Moving A Lifetime of Memories (Part 2)

Moving A Lifetime of Memories (Part 2)

They Moved And Placed Everything Except The Cat!

They Moved And Placed Everything Except The Cat!

Easiest move ever?  Yes!!!  It was a picture perfect move thanks to a senior friendly company called Helping Hands in California.  They literally pulled out their smart phones and snapped “before pictures.”  Then in the new home each mover referenced their smart phones to recreate a room, a bookcase or any area that had knick-knacks.  Moving a Lifetime of Memories (Part 1) is about my decision to hire a senior moving company.

An army of men arrived at 9:00 AM and the move went so fast.  The same person that packed up the kitchen unpacked and organized the kitchen in our new home.  This one fact alone was awesome and took tremendous stress off of me.  The same mover that packed up the bathroom reorganized it in the new bathroom.  It was amazing.

Here is the completion level of each room on the day of the move:

  • The kitchen is 100% done (just need to buy groceries and we are ready to cook).
  • Living room is 100% done (including pictures on the wall).
  • Dining room is 100% done (including pictures on the wall).
  • The master bath is 100% done (everything is in it’s place).
  • Office/music room is 95% done (books on the book shelves, pictures hung and still need to rightsize the closets a bit more).
  • Coat and towel closet are 100% done.
  • Master bedroom is 90% done (still need to reorganize the clothes hanging in the closet, buy two lamps and figure out what pictures to hang).
  • Second bathroom is 0% done (only two boxes to unpack, because our two cats were crated in this room during the move).
  • The garage is 50% done (all the garage stuff is in the garage, but we could not have the team of men put everything away because the garage was too dirty).

Our biggest move challenges?

  • Downsizing in general, so I focused on rightsizing.  It was easier to stomach rightsizing.  It is an attitude.
  • Arriving the day of the move to find a dirty garage with stuff left from the previous owner.
  • Realizing our master bedroom has zero light.

The good news is that I loved Helping Hands, because instead of months to settle into my home, I am already settled.  It should just take a couple of days to go buy lamps and then clean and organize the garage.

I highly recommend this senior moving company and this type of service for seniors moving into retirement communities.  Yes, it does cost more than two man and a truck, but it can literally take the stress away from moving.

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 Amazon.com 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.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link http://www.marketing2seniors.net For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.
Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?

Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?

Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?As a daughter with a mom in skilled nursing care, the PBS documentary entitled “Life and Death in Assisted Living” really upset me.  My mom has vascular dementia and I have been her advocate for the last 7 years in assisted living.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I moved my mom 1000 miles into a skilled nursing care near me – about 10 weeks ago.  This transition happened because I was 100% in tune with my mom’s needs.

We all know someone who had a horror story during a hospital stay.  Last week one of my colleagues was shocked to walk in and find her dad in soft restraints after heart surgery.  He was 82 and not coming out of the anesthesia well.  The nurse said that she did not have enough staff to help him, so she had to use soft arm restraints.  My colleague asked if they could please remove the restraints.  She and her mom each took one arm of her dad and literally held him thrashing around all night with no sleep.

Every senior or human being needs an advocate to make sure that the care they are paying thousands of dollar per month in any level of care is being provided.  Trying to be a good advocate for my mom and living two states away – just about killed me.  You have to have eyes on your loved one or pay someone to come in and be your eyes – particularly when they have dementia.

When a senior has dementia, like my mom, they get to the point where they cannot communicate all their needs, pains or desires to either caregivers or family members.  There needs to be an advocate who truly knows that person and can look for and understand his or her unspoken needs on a regular basis.

If my colleague had not shown up to be an advocate for her dad, he would have been in soft restraints all night.  If I had not flown in every few months to see my mom with my own eyes, areas of concern would not have been addressed.  My mom had good care in assisted living with a caring staff, but she is my mom and I know her best.

It always makes me sad when a future senior resident considering senior housing has no family or only distant relatives.  They may ask a lawyer or a niece in Canada to become their advocate or power of attorney.  Will this remote person advocate properly on his or her behalf – if the senior can no longer communicate verbally?

There are great senior housing options available with loving caring staff, but it is always wise to have an advocate that knows your unspoken needs when you can no longer speak on your own behalf.

Tip:  Future residents and their family members need to do their homework as they explore all senior housing options including assisted living.  Always ask what the longevity of staff is at each retirement community, assisted living, memory care or skilled care nursing that you are considering for yourself or a loved one.  Staff turnover is an indicator of an underlying management or ownership problem in all levels of senior care.  Look for communities with longevity of staff.

Diane Twohy Masson is the best-selling author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com 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.  Most recently Masson was recruited to consult for 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.

How To Train a “Green” Senior Living Sales Person (Part 1)

How To Train a “Green” Senior Living Sales Person (Part 1)

Training "Green" Sales PeopleWhen a brand new sales person starts, what is most important to teach first?  My definition of “green” is that they have never worked in senior housing before.  “Part-green” means they have some background in senior housing like working in the homecare industry.  I love coaching “green” and “part-green” senior living sales people.

So what do you teach a “green” sales person in the first couple of weeks?

Is it shadowing an existing sales person?  You may or may not be lucky enough to have a quality person they can shadow.  It can be very helpful, but it can also get a little boring for the trainee.  If this is your whole training program, then you are missing the boat of opportunity.

Do you just throw them in to sink or swim immediately?  This might not be the brightest idea.  They don’t understand the business and what you offer yet.  Leads are money, so are you willing to just blow off some potentially hot leads, because a “green” person does not know how they should be managed properly?  Some smaller retirement communities have no choice, because they only have one marketer.

Or do you send them out to study the competition?  This can be very important in the first couple weeks of training and allows them to compare senior housing communities like the prospects would.  They can start to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of their own community versus the retirement community down the street.

How about a dedicated all day training?  You could spend a whole day with an interactive program that explains how the prospect really thinks, what to do when the prospect arrives at your community, how to ask discovery questions without interrogating someone, the steps on giving a “wow” tour, helping the prospect connect that your community is the answer to their problem and how to complete the interaction at the end — with determining the next step(s).  This is how I started a “green” person two weeks ago.

What has worked and not worked for you – training “green” sales people?  Next week I will share what techniques I use training “green” sales people and why…

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 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 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: diane@marketing2seniors.net

Marketing a Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Property?

Marketing a Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Property?

Twenty-year-old Retirement CommunityIs this you?  Then you are in one of two situations – either your owners have renovated in the last 5 or 10 years or everything in your senior living property is original…

1) A Renovated Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Community?

If your retirement community owners have renovated – thank your lucky stars!   It is awesome to be able to tell prospective seniors that a great sign of a quality organization is how well the building is kept up.  Tout the age of your building and make it a plus for future senior residents.

Yes, you may have limited community space or smaller apartments than your newer senior living competition, but competition could have insurmountable debt from financing in the last 5 years.  I am finding that older communities have more flexible payment plans for seniors who are considering an entrance fee for a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

2) Original Furnishings and Tired Looking Senior Living Community?

Do you need to avoid the PUMPKIN carpet that has multiple stains in the dining room?  Are the couches covered with throws, because of the discoloration?  Is the carpet threadbare in spots?  This is a sales person nightmare.  What can you do?

Well, there are many in our industry who face this daunting sales task everyday!

You have two hopes in my opinion.  First, let’s hope that your quality of care is amazing and secondly that the operations team has done everything in their power to have a clean, fresh smelling building.   The best defense is often a strong offense.  You can say, “You can go down the street to live in a newer building, but no one can come close to us on the quality of our care.  So you have a choice.  You need to decide if the cosmetic appearance of a community is most important to you or if it is more vital to you in how your loved one will be treated and cared for in the coming months and years.”  Wow!  This is a powerful statement to make!

What would you pick if you were comparing two assisted living communities?  Remember to think like the customer!  Boomers want their parents to live in a nice community.  Surface people will only consider appearances.  Educate the boomer children to determine that care is most important and they will look past the frayed furniture.

If your retirement community has lousy care and looks old, just quit… or there has to be some redeeming quality that you can highlight.   Become a senior living expert in your area, know your competition and accentuate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

Please share your marketing success or struggle story, if your retirement community is twenty years or older…

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 diane@marketing2seniors.net.  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/

8 Keys to Create Compelling Events that Drive Sales in Senior Living

8 Keys to Create Compelling Events that Drive Sales in Senior Living

Do you have 50 plus prospective residents at every event?  If not, why not?  Here are just eight keys to keep in mind when planning great events that can fill your building.

1)   Pick a theme that would compel a senior to leave the comfort of their home, spend $4.00 a gallon on gas to drive to your retirement community and want to invite a friend to enjoy the experience with them.

2)   Organize your event, so every first impression is excellent.  Have someone out front directing parking, greet them at the door with a registration table, train tour guides, your community should be spotless, have an exciting program and maybe most important – present excellent food and beverages for their enjoyment.

3)   The goal is fill your building!  If you are going to have live entertainment, there must still be a 10 to 15 minute program with a resident testimonial.   Or maybe you are going to have a Power Point of your benefits and what differentiates you from other senior living communities?  Don’t be boring…

4)   You only have the senior’s attention for about 1½ hours maximum, so if you spend the time feeding and entertaining them, they will be too tired to tour your community.  Strategize out every minute they are going to be in the building.

5)   Invite them to come back and spend more time, so they can get a better feel of your retirement community.  It’s hard for people to decide in 1½ hours where they are going to spend the next chapter of their life.

6)   There should be at least 1/3 new faces at your event.

7)   Some senior living communities draw new prospective seniors best by advertising with direct mail, others with newspaper and still others work best with a combo.

8)   After spending all the time, money and staff resources on a great event, don’t forget to call them the next day.  Invite them back…

I had two events this week for Continuing Care Retirement Communities; one drew 85 seniors to RSVP in a rural area and the other had over 100 seniors RSVP in a metropolitan area.  This traffic will help fill the building for the next two months.

Do you want more information on how to put on a great event?  Chapter 6 of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” offers a step-by-step approach to successful events and many ideas for compelling themes.  Good luck and please share your success…

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 diane@marketing2seniors.net.  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/

Calling it – “The steak is the shoulder of a cow” – In Senior Living?

Calling it – “The steak is the shoulder of a cow” – In Senior Living?

Prime cuts of beefThe first impressions of the dining experience at your senior living community can affect occupancy…or someone coming back…

Is your community twenty years old and does it look it?  Can you add fresh flowers on each dining table to spruce it up?  Are linen tablecloths and napkins a standard?  Or have you cut these items from your operations budget?  You may have a great chef, the best service and a beautiful dining room, but the wrong words can also leave a bad impression…

On a recent trip to Seattle, my family decided to go to McCormick and Schmicks – a nice dining restaurant on the water.  The waiter greeted us and shared his steak and lobster special of the day.  Hmm, I thought – that sounds good.  We asked what type of steak it was.  Then he said, “The steak is the shoulder of a cow.”  He walked away from us, so we could contemplate the menu and we immediately started saying – what???  Why would someone talk about the steak as the shoulder of cow, which is not very appetizing?  My sister-in-law said, I envision a cow with a hacked off shoulder.”  We all started getting grossed out and laughing.    When the waiter came back, we teased him and told him that the shoulder of a cow did not sound good.  He apologized and said he forgot the proper term to say which was “Terrace Major.”  We all agreed that was not appetizing either.

What descriptor words are on your retirement community’s menu?  Is the dining staff trained to sell the food?  We’ve all been to fine dining restaurants where they describe the desert in a magnificent way or they bring a tray to show the yummy deserts – then it is really hard to say no.  Many senior living communities that I have visited – say, “Would you like desert?”  That’s it!?!!  They should say we have 10 deserts for you to select from, can I share the choices with you?  (Most retirement communities have many ice creams to choose from, a sugar free desert, a baked desert, fresh fruit and canned fruit.)

Let’s make our residents feel special every day of the week!  Dining should be a stimulating experience for them!  What does your senior living community do to make the residents feel like they are experiencing fine dining?

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 diane@marketing2seniors.net.  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/