There seems to be a new sales tactic to show future residents the brochure and floor plans – before touring the senior living community! This makes no sense to me. Most people cannot look at a floor plan and decide to give up their 3000 plus square foot home of 30 years and just move into a smaller sized 1000 square foot apartment. Some professionals or retirees were former realtors, designers or architects – these folks would most likely be capable of picturing all their worldly possessions on a 8 ½ by 11 inch – floor plan. So let’s just assume the rest of the people can’t visualize a space based on seeing a retirement community floor plan.
Some senior living sales people actually asked me if I would like the bathroom placement or closet placement here versus there. What?!? I asked them to show me in person. They seemed surprised that I needed a real visual. Others showed me one bedroom and two bedroom floor plans and wanted me to select my favorite floor plan to determine what to go see in the building – nuts! Be a better sales person and figure it out for me. Ask better questions to learn about my lifestyle and needs.
Senior living floor plans are a tool to help someone visualize the placement of furniture in their apartment home. Use it after the prospective resident has already seen and has expressed interest in a certain style apartment at the retirement community. A floor plan can be a helpful reminder of what you saw an hour ago. But if they want to see the apartment in person one more time – please take them back to see it again.
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/
Please enjoy this published article I wrote for seniorhousingforum.net for my friend Steve Moran. – http://seniorhousingforum.net/
Top 10 positive and negative first impressions after touring 15 senior living communities in 3 days. (Part 1)
By Diane Twohy Masson
My goal was to put myself in the shoes of the adult boomer child looking for the right retirement community for an aging senior parent. What would be his or her overall impression after viewing 3 to 5 senior living communities in a couple of days? What community would rise to the top and be their first choice?
What were my top 10 ten positive first impressions?
1) Smelling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies when I walked into the lobby.
2) As I drove up seeing perfectly manicured lawns, a good-looking building and some colorful flowers out front. (Flowers in pots by the front door looked great.)
3) Some kind of “wow” when I entered the lobby that would direct my eye to the beauty of the community and not see the walkers and wheel chairs. An example was seeing a gorgeous/expensive flower/plant arrangement on a circular table as I entered the lobby. Another retirement community had a beautiful living room area with a fireplace, a FRESH flower arrangement on the coffee table and happy residents conversing.
4) Having the receptionist stand to greet me with a smile and a handshake.
5) Being offered refreshments immediately (I was parched from all my touring!)
6) Having a marketer tailor the tour to the needs of my mom. They would bring each community space to life by painting a picture on how my mom would enjoy using it (based on her capabilities).
7) Being introduced to important staff that would be caring for my mom. It was especially impressive if they said, “We would love for your mom to live here.”
8) Having a housekeeper or caregiver smile at me as I walked down the hall. It gave me the impression that they were happy to work there and would smile at my mom.
9) Hearing the residents being called by name and looking happy.
10) Seeing vibrant activities taking place in a variety of community spaces.
First impressions are everything to an adult boomer child trying to evaluate the best place for his or her senior parent. What first impressions are your senior living staff and community giving out? Would you want your own mom to live there? Could you sleep at night, knowing your own mom lived at your community?
Diane Twohy Masson’s top 10 negative first impressions in touring 15 senior living communities in 3 days and how some senior living communities chose to put their proverbial foot in their mouth will be coming in part 2.
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 coach your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) or have her put on a sales retreat for your organization – please call: 206-853-6655 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web:www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/
One of the reasons your occupancy may be down is because you may have reactive marketing. What does this mean? Do any of the following scenarios happen at your community?
- You walk into Bored Brad’s marketing office and he’s sorting paper clips. He just wants to give a tour but no one is coming in or calling the community.
- When you stop by Blabby Barbara’s office, she is on the phone, but you quickly determine that she’s talking to a friend and not a potential resident.
- Residents complain to management that phone calls to the marketing department are not returned in a timely fashion to friends they have referred and who are prospective residents. You march right over to Moody Marbella on your marketing team to address the residents’ concerns. She responds by changing the subject and, worse, blaming you with her explanation, “Events won’t work. Low occupancy is not my fault.” Do you think she missed the point?
Does this really happen? Yes! Reactive marketing people truly exist and I have worked with some of them. It can be a challenge to determine if the new team you are managing is reactive, but once you know the symptoms it’s easy to identify:
Symptom 1) Reactive marketing does not have programs or policies in place to make a certain number of outbound phone calls per day. This means every day.
Symptom 2) After conducting a tour, reactive marketing people wait for prospects to call them back to say they are interested in moving in. This is really the function of an order taker and not the attitude of a professional salesperson.
Symptom 3) Reactive marketers urge spending money on advertising because they claim they don’t have any leads and therefore no new sales.
Symptom 4) Reactive marketers exhibit a lack of urgency to answer the phone within two rings.
Symptom 5) Reactive marketers have a lackadaisical attitude returning phone, web, and social media inquiries.
These reactive marketing teams are waiting for walk-ins and call-ins. They believe the customer should just say, “Yep, here’s my deposit. Let’s call the moving company right now.”
Spending money on new leads is a waste of the marketing budget for a reactive marketing team. Many prospects can be slow (which is normal) to make a decision. A reactive marketer does not initiate calls with the non-hot prospects, so a cool or lukewarm prospect will never be contacted again. This means that 20 percent to 30 percent of sales can just slip through the fingers of this type of marketer. This really does happen, and it can be affecting your financial performance. Is it?
This was an excerpt from “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full.“
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 coach your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) or have her put on a sales retreat for your organization – please call: 206-853-6655 or email email@example.com. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/
When the decision to move to a senior living community is finally made – the seniors tend to be older and frailer. Many providers blame the economy and accept a lower occupancy as a sign of the times. The days of having someone move in off the wait list have disappeared. So it is time to strategize…
Let’s enter the mind of a senior. Many have experienced painful losses in their stock portfolios in recent years. Depending on the area of the country they live, their home is worth much less than the inflated value they recognized as truth in 2007. Many seniors feel they have lost several hundred thousand dollars and can’t afford to move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with an entrance fee. Some silent generation seniors are penny pinching again and think it’s less expensive to live in his or her paid off home. Other seniors are just so attached to their home of 40 or 50 years that they can’t imagine living somewhere else.
Yet as they age, day-to-day living can become more of an effort. Many of the responsibilities of their home have to be hired out – such as gardening, yard work, window and gutter cleaning, possibly housekeeping and painting. Many seniors had a do-it-your-self mindset and become frustrated at the quality of workmanship that hired help provides. Cooking a healthy meal for one or two is just too much work and who wants to wash all those dishes? Maybe the laundry room is located down the basement stairs, they live in a split-level home or stairs have become a struggle.
Now they have arrived at your CCRC or independent living door because a resident friend encouraged them to come and see it or an exciting event intrigued them enough to leave their home. This prospective resident is not going to be sold with one visit. First they have to picture themselves living in your community. The first impressions are everything, so the food, the tour, the model apartment and enjoying some of the lifestyle are all vital. This person may need to come to three events such as: a musical event, a cultural event and an educational event. If possible, they need to experience the events in different parts of your community. Hearing testimonials from vibrant residents or having opportunities to interact with lively residents can be very helpful.
Your on-going monthly phone call to this prospective resident should be full of encouragement and discovery to learn what they really enjoy most in life. Maybe they swam at the local pool every morning for 40 years, but now the winter darkness is stopping them from driving. Or maybe they enjoyed his or her subscription to the symphony, but now they can’t drive in the dark and their best friend died. Wouldn’t it be nice if they did not have to “drive” to go to a pool, a gym, see live musical entertainment, enjoy an educational program or share a glass of wine with a friend?
What moves this type of person to give up their home? It’s to have a vividly painted lifestyle that is 10 times better than their current situation. At that point the perceived loss in their home value is no longer a factor. They realize that their home has become a ball and chain and they want the freedom and conveniences that your retirement community can offer them. It can take several months or even a year for seniors to make this decision. A health setback or scare always speeds the process up. Who will they think of first when they are lying in hospital recovering from a hip surgery? Why the community that called them every month and invited them to events of course…
Selling Lifestyle is Key in CCRC and Independent living Senior Sales. Is this helpful?
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 peaked to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) or have her put on a sales retreat for your organization – please call: 206-853-6655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/
Are you looking for the secrets to occupancy success? How can you fill up your retirement community now? Maybe you work at a stand-alone assisted living, CCRC or independent living community?
Here are three keys being utilized by a 98.4% occupied assisted living community sales person!
1) Referrals Through Outreach – The assisted living sales person built relationships with hospital discharge planners, skilled nursing/rehab social workers and other assisted livings that provided lighter care. The relationships were built by meeting each of these people monthly and offering interesting/fun events for referrals to visit his assisted living on a monthly basis. When referrals toured his assisted living community they could experience firsthand how happy the residents were and see the quality of the care.
When an assisted living resident was suddenly out-placed to a hospital the resident family members might ask which skilled nursing or rehabilitation center would be the best for the recuperation of the parent. The community could share knowledgeable communication about the available choices, because they visit them regularly. When the family member selected a choice for their parent (with the doctor’s input of course and after visiting at least two choices), the sales person would call to their referral choice and let them know what the family selected. Outreach sources quickly realized the assisted living community cared about their residents even when they weren’t currently residing in the community and now their healthcare referrals have increased 50%.
2) First Impressions – If a guest called ahead, the sale person would walk the possible tour path to pick up an accidentally dropped Kleenex on the floor or straighten up by putting away all the walkers by the front door. He’d train the front desk staff to be welcoming – by standing up and greeting all guests with a smile and a handshake. He would have chocolate chip cookies baking right by the front entrance, so it would be the first thing they smelled walking in the building. There would always be a framed sign on the front desk welcoming the guest by name. Checking the parking lot for cans and cigarette butts was always on his list too.
3) Orchestrating a Great Tour – When new people wanted to tour the community, he did everything within his power to make sure it would be a great experience. Instead of giving everyone the exact same tour, he would tailor it to the guest’s needs and interests (after he spent some time sitting down with them to find out exactly what prompted the visit and what they hoped to see). He went out of his way to introduce key staff to the guests, like the dining director, administrator or director of nursing (again it would depend on their needs). When he showed an apartment, it would be rent ready and appeal to their needs and budget. Then he would sit down again with them (before they left), to find out if they had any additional questions and to offer to take the deposit check for the apartment they liked the best (He always asked for a deposit). If they decided not to deposit, he assumed they would, when he made a follow up call the next day.
Congrats to my friend and colleague for 98.4% occupancy. He was just promoted to a larger community. It has been my pleasure to coach and mentor him!
Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com. For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email email@example.com. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/
After working in senior housing for 13 years, I thought the majority of skilled nursing communities had broken the mold of institutionalized care from the past. After recently touring three skilled nursing communities in one day for my mom, I have changed my mind. The old skilled nursing concept of institutionalized seniors that helplessly live boring lives of eating, bathing and sleeping – still seems to exist. The admission folks did not paint a picture of any type of lifestyle such as: music to lift spirits, social activities to engage the mind or fellowship with other residents, volunteers or staff… I was shocked and discouraged. So in my examples, I have to call them facilities and not communities.
The first facility offered to show me their only available bed. It was down a dark hallway with no natural light. The available bed was the middle bed of three-bed ward. Almost everyone was in bed at 2 PM in the afternoon with the curtains shut. Everyone else was in a wheel chair. The dining room had no chairs. There were institutional lifts and medical carts in the hallway. This tour guide did not mention how my mom could enjoy anything! She did not offer an activity program or talk about the quality of care. All she said was, “You will be lucky to get a bed and take it when it comes available.” I had to ask to see the dining room and had to request an activity program and menu.
The second facility had a slightly friendlier admission person. This person showed us an available bed and then proceeded to talk about the majority of residents wearing diapers. He actually said, “Don’t worry that the two-bed rooms only have one bathroom, most residents don’t use them – because they wear diapers.” What??? Are you kidding me? Why would you tell us this? Then we were shown the dining room with an activity happening – a funeral. We were told they had a monthly funeral for all the residents that were gone. Wow, that sounds like a depressing activity to look forward to every month. I thought he would follow up by talking about some vibrant activity, but he did not. He did not talk about the lifestyle my mom could enjoy, how they keep residents engaged or the quality of the care that my mom could enjoy. I had to request an activity program and menu.
The third facility had the most unwelcoming receptionist. I said, “Hi, can we have a tour?” She said, “Oh, you want a tour?” (In a very bored voice, like maybe we would not want a tour). I said, “Yes, is a tour possible?” She said, “Well — Mary can help you with that, she’s in that room.” She pointed us toward a doorway, so we had to approach the room… They did not accept Medicaid, even though several websites said they did – so no tour was offered.
Several years ago, my sales and marketing office was located in a skilled nursing community. Some residents were very ill, but others led lives with hope and purpose through wonderful activities. I personally saw the joy and loved the ice cream cones served by volunteers every Friday afternoon. The admissions person was a lovely woman who painted the picture of living the best quality of life that someone could with the best possible care.
So my number one question, after touring three skilled nursing facilities, is do skilled nursing communities currently describe lifestyle for incoming long-term care residents? Thank goodness we were not in rush to place my mom immediately, since she is safely in an assisted living community.
Diane Twohy Masson’s top 10 ways to discuss lifestyle for long-term care residents in the skilled care nursing admissions process will be coming in part 2.
Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com. For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/ Web: www.marketing2seniors.net