Dead Flowers on Valentine’s Day?

Dead Flowers on Valentine’s Day?

This is the arrangement the next day...

This is the arrangement the next day…

My sweetie didn’t intend to send me dead flowers for Valentine’s Day.  He saw a beautiful arrangement online and had it delivered to my office as a special surprise.  When I opened the box the flowers were closed, dried out, brown on the petal edges and shockingly in no water.  What??!!?  I pulled them out, read the lovely note from husband and put them in water to save them or bring them back to life.  My husband was upset when he saw them and said he never would have ordered them if he had known they would arrive in this condition.  He thought he had ordered flowers from a florist and they would arrive like the picture shown.

This Valentine snafu reminds me of how adult Boomer children select a retirement, assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing community based on the size of the apartment and what the lobby looks like versus the quality of care.  Almost every Boomer child wants the best for his or her parent, but some judge senior living community solely on external appearances.

In multiple states, I have encountered loving caring staff at senior living communities that have not been recently remodeled, with small apartments or don’t have enormous acreage.  It is very challenging to market these properties, but I have witnessed some amazing sales people overcome this dilemma.

They say the best defense is a strong offense.

Here is what one marketer said in Washington state about tired furniture in the lobby: “We don’t have a big brand new building with a lavish lobby entrance but what we do have is a very comfortable loving family atmosphere where our residents are the focus of our care and attention.”

In Utah, a retirement counselor working at an independent retirement community that needed remodeling would say: “We don’t have all the bells and whistles of the community down the street, but we are home to 120 residents and you won’t find friendlier staff or residents any where else.  I encourage you to meet some of the residents of both communities and judge for yourself who is happier.  Then decide where you want your mom to live.”

An assisted living community in California with less community spaces says: “Initially our community seems small but it is so much easier for our senior residents to live here on a day-to-day basis.  It gives the residents a sense of security to know they can navigate the community without getting lost.”

Does your senior living community live up the pictures in your brochure and what the sales people promise?  It’s never good to show a wonderful picture and deliver poor quality, like when I received the dead flowers.  If you don’t have the ideal gorgeous community, you can still be proud of providing the best care and services to your residents.

Please share your successes, failures or comment below 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 at with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Currently, Masson is setting move-in records as the regional marketing director of two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

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Your Marketing Reputation – Implications and Promises

Your Marketing Reputation – Implications and Promises

Reputations in Senior LivingDo you and your retirement community’s reputation align?  I love it when I hire a senior living sales person and they say, “I want to make sure this community will deliver what I promise to the customer.”  Then they may go on to share a horror story of a previous senior living provider and how this was not the case.  It’s hard to imagine these sad stories and how seniors can be mistreated.

In today’s world of social media, blog posts and online commenting – operations at senior living organizations have to work hard to maintain an excellent reputation.  Around 97% of a retirement community’s employees are operations (taking care of the residents) and 3% are the friendly faces to increase the occupancy.  Sales and marketing represent the good faith promise of taking care of a senior or someone’s parent in a compassionate, respectful and timely fashion.

I believe longevity of staff plays a key role in providing consistent quality care and services in independent living and Continuing Care Retirement Communities settings.  A well run operational team is even more important in the higher levels of care like assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care where the senior residents are most vulnerable.

Does the right hand always know what the left hand is doing?

Executive directors (E.D.) and administrators can be the glue that connects operations and sales.  An excellent operations team is a key to enjoying a great reputation of quality care with local hospitals and doctors.  Residents and guests will always speak out about the food quality; this can make or break new sales.  A great E.D. will have operations focus on sales and marketing.  This includes excellent customer service for all senior residents and guests (in every department).  On the other side of the coin, sales and marketing need to accurately represent what the community really provides (don’t promise more than what can be delivered with your licensing).

It’s easy to spot the good quality teams!  Just walk down the hall of any retirement community and see the faces of the employees.  Smiles and happy dispositions indicate that they enjoy their work and have a team spirit.   Sour faces already speak negatively to the quality of care provided for the residents.

I hope you and your retirement community enjoy a good reputation…

Please 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  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 Seniors For Living and 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: