THE SALES AND MARKETING PROCESS IN ASSISTED LIVING IS A DISASTER AND THE IMPACT ON FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE HAS CAUGHT UP WITH OPERATORS; BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO PIVOT
There is a BIG disconnect between independent and assisted living operators and their site level sales and marketing teams- and its wreaking havoc on individual community balance sheets.
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- Prospective buyers are unable to speak to a live person who can help them until (on average), their third call to a community
- Sales and Marketing Directors take upwards of 48 hours (on average) to return those missed inquiry calls and then it becomes a game of voice mail tag
- Corporate Directors expect a live facetime or Zoom tour to be offered when speaking with prospective buyers; instead, virtual tours are being sent via an impersonal email along with a plethora of attachments
- Follow up is not happening leading to stalled sales and confusion among prospective buyers over the next step in the process
- Move-ins are being sold at a loss as competitors fight to be the lowest cost option in their market service area
- Referral outreach is not happening in any capacity; leading to decreased referral traffic and an increase in third party paid leads- along with their hefty fees
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This is not the time to go through the motions but to instead, get serious about the barriers to generating leads and move-ins. When presenting mystery shop findings to owners, operators, and investors that are designed to reveal training gaps, most are shocked at how poorly their sales teams perform. We will hear responses such as:
- We expressed the importance of doing live tours versus pre-recorded and emailed tours, I’m not sure why all five locations sent them by email?
- I am shocked, I never expected this, especially from “Susan,” she’s our best salesperson!
- This is not how we want to represent our brand to prospective buyers; I thought our poor numbers were a result of COVID-19, but it seems we are dropping the ball
Until evidence is presented directly to the CEO or owner of a seniors housing operation, most tend to think their own sales and marketing directors are selling as directed and in fact, doing everything they can to generate move-ins. Oftentimes the blame falls on external circumstances like the pandemic, competition, or the holidays; when most of the problems around occupancy are internal and most importantly repairable.
CURIOUS HOW YOUR OWN COMMUNITIES PERFORM? CLICK HERE TO CLAIM A RANDOM SAMPLE OF SHOPS TO GAUGE THE BUYER EXPERIENCE.
THE ROOT CAUSE OF POOR SALES PERFORMANCE RIGHT NOW
The real barrier right now is the rampant lack of confidence among sales and marketing directors. Not only are they facing COVID-19 at work but also at home; they can’t escape it. The result is an entire group of people, responsible for generating the leads and move-ins that allow our communities to thrive, who are paralyzed.
I honestly feel for them. Sales has never been easy but now, it’s harder than ever. Even those with vast industry experience are in unchartered territory; everything they knew has changed and what once worked no longer does. Sales and marketing directors who relied on in person skills to close complex and high ticket sales are now forced to do it over the phone- they have not learned how to transfer their skills and it shows in our research findings across the board.
Selling remotely with the uncertainties around COVID such as being open for on-site visits and move-ins one week to the next week being closed, then coupled with the quarantine process; has left many sales and marketing directors feeling vulnerable, uncertain, and without the confidence they once had. Many are in desperate need of motivation and inspiration , they are burnt out, tired, and exhausted of ideas on how to get people to move.
- Net negative move ins
- Excessive discounts that eat new resident margin
- Thousands of dollars in paid third party referral fees further eating into net operating income
If you are frustrated, imagine how your salespeople feel, they are frustrated too. You can’t do better until you know better and it’s likely this cycle will continue well into 2021.
NOTHING WILL CHANGE UNTIL YOU DO
There is hope! A vaccine is on the way and senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities are at the top of the distribution list. That is going to be a big win and allow us to keep our doors open to tours and move-ins. Every operator will be competing for those same move-ins just as they are now. We also have reputational issues to overcome so be careful of thinking it’s going to be easy street.
As an executive, now is the time to dive in and begin planning your 2021 recovery and to do that you need information. Want to fix your sales and marketing problem? First you must know what problems exist so you can remedy them quickly. That means, inspect what you expect:
- Conduct a random sample of mystery shops on your portfolio of communities (these are not “gotcha shops” but to gauge the buyer experience objectively.) Click here to claim a complementary shop by the Bild & Co Research team now.
- Look for trends; where did your sales and marketing teams perform well and where are the gaps?
- Own the evidence; don’t make excuses for your site level teams.
- Implement a training plan to target specific areas of opportunity identified by the research presented.
- Consistently inspect new expectations looking for performance improvements and results for your efforts.
- Coach those individuals struggling to change bad habits; most are worth the investment and will ultimately succeed.
KNOW YOUR OWN POWER
You have the power to drive change, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is more important than ever that you as a CEO, Vice-President, Regional, Executive Director or Sales and Marketing Director focus on what you can control versus what you can’t. Put emphasis on the effort that leads to the result, invest in training and education so people can grow into their new role.
Create a plan, write it down, execute the plan, follow up daily, recognize the effort people make to implement new habits and you will see a transformation take place. Not sure where to start, consider a virtual executive retreat to launch 2021 in a fresh, unified, empowered state.
While leads are not flooding in, there are enough to net up and grow occupancy and to ultimately fill. There is pent up demand and consistent inquiry traffic combined with increased tour to move in conversions that show people are moving. If you have ten or even fifteen vacant apartments, you can have them filled by the end of 1Q21 with the right plan in place. I believe in you, you’ve got this and if you need a little help, shoot me at text at 813.390.3349 or email me at email@example.com to set up some time to discuss training options now.