Historically, the fourth quarter has been the most challenging time of year for growing senior living occupancy. Not only are move-ins down, but overall leads are often down as well.
Understandably, many families want to cherish one more holiday season with Mom or Dad (or other older loved ones) in the comfort of their own homes before considering a move. Unless the senior is in some sort of crisis mode—for example, maybe the person fell, and the doctor has indicated it’s unsafe for them to return home—you’ll have difficulty convincing folks to move this time of year.
All that said, there are strategic approaches that your marketing and sales teams can implement now to squeeze out some sales and make sure everyone is ready to hit the ground running on January 1.
5 tips to increase your Q4 occupancy
Tap into “solo agers”
A growing demographic in the senior living landscape is the “solo ager.” Solo agers are single older adults who may not be in crisis mode (yet) but find themselves alone because they don’t have children and are not married (either by choice or because they’re divorced or widowed). According to AARP, 12 percent of the population age 50 and older are solo agers.
Even though solo agers don’t have a medical need for senior living, many have a social need and could benefit from the right independent living community. And the holidays are an excellent time to show them what’s possible if they move into a community like yours.
- What to do: Mine your existing leads database for people who fit this demographic. Or, if you haven’t been gathering this sort of intel on prospects, begin doing so ASAP. (For example, use progressive profiling on website opt-in forms.) Invite solo agers to attend holiday events within your community. Pair them up with current residents so they can get to know people and make connections. (Remember, your happiest residents are your best form of advertising.)
Continue leveraging your existing leads database
Your senior living CRM is often an untapped gold mine. Now is an excellent time to re-engage with once-hot leads that have since cooled down (for whatever reason). Focus on those who completed tours but haven’t yet committed to a community. These individuals could benefit from a gentle nudge. And, at the very least, you’ll remain prominent on their internal radars.
- What to do: Need help? Implement our turn-key “Stay in Touch” program, which we designed specifically for re-engaging cold leads.
Invite pre-tour leads to holiday events
The holiday season provides an excellent backdrop for showcasing the warmth and camaraderie within your community. Organize fun events and extend invitations to pre-tour marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Focus on the MQLs in the middle of the sales funnel (and the ones your sales team expected to book tours but haven’t yet—likely because of the holiday chaos).
Most senior living communities shine during this time of year with gorgeous decorations and a festive atmosphere, making it a great time to extend invitations to these MQLs and their families. While most won’t commit to moving right now, this positive engagement can progress them along the marketing and sales funnel, positioning them as prime prospects for Q1.
- What to do: Make sure you have plenty of sales reps available during these events to conduct casual, last-minute tours for anyone interested. Send your guests home with something special, like homemade holiday cookies that your pastry chef made and a calendar of upcoming events (including ones that extend into January). Then, follow up with these prospects during the first week of January.
Continue networking with professional referral sources (especially those in urgent care settings)
Forge partnerships with professional referral sources dealing with urgent cases. Hospitals, rehab facilities, and home care agencies often encounter individuals with immediate senior living needs, especially during the holidays and winter months. By establishing solid relationships with these sources, you can position your community as a reliable solution for those facing pressing decisions.
- What to do: Your urgent-care referral sources often work thankless jobs. Make it your job to thank them. Drop off cookies and cocoa to show your gratitude for the long hours they put in protecting vulnerable older adults. These professionals will appreciate your kindness—and they will remember your name (and your community’s) when they need to make a referral.
Use an incentive like a “rate lock” promotion
Remember, it’s not always about the physical move-in when it comes to senior living occupancy. It’s about a financial move-in, meaning you have a signed lease agreement and you’ve collected some revenue on the unit. The person doesn’t need to be physically in the community to count as occupancy.
Also, keep in mind that many communities are making up for lost revenue from COVID. Yearly rental increases that used to be 2% to 4% are now 5% to 8%.
Capitalize on this by using a rate-lock incentive with prospects who want to move into your community—but who want to push it off until after the holidays.
This initiative allows prospective residents to secure current rates by signing a lease agreement now, even if their physical move-in occurs in Q1. Individuals can shield themselves from potential rate hikes, making acting faster—even during the holiday chaos—much more financially appealing.
- What to do: Make it feel less like a promotion and more like an exclusive offer you’re extending to them: “Mary, I know you love our community, but you also want one more holiday season in your home. Here’s the thing: I just found out our rents are going up in January by X%. However, if you sign the lease agreement now, I can get you in at this year’s rate—even if you don’t move in until next year. You could save upwards of [THIS MUCH]. Would you like to review the lease agreement?”
Bottom line: When it comes to growing senior living occupancy, don’t let up on the gas just because it’s Q4.
While Q4 often presents challenges for growing senior living occupancy, there are strategies you can take now to possibly encourage move-ins—or, at the very least, to make sure the pipeline is primed for Q1.
Need help implementing any of the above? Get in touch. We’re a senior living marketing agency that knows how to turbocharge a community’s lead gen engine.