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Senior Living Employee Recruitment: Tips for Attracting Great People

Senior Living Employee Recruitment: Tips for Attracting Great People

Question: Do you know the top five reasons a candidate would want to work for your senior living community?

If you don’t know the answer, start thinking about it. Because understanding why your company is a great place to work will help you attract great staff.

It’s no secret that it’s a competitive hiring market in senior living. Many companies are vying for the same candidates, from care staff to executive directors. So when you find a candidate you like, how do you convince them that they should work for you? You have to market your community to potential job candidates with the same intensity you market to prospects.

Which is why knowing the top five reasons candidates would want to work at your community is a great way to engage prospective employees and stand out from the crowd.

How do you come up with your list? Start by asking your current employees why they work for you and what they like about their job, the community, their co-workers, their managers, and even the residents. You’ll probably get some valuable feedback and great insights into why staff members stay with your community.

When you’re talking to job candidates, share these insights with them and ask which one is most important. Then, talk about that particular topic in more depth. For example, if a collaborative workplace culture is important, show them the ways your community and team foster this sort of environment.

value proposition

How to Determine Your Value Proposition

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


sales tools

Putting the Right Tools in Your Sales Toolbox

It is always tricky creating the right Sales Toolbox – one that creates urgency without eroding revenue.  Used correctly, incentives can be used to shorten the sales cycle and achieve move-in targets but they can also be overused leaving money on the table.  Choosing the tools that are right for the job of occupancy & revenue growth requires good analysis and the flexibility to make changes as occupancy fluctuates.  Here are a few things to consider:

Customize the Toolbox for the Size of the Job

Different tools are needed to boost occupancy by 20% than by 5 % so create different toolboxes for communities at various levels of vacancy.  This can be accomplished by simply using the same incentives but with different values (dollar amounts or percentages) or by sweetening the incentives when the occupancy drops to a certain level.  For example, communities above 90% occupancy may be able to offer a variety of incentives up to a certain dollar amount (reimburse moving costs, apartment upgrades, etc.) or use discount percentage (discount community fee by x%, etc.) but if occupancy drops below 90% the dollar amounts and percentages increase.

Short Term vs. Long Term incentives

Some incentives are short term as the incentive is applied once, usually upfront, and other incentives are applied on an ongoing basis.  This is where the revenue vs. occupancy growth must be considered and balanced.  Waiving or discounting a month’s rent or community fee is a short term incentive that erodes revenue for only the month the incentive is applied; discounting rent or offering rent locks erodes revenue over a longer period of time.   Operators and sales leaders have to work together to determine what the goals are in order to create the right toolbox.

Inspect, Analyze and Adjust

There are certain trends to look at in creating the right toolbox.  The first is the average length of stay by lifestyle (IL, AL, ALZ), which helps to project the impact of long-term incentives.  There is a difference in offering a two-year rate lock when the average length of stay is 18 months then when it is 48 months.   Also, the average rate per unit by type of your current residents is helpful to consider ensuring that new residents are not paying less on average than your residents who have lived in the community for years.  Once the sales toolbox is created and approved, an approval process must be established for transparency and to track the success of each incentive offered.  If families show no interest in one of the offers, change it up!

Best Practices

Here is what I have learned in building sales toolboxes over the years:

  • Have a sales toolbox for the Sales Team and another one for the Executive Directors.  I like to give the sales team the short-term incentives and empower them to use the toolbox to shorten the sales cycle and reserve any incentive that impacts ongoing revenue in the hands of the Executive Director.
  • Get feedback from the community and regional teams while creating the toolbox and be willing to adjust the incentives based on individual market differences.  Everyone likes to be part of the process and collaboration increases buy-in.
  • Make sure there are good systems to track the impact of the incentives.  Knowing the historical move-in numbers, market rates and actual collected rates will help evaluate the impact of the program.  The purpose of a sales toolbox is to increase the move-in volume by empowering community teams to overcome objections and shorten the sales cycle.  In six months the trend should show a correlation of incentive dollars relating to increased move-in volume.
  • Evaluate which incentives are working as it may reveal an underlying issue that can be addressed.  For example, if most families are choosing a 5% rent reduction, you may have a pricing issue or if they are choosing an apartment upgrade (a studio deluxe for the same price as a standard studio), you may have a barrier based on the size of your apartments.

Are there any other tools you would add to your sales toolbox? Let’s Chat