While these are obviously trying times for the senior living industry, it’s important to remember that things aren’t nearly as bleak as the media might suggest. In fact, there are plenty of reasons for communities to be optimistic about the road ahead, as long as they make sound decisions that don’t thwart their own progress and occupancy rates.
To help prevent senior living marketing and sales teams from shooting themselves in the foot, I wanted to discuss three simple things to avoid that could ultimately hurt occupancy rates along with some corresponding tips to get you on the right track.
1. Botching Your First Impression
Tip: Always convey an attractive but accurate picture of your community
Maintaining your resident count is just as important as converting new prospects for your occupancy rates. Therefore, communities are doing themselves a disservice by failing to align prospect expectations with a senior living resident's reality. Unfortunately, that’s one of the biggest reasons why the average length of stay across the industry is less than two years.
For instance, some independent living communities still focus on amenities like onsite coffee bars and swimming pools that, although attractive in a brochure, can be a letdown once a new resident starts to get into a routine. While those types of perks were extremely popular 20 years ago, the industry has changed dramatically since then. Today, the living experience and culture provided by a retirement community are now most important to the average prospect.
This is an area where a OneDay video can be a powerful tool to a sales team. Rather than trying to sell a prospect on a nice lobby or putting green – amenities that any assisted living community can offer – use the high quality of life you provide your residents as your calling card.
When a loved one sees genuine happiness and compassionate, engaged staff on a OneDay video, it’s much more impactful to the decision-making process than perks they saw at the competing senior living facility across the street. In short, convey a memorable first impression that accurately depicts the culture and lifestyle you provide.
2. Blend in With the Crowd
Tip: Dare to be different!
Unless your community has a new technology that no one else knows about, you’re using the same email, telephone, and text messaging that every other community uses to engage potential residents. And, honestly, what’s fun and endearing about any of those options, at least the way most teams use them?
When it comes to engaging your audience, dare to be different. Just because every other community does things the same way doesn’t mean you should. Otherwise, you’re not conveying any personality or uniqueness, two qualities that are extremely important in driving senior living sales, particularly for a small or new community.
Instead of the ordinary, demonstrate from the get-go that you do things differently and continuously strive to provide something better, starting with your very first communication with a prospect and continuing with each follow-up. Again using OneDay as an example, try including a personalized video with your emails. Not only can it vastly increase response rates – as demonstrated in a recent OneDay case study – but it will also differentiate your senior living community from the others.
Likewise, use the same approach across your entire digital marketing plan. If you have a website that looks like it’s straight out of 1998, partner with a web developer, social media team, SEO expert, and other digital marketing professionals that will make your online presence far more representative of your values, culture, and what you have to offer. If a prospect doesn’t appreciate an appealing, intuitive website with a pleasant UX, then the adult children of that prospect undoubtedly will.
3. Fall Behind
Tip: Lead by example! Push forward new company-wide initiatives to get greater buy-in.
Lastly, failing to evolve with changing expectations – as well as the marketplace itself – will inevitably hurt your occupancy rates at some point. Senior living is not a “set it and forget it” type of industry where you can Implement a single solution and expect it to work miracles without further attention.
Sure, senior living communities could get away with being far more static just a few years ago. But this is a vastly different environment that is dynamic and changes with the times, and will continue to do so well into the future. For example, while integrating a CRM into your sales strategy might be a good place to start, it should be the starting point to a revamped sales strategy, not the finish line. After implementation, you should then quantify your data, identify your best lead sources, and understand what’s driving business for you. In other words, it’s a process that always builds on itself, starting with some basic tools, but then using them as a foundation toward something more.
Ultimately, my advice is to be flexible and bold in your marketing strategies, embracing technology that helps you showcase your culture and vision to every current and prospective resident. Senior living is an industry that too often gets trapped in the past. At OneDay, we’re here to help you convert leads and drive occupancy rates, both today and tomorrow.