Senior housing construction has been booming for the past three years. While the aging of the U.S. population is leading to a huge growth in demand for senior housing, some analysts are concerned that the supply is growing too quickly. Increased competition means new communities must be smart in how they approach their leasing up process.
Here are five tips for successfully leasing up senior living communities:
1. Have a marketing plan
Sounds obvious, right? But too many senior housing managers fail to outline a solid plan for how they will fill vacant units. This approach may not be fatal in times of very high demand. But when the scale is tilted toward the supply side, a well-defined marketing strategy can be the difference between too many empty units and a waiting list.
Here is a list of 14 things to include in your leasing and marketing plan from multifamily investment expert Theresa Bradley-Banta.
2. Optimize your call-in inquiry process
When people call to inquire about your senior living community, who do they talk to? Are the people who answer the phone able to answer questions and provide valuable information? Is there a follow-up process in place?
Rather than adding “sales” to the list of responsibilities for your front desk staff, consider implementing a call center to handle phone inquiries. Benchmarking data from our communities shows that faciliies that use call centers have an appointment ratio up to 25% higher than those without call centers (more senior living sales benchmarks).
3. Follow up on Internet leads
According to LeasingCafe.com, rental properties neglect to follow-up with about half of online leads. This could be part of the reason Internet inquiries account for the largest percentage of total inquiries but their appointment ratio is less than 30%.
Using customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and manage leads from various sources can help you ensure no prospective residents fall through the cracks.
4. Focus on referrals
Referrals are very powerful lead sources for senior living communities. They convert to appointments more than 40% of the time, and they also come at a lower cost of sales than leads from other channels.
Focus on referrals by providing incentives and by having a defined strategy for moving referral customers through the sales process. As you select software for your community, make sure that the CRM solution you choose has excellent referral management functionality.
5. Perform targeted outreach
Know who your audience is and target your outreach activities toward that audience.
For example, Chiccorra Connor of Occupancy Heroes Incorporated recommends putting together a coupon book in cooperation with local merchants. As she points out, many seniors are on a fixed income and use coupons regularly, so this strategy will help you reach your audience directly by providing them with a valuable service. For assisted living facilities, your audience consists largely of the adult children of prospective residents, so make sure your marketing materials address their needs and concerns.
Competition in the senior housing market is becoming fiercer, which means communities need to up their game to fill their vacancies. These five leasing up strategies will help you compete effectively in today's environment.
Featured image by Brett VA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons