Occupancy Challenge For Retirement Home Managers

Aug 16, 2011   //   by admin   //   Industry News, News & Events  //  No Comments

Occupancy is a major challenge for the retirement home industry. Whether you are dealing with a new property facing aggressive ramp-up targets set by investors, or an established community with a 25% plus attrition rate, the underlying issue remains the same – attracting and retaining residents.

Given this challenge, it is critical for retirement home communities to employ structured lead management practices. Effective lead management strategies should methodically nurture leads from beginning to end, so that prospects quickly convert to residents. Modern software technologies offer powerful, yet simple-to-use tools that empower the retirement home sales process. However, prior to selecting a software solution, defining the right process for your community is vital.

As expected, different communities follow distinct procedures in order to achieve their marketing objectives.  For example, lead management in a community that differentiates itself based on ‘high standards of resident care’ will vary greatly from a community that caters to ‘active lifestyles’. Therefore, before discussing technology, we recommend that you consider the following five steps in order to define your community’s unique sales process.

1.    Determine Problems/Opportunities

  • Identify current problems (e.g. low tour to deposit conversion rates, high resident attrition rates)
  • Uncover new opportunities (e.g. special events encouraging residents to invite friends)
  • Initiate team involvement
  • Assess the business benefits of addressing the issues
  • Quantify the business impact (e.g. improved occupancy rates, higher revenue)

Documenting problems and opportunities is the first step towards developing your optimal solution. By discussing issues and identifying areas needing improvement, participants can benefit from brainstorming sessions. To guide you through these steps, download our Free Problem Opportunity Worksheet and tutorial.

2.    Set Your Goals

  • Establish goals – financial and non-financial (e.g. set follow-up times to match lead sources, such as one-hour response time for inbound telephone inquiries and next business day for leads originating from online directories).
  • Set your goals and reach for the stars; this process is about achieving extraordinary results.

3.    Assign an Evangelist

  • Appoint the best individual to make things happen
  • Empower this individual to implement change

4.    Map Out Your Existing Sales and Marketing Processes

  • Document your community’s existing tools and processes
  • Track the typical time spans and conversion rates associated with specific stages and tasks

5.    Develop Your Ideal Process

  • Identify your lead sources – community events, mailing campaigns, local advertisements, hospitals, doctors and other influencers
  • Categorize your initial inquiries – phone, email, walk-in, web, etc.
  • Determine how sales associates build rapport with new prospects
    —  Marketing experts advise that telephone communication ranks as one of the most effective selling techniques for building rapport early on in the sales cycle
  • Focus on capturing prospect information – stipulate the data you want to capture and the appropriate format
    —  Since the initial prospect contact is typically a telephone call, prepare a questionnaire to assist you in qualifying a caller’s level of interest
  • Analyze the tour process – Document the steps required to prepare for a community tour
    —  Verify that all department heads are involved in the tour
    —  Consider whether the tour includes resident ambassadors
    —  Categorize the tour as standard “museum”, interest-based, or custom
    —  Document the methods used to capture prospect reactions to the tour
    —  Describe the means for affixing notes and comments to prospect records
    —  Investigate the handling of prospects not yet ready to tour. Contact these prospects regularly via a nurture marketing process that includes newsletter marketing, community events and periodic telephone calls. Typically, follow-up at the community level is poor.

To help readers define their ideal process download our Business Process Questionnaire

Once your community’s sales process is defined, the next consideration is technology. See our upcoming posts for a discussion on how to evaluate technology solutions for you retirement community.


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