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!
This is right on Debbie! As we discussed, there is a direct link between service and occupancy – and as you indicate, even if the resident stays the dissatisfied family member is sharing his/her story, and you are missing out on rave reviews and referrals. A focus on consistency of service helps to turn prospects into customers; and customers into delighted customers.
Delight them often enough – and they become advocates for your organization.
Thanks for sharing Donna!
Debbie, great points in your discussion. In consulting with a number of clients regarding the telecom/technology space for senior living communities, we find that a number are not up to date on the technology and infrastructure for future growth. Future proofing the infrastructure and having the type of services that delight the residences is a key step to enhancing the retention for long term occupancy. The simple scalable solutions can be easily implemented with minimal investment if structured correctly and provide an immediate increase in asset value of the facilities. It becomes a win/win for everyone. For those that want to find out more, reach out. I will be more than happy to have a brief discussion.
Thanks for your insight and offer to help anybody that might want to learn more!