Benchmarking: A Best-Practice for Improving Marketing

Benchmarking: A Best-Practice for Improving Marketing

Cooinda Village explains how the marketing of good benchmarking results is reaping additional rewards.

Cooinda Village is a not for profit facility located in the rural town of Benalla, Victoria. On site, there is a Residential Aged Care facility with 78 beds, which offers high, low, respite and dementia specific care. There are also 66 independent living units. Cooinda Village has been benchmarking with QPS for over two and a half years.

Cooinda Village has produced some good benchmarking results over the past couple of years, particularly in the area of employee satisfaction. When you can link excellent results to good planning and hard work, it is deeply satisfying.

A couple of years ago the management team, recognising the anticipated workforce shortages and the potential difficulties in recruiting 'great organisational fit' staff, made a conscious decision to focus on this area of the business with the aim of becoming a local employer of choice. Understanding that aim, it then became important to utilise the positive benchmarking results and 'spread the word' as one aspect of marketing the organisation. CEO, Margaret Aldous explains that it is far too easy to rest on one's laurels at the point of receiving results when in fact a bit more work can lead to greater opportunities.

Marketing the achievements of aged care is not necessarily one of the aged care industry's greatest strengths. All too often we can pick up the paper and read with a sinking feeling in the stomach about some tragedy or mistake in aged care that has been exposed and documented in detail by the press. In any one year you can easily find many stories about problems in aged care but you will struggle to read about the good care, the innovation or the fact that the industry is now constantly changing and actively responsive in order to meet the increasing needs of the current and next generation of aged care residents.

"It is not enough that we focus inwardly with our benchmarking results", claims Margaret Aldous. In a rural community like Benalla there is a real opportunity to 'celebrate' our achievements with our staff, volunteers, residents, their relatives, the local doctors and through the local press into the wider community.

By working with the press to spread our good news stories and benchmarking results we have had great feedback from our residents, their families and the broader community. This has a flow on effect with our team of staff and volunteers grateful and proud to be recognised as a member of what they feel is a progressive and deeply caring organisation. Further, the broader community have developed a greater understanding of and confidence in the care provided at Cooinda Village and hopefully the aged care industry as a whole.

When you think about this, it is not only an opportunity. In reality, marketing what we do well is sound business practice and indeed our responsibility to our hard working team, and the aged care industry as a whole. The more that you can honestly engage the community with the success stories the more support you can expect. Strong communication of the good news may also assist when a problem does finally emerge, the positives over time can help to balance out the negatives.

Our Results

If we are to market our services to the local community then we need some tangible information to market with - this is where QPS Benchmarking has helped us.

Results in Employee Satisfaction 2011

Improvement over the past 2 years

Cooinda Village achieved significant improvement in two years of benchmarking the Employee Satisfaction indicator. It should be noted that Cooinda Village's results are based on a very high participation rate by the staff members. "Benchmarking is very important to us, we could do the surveys ourselves but comparing ourselves with our peers in the industry adds a great deal of validity to the process, and this has allowed the management team to have greater confidence to share and 'market' the results," claims Margaret Aldous. Therefore, we actively encourage our staff to participate in the survey. They do so, confident that management will utilise both positive and negative feedback to improve the facility and our performance.

Our Marketing Strategy

Step 1 - Feedback to Staff

After receiving and reviewing the results, the first thing we did was for the CEO to write a personal letter to all of the staff members. Extracts from the letter are shown below. Similar letters were sent to all of Cooinda Village's dedicated volunteers, external service providers such as the wound specialist, GPs and allied health professionals.


I was delighted yesterday to receive the results of the staff satisfaction survey that was conducted in March 2011. I wish to congratulate every staff members on these fantastic results. The results highlight how proud people are to be a member of the Cooinda Village team. They show the very positive light in which most staff view the organisation, our culture and our work with residents and their families. It also demonstrates the importance to our staff of working together as a team.........................

This information is benchmarked (or compared) through an external organisation (known as QPS Benchmarking) to many other similar organisations in both Australia and New Zealand. Cooinda Village's overall staff satisfaction was 5th highest out of the total of 84 organisations. QPS have identified that these results indicate Cooinda Village's overall staff satisfaction is at best practice and plan to write an article about us in their newsletter!

Step 2 - Feedback to the Local Community

The next step was to prepare an article for the local paper. Almost everyone in a rural community reads the local paper, cover to cover, and so we could be assured that whatever we printed would be communicated to the people in the town and surrounding rural area. To ensure a prime position we took out some advertising space for approximately $1,000 and the paper transformed our information into their formats. A side benefit of the process was that we were given a file that enables us to print the article on A4 paper. The article is a great resource to give to prospective residents and their families and to have available in our reception and on our website.

Full page article in
paper and A4 handout

Using QPS Benchmarking
in the article to showcase

Step 3 - Ongoing publicity

As the song says "don't you ever let a chance go by". We also used our QPS Benchmarking results to help us make the finals of the Aged Care Association Australia, Employer of Choice Awards 2011. We were then able to convert this honour into more free local press news. It is important to build relationships with the local press. Margaret Aldous says "the more information you provide, the more they want and in the end the press will come to you searching for stories knowing that you are both prepared and might just take a year or two to build the rapport."

We have received wonderful feedback from our residents and relatives, and from our staff about this work. There is no doubt that the positive feedback that has been marketed in the wider community makes everyone associated with the facility feel proud about where they live and where they work. In this way good marketing of our benchmarking results can have a "snowballing effect".....the more we tell everyone about what we are doing well the more prospective residents enquires we receive and the stronger is our waiting list. All these things encourage us that we are on the right track.

We are now preparing another paper article based on our lifestyle activities and options and we are also investigating what we might be able to achieve via the local television station.