Occupancy is down, the pressure is up and your retirement counselor or marketing director is not performing like they used to… The economy and the presidential election are just excuses for low occupancy.
The first thing is to check the sales person attitude. Do they smile as they exit their office on the way to meet a walk-in tour? Can you observe their enthusiasm as they show a prospective resident the retirement community? When you walk by their office, can you hear animation and passion in their voice as they explain the community and invite someone to come visit?
If the answer is no to any of the above, I suggest that you actually accompany them on a real tour. Find out exactly what is going on… During the tour be a silent rock and don’t interject at all. Even if you see or hear mistakes, just take notes… If you interrupt, the sales person will lose their flow, become more nervous and you won’t get a true picture of a tour from start to finish. The opening of a conversation is just as important as the close at the completion.
Did they steer the customer toward making a decision? Were they listening more than they talked? Did they find out what prompted the visit to your community? How was the warm up and discovery? Could you say it was conversational? At what point did they ask the prospective resident or family member how they felt about their current situation or being at the community? Ultimately, did the prospect open up?
Was the tour tailored to the customer’s desire or needs? When pricing and costs came up, did they build value for the senior living community first? Did the sales person introduce the guests to department heads, other staff and residents?
At the end, did the sales person steer them into sitting down one more time to answer any remaining questions? Did they solve the customer’s problem? Is your community a better choice than living in his or her own home? The most important question to ask is – what their time frame is for wanting to make a move! If the time frame was less than three months, did they ask for the deposit for that “one of a kind” apartment they really liked? If you are a Continuing Care Retirement Community, did they build urgency for the wait list? Was a plan made for them to come back again to have another meal, bring another family member or attend an event?
After the customer goes home, walk through your observations with the sales person. Remember to share something positive first, then any negatives and always end on a positive note. If it was a great tour, maybe you just don’t have enough walk-ins and leads in your database. If the tour was terrible, maybe you need to let them go. If the tour was mediocre, maybe you want to invest in some sales training or mandate that they start reading a senior living book that can help them improve in all areas of the sales process.
Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com. If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email email@example.com. Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/