Navigating the NDIS as a New Provider: Challenges and Opportunities
Fortunately, good planning can help you prepare for the challenges and make the most of the opportunities ahead of you as a new NDIS provider.
We've already published a checklist for starting an NDIS business that talks you through registering for your Australian business number and other practical considerations. Now, it's time to explore the ways you can set your new disability services provider business up for success.
Attracting NDIS Clients
Signing on new clients is key to growing your NDIS business, no matter how long you've been up and running. But for new NDIS providers, it's of critical importance.
At the early stage of your business lifecycle, one new client can be the difference between operating in the red and making a profit. A strong marketing strategy will help you achieve a regular flow of prospective clients, and in turn, ensure you have the necessary cash flow to pay for your day-to-day expenses.
Starting your marketing efforts from scratch can be difficult. Unlike more established businesses, you can't rely on word-of-mouth marketing. Plus, you have the extra costs of creating your logo and building your website. However, careful planning, branding and networking will help you stand out.
Make sure you:
Understand what sets your brand apart from other NDIS providers
Identify your ideal clients and services
Connect with local NDIS support coordinators to drive referrals
Highlight your NDIS registration (if applicable) in your marketing materials
Have an accessible website with a clear sales funnel
If using paid advertising channels, are allocating a reasonable budget and measuring the return on investment
Hiring, Onboarding and Training Staff
Starting your NDIS provider business means making tough choices about staffing. Operating as a sole trader will enable you to lower costs and reduce the risks associated with losing clients. On the other hand, taking on staff can enable you to provide more NDIS supports, take on additional clients and respond more quickly to increased demand for services.
The disability support labour market is particularly competitive, which can lead to increased turnover. Attracting talented staff often requires offering flexibility and stability, which can be hard when you still have a limited number of clients. Taking on a new team member can also be a slow and time-consuming process, especially if there are delays with the NDIS screening checks.
However, it’s not all bad news for new NDIS providers. Being strategic about your staffing decisions will help you keep your labour costs at a minimum while ensuring you can grow.
First, work out how many clients an individual disability support worker can comfortably provide support to (rostering software can help you here), along with the minimum number of clients you need per support worker to ensure that your business is financially viable. This will help you identify when you need to take on staff.
You should also calculate how long you need to hire new staff members and get them rostered. With this information, you’ll know exactly when to begin advertising for support workers. You should be able to reduce the time required by creating an easily replicable onboarding system for team members, as well as ensuring you have a list of go-to staffing agencies and job listing websites.
Complying With NDIS Practice Standards and Fair Work Awards
Whether you choose to become NDIS registered or not, you must adhere to the NDIS Practice Standards and Code of Conduct, NDIS prices and more. You’ll also have to invoice the NDIS in order to get paid. And on top of that, if you hire disability support providers, you’ll need to comply with the SCHADS award.
Once you’ve got your systems set up, complying with NDIS and Fair Work regulations is relatively simple. However, at the beginning, it can be confusing. It’s easy to lose hours of time on understanding your obligations, while a mistake can be costly (especially if you opt for NDIS registration and need to be audited).
To help you manage this red tape, invest time in creating good systems from day one. It’s much easier to set up an efficient system before you start service delivery than change your processes once you’ve already got multiple clients and team members. Look for NDIS-integrated tools and make sure you can track time and expenses accurately so you can claim correctly.
Automate Your NDIS Provider Admin Work
As a newly launched NDIS provider, time is one of your most valuable resources. Unfortunately, paperwork, rostering and other admin tasks can take up hours of your week that could be better spent marketing your business, onboarding new clients, delivering supports or training new team members.
While the admin work is inevitable, efficient systems will help you complete it quicker. Technology can help you digitise your NDIS business and free up extra time. What's more, by automating much of the process, you can reduce the risk of errors. When you get everything right the first time around, you don’t need to waste time redoing NDIS invoices or payroll.
ShiftCare’s care management software supports NDIS providers of all sizes, from sole traders who are just starting out to thriving businesses. Its NDIS integrations include the NDIS pricing limits, bulk claims, plan management and more. They'll help you stay compliant and audit-ready.
Plus, robust rostering features and document templates allow you to quickly add new clients and team members to the system. Growing your business will be easier and simpler.
Discover how care management software can help your business navigate the NDIS. Try ShiftCare for free.