SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
C.J. Davis: Traditionally, when we offer services, there are a slew of barriers that often get in the way of somebody seeking care: transportation, scheduling, availability, questions around insurance. During the pandemic, once we shifted to virtual care, most of those barriers were removed. So, never before was service delivery so convenient for the people around us, for our communities. For a while, for those first few months, we were seeing about 15% month-over-month growth as a result of more people accessing care. That’s part of the story. The other part is that we’ve spent the last three years really creating an environment for our community that focuses around trust and confidence in our organization, in our services. What we were doing before the pandemic hit really positioned us well to be able to serve the community.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Davis: Making sure you don’t grow too fast. We’ve encountered that over the course of time. We want to make sure that when you grow, you don’t grow for the sake of growth; you grow because you have some intentional strategy behind it in terms of how do you better serve, how do you expand your access.
SBJ: What has the company’s recent growth enabled you to do?
Davis: Reinvest in our people and reinvest in our facilities. In our facilities, in terms of making sure we offer the kind of services that when somebody walks in to either work or receive care, they’re proud to either be served there or be employed there. We’ve also been able to add programs to our community. As a nonprofit that’s trying to be the behavioral and mental health expert for the community, we have to constantly look for new, evidence-based treatment programs.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Davis: We hope so. As long as we are able to address the workforce crisis that exists in behavioral health care, we will continue to be able to sustain the growth. Although with COVID, we’re reaching some level of herd immunity, there is no herd immunity for the mental health aftermath of the pandemic. We know that we’ll probably see continued growth over the next three to five years of mental health care service demand.
SBJ: Is there such thing as growing too fast?
Davis: If you don’t grow with the right strategic intention, you can grow too fast. If you can grow, that’s one thing. But you have to monitor your company to ensure the company and the people can digest that growth.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off?
Davis: I think our goals continue to get larger and larger. We want to make sure we take care of our home base, which will always be the state of Missouri and our local communities. But what we’re finding is our original goal of being a regional health care system is becoming realized. We’re exploring a merger right now that would take us into three additional states – Kansas, Oklahoma and Illinois.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
Davis: That the bottom line is the most important thing about a company. I think that if you take care of your people, and your services, the money follows and it takes care of itself.
The Forward SGF comprehensive plan was born from the input of residents, and one message that came through loud and clear was their desire for connection.