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How This Home Care Service Makes Sure It's Always Running on All Cylinders

A smart way to streamline purchasing helped this business save time, reduce costs, and relieve a lot of stress.

The Covid-19 health crisis and its aftermath have made clear the importance of taking care of our elderly population. No one recognizes this more than the team at Home Instead, an Omaha, Nebraska-based home care service company that provides personalized, home care to seniors. With this vital mission, the Home Instead management team set out to empower their 1,200+ franchise offices with the supplies they need to operate their business effectively.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Home Instead—like so many other businesses—faced unexpected difficulty due to the unprecedented shortages and buying limits of essential supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE). Buying teams were sourcing around the clock, purchasing critical items in any quantity available from anywhere with stock.

Albert Selker, President of We Care Senior Care, Inc, a Home Instead franchisee, recalls he and his wife purchasing the maximum quantity that grocery stores would allow of limited essential items for their eight locations. Big box stores and groceries are not equipped with the bulk supplies to support the levels that businesses need, but Home Instead employees did all they could to continue providing the quality care expected of their organization.

The level of the staff's dedication was apparent and admirable, but Home Instead leadership knew they needed a sustainable solution immediately. When faced with the realities businesses in the care sector experienced, Home Instead and their franchises could count on Amazon Business to meet the demands of a strained business sector at a critical time.

"We realized that we needed a longer-term strategy," says Mary Alexander, Chief of Staff and VP of Business Development at Home Instead's corporate office. "We started a conversation with Amazon Business to understand a better, smarter way to purchase supplies to meet our business needs, and they really delivered for us."

Making informed buying decisions when it matters.

Before partnering with Amazon Business, the procurement process for Home Instead's locations was "chaotic and fractured," Alexander explains. While each franchise location needs to maintain its own buying power in the supply chain, Home Instead corporate wanted to provide a value-add for franchisees by scaling Amazon Business so their franchises could easily purchase the items they need.

Home Instead encouraged Amazon Business implementation, knowing it offered a wide selection of benefits for their network regardless of the location and supply needs. Franchise owners quickly adopted Amazon Business because it provided an intuitive shopping experience that simplified on-boarding and adoption, which was crucial given the urgency to acquire COVID supplies.

All of this, plus flexible shipping options and availability to a wide selection of supplies, makes it easy for staff to find and purchase the items they need so they can focus on keeping clients safe, happy, and active.

Amazon Business also adds value to procurement by identifying buying trends across their franchises with clear, real-time reporting, which isn't something Home Instead previously had access to. These insights are now used to inform better, data-driven purchasing decisions. "The reporting and analytics allow us to see what our locations are purchasing," Alexander describes. "With a holistic view on purchasing, our Amazon Business advisor helps us understand how we can be more efficient and save more money."

Even today, maintaining stock of PPE remains a top priority for Home Instead. Buying teams and local administrators can optimize purchasing operations with reporting, expedited delivery, and reorder lists of frequently purchased items for a consistent supply experience and reduced ordering times.

Now that Home Instead franchises are equipped with Amazon Business, they have more resilient purchasing operations that allow them to remain stocked, no matter what their supply needs are. They're now better prepared and agile and have more time to dedicate to strategic programs and initiatives that elevate their mission.

Better business means better relationships. 

In addition to supplying Home Instead with the insights, digital purchasing tools, and products their businesses need to amplify their mission, Amazon Business was able to sustain an exceptional tradition for Home Instead, its clients, and the communities it serves.

"Be a Santa to a Senior" (BASTAS) is a beloved program that provides holiday gifts and other essentials to seniors who otherwise would be forgotten about during the holidays. As Covid-19 limited in-person interactions, especially for seniors, BASTAS was in jeopardy for the first time since the program's inception in 2003. Home Instead took the initiative to ensure the tradition continued by introducing an online gift-giving experience with Amazon Business.

Amazon Business helped Home Instead digitize the program, allowing community members to find seniors in need, purchase items from that senior's wish list, and ship the gift directly to the recipient. "Having BASTAS reinvented by using Amazon Business was a good process of innovation in a time frame that made it hard to deliver the program in its normal mode," Selker says.

As more normalcy returns to many industries, the partnership fostered between Home Instead and Amazon Business is more important than ever. Through valuable insights and a streamlined supply chain, Amazon Business empowers Home Instead franchises to deliver the high level of ever-so-needed care in our communities.

"We were able to keep our business moving and our care professionals and community safe because Amazon Business was there," Alexander says.

Originally published on Entrepreneur.com.

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