- Does your organization have trouble maintaining its desired occupancy levels?
- Are you losing out because of high turnover in your sales department?
- Have you invested time and money in senior living software applications only to find that no one is actually using them?
You are not alone!
These are some of the top challenges senior living managers face every day. Your peers also struggle to reach their target audience, improve their lead-to-appointment and appointment-to-close ratios, and compete in today’s ever-changing technology-driven market.
How can you rise above these concerns?
Here are seven simple steps to senior living management excellence.
1. Don’t lose sight of your true customers: Prospective residents
Who matters most to your organization? Your residents or their children? Many senior living marketers focus on the adult children, when in fact it’s the residents who matter.
Don’t take our word for it. A recent ALFA Update highlighted two studies that investigated who makes care decisions. They found that while adult children are involved in their parents’ transitions 73% of the time, the seniors themselves have a say about 70% of the time.
Even when adult children make the decision, seniors are still the primary audience. Like Margaret Wylde of market research company ProMatura Group said: “You’re going to kill the deal if you don’t pay attention to the prospect. ‘If Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy.’ Many times, executive directors are not taking care of the true customer.”
2. Get more out of your CRM software to increase your occupancy
According to senior housing marketing consultant Traci Bild, most senior living communities aren’t using customer relationship management (CRM) software as effectively as they could be, leaving potential sales on the table. In her experience, as many as three-quarters of senior living leads don’t move forward—they are just entered into the system and then forgotten.
CRM software’s lead management features can improve your sales process and help you deliver better customer service. When used properly, they can improve response time, automate workflows, deliver customized reports, and monitor your team's sales performance.
The takeaway: if you have a CRM system, make sure you are using it to its full potential. And if you don’t have one, it might be time to reconsider.
3. Prioritize your leads to better target your sales activities
Do you treat all leads the same? Mark Johnston of senior living marketing firm GlynnDevins has a simple solution: score your leads, all of them.
As Johnston points out, senior living companies have huge databases of information, in which they’ve usually invested a lot of money. The top leads are easy to identify, but what about the rest of the database?
Try using information from your CRM as well as other sources to apply a numerical rank to every single lead in your database. This practice will help your salespeople focus on high-quality leads and allow you to segment your leads for targeted marketing campaigns.
4. Centralize your sales efforts to increase conversions
Senior living communities traditionally have high turnover, in positions ranging from caregivers to salespeople. Centralizing your sales efforts can help you avoid the extra costs—and frustration—associated with constantly needing to hire and train sales staff. In addition, it can help you avoid the consequences of leads that are dropped in the turnover process.
Learn more about how centralizing your sales efforts using call center services can help you increase profitability while also controlling costs.
5. Make sure the right person answers the phone
In 2012, senior housing expert Diane Masson conducted a small experiment. She called 12 retirement communities on a Saturday morning and asked them this question: “I am looking for a place for my mom – she lives in your town – how many places are there to choose from and how do you rate?”
The results were dismal: she gave one community an A+, two communities B’s, five C’s, one a D, and three F’s. Out of the 12, two went straight to voicemail (automatic F’s) and only four of the people she reached asked for her phone number. Many simply couldn’t answer the question.
Calling on a Saturday morning isn’t unusual—about 75% of the people who call senior living communities asking for information are adult children of prospective residents, who usually work during business hours.
Don’t settle for anything less than an A+. When potential customers call, make sure the person who answers the phone can provide the information your customers need.
6. Don’t ignore the Internet
These days, the Internet can be a senior living community’s best friend or its worst enemy. In any case, it can’t be ignored. What happens online can affect your business in two major ways.
First is leads. Consumers today are well informed. A Google and CEB study found that buyers don’t contact suppliers until they are more than halfway through the purchasing process. They shop online before calling, and increasingly they make inquiries online as well. Traci Bild suggests that online leads are still widely ignored by the senior living industry, which means that simply treating online leads the same as phone leads can give your community a leg up.
Second is reputation. When prospective customers look you up online, what will they find? Online reputation management is a challenging, but essential, aspect of senior living management. For tips on how to do it right, explore this best practices kit provided by Caring.com and Reputation.com.
7. Learn from your data
- How do you benchmark your operations?
- Do you track performance metrics?
- If so, do you just collect the data or do you use it to gain insights and guide decision-making?
New analytics tools, such as reporting functions in CRM software, make it easy for senior living managers to collect and analyze data. Start by identifying your business goals and deciding which metrics are the most important for your community, such as resident turnover, revenue growth versus expense per-resident-day, and of course resident satisfaction.
Just like prioritizing your leads can help you better target your sales efforts, your performance metrics can tell you a lot about what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and where to go from here.