What CEOs Should Know about Developing Senior Living Referrals…But Don’t: Insights from a Sales and Census Strategist

If you’re a senior living CEO, you know that focusing on the big picture is vital to the health and growth of your organization.

At Bild & Co., we’re all about helping the C-suite focus on high-level goals.

While it’s great to operate in the strategic stratosphere, spending 80% of your time on high-level goals has a drawback—missing the small details that lead to success.    

For example…

  • Too many CEOs we speak with don’t realize the devastating effects of poor follow-up.
  • Others dismiss the merit of granular training, even though it has a massive impact on annual financials.
  • Others don’t realize their properties’ CRM execution is lacking or even non-existent

A big item on that list?

Some CEOs are clueless about how their portfolio is cultivating senior living referrals.

In this article, we’re revealing why senior living CEOs should care about referrals.

For this post, we had one of our Census and Sales Strategists, Dawn Nesvig, provide her insights on this topic.

Dawn has a background as a sales director, sales specialist, and regional director of sales, and her expertise includes empowering communities to cultivate senior living referrals.

And she’s seen, firsthand, how implementing a referral and outreach strategy—with other best practices—drastically improves the financial health of a property.  

Let’s dive in…

Why Senior Living Referrals Matter

Doctor with a stethascope

As a CEO, analyzing your senior living referrals may seem a little too granular for your taste.

After all, that’s why you’ve hired outreach specialists and executive directors, right?

Not exactly.

As a senior housing CEO, it’s important that you make your portfolio’s referral metrics your business…not simply the business of your sales team.

That’s because referral development has the potential to improve your bottom line and create massive results.

Take, for example, this Bild & Co. success story Dawn shared.

A new senior housing development, this community opened in March 2018.

Even though the property only opened recently, today it conducts very little paid advertising.  

One key reason for its success?  

For six months before opening its doors, this community engaged in consistent outreach appointments. In fact, 36% of this community’s leads are from professional unpaid referrals.

It’s a big achievement—especially since unpaid referrals produce higher conversion ratios.

How Your Portfolio Cultivates Senior Living Referrals

business woman discussing business with man over coffee

Results like these don’t happen by accident.

It takes work.

As Dawn explained, “It takes strategy.”

Yet senior living CEOs are in the dark when it comes to how their portfolio cultivates senior living referrals.  

Here are a few things that the senior housing C-suite needs to know about a typical on-site team’s outreach efforts…and the impact on occupancy. 

#1. Your on-site teams don’t have a strategy.

From experience, Dawn has seen how on-site team members simply don’t know what to do or what questions to ask.

They’re thrown out into the community—without strategic guidance and support.   

In fact, according to Dawn, you’ll even find “seasoned outreach people that just aren’t effective.”

If your teams are making a quick visit to drop off a box of cookies and collateral…

You can be sure your properties are suffering from poor strategies that waste the ROI potential of outreach efforts.  

#2. Your on-site teams don’t enjoy referral development.

Dawn also notes that many on-site team members don’t enjoy referral development…which leads to poor execution.

It’s hard for any employee to enjoy a job without clearly defined responsibilities, guidelines, and expectations.

And it’s no different when it comes to your teams cultivating senior living referrals.

As Dawn explains, “They need a plan. They need a strategy…and then they’ll do it.”  

#3. Your teams don’t communicate what makes your properties unique.  

There’s another reason why senior living referral development fails so miserably—your teams can’t communicate the unique value your properties offer in a way that connects with referral sources.

On-site teams need to know their properties’ core story.  

Starbucks lattes and slick leave-behinds won’t keep your communities top of mind. Your portfolio needs training in effective referral communication.  

Three Actions to Take to Support Senior Living Referrals

When you realize the challenges of generating senior living referrals, you might be tempted to allocate a bigger budget for internet referrals, such as A Place for Mom.

These tactics have their place.

However, at Bild & Co., we know for a fact that traditional referral development isn’t going out of style any time soon.

And your best bet is to address the problems…and take advantage of the opportunity for growth.

To generate ROI and increase senior living referrals, check out our top 3 tips…

#1. Take a look at your numbers right now.

Dig into your operation’s CRM. Every lead in your database should have a lead source, and Dawn suggests pulling what percentage is from referral development. If you can’t find any data, that’s a huge red flag…for more than your referral strategy.

#2. Establish a connection between outreach and referrals.   

Don’t simply pull the numbers for your unpaid referrals. Be sure to check the data on your properties’ outreach activities. Dawn recommends looking for a connection between the level of outreach and the referral results.  

#3. Empower your properties to follow strategies…that actually work.

When the numbers reveal your properties need help, it’s important to ensure they have the support they need. Here are a few best practices each on-site team should follow:

  • Determine the opportunity. The reality is, on-site teams reach out to organizations who don’t align with your target market. Your teams shouldn’t visit rehab centers that primarily serve Medicaid patients…if Medicaid residents aren’t your ideal client.
  • Connect with the right people. Even when a team targets the right organization, it’s important to connect with the right individuals in the organization. As Dawn pointed out, marketers don’t make senior living referrals.
  • Be consistent. Strong relationships aren’t built through once-a-quarter visits. It’s critical that your teams meet consistently with referral sources…week over week.

Referral and outreach development—when its done right—can create the senior living referrals that you need for increased occupancy.

But don’t assume your teams know what they’re doing.

Don’t think that your portfolio has a high percentage of unpaid referrals.

Dig into the data, assess your situation, and call in the experts.

Fulfill your potential with Bild & Co.

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