A Simple Mind Shift to Increase the Senior Housing Occupancy

A Simple Mind Shift to Increase the Senior Housing Occupancy

A Simple Mind Shift to Increase the Senior Housing OccupancyOne of the most common mistakes in senior living sales is believing the potential senior resident when they say, “I’m not ready yet!”.  Please, please, please – don’t believe them.  When you hear those four common words, simply change them to “I am scared”.  It is so hard for a senior to give up their home of 30, 40 or 50 years and make a move.  Just the idea of packing up all of their worldly possessions can be overwhelming.

Be professional, reassuring and always ask them their timeline for making a move.  If they say they will move in a year, it will really be 6 months.  If they say 5 years, it’s really about 2 or 3 years.  You simply take the number they say and cut it in half, then you nurture that relationship with a touch every 3 months.  If you do this already – way to go!  Congratulations, because you are in the minority of senior living sales people.

Most senior living sales people, hear “I’m not ready yet” and bury that lead in their database.  In our world of instant gratification, sales people just want to grab the people who say, I am ready now.  Well guess what?  Those are only 20% of the sales, so if your occupancy is down – here is probably why!  80% of seniors need to be listened to, nurtured and coddled into moving in.

Increase your senior housing occupancy today with this simple mind shift!

Please share your success, failures or comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  Masson’s book will be required reading at George Mason University in the Fall as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net


  1. Linked In Boomers: Aging Beats The Alternative

    You are correct! People are generally in denial and want to stay there. We need to treat them with kindness and support because they are just fearful. Very insightful!
    By Lorie Eber


    Diane, I agree with your thought process. I wonder what you perceive are the tell tale signs during the interview process that the would-be resident is clearly not ready, and when do you change your strategies to suit the situation. Your timeline approach is a good idea, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep connected to your potential resident. The nurturing process can be as simple as a “how are you doing” phone call, to an invitation to lunch or afternoon tea at the residence with no hard-core pressure questions. On-boarding advisers need to become friends as well, and in some cases this can consume a great deal of time. Thanks for sharing this with the group.
    By James Burchell

    • Hi James, Someone is clearly not ready when they are 60 years or younger. Everyone else is always potential. If they are emphatic about not being ready, it usually just means they are really scared and need even more TLC.


        Diane, I agree with you. In your opinion, is there a great deal of time needed to on-board the care-givers as much as the would-be residents? I have heard strong arguments for and against this, and would be interested in your thoughts.

        My opinion is that you must engage the care-givers to the extent that you have their full understanding and their buy-in that you are committed to enriching the life of their loved one, and finding the best solution to their situation. I look forward to heasring from you.
        By James Burchell

        • Hi James, I don’t understand your question. Maybe you can elaborate? The best staff are always ones with a personal experience of dealing with an aging family member.

  3. Linked In LeadingAge

    Good reminder; thank you!
    By Tracey Stoll

  4. Linked In CCRC Sales & Marketing

    I completly agree! When coaching sales teams, one of the most challenging habits to break is sales people believing what propects tell them! “I’m not ready yet” can also be “blue smoke and mirrors” for fear of change, discomfort with costs, not wanting to feel sold or pressured, etc. There is a solid trend in our industry that points to a need to improved discovery skills from the time the phone rings, even among highly experienced sales staff. Excellent discovery is like building a solid foundation for a structure. If you don’t do it correctly, you increase the chances of the buiIding falling down before it is even built. With good discovery, you’ll often overcome this objection before it is put on the table or at least determine how best to prioitize this prospect with your valuable time and energy.
    By Randalynn Kaye

  5. Linked In Boomers: Aging Beats The Alternative

    Excellent article, Diane. The other thing that holds seniors up from moving is believing they need to empty the house of everything that’s not moving with them before they move. I recommend that all senior living advisors work with a good senior move manager who will show the potential resident that they can move first and address the disposition of the items that remain after moving. Most reputable companies do a free initial consultation.
    By Laurie Lamoureux

    • Yes, great point!

  6. I don’t think you can rule out 60 year olds! I’ve had tenants that age (and even one younger) because of health conditions.

    • Great point Kim!

  7. Diane, Do you have any advice for us that work in memory care only communities? I work in a small type b assisted living memory care only community and I recently have had a lot of objections with the adult children. Many of my families that have been coming in lately are just not ready to let go when clearly they should have placed mom or dad a long time ago. How would you suggest overcoming these kinds of obstacles? I love your blog posts, they really help me to stay motivated and give 110%! Thanks!

    • Morgan,

      It is very difficult for an adult boomer child to see a memory care community period. To picture their parent living there is impossible. They go into denial and think their parent is NOT THAT BAD. The only way to overcome this is to take time to sit down and listen to their needs and challenges. Before you enter your secured area, describe what they are going to see and then show how it has improved the quality of life of residents with specific examples. I think, I will write a more detailed blog about this…

  8. As a Real Estate Broker I could relate to the long sales curve and the objections. The Fortune is in the follow up, in real estate and in Assisted Living sales. I have read statistics that say 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact, and that 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect, so Diane’s article is spot on as my British wife would say!

    • Jeff, I have heard the same statistics…thanks for adding to the conversation!

      • Linked In CCRC Sales & Marketing

        My pleasure Diane….The “I’m not ready to sell” objection is the same as the “I’m not ready to move” that AL sales people get. I had a listing once that took four years of follow up to get! As you know, many times it’s the last one standing that will get the sale. Today’s no is tomorrow’s yes. Successful sales is not rocket science but a science nonetheless. In addition to your book, another excellent book/CD is Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Selling, that, if I was a Sales Director, I would make mandatory for training all sales people.
        By Jeff Katz

        • Jeff, I love Brian Tracy too!

  9. Linked In Senior Assisted Living Sales, Marketing & Operations

    As in most successful business relationships, communication is key. Building client rapport, through continuace follow up, allows you the opportunity to address those fears in turn clearing the path to close the sale.
    By Wanda Boucher

  10. Linked In CCRC Sales & Marketing

    One method that is working very well with East Ridge is creating or establishing the need using a simple pencil pitch borrowed from timesahare to create the problems based upon what our residents have told us, By doing this we are bringing real problems to the surface that the prospect is not likely to share and buy using what our residents have said, we are not being the least bit confrontational. The phrase “I am not ready yet” has almost been eliminated.
    By Rick Drew

  11. Linked in LeadingAge

    When you hear the words, “I am not ready yet and I am just looking” its simply the fact that they do not trust you yet. This is obviously a cover answer that is used over and over again. If you have not built enough rapport and you are then trying to discover real urgency, you will receive this cover answer.

    I love when I am training someone and discussing a prospect and the rep said that they just started their search and they are looking for years down the road. I looked at the sales rep and said, “Its the middle of Winter, there is 6 inches of snow outside of your community and they drove from 45 minutes away. Does that seem like someone with no real urgency?”

    When receiving that answer, you always need to go back and re evaluate your previous conversation and see whats holding you back from building a better relationship with your prospect.

    Just a thought. I love the points that you bring up Diane. They are always topics that need to be discussed more often. Thank you.

    By Brett Nowell

    • Great story about the snow Brett! I will use it! You are 100% correct about trust too!

  12. Linked In Executives in Long Term Care

    This sounds like a good way to nurture the client along in a senior housing situation. Sadly, in the context of selling long term care insurance, and the individual has made either statement, it is probably already too late for the senior to qualify for any type of insurance to help pay the cost of care.
    By Bonnie Heath, CLTC

    • Yes, most seniors that I work with bought long term care insurance a long time ago, because it is too cost prohibitive now. CCRC’s can be a good solution for seniors who waited to long – if they offer a guarantee of care for life.


  1. Senior Housing Marketing | Diane Twohy Masson, CASP – How Self-Image Can Effect Your Senior Living Occupancy - [...] a senior says they are not ready yet, they “kind of” believe [...]