We need a new shtick. I am tired of listening to recorded calls and mystery shops and hearing; “we have the best people,” “we are resident focused,” “we are big,” “we care,” or “we have the best care,” “we have restaurant style dining,” “we offer anytime dining,” and a laundry list of other descriptors. If everyone is saying the same thing then we have relegated our industry to being a commodity. If we are willing to be a commodity, then we will settle for the lowest common denominators of price, location and apartment availability.
When was the last time you spent time with your team to honestly look at your place in the market, your differentiators, and your value proposition to create your “better and different story.” People are more engaged with stories than information so finding time to brainstorm as a team is a great teambuilding exercise and helps to get everyone communicating and reinforcing the message.
Start with a thorough competitive analysis
This is not your compliance based, call all of your friends or meet for lunch and get updated pricing! This involves a complete tour of each competitor acting as the prospect in order to see their community from the perspective of the prospect. Ask all the questions that prospects ask you to see how the community sales person answers them and pick out how they are positioning their community. How do they explain their pricing, levels of care, amenities, lifestyle, memory care program, etc.? Pick up a full marketing packet to see how your presentation compares (sample menus, activity calendars, floor plans, price lists, etc.). Make notes of your impressions right away while the experience is fresh in your mind.
Do a SWOT with the team
Schedule an hour or two (or break this up to do one component at a time as part of a weekly manager’s meeting) to strategize as a team about your community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can get an outline, training and tools on how to do a SWOT online and here is a quick overview:
Strengths & Weaknesses refer to internal aspects of the community
- Demographics, location – close to cultural, community & healthcare resources, on a main road, easy to find? What are the characteristics of your current residents and families – why did they choose your community?
- Physical plant – first impressions, age & condition of interior & exterior, updates needed, does the model apartment Wow? Size of community, apartment mix, etc
- Amenities – dining, activities, transportation, recreation, social, spiritual, intellectual activities, pool, spa, etc.
- Care – survey results, memory care program, levels of care available, niche programs, acuity management, training, technology
- Team – stability, experience, turnover, leadership, culture, mission, values, etc
- Other – reputation, ownership, customer service, friendliness, family engagement, history of community (who built it & why?)
- Price/value – drill down into competitive analysis
Opportunities & Threats refer to external aspects of the community
- Marketplace Changes – new communities in development, competitors adding on units or products (i.e. memory care), hospital closing, businesses coming or going?
- Competitors – running specials, renovating, creating niche programs, have an ACO relationship with the local hospital that could reduce your referrals? Changes in leadership/ turnover/ stability? Acquisitions?
- People Changes – have key referral sources moved, are there new relationships that have to be nurtured, are there new docs in town, new homecare companies?
- Regulatory/Economic – Did the state create a grant program to encourage homecare? Is the hospital forming an ACO? Are there new state regulations that may affect you?
When the SWOT is completed, your team will be able to identify unique characteristics that will create your “better and different story.” So, when someone asks why they should select or refer to your community you can say, “We are locally owned and we do business with our friends and neighbors. Our owner built this community because he wanted his mother to have a lovely place to live – and she lived here for six years until age 92! Our owner is here every week to speak with our team, the residents, and families and because we don’t own hundreds of communities, we can make sure that this community runs well.
We have invested in the latest technology to ensure that we are proactive in addressing our residents’ changing health needs and communicating and collaborating with families. Our residents develop strong bonds with our staff, so it is important that we have very low turnover and our staff has worked here an average of 5 years. We got a perfect score on our most recent state survey and a 92% satisfaction score from residents and families.” Or something like that!
I would love to hear your better and different story! Let’s Chat