Diversification of revenue requires diversification of expertise

For any organization considering growth, the customer and what the customer needs drive the next right decision.

Since 2010, Our Lady of the Wayside has responded to significant increases in the demand for services and support with significant growth:

■  Revenue has increased 88 percent, from $16 million to $30 million.
■  Pathways Day program participants have increased 1,586 percent, from seven to 118 individuals.
■  The transportation program fleet has increased 134 percent, from 60 to 140 vehicles.
■  The residential program has increased 63 percent, from 45 to 75 homes managed.
■  The number of Northeast Ohio Counties served has increased from two to seven.

So where’s the story in this? Viewing the factors above makes Wayside’s decision to grow seem like a layup. A backstory of translating threats and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths is where it gets interesting.
Since 2010:

■  Public and private funding sources scaled back dramatically. Responsible growth and proven business practices enabled Wayside the ability to take on projects and right-size established programming.
■  County, state and federal systems shifted available resources and overhauled service delivery structures all while heavily regulating agency practices. Private service providers who didn’t have Wayside’s experience, size or diversified revenue streams often had to make major changes by either merging with another provider or closing up shop altogether.
■  Inflation continued to drive up the cost of doing business: wages, gas, food, utilities all increased. Again, Wayside’s diversification and size insulated the agency from taking the hit too hard.

Proven experience, business practices and diversification are all repeated themes that led to solid revenue increases created by responsible growth. But what led to those themes?

As CEO, I’m charged with creating a vision for the agency that balances opportunities for fulfilling the needs of our customer against the knowledge of how the system works. The takeaway from that exercise then needs to be converted into positive cash flow.

Diversification of revenue streams only happens with diversification of expertise. Providing homes and day programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities demands — among other things — that we be HR savants and logistical ninjas.

Social work and facilities management, finance and behavioral health, transportation and fund raising — all of these disciplines are vital factors in the formula for success.

Is organizational growth really the next right thing for Our Lady of the Wayside?

Here’s how we see it: Responding to the customer and what they need has given us an opportunity to develop a skill set that has created a level of innovation unmatched in our industry. All of this has occurred with organizational growth taking place as a natural and necessary outcome. Pile on the fact that these outcomes advance Wayside’s mission, and the gut check is complete. Yes, we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

Terry Davis is president and CEO at Our Lady of the Wayside.