and that meets their needs will prosper, with those that provide inferior quality support products or products that aren't needed will fade.
When considering what products you wish to continue to deliver or start to deliver you may first like to research and analyse your preferred market (see your market on this site).
Product life cycle
As with markets, products and services can also go through a growth pattern called a 'life cycle': You may wish to consider where your products are on this cycle when considering what products to invest in.
At the launch of the product there is likely to be low growth and low take up and you must be prepared for this by making sure you have enough money to keep investing in the product while it grows. This is also a time when your product will require a lot of your time and money in marketing.
Although growth is generally good, you must ensure that you don't overtrade. This is when you are paying out lots of money for supplies or staff but your income streams are delayed, maybe because of payment terms (for example a Local Authority may only pay 28 days after invoice). In this scenario although you have a very good product and market share is increasing, you may simply run out of money.
Product maturity is when you have steady sales and are likely to be getting good income streams form your product. However this phase could be short or long, depending on market factors for example levels of demand, substitute or alternative new products, increased competition, and you should therefore be planning on when and how you may wish to withdraw the product.
When your product is in decline you should already have a plan to withdraw or replace the product but it is likely that at some stage in the decline the product may be costing you money.
BCG (Boston Consultancy Group) Matrix
As well as considering where your product is in it's life cycle, you may also want to look at where it is positioned in the overall market in which it is delivered, considering both market share and how fast the market is growing, as this may give you some indications as to the potential cash flows from the product. A useful model for this is the BCG matrix. You may wish to consider this alongside the market life cycle (see your market on this site).
A product with low market share in a market with low growth (A dog) is likely to be a drain on resources and whilst it could still be generating cash it may not be at a level that is acceptable. If this is the case you may want to divest in the product and stop delivering it to protect your cash flows or use the saved resources to invest in a different product.
A low market share product in a high growth market (A question mark) has the possibility of becoming a cash generator but is currently taking up a large amount of resources for a low return and is likely to need more resource spent on it. Careful analysis of the market will help you decide whether to invest in the question mark or divest and stop providing it.
Your stars, products with a high market share in a market with high growth, are likely to be cash neutral in that they are currently likely to be costing as much as they are bringing in, however if you are able to maintain the market share there is a good chance that when the market matures they will generate excess cash for you.
Products where you have a high market share in a market where growth is low (cash cows) are likely to be generating positive cash flows for you. However this does not mean they do not still require resources, particularly around consideration of the market life cycle as if it is in decline there is a danger the cash cow could become a dog.
A mixed portfolio of products at different stages of their life cycles and with different positions in their markets is what may provide the best all round portfolio for your business.
Sometimes a market can be so big that it may be difficult to analyse the entire market. When this is the case it may be worth segmenting the market. This could be done in a number of ways, by product, by geography, by demand by price or whatever you feel is most appropriate. Breaking down a large market into a number of smaller segments may help you identify new or different opportunities. The table below might help you think about a way of segmenting the social care market.
Products will need to be flexible, adaptable, innovative, person centred and outcome focussed in order that they meet client needs at different stages of their support pathway.
The following types of support or services may be required in the future, but in addition new or variations on these types of services could be provided if they will support meeting adult services clients SDS outcomes and assessed need. providers must be sure they can provide flexible services that may meet client needs at different stages of their support pathway.
Carers and family support
Community support services
Day opportunities - including Learning opportunities, Volunteering opportunities, Training and employment opportunities, Recreation opportunities and Leisure opportunities
Domestic or care at home services, for example gardening services
Domiciliary (care at home) care - (Access the Hampshire Domiciliary Care Providers Association)
Housing including accommodation provision, housing support, home adaptations and improvements and technology to support people to live in their own home.
Information, advice and guidance services, including possibly brokerage services
Residential care homes (Access the Hampshire Care Association)
The following links, from the Adult Services Care choice website (designed for members of the public to get information about the choice of support and care available to them in Hampshire) may also provide you with some additional background information that may be useful as you start to consider the support services products you may wish to develop:
SCIE (the Social Care Institute of Excellence) have also developed some resources to support providers to understand the implications of Personalisation and it's impact on the delivery of support services. Access 'Personalisation and care, support and health providers' here.
What products are other providers developing?
What are other providers doing?
It is important to get an idea about what other organisations in the social care market are providing. The case studies below may give you an idea but you should carry out local research into your potential competitors.
Helen Sanderson Associates - 'All together now'
'All Together Now' is a paper based on the ideas of people and organisations in the North West on how to develop alternative services that can supplement paid support.
Dimensions - 'Making it Personal'
'Making it Personal for everyone' is the story of how Dimensions (an organisation delivering social care services) changed what they offer people and their families by breaking down every aspect of their’bundled’ support packages.
Developing your product
Stand out from the competition
When you have decided what the support service you will offer is, and you have done your market research, you will then need to consider what will make people want to buy your support service - why should they buy your product instead of another providers product?
Consider whether there is anything unique about the product you will offer, for example are you the only provider in a certain area, do you cater for a certain type of customer. This is often referred to as your USP (Unique Selling Point), that is what aspect of your support service differentiates itself from other similar support services. Having a USP can provide you with a competitive advantage if you are able to market it adequately.
If you currently provide support services you could ask your existing customers why they purchase from you.
Examples of USP's could be that your product:
covers a certain SDS Outcome
is the cheapest
is the best quality
offers value for money
is unique, a niche (specialist) service
provides flexibility in service hours or some other aspect
comes with excellent customer service
Key stages of product development
No matter what product you decide to provide, whether it be a 'traditional' type service or a 'new' service, there are a number of key stages to consider when developing it:
Coming up with innovative ideas for new products or new ways to deliver traditional products. This could be done with customers, colleagues or friends. Ensure that any products you consider meet your mission statement, aims and values.
Considering the technical specifications of the idea - can the idea be defined in a single sentence? What are the parameters / limits of the idea? Can the idea actually be delivered? Will the idea meet current legislation? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your idea?
Concept market research
Making sure there is a market for your product - will the product enable people to meet their needs? Will it fit your customer profile? Will people want to buy the new product? what is the competition / alternatives? Will it be financially sustainable?
Can you test market / pilot your product to help it's development? Get feedback on technical issues, regulatory matters, employee impact, financial implications, delivery channels, service user views.
When you are clear the product is viable, determine how to sell, promote and support your product or service.
Some types of businesses will have their own Quality Assurance schemes and it may be that, for some people, this additional assurance may persuade them to purchase services from your organisation. For Care Services, the Care Quality Commission Inspection rating may be considered as a type of quasi Quality Assurance scheme by some people but there may be others you may wish to consider.
For more generic services there is the Buy With Confidence Scheme, which provides consumers with a list of local businesses which have given their commitment to trading fairly. Presently Buy With Confidence does not have a care services section but it may be useful for more generic services, such as gardening and home maintenance. Access Buy With Confidence scheme
The International Standardization Organization (ISO) are an organisation who set International standards for business, Government and society. Whilst again there is no specific care services ISO, there are other more generic standards that you may wish to consider. Access International Standardization Organization (ISO)
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