helping one another
New tricks can pose a problem for old dogs
by Trevor Lighten

MaxIt is hard to teach an old dog new tricks—but not impossible. Three years ago, my family bought an adorable mini golden doodle and named him Max. (Yes, I know, we got the most common dog and gave him the most common name.) As Max grew from a puppy to a dog, he developed a habit of greeting anyone who comes to our home with anger and hostility, be it family, friend, foe or the Amazon driver. We are working with him to fix the problem, but the process would have been a lot easier if we had started training proper greeting etiquette while he was still a puppy.

Such is the case with employee and client onboarding. Whether starting with a new employee or with a new client, it is always easier to seat expectations and gain alignment on goals at the very beginning.

Employee Onboarding

Start off on the right foot with employee training. The interview process is the optimal time to review your policies and make sure your potential new hire is willing to work within them. Take the time to emphasize what is important to your business, and share with them the company vision and how they fit into it—this is a way get them excited about working for you.

Then make sure that they understand and accept the ground rules. What is the policy around calling in sick or scheduling vacation? Is there clarity around when and where they will work? What about meetings they need to attend? Make sure they also understand the compliance measures they need to know and train for to ensure your business meets Medicare standards.

Yes, I know it is 2022 and employees have a lot of bargaining power. But if a potential new hire is not okay with your policies, it’s better you air it out at the beginning and get on the same page. You would rather they not get hired in the first place than have misunderstandings that are hard to correct down the road. Don’t sugar coat your expectations for the job.

Client Onboarding

Sometimes business owners think of onboarding as training new employees—which it certainly includes—but proper onboarding may be more important when it comes to bringing on new clients. As with employees, expectations must be clear. One potential and dangerous entrepreneurial blunder is an overemphasis on bringing in new revenue and an under emphasis on  doing it correctly. The quest for new revenue creates a temptation to onboard new business carelessly.

When bringing on a new client, is there a clear expectation of payment terms? Does the client clearly understand when payments are due and what methods of payment are accepted? Is there a late fee and what is it? What about rules on paying for overtime? What if their insurance doesn’t cover the service as expected? Is there clear guidance on which services are covered and which are not? All of these and more need to be clearly understood and backed up in the client’s contract.

The desire for revenue brings the temptation to dance around expectations and tell the client what they want to hear, treating them like a friend’s new pet we don’t want to scare away. But clients want straightforward answers, and if the client does not agree to your terms, then it probably won’t be a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Just like training that puppy, don’t let the golden onboarding opportunity slip by. Set expectations and gain alignment, and you will have much better client and employee relationships in the long run.

Trevor Lighten is the owner of The Lighten Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping agencies profitably navigate the regulatory landscape of home health and hospice. He is the former administrator and owner of Lighten Home Health and Hospice. He holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Brigham Young University. Contact him at or (801) 687-1746 or visit