Senior Living Sales: How Does Your Team Follow Up?

Senior Living Sales Strategies: How Does Your Team Follow Up?

I have spoken at countless conferences across the country on the topic of selling in the senior living industry. One of the most common questions I receive after a speech is this: “What are three senior living sales strategies that we can implement in our communities and start seeing an immediate impact?” Without the slightest bit of hesitation, my response begins with “follow up.”

Look at the facts (to the right) regarding follow-up. If you do not feel like you’ve been double-punched to the gut, then you might want to check your pulse.

As an industry, we do a poor job when it comes to following up with our prospects, and I attribute that to two main reasons:

First, as senior living salespeople, we want and desire instant gratification. We believe that the low hanging fruit is the new lead that just came in, when in all actuality, the hottest leads are already in your CRM. If we don’t “see” interest from the prospect after a couple of times of following up, our tendency is to dump them in the “cold lead” bucket.

Second, we are inundated with new leads. The senior living sales industry spends millions of dollars on marketing for new leads. As a result, we don’t have the time to spend quality time on creative follow-up. Our sales process becomes more of a quantitative approach as opposed to a qualitative approach.

Last year, we conducted research on the effectiveness of follow-up in about 60 communities over a six-month timeframe. Using our Post Tour Digital Comment Cards (DCC), we were able to prove that follow-up is critical to the success of your senior living sales process. Below are some key findings that we discovered from our research.

  • Response Rates. Once a prospect completed a tour of the community, the sales counselor sent a follow-up email with a link to the Post Tour DCC – an online comment card that captures the prospect’s experience. We limited the survey to 5-10 questions, as we did not want the respondent to get survey fatigue. Our response rate was 50%!
  • Move-In Rates. We were blown away by the response rates, but what was even more amazing was the number of move-ins. Out of the 50% that completed the Post Tour DCC, 23% of them actually moved into the respective communities.
  • The Driver. We know that these prospects did not move in just because of the Digital Comment Card. So we took a deep look into the CRM to see if a pattern existed. We found that the sales counselors followed up with the DCC respondents 5-10x more than they did with those who did not respond to the DCC.

The research proved what most sales trainers have been preaching for decades: following up is critical. Let’s take that a step further. It’s not enough to just follow up; you must provide creative and personal follow-up. When you take the time to really get to know your prospects, the creative follow-up becomes much easier (and you might actually have fun).

When it comes to effective senior living sales strategies, it begins with how your reps follow up.

The first question you have to ask is if your sales teams are even following up. The second question you have to ask is how creative is their follow-up. The bottom line is that if you are following up more than three times, you are doing more than 95% of your colleagues. You should be proud. But if you really want to move the needle, focus on how you follow up. Not only will you achieve superstar status, but more importantly, it will show that you care.

About the author: Mike Miller is the CEO of Primo Solutions, a full service mystery shopping, training, and consulting company that provides quality follow-up and follow-through measurement tools. Learn more at www.PrimoSolutions.com »

 

pricing strategy

3 Pricing Strategies to Grow Rate, Grow Occupancy – or Both!

There are many traditional pricing models offered by senior living operators in an effort to grow rate and increase occupancy.  There are no right or wrong answers as long as the strategy is in alignment with your goals.  Generally, pricing strategy is directly related to the stability of occupancy.  With a higher occupancy, operators can push rate. When occupancy declines, incentives may be offered to boost occupancy and that erodes RPU.  The balance is in knowing when to turn the rate and incentive levers and to be flexible and proactive enough to make regular adjustments.  Pricing is not something that operators can do once a year during budget season and then forget about.

Pricing That Offers a Greater Price Range for Prospects without Eroding Rate

Value/ Premium Pricing

This strategy allows a pricing spread throughout the community that offers greater pricing elasticity to meet a wider range of financial options for prospects without eroding rate/ RPU.  Apartments with a premium location (near an elevator, on the first floor, near dining room etc.), premium view or with premium amenities (upgrades, closet space square footage) are priced at higher rates.  Apartments with undesirable locations (end of long hallways, upper floors), undesirable views (parking lot, dumpster, mechanical units) or with a lack of amenities (dark, small, limited closet space) are priced at lower rates.  This strategy allows 3 price points for each apartment type – standard, premium, and value so the overall community still achieves the average rate while offering a greater range of pricing options.

Variable Pricing

Much like paying points on a mortgage, the greater the upfront move-in fee, the lower the monthly base rent.  For example, for every $2000 more paid up front, the resident base rent is reduced by $200.  This gives the community good cash flow up front, and the advantage for the resident is that the investment is paid back within 10 months. Then all future increases are based on the lower rate.

This strategy provides solutions for prospects who:

  • Have good liquidity from the sale of their home or from strong investments, but they do not have much income (they can put up a large move-in fee and buy down their monthly price that is within their income range).
  • Have a strong income, but do not have upfront cash (waiting to sell their home, money tied up in annuities, CDs or other investment).

Companion Living

In addition to “purpose built” companion apartments, this strategy creates companion living apartments out of studio, alcove, and traditionally private one  &  two bedroom apartments.  The companion price is set between 55 – 65% of the private rate for each resident.  It creates a very low price point, which is attractive to residents who would traditionally be financially disqualified.  It provides the community with 110 – 130% of the private rent revenue and two LOCs.

To be successful, the community needs to set up companion model apartments to show how a small space can work for two unrelated residents.  It may also require some form of divider for privacy.

There are probably many other great ideas out there! Are there other creative pricing strategies you have used successfully to balance the growth of both rate and occupancy? Let’s Chat

 

sales

How to Increase Sales In Senior Living: The Occupancy Conundrum

Senior living operators often use the words “sales” and “occupancy” interchangeably.  While closing sales is a key component of growing occupancy, sustainable results require a more collaborative strategy. Occupancy involves sales AND marketing alignment, effective service delivery, and strong retention efforts.

Let’s break down each component and learn how to increase sales in senior living. 

Align marketing with senior living sales.

The senior living sales and marketing teams need to collaborate. Together, they will create and execute a marketing plan that will result in more move-ins. A good plan will include things like website optimization, paid advertising, direct mail, social media, and marketing events. The plan should also include specific sales activities, such as nurturing leads, generating tours, doing site visits, networking, and conducting scheduled sales calls.

But even if your sales and marketing teams work swimmingly together and bring in quality leads that convert to move-ins, that might not be enough. Bad services, such as med errors, yucky food, and boring activities, will turn those move-ins into move-outs. Obviously, move-outs erode occupancy and revenue.

Bottom line: Before bugging the senior living sales director for more move-ins, evaluate move-outs. Are they unusually high? If yes, assess your services and retention efforts across all areas of operations. (Keep reading for details.)

Improve your service delivery.

Are you delivering the services promised in your collaterals?  Many “silent” move-outs happen due to issues no one wants to talk about. Sure, some folks will move to a competitor. But what about people who move out for the following reasons:

  • Respites that don’t convert – they “tried out” the community but didn’t have a good enough experience to become a permanent resident
  • Moved home with family (thought the family would do a better job)
  • Financial move-out – they may be able to afford it but no longer see the value
  • Residents who move out into their own condo or apartment and bring in-home care

Even worse: Many dissatisfied residents simply stay, but they tell everyone that the community is not what they expected. They share their disillusionment with their physicians, family, and friends. No, they may not erode occupancy, but they won’t help increase occupancy with referrals. Remember, resident and family referrals have one of the highest conversion rates of any source (30 – 35%).

Boost retention efforts.

If senior living operators spent as much time managing the back door as they do driving move-ins through the front door, occupancy and revenue would be far greater. Some ideas to proactively retain residents longer include:

  • Invest in updated technology and software that monitors resident patterns and health trends with predictive functions to detect changes before an incident or decline occurs.
  • Hold weekly resident tracking meetings to pro-actively manage resident care collaboratively.  These meetings should include representatives from every department and always include input from caregiving staff.
  • Establish protocols for visiting residents when they are out of the community in an acute setting and managing their care by participating in care planning/ discharge planning meetings.
  • Set retention goals for your nurses to mirror the move-in goals for your sales team.

If you only focus on the sales portion of the occupancy equation, you will miss 2/3 of your opportunity to grow your market share & profitability.

Need help with any of the above? Before we created our agency, we spent decades working in the industry (sales, marketing, and operations). We know how to increase sales in senior living. Let us help!