17 Sure Fire Questions Seniors Housing Operators Should Be Asking To Tap Into Non-Customers & Grow Market Share
How independent and assisted living, memory care and active adult communities can ask better questions and find better answers to get new buyers to move earlier in the aging process
Change is constant. It’s the one truth we can’t avoid. From how we buy and drink our morning coffee to purchasing and reading books; none of it is the same and today, change is happening at lightening speed.
In 2001, I published my first book, 7 Steps to Successful Selling, through Perigee Books, a division of Penguin Putnam. The process was extremely difficult. I first had to find an agent willing to represent my book. Upon getting an agent I had to write a book proposal to entice publishers to purchase and sell it.
I’ll never forget they day I got the news my agent had found a publisher. It was snowing and I was in the Midwest, walking down the stairs of a national rental car bus. My agent, Noah with Lukeman Literary said, “We got an offer for your book and the advance offer is $15,000!” I literally tripped on the steps and almost fell down the stairs!
For a young entrepreneur, still loaded down with college debt and trying to make ends meet, it was a dream come true. When I talk to my kids about that first publishing experience I always say that the only reason I got a book deal is because I followed the instructions. Literally, I bought The Guide to Literary Agents and was determined to send my query letter to every single one, starting with the letter A and going until Z, until I got a yes. All I needed was one!
Rejection letter after letter was dropped through my mail slot every day until I got that call from Lukeman! Imagine if I had stopped sending out my book query at letter K, I would have been one letter short from getting my deal with Lukeman Literary!
To this day, I still get royalty checks, the rights were sold in Poland (my book is in Polish, how cool is that) and best of all, it cracked the door open to the seniors housing industry which changed the trajectory of my life. An executive purchased 7 Steps in an airport bookstore and called me to ask if I could help grow sales and revenue within their portfolio of four communities. Within six months we grew sales by $4M. The rest is history!
Since then I published industry favorite Zero Lost Revenue Days and Get Your Girl Back which landed me on the Today Show and in media nationally. My how things changed with the publishing of these two books! Due to the niche space I choose to self-publish this book Zero Lost Revenue Days, which was considered risky at the time (2009 with a second edition print in 2016). Then in 2015 I published Get Your Girl Back through Amazon (It hit #11 on the best seller list!). I was one of the early authors to do so and I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t do it any other way. They print, stock and ship all books making it a very easy process for authors. From a business perspective, I made just $2 per book with a publisher compared to over $10 per book by doing it myself. You could say publishing has come a long way.
WHAT HAS OCCURRED IN PUBLISHING IS WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN SENIORS HOUSING: THE SHIFT IN PUBLISHING CREATED GREATER VALUE FOR AUTHORS AND READERS WHILE OFFERING IT FOR A BETTER COST. WE MUST FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS IN SENIORS HOUSING AND OPEN UP AN ENTIRE NEW, BLUE OCEAN OF CUSTOMERS WHO OTHERWISE WOULD NOT BUY.
WHAT SMALL CHANGES CAN YOU MAKE THAT LEAD TO GREATER CUSTOMER VALUE WHILE LOWERING BUYER COST YET INCREASING YOUR NOI?
If I knew, I would tell you, trust me! I’m doing this exercise with you and trying to make it easier than it is to digest and translate this complex book for you, ha! What I do know is it STARTS BY ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS (the one truth we never deviate from here at Bild & Co!).
One of the best ways to start this process is to ask the biggest question of all: Why do people choose FOR and AGAINST senior living for alternate options?
- As an industry, why do 78-year-old people opt out of independent or assisted living even when they need it, waiting until they are 87 or never moving at all?
- Why does an adult daughter who has her own children and works full time continue to care for her mother with Alzheimer’s despite her exhaustion and ability to afford care?
- WHY DO OVER 90% OF PROSPECTIVE BUYERS OPT OUT OF SENIORS HOUSING ONCE THEY FIRST INQUIRE? That is a concerning number and not to be IGNORED but EXPLORED.
It’s time to ask and respond.
Here is a list of questions to ask non-buyers. Ideally, this should be done in the individuals home environment or over the phone, one-on-one, not in a group setting at your community. You’ll get more candid answers and honesty.
- What happened or what moment did you realize it was time to call and explore senior living communities?
- Where did you start the process and did anyone else support you in finding options?
- Upon looking into senior living, was it what you thought it would be?
- What were you expecting?
- How was it different (dig into the details)?
- What other options did you consider as alternatives to senior living?
- What option did you end up choosing?
- May I ask why? How did you know this was the best choice to make?
- How do you feel about that decision now?
- Why did you choose this option over senior living?
- If you designed an ideal senior living solution, what would it be like?
- How would this make the process easier or better for everyone involved?
- What would make a community like ours more appealing to you?
- What was most overwhelming to you when considering seniors housing?
- How are you getting the initial needs, you inquired to us about, met right now?
- What was the exploratory experience like for you in considering seniors housing?
- What was it about senior living made you say, “No, thank you?”
Seniors housing is an emotional sale. Therefore, I suggest you take a smaller sample and dig in deeper. Even 25 people going through this process will be transforming for your organization. Surveys work, but the more personal the experience, the more people will open and provide insight you can use to create blue ocean space.
WHEN ASKED, CUSTOMERS AND NON-CUSTOMERS WILL TELL YOU HOW TO CREATE GREATER VALUE WHILE REDUCING COST, ULTIMATELY OPENING UP BLUE OCEAN SPACE
The key to value innovation is to define the total solution buyers seek when they choose a product or service, and then to eliminate the pain points of intimidation across the total solution (fear). In gathering this information and taking the time to objectively look through a new lens there may be new sources of trapped value you’ve never considered that are simple to implement and transform your organization.
STUDY THE ALTERNATE SOLUTIONS PROSPECTIVE BUYERS ARE PICKING OVER YOURS
In digging in, focus on what other options prospective buyers are considering and that compete with moving into an independent living, assisted living, memory care or CCRC community.
WHERE ARE THE 90% OF THOSE WHO INQUIRE INTO SENIOR LIVING GOING OR WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO ADDRESS THE VERY CHALLENGE THAT GOT THEM TO CALL?
WHERE IS THE MAJORITY OF THIS BUSINESS GOING? AND WHY ARE THEY CHOOSING IT OVER SENIORS HOUSING?
I bet your thinking what I am right now, “They are waiting,” the main competitor is their home!
- What are the pain points of staying at home for the prospective resident?
- What are the pain points of being a caregiver for a loved one who remains at home?
- What are the pain points of using a home health agency while remaining at home?
- What are the pain points of doing nothing and waiting it out?
In this case, the main competition is the home and their individual caregiver. You can’t just tell them they should change their mind and move, you must build a case, communicate the pain points of each, and present how your option can bring greater value and perhaps even at a lower cost. To do that, our industry needs a much better sales process! But, we must start somewhere!
HOW DO WE INCREASE OUR MARKET SHARE FROM 10% OF THOSE WHO INQUIRE TO 25%?
Imagine the impact of this exercise. If you can get another 10% or 15% of those who inquire to move, it’s a complete GAME CHANGER. The question then is, “How can we get in and serve the mass number of buyers in our individual market service areas while they wait to move?” and “How do we get them to move sooner and more often?” I addressed lots of questions in my last blog in this series.
Lots to think about and do. Decide who will execute this process, what the timeline is and how you will ultimately use the information once it’s obtained. You can do this! Imagine if you had experts like Bild & Co helping you design, plan and execute surefire strategies. The possibilities are endless just like for our other clients including the one mentioned in this blog, The Fountains, that increased sales $4M. You can too, all you have to do is take action!
If you are simply too light on resources, the Bild & Co research team can assist in this very important task. Just shoot me a text at 813.390.3349, email TBild@BildandCo.com or schedule some time to discuss what’s possible before year end https://meetings.hubspot.com/tbild/bild-co. We are incredibly passionate about this and would be honored to help!
Or reach out to me to participate in one of our peer-to-peer groups, revolutionary strategic planning or roundtable sessions we are hosting in Q1 2020. If you are interested, please email me a firstname.lastname@example.org
To Your Success,