Posts

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

Last week, we discussed why all senior living websites should have a blog. Now, let’s talk about the anatomy of a great senior living blog post.

1. Have a plan and a point of view for your senior living blog.

This is also known as “write regularly about compelling topics that your prospects care about.” Keep things organized and moving forward by creating an editorial calendar. It doesn’t need to be fancy, either. Add a working title (one that’s compelling and that includes a keyword phrase you’re targeting), any relevant notes, the due date, and the assigned writer.

Need ideas for topics? Turn to…

  • FAQs. Think about the common questions people ask your sales team and/or the questions you get on Live Chat.
  • Your competitors. Are they covering any topics you’ve overlooked? We’re not suggesting plagiarizing—the content you write should always be original—but you can certainly go to other sites for inspiration.
  • Senior-focused publications. Both online and in print. Again, think inspiration.
  • Your staff. And not just marketing and sales, either. Ask everyone—operations, dining, activities, and so forth—about topics they think would be important to cover. (Bonus: you might be able to use these folks as subject matter experts and/or as guest contributors.)
  • Analytics. Google Analytics and Good AdWords reveal keyword phrases that are bringing people to your site. Could any of those keyword phrases become additional blog content?
  • Keyword tools, such as SEMrush and BuzzSumo, can provide excellent insights—and ideas.

2. Focus on a keyword phrase (but don’t be spammy about it).

Again, always write for humans first, search engines second. You’ll find lots of advice online about where to place keyword phrases and how many times to use each phrase, but the truth is that no one knows what goes into Google’s algorithm.
Yes, it makes sense to use the keyword phrase in the title tag since that cues Google—and readers—what the blog post is about. And it makes sense to use it in your compelling headline. From there, just use the phrase—and various synonyms—naturally in your blog post.

Note: Google does tend to like an organized format, so if you can use the keyword phrase (naturally) in sub-headlines and bulleted/numbered lists, go for it.

3. Mind your grammar, spelling, and punctuation!

This matters to readers AND Google. (Google is wicked smart.) Nothing can torpedo a great topic like lousy mechanics. If the person writing the blog post isn’t a writer by trade, that’s OK—just make sure you have someone with writing/editing chops who can review the work before it goes live.

4. Watch your tone.

Your blog is a great place to be friendly and conversational. And yes, you can still be those two things while also being professional. Avoid “stiff” writing. It’s OK to use contractions, end sentences with prepositions, start sentences with “and” or “but,” and write fragments, all of which will help support a friendly, approachable, conversational style.

5. Write about those things that no one else wants to talk about.

OK, this tip isn’t for every senior living community, but if you truly want your community to stand out, then this could be a good differentiator.

Talk about hard things, but in a friendly, approachable way. Example: Tips to Prevent UTIs for Healthier Bladders.

Or how about this: Sex After 70 – It’s Good For You! You get the idea. These aren’t the sorts of topics you’ll see on many other senior living community blogs, but they ARE the types of topics that—if done right—can help your community stand out in a good way.

6. Consider hiring a professional writer.

So, here’s the thing: lots of people can write, even though they don’t wear the label “professional writer.” As long as the mechanics are sound (see point #3 above), it’s good to have a variety of voices and styles on your blog. So you might not need a professional writer, provided you have a solid marketing person who can lead the efforts and proofread/revise posts as needed.

That said, if you don’t have a person like this available on staff (and not all communities do), then yes—it does make sense to hire a professional writer. But hiring a pro doesn’t mean you should get lazy about having original content. You should make sure the writer has access to “people on the ground” (in other words, the subject matter experts in your community). Otherwise, you can expect generic content that readers can find anywhere (like “5 chair exercises for seniors”).

7. Tell people what they should do when they get to the end.

When people get to the end of the blog post, tell them what to do. This is called the call to action or CTA. It might be links to related content, an invitation to subscribe to the blog, or a download. Bottom line: Engage them further. They got to the end of your blog post, after all, so you have their attention.

You can also experiment with providing CTAs throughout the content. Just make sure these CTAs don’t distract people. You can determine this through your website and blog analytics by seeing how long people stay on the page or even if they get to the bottom of the page.

8. Measure results.

Speaking of blog analytics, you want to get a sense of topics that tend to be popular so you can develop more content like it. But you also want to pay attention to lower-performing blog posts so that you can give them some extra TLC and help them perform better.

It takes less time and money to fix/tweak existing content than it does to create new stuff, so you might as well spend the time getting ALL content to hum. Experiment with page titles, try tweaking/revising sections, re-format, add different CTAs, and so forth. If you substantially change a blog post, add a note somewhere that says “Updated on THIS DATE” and consider republishing it to gain some traction.

9. Lather, rinse, repeat (aka: do more of what works).

Blogging is a long-game. Do more of what works, tweak and improve what’s lagging, and keep an open mind when it comes to trying something new and different.

Need help with blogging?

We have writers, editors, and strategists available for short-term or longer-term contracts. Choose what works for your situation. Let’s chat about it.

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

What senior living marketing trends should you be paying attention to?

So glad you asked.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #1: Always Think Mobile First.

An average of 68% of our clients’ website views and conversions happen on mobile phones. Websites built with a “mobile first” design will outperform websites built for only desktop experiences.

Remember, the real estate for messaging and lead conversion shrinks dramatically on smartphones. This means you must put the most important info at the TOP of the site.

Let’s break it down:

  • Copy. Messaging must be clear, concise, and explain the problem you solve and who you serve.
  • Navigation. Think simple organization. Focus on the most important information prospects are looking for, like locations and care levels. Design elements should include drop-down menus to easily access specific information. Or you should implement a properly-tested hamburger menu or jumbo menu.
  • CTAs (Calls to Action). Encourage visitors to take an action, but give them different options. Use colorful buttons designed for clumsy thumbs on the go. Be sure the phone numbers on the website are dynamic, too. For example, use “click to call” with tracking to measure website conversions.

FREE Website Assessment

Get out your cell phone and pull up your website to test the mobile experience.

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #2: Hyper-Target Prospects.

A recent user experience study published by Acquia reports that 80% of customers want greater personalization. In fact, respondents claim they would be more loyal to a brand that demonstrates an understanding of who they are.

The only way to get the right content to the right prospect at the right time, however, is to have the ability to track their behavior. Here is what you should need to track:

  • Everything prospects are doing on your website: You need to know how often they visit and what pages/blogs they’re visiting so you can personalize your follow-up based on each prospect’s specific interests. Marketing automation is an effective way to accomplish this.
  • Engagement: Consider the following…
    • Email opens and clicks
    • Paid advertising clicks and conversions from Google AdWords and Facebook
    • CTA interactions to track if they have downloaded a brochure or guide, requested a call back or scheduled a tour, and/or engaged with live chat or a survey.

Score leads based on the actions prospects take on your website. This will help you identify prospects with the greatest opportunity to advance and close.

  • ROI. Senior living providers should have a way to track the return on investment of every lead generation source. Your marketing team or agency should have the technology to quantify the cost per conversion and cost per move-in by channel. Extra points if you can also calculate the resident lifetime value based on actual revenue and length of stay data.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #3: Move to Open Source Technology.

“Consistently delivering convenient, personalized experiences across all channels requires technology that can readily access all the data personalization demands and flexibly support CX online, in-store, and everywhere else,” reports Acquia.

The senior living technology space has been dominated by closed-source platforms that do not allow integration into all of the data sources operators need to optimize their marketing results.

Our clients are moving away from these antiquated solutions in favor of newer open source technology providers that allow operators muhc more freedom and choice.

Here are the signs that it’s time to change your website hosting or CRM company:

  • The website is built on a proprietary platform. What this can mean…
    • You cannot make changes, updates, or edits to your own website.
    • They do not have or will not share an API key to allow integration with marketing automation, live chat, interactive surveys etc.
    • They decide what to measure. The problem? It’s usually not what really matters.
  • The senior living CRM is not integrated with a marketing automation platform OR it forces you to use their solution rather than the best-in-class that you would prefer. It does not connect to your website forms and/or third-party lead providers. This means any data entry on your end will have to happen manually. You cannot get the reports you need, such as lead generation by channel.

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

Schedule a call with the Senior Living SMART team today. These senior living marketing trends will likely define the next decade. Don’t get left behind! Simple, strategic changes can make all the difference.

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

I recently listened to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast featuring Mark Shaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. The podcast addresses the “new reality” of marketing strategy. The insights are timely and relevant for the senior living industry.

The new reality is that the customer is in control of their own journey—and no two customers are alike. The buying journey in senior living is complex and emotional, often involving multiple decision makers and influencers. This journey is rarely linear, so today’s senior living marketers have to create an environment for prospects to be able to engage with the brand at every stage of their journey. We need to meet them wherever they are. Then, we must provide the information they need and nurture them along the path. Finally, we must keep them engaged until they make the decision to move forward.

When it comes to senior living marketing today, there have been three distinctive shifts.

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

Information is power, and we senior living marketers used to have it. Prospects had to call or visit the community to get any information. For example, pricing, floor plans, and marketing collateral were provided personally or snail-mailed out. And prospects waited for the information to come in their mailboxes!

Today, prospects expect to get information about everything on your senior living website. And if you don’t give it to them, they will quickly move to a competitor or third-party lead aggregator site. We are now marketing to a “shop-around” society, and they expect to be able to independently research and compare their options.

2. Shift in Transparency

There is no room for secrets in today’s senior living marketing strategy. Trust in business, brands, and advertising has declined for the last 10 years, and today’s prospects want to self-qualify or self-disqualify without a sales pitch.

What can a senior living marketer do? One of the most important things is putting your pricing on your website (the starting rates at the very least). If you don’t provide your pricing, the lead aggregators will, and you will be buying back your own leads!

3. Shift in Control

Our prospects are becoming the marketers, because we no longer control the conversation. They listen to each other, they learn from each other, and they trust each other (more than they trust us). We no longer control our message—social channels and review sites do. Our job has shifted from leading the conversation to finding ways of being invited into the conversations that prospects are already having.

We can, however, initiate conversations and offer expertise and resources, such as blogs, guides, and infographics. And we can make sure that our messaging intersects with where prospects are researching.

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

Successful senior living marketing today starts with the right strategy. Operators that jump at every bright shiny new marketing tactic will end up wasting a lot of money without results. There is no point in spending budget on a paid digital advertising campaign if the website is not designed to convert the leads generated. More traffic does not equal more prospects, and more leads won’t always translate into the right leads.

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.

11 Strategies for Promoting Content & Measuring Results

11 Strategies for Promoting Content & Measuring Results

So, you’ve got your content teed up, whether it’s a guest post, a hot take, or a summary of a survey you conducted. You’re done, right? Not so fast!

Producing quality content is the first step. But now it’s time to share your content and to understand which pieces help bring leads—and ultimately customers—to your senior living community.

Here are 11 strategies that will help you promote and measure your content like a pro.

1. Write irresistible headlines.
Your content could be the best in the world, but it’s worthless unless you’re grabbing people’s attention and getting them to read it. Headlines are crucial for this very reason, and there are several rules for creating good ones:

  • Make them explicit and concise.
  • Don’t give away the whole article, but don’t hide what it’s about, either.
  • Trigger curiosity. Appeal to emotions.
  • Use numbers or percentages when possible.

2. Put your content in front of targeted eyeballs.
Share your content in an email to targeted prospects(hint:segment your database according to buyer personas, and only share content that will interest that particular persona). Share your content on social media as well. Putting your content directly in someone’s inbox is a simple way to reach them, while posting content on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn makes it easy for people to share.

3. Add tools to your promotions arsenal.
Use tools like Buffer to share content efficiently. Buffer allows you to queue up content you want to share on social media and then spaces out when that content is released throughout the day.

Want to learn more?

Get our FREE eBook

A blog is a long-term marketing asset that will bring traffic and new leads to your senior living website. In this eBook, we will walk you step-by-step through the blogging fundamentals and show you how to start reaping the benefits of this valuable marketing and awareness channel.

 

4. Embrace being a big fish in a small pond.
Don’t view the fractionalized senior living market as a threat. View it as a marketing opportunity to specialize in a niche.

5. Don’t date yourself.
When publishing articles that aren’t news-oriented,don’t include the date. With information that’s useful no matter when it’s posted, including the date may discourage someone from reading it as time passes.

6. Connect with everyone on social media.
Create a separate account if necessary on Facebook or Instagram for consumer-facing marketing and make sure to do the same on LinkedIn for referral contacts. It’s a content sharing platform—treat it as such. Content marketers benefit from connecting with each other.

7. Be a fount of information.
Content marketing is a test of generosity. It costs nothing to give away your best advice and knowledge, and that’s how you’ll win the relationships that give you the links, the authority, the rank—all leading to getting qualified visitors on your website.

8. Use data to your advantage.
How much authority does your page have? Find out with tools like Google Analytics. Make use of available data and adjust your content accordingly.

9. Focus on what matters.
There’s a very long road between getting a “like” and making money. A very low number of social media interactions convert into leads. Your website is much more likely to get a visit from a Google search, so put the bulk of your energy into where you get the best results.

10. Share content that people want to see.
Look at what’s getting shared and clicked the most. Use Google Analytics to find the articles that will get people to subscribe to your newsletter. Put these items on your sharing list.

11. Know when to share.
Track your web traffic and email click-through performance to find out when people click on your content. So if you find your Facebook audience engages around noon on Fridays, but LinkedIn folks seem to get into your stuff on Wednesdays between one and four, schedule your posts accordingly. For further insights, check out this industry research regarding the best times to post on social media.

What tips do you have for promoting content and measuring results? Share in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy Crestodina

Andy Crestodina is the author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. Andy will be sharing his wisdom in two presentations at the 2018 Senior Care Marketing Sales(SMASH)Summit taking place Oct 1 – 3 in Chicago: Content Marketing Micro-moments: Turning Traffic into Leads and Leads into Conversions and Content Marketing 2.0. Drive your Content Engine in 2019.

Sign up for our free webinarContent, Conversions and Lead Generation” on Thursday September 6th at 1:30PM EST.

7 Methods to Change Sales & Marketing Strategies to Engage Today’s Prospects

Senior Living Marketing Tactics That Will Engage Today’s Prospects

In my constant quest to keep up with all things senior living marketing, I recently read an article published by Senior Housing News called “The Secrets To Growing Senior Living Sales & Occupancy.

In a nutshell, here are the so-called secrets:

  • Do deep discovery.
  • Ask the right questions to get the right information.
  • Understand the difference between senior living marketing and sales.
  • View marketing as an investment, not a cost center.
  • Get the executive director involved in the sales process and train employees to understand the sales process.

Really? These are “secrets”? This same article could have been written 10 years ago!

Here’s the REAL secret: the way prospects engage with senior living communities has dramatically changed.

As such, our senior living marketing and sales tactics need to evolve, too.

We can’t keep recycling old “insights,” like the ones outlined above from that article, because our prospects expect more today than they did 10 years ago – or even three years ago.

So, what can your teams do to better engage with today’s prospects?

Keep reading…

1. Remember that your senior living website is your #1 sales tool.

According to the Senior Living Research Study, online research is the preferred method for gathering information about senior living options. It even ranked 35% higher than the second ranking method: recommendations/ word of mouth.

Other industry studies report that 87% of your prospects will visit your website before initiating any contact, like calling or walking into the community. And 37% of prospects will eliminate communities based solely on the quality of the website.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s time to change the website experience from focusing on community features and benefits (in other words, the “let me tell you about me” model). Instead, re-position your site so that it becomes a valuable resource that seniors, caregivers, and professionals will visit often as they research options. Need ideas for improving your site? Choose our affordable senior living website audit, which will deliver clear action items.

2. Live chat can turn websites into lead generators.

Organic leads are great, but unless you quickly engage them, they will bounce over to a competitor’s site or a paid referral site. (The latter means providers will be buying back move-ins who had initially visited their website!)

Live chat, on the other hand, can quickly engage website visitor by demonstrating empathy and helping visitors access the info they’re looking for. An effective live chat host can generate qualified leads that can be transferred directly from the chat host to a community representative or turned into a scheduled tour. Chat can also provide evening and weekend coverage at a very low cost.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are many chat options available, but we typically recommend SiteStaff, because the chat hosts are US-based with specialized training in healthcare settings, like senior living.

3. Videos can help convert prospects into sales.

Here’s a stat for you: 80% of website visitors will stop and watch a video. Talk about engagement! There are many ways to use video, too, from background b-roll to video testimonials from happy residents to virtual tours.

And here’s the even better news: not all video has to be professionally shot. Smartphone videos can work well, especially on social media channels, like Facebook.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pick up your phones and start shooting! Yes, you need to keep privacy laws in mind, but start shooting video. Short and sweet (think 30 seconds to a minute) can work well. Online editing software can allow you to add in calls-to-action, but you don’t even need to go to that far when sharing on social: just post with a brief intro.

And don’t underestimate using video for more formal things, like tours or room planners. One product we particularly like: DesignFloorPlan.com.

4. Transparent pricing matters.

“By far the most important senior living concern is cost” states the Senior Living Research Study.

However, most communities make it impossible to find pricing info on the website, leaving prospects to bounce over to a paid referral site who will not only provide your pricing information, but also your competitors’ info.

We understand that you want to sell your value first before providing prices, because you’re concerned prospects will experience sticker shock, particularly if they don’t have the full context. But the lack of pricing transparency is not helpful to prospects or professionals looking for information.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider making your pricing available through a short opt-in form with basic contact information. This scratches two itches: visitors get the info they want, and the sales team has the ability to follow up to establish value and offer resources to help fund senior living.

5. A better “template strategy” can reduce senior living marketing and sales costs.

One of the biggest marketing spends in senior living today is print. Think event flyers, invitations, incentives, direct mail, and postcards, just to name a few items. The problem is that the cost of graphic design, printing, and mailing continues to climb. Not to mention that the shelf life for these items is days or a few weeks TOPS.

The good news? A smarter “template strategy” can reduce these costs. Imagine having all the print items you regularly use at your fingertips as templates that are already outfitted with your logo and brand colors. All you have to do is customize them with the relevant details for that particular marketing campaign. Goodbye, design costs! Goodbye unnecessary printing!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out our SMARTbrand and SMARTbrand+ options. We have a free version and an affordable subscription service that allows you to easily create the materials you need. Or if you like the idea of creating a full-blown template strategy, check out our SMARTstores.

6. Senior living events still work!

“The majority of people who know someone in senior housing have been influenced by this experience (73.0%), most often in a positive way (57.0%)” finds Imagination in their research study. Bottom line: senior living events still work!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make sure you include the following in your senior living marketing plan:

  • Friend & family referral programs
  • New resident welcome events for friends
  • Address change cards for new residents to send to friends and neighbors
  • Coupons for meals, salon services, weekend stays, and community events

Need help? Check out our senior living event management solutions.

Senior living marketing has changed. Work with an agency that’s evolved, too.

We’re not just any agency. We’re a senior living marketing agency. Our staff has industry experience, which sets us apart from other agencies (even the ones who also “specialize” in senior living marketing). Get in touch today and request your complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session.

senior living marketing

6 Components of a Successful Senior Living Social Media Strategy

Using Social Media to Create a Fully Integrated Growth Strategy

For growth-oriented senior living communities and health-related organizations today, a sound social media strategy should be an integral part of the total marketing program. Your community events and outreach activities should now be viewed in the context of how they fit into your overall social media strategy. They represent an ideal opportunity for positive social interaction with the surrounding community. Social media becomes a vehicle that can take virtually anything positive that is happening and turn it into a valuable marketing opportunity. Social media, which is increasing in usage and popularity every day, becomes a way to supercharge and magnify your marketing efforts.

The overarching goal for senior living organizations today is to become the recognized “go-to” resource for all things related to senior care and senior lifestyles. This involves a strategic shift from an “advertising/event mindset” to becoming a valuable and valued educational resource for your community. Ultimately, your social media strategy is not just about getting your name in the marketplace, it is about getting prospects to visit your community and to choose your community as the best option over competing communities or remaining in the home.

Specific Goals that Support Your Senior Living Community’s Growth

Sage Age works with our client-partners to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes social media as a vehicle to accomplish the following key goals:

  • Building Credibility – Even if never spoken, families have two questions: Will mom or dad be safe here? Will mom or dad be happier here above all other options? When social media is effectively implemented, it will build credibility, trust, and confidence – the keys to the “purchase decision.”
  • Storytelling – Storytelling is the oldest and most effective form of marketing that exists. It grabs the heart, builds credibility and is most powerful when it is a resident or their family member that is telling the story. Social media is the only effective way to tell fresh stories to a large audience.
  • Crowd Sourcing – This is a business term for “viral marketing.” If you tell compelling stories and provide useful information, the crowd will tell your story for you. They will pass the stories on to their families and friends, to people you might never be able to reach directly through traditional marketing approaches.
  • Content Marketing – For most communities, finding time to write, knowing what to write, and actually writing it effectively is often a significant challenge. Yet creating valuable content on a consistent basis is a powerful way for you to stay personally connected with your prospects, your family members, and your referral sources. Sage Age excels at creating relevant, compelling and engaging content that will garner your customer’s interest, attention, and response.
  • E-mail — E-mail is the tool that supports and reinforces the above tasks. It is how you get the word out.
  • Assessment – Finally, it is essential to continually assess the effectiveness of your efforts and to make minor adjustments or radical changes based on the findings.

Does your senior living community have a social media strategy? Let’s Chat!

SLS_LeadGenOpportunities_ButtonLong-01

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

Confusing Sales With Occupancy Won’t Move The Needle

Sales ≠ Occupancy!

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 = Sales +/- Service Delivery +/- Retention.  Let’s break down each component: 

Sales

The sales team is responsible for creating and executing a sales and marketing plan that will result in achieving a resident/ unit move-in goal.  A good plan includes targeting marketing activities that will generate new leads and nurture the existing lead base and referral sources such as events, advertising, direct mail, social media, support groups and community involvement.  The plan should also include sales activities such as lead base nurturing/ creative follow-up, generating tours/ re-tours, doing home visits, scheduled sales calls (hunting & farming), coordinating assessments & next steps, collecting deposits, coordinating move-ins and doing everything possible to close sales!

The reality is that the sales department can move new residents in steadily, but if the services are not delivered (med errors, bad food, rusty van, boring activities, etc.); those residents will turn into move-outs eroding both occupancy and revenue.  So before beating up the sales & marketing director for more move-ins, spend some time evaluating delivery & retention strategies.

Service Delivery

Are you delivering the services promised in your collaterals?  There are silent move-outs due to dissatisfaction that no one wants to talk about.  It is easy to identify those who leave and move into a direct competitor, but others are disguised as;

  • Respites that don’t convert – they “tried out” the community but did not 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.

Many dissatisfied residents simply stay but tell everyone that the community is not what they expected and they will share their disillusionment with their physicians, family and friends.  So, they may not erode occupancy, but they will not help increase occupancy with referrals – resident and family referrals have one of the highest conversion rates of any source (30 – 35%).

Retention

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

  • Invest in updated technology and software that monitors resident patters 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

The bottom line is that 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.  If you would like recommendations to help in any of these areas, please contact Senior Living SMART. Let’s Chat