5 Tips for Running Your ABA Business

The following five tips for running an applied behavior analysis business can be utilized whether your ABA business is already established and growing or if you are currently in the process of building your business from the ground up.

1. Succession Planning

Obviously, every ABA business needs to work on retaining their current employees; however, neglecting to plan for absenteeism and turnover makes the life of your loyal, healthy and happy employees more difficult. Moreover, the persons being served may not receive the high-quality care that your business strives to provide.

  • High Turnover Rates within the Human Service Industry Must Be Addressed – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the highest employee turnover rates occur within the human service industry, and applied behavior analysis therapy rests directly in the center of this arena. For this reason, ABA business owners must accept the fact that employees will leave. However, this undeniable reality can be prepared for through the creation of a comprehensive plan designed to address unexpected employee turnover. Furthermore, employee absenteeism due to unpredictable life events (i.e. illness, injuries, emergencies, etc.) can also be prepared for while creating this plan.
  • Succession Planning, Defined – Succession planning can be defined as simply building a talent pool that consists of employees who have leadership qualities. You need to identify the employees that excel in particular areas of applied behavior analysis and then encourage each potential successor to take continuing-education courses that relate to his or her specific area of talent. By continually following this formula, even in the event of an unexpected personnel shortage, the persons being served will continue receiving the attentive, quality care that they deserve.
  • Create a Mission-Based Organization – Promote a smooth changeover in the event of transition by creating a mission-based organization. This can be accomplished by updating your current job missions regularly and ensuring that any new jobs align with your organization’s overall mission. In addition, regularly updating job missions is essential: This ensures a smooth changeover should a new employee need to fill a position.

2. Take the Time to Cross-Train Your Staff

Identifying your employees’ strengths to create and then implement an effective succession plan can be accomplished through cross-training. By cross-training your staff, you make it much easier to replace employees when a personnel shortage arises or an employee is absent due to an unexpected life event. Furthermore, staff members who are cross-trained have the ability to fulfill multiple roles within your business and will most likely feel less stressed in the event of a shortage.

  • Cross-Train to Create “T-Shaped” Employees – In a September 2014 article published by Forbes, Tim Brown, who is the chief executive officer of IDEO, describes the difference between cross-trained staff and staff with expertise in only one area of their given field. His perspective is appreciated in that IDEO is a world-leading design firm that is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative companies in the world. Brown describes an employee with expertise in a single area who has difficulty working in other disciplines as an “I-shaped” employee; whereas, he describes staff members who have a deep expertise in one area and the ability to work, and understand multiple disciplines as “T-shaped” employees.
  • Create a Positive Cross-Training Culture – Keep in mind that cross-training has been known to give staff members the impression that layoffs are evident in the near future. These beliefs can create a toxic environment; therefore, honesty and openness as to the reasons cross-training is beneficial to each employee as well as to the persons being served is essential.
    • Here are a few tips for creating a positive cross-training culture within your business:
      • Reinforce teamwork because it fosters the idea of learning different skills.
      • Offer praise to those who show enthusiasm about learning a variety of skills. Offering this praise in front of others can go a long way in increasing your entire staff’s interest in becoming more versatile.
      • When evaluating an employee, take the new skills that he or she has mastered into consideration.

Imagine how much smoother a day will progress when your employees do not feel as if they have been taken out of their element due to an inability to understand the specifics of the position they are filling.

3. Effective Money Management

Providing applied behavior analysis services requires dealing with insurance companies who have yet to determine how to create cost-sharing for services that are provided multiple times per week and patients who may not pay as promptly as one might like. Therefore, effectively managing money within the ABA industry requires maintaining a low budget with constant attention to collections.

How to Manage your Money More Effectively

  • Use Practice Management Software – If you have not already implemented a Practice Management Software System and started taking advantage of the federal government’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program, get started on this right away. This program allocates money to health care practices to assist them in purchasing (or creating) EHR software.
  • Utilize Collection and Medical Billing Professionals – Hire a collection agency, or an individual familiar with medical billing and collections to manage payments. Furthermore, an individual familiar with medical billing can effectively work with insurance companies if issues related to covered services arise.
  • Provide Employees with Profit-Sharing Programs – Consider replacing employee raises and reward systems with profit-sharing programs.

4. Even a Small ABA Business Needs a Human Resources (HR) Department

Creating and then maintaining your ABA business encompasses much more than just performance management. Many of the skills necessary to keep your business running smoothly fall under the human resources department job description. HR personnel do much more than just hire your employees: Your HR department will oversee various aspects of employment for your applied behavior analysis organization, which includes ensuring that your business complies with labor law and employment standards, certain aspects of recruitment and dismissal as well as the administration of your employees’ benefits.

5. If Necessary, Be Prepared to Think Outside of the ABA Therapy Box

While the need for ABA therapy continues to grow, there may come a time when the autism market slows. Should this happen, you need to be able to think outside of the box. For instance, build an online presence through writing a science and health blog, sell custom-designed apparel geared towards the ABA industry or create an ABA-based business that uses the applied behavior analysis principles to create and host activities for individuals with autism, and those interested in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) throughout your community.

Trina McMillin

Trina brings to Relias a wealth of knowledge and personal experience related to the medical field, dental issues, mental health, and physical therapy techniques. She has worked in various positions over her career which includes being a phlebotomist, laboratory assistant and medical transcriptionist.

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