Referral sources are a vital part of generating leads for your Senior Living community.
When hospitals, support groups, and other organizations point seniors to your community, it’s easier for your sales team to focus on closing sales and driving move-ins. However, the internet has overshadowed the traditional referral structure.
In 2013, Caring.com stated that the internet drives between 30 and 50% of Senior Living leads, and—not surprisingly—the online referral giant stated that this percentage was only expected to increase.
Fast forward a few years later, and you may feel torn between in-person referral development and the digital shifts the senior care industry is experiencing.
But here’s the reality.
There’s still an acute need to build referral pipelines in the local community, and many Senior Living communities fail to give this activity the attention it deserves. The result is forfeited leads and lost revenue.
To help your mid-sized operation leverage important community relationships, here are three tips for developing and maintaining referral sources.
1. Identify Top Referral Sources in Your Local Area
The first step to building successful referral sources is to narrow the focus of your efforts. Referral development isn’t merely identifying the nearest hospital if you’re a skilled nursing community or teaming up with the local Alzheimer’s association if you offer memory care.
Effective lead generation calls for strategy.
You’ll need to carefully evaluate each referral source to see how it aligns with the goals of your community so you avoid wasted time and effort. To identify your most profitable referral sources—and eliminate your least profitable ties—here are some questions to consider:
- Who is your point of contact at the organization? For instance, if you’re attempting to drive referrals from a physician who favors home health, this is likely a dead end.
- Does your referral source have ties to other Senior Living communities? The last thing you want is to invest hours a week in a source with a clear commitment to another operation.
- What type of leads would this referral source generate? Take some time to consider if the prospects your source interacts with fit the income bracket required to live at your community in addition to other factors.
Questions like these will help you identify where your sales team should focus their efforts in your local area.
2. Identify Other Communities for Collaboration
Another way to cultivate referral sources is to collaborate with other Senior Living communities in your area. Ideally, these operations should offer services that are complementary to the care level your community provides so there’s a symbiotic relationship.
For instance, if you are a skilled nursing community, seek to partner with an assisted living community.
At some point, your assisted living neighbor will have residents who need higher levels of care. With the right incentives, you can encourage this community to send their move-outs your way, which instantly provides you with leads.
3. Support Your Sales Team
A final tip for developing strong referral sources is this: be sure you empower your sales team to invest in referral development.
Perhaps your mid-sized operation struggles with poor occupancy due to nonexistent referrals. But your real problem may be your sales team has no time for visits to local organizations.
The pressure to take inquiries, conduct tours, and manage events may leave little room for referral development. But the key to overcoming this obstacle is developing a strong backup team to support the sales person who’s focused on referrals. Here are some tips to do just that:
- Train your front desk to handle inquiry calls, and show them how to properly capture contact information. This ensures no leads are lost while your sales team member is out building ties with referral sources.
- Train multiple team members to give on-site community tours. Ideally, all sales counselors and front desk staff should know how to manage walk-in leads to drive conversions while your sales team member is away.
Establishing relationships with important referral sources is just one part of driving revenue for your community.
However, to improve occupancy, your sales team must successfully move referral leads through your sales cycle.
Bild & Company provides sales training for regional directors of operations, regional directors of sales and marketing, community-level executive directors, sales directors, and sales counselors so your entire community works together to close leads—no matter where your leads come from.