When I entered the seniors housing and care space over a decade ago, it was by accident, as most great things that happen in life are. My first book, 7 Steps to Successful Selling, sold well in airport book stores and an executive with an independent living company read it on her flight, landed and called me immediately. To make a long story short, six months later we had grown sales by $4M and were just getting started! I was invited to speak at an industry conference in Tampa, to share what we were doing to grow occupancy. That day, my life forever changed. My entire business shifted from speaking at national conventions for all types of companies looking to grow sales, to the seniors housing and care space- I had met my soul mate; and fell head over heels in love!
What I’m most proud of as I reflect back over my journey is that we completely changed our industry- sales was a bad word and no one wanted anything to do with it, marketing directors were isolated and literally not considered a valued part of the team (dirty little secret people don’t like to admit) and no one understood sales nor what these people did all day. Incoming calls were completely mismanaged and leads lost by the hundreds; while thousands upon thousands of dollars in marketing funds were being spent to continue to drive those very leads that would later be lost…I can go on and on.
It took me stepping back and reflecting on the past fifteen years to fully understand the impact of our work here at Bild & Company and to realize that SKILLED NURSING is right where seniors housing was when I began.
Not so sure? Consider the following:
- Census Development: Historically skilled nursing did not have to concern itself with “sales” and as you noticed, I used the words census development versus sales, just to ensure you would keep reading. Operationally driven, like the seniors housing space was “once upon a time,” skilled nursing providers are realizing that census is not a given. With the changes in healthcare working to push people out of skilled nursing and toward more affordable options, consumers not wanting to go to skilled nursing, and continued reductions in payments- what is an industry to do? My answer is to reinvent itself, just like we did in the seniors housing space. Do not be afraid of change, welcome it …even run toward it! Nothing makes you feel more alive than a great challenge!
- Marketing: Marketing as you have typically known it is dead…may it rest in peace. Gone are the days of mass campaigns and crippling budgets. Instead, we get to tell your story- who you were, how you started and why families should come to you. People buy people and you have to move from institutionalized marketing to creating emotional connections with your buyers. And you must remember that just because you don’t use social media doesn’t mean you should not start. In today’s environment, you must have a strong website, which drives leads, uses real photos of real people, engages visitors in meaningful content, and gives them a strong call to action, as well as a way to connect with you socially. Not doing so simply makes you look more institutionalized, old fashioned, and “corporate.” I’ll always remember my grandpa being strapped to his chair at the Urbana nursing home, both arms with big Velcro handcuffs holding him down day and night. Just seven years old and a candy striper there, it broke my heart. I didn’t understand but as an adult I still hold that memory as if it were yesterday. How many of your future customers feel the same, harbor the same fears and hesitate to call…You must fight back, show them you are different, and connection on an emotional level. While you may not want to hear it, that brings us back to a rock solid sales system that ensures people know how to slow down and engage with families on an emotional level, hear their fears and concerns, and build value as to why you are the best place for their loved one.
- Culture: Nothing needs a reinvention more than the culture within most post-acute environments. Everything you know is changing and while you may have a strong history that you are proud of in the skilled nursing space, what are you doing to modernize, attract new talent, grow census, communicate with families, referral sources, and dive into the ACA changes proactively? What worked yesterday is not necessarily going to work today- change is coming at lightning speed. As leaders you must step up, admit what you don’t know and start reaching out and seeking to learn that which you do not know. I call learning “the fountain of youth!” Nothing creates more energy in an organization than shaking things up and focusing on personal and professional development. Bored people become energized, complacent leaders become accountable to results, and the C suite becomes fired up about all the possibilities for their company and begin to push like never before to blaze a trail others wish to follow.
There is so much change ahead and these are such exciting times. Here at Bild & Company (www.bildandco.com), our team has been busy at work bringing the change to those leaders who are looking to evolve and secure their place in the future of care. If you’re still reading, odds are your gut is speaking to you and you know it’s time to do something different. You can’t grow by remaining what you are and if you knew what to do you would have already done it! Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and each time I stepped up, invested in someone to teach me what I didn’t know, I grew to an entirely new level and my organization along with it! We only have a limited time to make an impact on the world. You are in a position to bring massive change and affect the lives of your employees, patients, families and community at large by doing what needs to be done now, eyes open- while your competitors sit by and act like nothing is different than it was five years ago. Not sure where to start or what to do? Reach out to my CEO Seth Garber at firstname.lastname@example.org (or call 1.800.640.0688) as a start. We will point you in the right direction and help you develop a plan. These are exciting times, so jump in and feel empowered knowing that you are taking action and being a part of the solution.