Business Management Matters
by Louis Tenenbaum, CAPS
CAPS candidates often question the requirement for the business management session. “Why do I need to take that course when I am not in business?” Or, “I have had a successful contracting business for years, why do I need this intro to business management now?”
A few candidates are allowed to proceed based on professional designations already earned that include a similar management requirement. Still the question lingers. The issue was raised again at the Spring CAPS Board of Governor’s meeting, and I have come up with three answers. More than one answer may apply to some candidates.
I must confess that I, too, was skeptical of the need of that section when I took CAPS. After years of reading and seminar sessions on business management, as well as running my own company, I can honestly say I found this session well organized and valuable.
An important goal of the CAPS program is to improve communications among all professionals on the aging in place team. Social and health professionals are encouraged to join contractors and designers. The business section is no different. I remember many queries by a (skeptical) social worker or therapist about a cost estimate. People who are not in business or construction sometimes find it difficult to understand the components of home modifications costs. This course explains that my business needs to be profitable so I can be responsible to my family, my employees and my warranties. In this way the business management course helps develop trust among team members.
Aging in place may allow health and social professionals not currently in businesses to strike out on their own. People often enter business for the freedom to serve clients they care about in conditions they control. Too often these businesses start with little understanding of true costs. These entrepreneurs burn out easily, lose too much of their savings, and are then unfortunately lost to the ranks of caring professionals serving the population they intended. The business management course will help make realistic decisions.
This course can be a valuable refresher for experienced design and contracting folks heading into the aging in place frontier. Aging in Place is too new and too complex to be treated lightly. The work often requires more client contact per construction dollar than other projects. Even experienced contractors may allow their hard won experience to be pushed to the back burner in their excitement to make progress in a new area. Most of us learned the hard way not to let future job Peter pay for current job Paul. An organized reminder of that pitfall is a good idea. The business session is a great way to check that your business practices are in good order.
I think everyone interested in CAPS gets good value from the NAHB business management class. I hope these thoughts help others to relax and take advantage of the opportunity to learn good business basics or brush up on school of hard knocks lessons, as we all work together to take CAPS work to the next level.
Louis Tenenbaum, CAPS, is president of Louis Tenenbaum, LLC, a consulting and training firm with special expertise in environmental modifications, Aging in Place and Universal Design. Louis works with individuals, developers and organizations to craft homes and strategies that focus on dignity, independence and choice for older citizens. Louis has written widely on this subject and is a frequent national speaker. Clients include The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the Horizon Foundation, the Administration on Aging, NIDRR, Department of Health and Human Services Office on Disability, AARP, Sanders Brown Center on Aging, Indiana University Institute on Aging, Disability and Community, Howard County, Maryland Department on Aging, AML Development, Slenker Land Corporation and many individual home owners.
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