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The Science behind Why Senior Living Sales Counselors Forget Their Onboarding

Sometimes there’s a gap between who your operation is…

And the customer experience you want to create for potential residents.

From poorly managed lead generation to lackluster conversion metrics, it’s not uncommon for senior living communities to struggle to consistently improve occupancy, net operating income, and top-line growth.

And, many times, you can trace the fault back to your senior living sales counselors—those team members with the biggest direct impact on your growth potential.

At Bild & Co., we specialize in senior living sales training.

So we deeply understand how inadequate leadership, non-existent growth infrastructures, and other systemic problems can hinder your sales team and hurt your occupancy.

However, we’d like to point out another reason for declining occupancy that’s actually quite simple.

Sometimes, poor performance comes down to the fact that…

Human beings forget.

Even if your senior living sales counselors receive extensive onboarding, it’s hardly enough to empower the results you want.

In this article, we’re explaining the science behind why your sales team forgets their training—giving some key takeaways for your organization.

Let’s dive in…

The Science of Forgetting

Science of forgetting

Understanding why your senior living sales counselors forget their onboarding starts with taking a trip back to around the 1880s.

During this time, scholar Hermann Ebbinghaus was running a number of tests to explore the human memory.

According to a publication of his research, Ebbinghaus conducted over 150 tests on his memory—studying a group of syllables, learning them, and then—later on—learning them again.

To measure his memory, Ebbinghaus calculated how much time it took to relearn the syllables.

What he found was groundbreaking.

In Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology, he notes…

“One hour after the end of the learning, the forgetting had already progressed so far that one half the amount of the original work had to be expended before the series could be reproduced again.”

In other words, after only one hour, Ebbinghaus found he had to spend 50% of the time he spent learning…in relearning.

His findings would become so important that his observations would be named the Ebbinghaus Curve.

Later, in 2015, the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE released another research study which had results similar to Ebbinghaus’s findings, leading the authors to conclude that…

“Replications, including ours, testify to the soundness of his results.”

That’s a lot of scholar-speak. To put it simply—the Ebbinghaus Curve is a force to be reckoned with.

Having said that, let’s move on to how this impacts your organization…

The Forgetting Curve and Your Senior Living Sales Counselors

When you onboard senior living sales counselors, Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve is a critical factor you need to consider.

The reality is, a few days of sales training simply isn’t enough to drive occupancy and top-line growth.

In fact, YPO states that “studies indicate that participants in curriculum- and lecture-based training forget more than 80 percent of the information taught within 90 days.”

Your senior housing organization isn’t immune to the forgetting curve.

Drop off

At Bild & Co., this is something we know from personal experience.

In fact, we routinely have clients who invest in skillset training, such as a Bild Academy. However, follow-up training can become a bit delayed…creating less-than-ideal results.

As one of our team members explains, clients invest in initial training but…

“Many times, organizations wait to make a decision on coaching, and the challenge is that, with coaching, we are oftentimes starting all over again because team members have already begun to lose most of what they were taught.”

We don’t understand every reason why senior living sales counselors struggle to retain highly important information.

However, Verywell Mind has a few possibilities…

  • Retrieval failure. In other words, it’s not that your team members didn’t learn how to fill out those inquiry sheets or close a tour. They’re simply struggling to pull out what they put in.
  • Interference. In this case, old remembrances or new information creates an obstacle between your team and their onboarding.
    For instance, perhaps your senior living sales counselors received training at another operation. If what they learned is at odds with your method, they may have a difficult time retaining your practices.
  • Motivated forgetting. The name says it all. In this case, a sales counselor doesn’t want to remember his or her training.
    An example of this would be a sales team that doesn’t enjoy computer work…so they tend to forget CRM entries.

Long-Term Empowerment for Senior Living Sales Counselors


Sure, it’d be great if your senior living sales counselors had perfect recall.

But here’s the reality: the forgetting curve is natural.

Effective training is less about hiring highly intelligent team members…and more about strategic empowerment.

Here are a few tips we have for overcoming the forgetting curve:

1. Don’t limit yourself to onboarding alone.
Think back to your high school or college years.

More than likely, you didn’t acquire your number-crunching skills or communication acumen by listening to a few lectures or skimming your textbook.

Mastery takes time and repetition…not a simple cursory overview.

While onboarding your senior living sales counselors is vital, you’ll need training that helps teams master what they learn.

To increase occupancy, go beyond a simple introduction. There’s truly no such thing as instant results.

2. Don’t place gaps between training.
It’s important to consistently reinforce your training.

As we pointed out, follow-up training loses its effectiveness if there’s a big gap between learning segments.

It’s something that we all know intuitively.

Kids don’t take a year off school. Doctors require continuing education. Senior living sales counselors need consistent support.

Do your Senior Living Sales Counselors Need Help? When it comes to senior living sales counselor performance, for some of you, training retention may be a secondary problem.

Perhaps onboarding itself is your greatest challenge. Whether you have a fully developed onboarding system or your onboarding process is still in the works, don’t get discouraged. While your ultimate goal is training retention and execution, focus on laying a solid foundation for sales team success.


Closing Your Senior Living Revenue Gap Is A Phone Call Away.

Contact Bild & Co to grow your
occupancy now at (800) 640-0688