John Henry: Shares how he is steering an iconic brand through unprecedented marketplace pressures.

John_Henry_alt_logo_quoteFor CMOs, moving from one brand to another and the acclimation to a new industry that needs to take place is challenge enough. That the brand is in an industry with unprecedented marketplace pressures takes someone like John Henry, CMO of Caron Treatment Centers. Guiding Caron Treatment Centers through tectonic marketplace changes is a career defining initiative.

We spoke with John as he shares candid insights into how he is transforming Caron’s marketing and sales organization to adapt to changes from multiple directions.

CMOO: You have a lot going on. Almost don’t even know where to begin. So let’s start by asking ‘What’s going on’?

JH: The challenges are large, but clear. At CENTURY 21, we were dealing with a clear strategic direction, engaged franchisee base, a universally recognized brand and world class support systems. Although Caron is not a franchise, each location operates fairly autonomously and has almost identical needs. The challenge quickly became how do we structure support under a unified brand offering, yet respect the differences in each centers’ marketplace, available resources and culture to make the marketing efforts as efficient as possible, which are always limited.

You mention large but clear challenges. What marketing challenges are you faced with?

JH: Our spectrum of healthcare is faced with a significant increase of new entrants to the marketplace. Behavioral health is seeing an influx of for profit care providers backed by private equity. This brand new breed of competition is unprecedented, extremely aggressive and well resourced, and often provide various levels of care. Profit and shareholder value are their primary aim. Caron, since its inception, has been set up as a not-for-profit to provide the absolute best addiction treatment by putting the needs of the patient ahead of profit. A demonstration of that commitment is our ‘scholarship program’. Caron is providing more treatment free of charge or subsidized treatment to patients in need than any treatment center in America today. Yet more and more professionals and their patients are seeking behavioral health care providers that accept in-network insurance benefits, so this is a significant transition for many of the private pay models. Residential treatment facilities are concerned that the increased demand for insurance may potentially compromise the level of care that is not only needed, but has been proven effective over thousands of cases.

CMOO: In addressing these challenges has your approach changed than when you were with a franchise brand?

JH: One of our biggest assets is our team and culture. The commitment of the entire Caron team to the optimal care of every patient is evident through everything they do. Along with my team, we’ve been very focused on adding to those assets. We have put a process in place to get a forensic understanding of our customer and the path they take in getting to treatment. You can never learn enough about your customers, their needs and the many relationships they have especially outside the relationship with our brand. We have a far deeper understanding of what our customers need, and have instituted project teams to make recommendations on innovation priorities, new treatment therapies, improved affordability, and better understand future trends.

CMOO: Has your experience with a franchise brand helped and if so, in what ways?

JH: It has in the sense that there’s a core brand offering and the challenge is having that translated through the distribution channel that may not always agree with you. Cooperation, tons of dialogue, leverage subject matter experts and proof of performance are the things franchising taught me that apply directly to Caron. Managing the cultural and organizational aspects that any company deals with and how the organization is prepared to adapt to marketplace needs and inevitable changes is critical for anything we do.

For Caron and John, recognizing the intense listening required to understand the path to treatment, adapting to the significant changes in the industry from both a financial and competitive perspectives and engaging them is helping to lead this iconic brand into it’s next chapter.

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