Seniors Housing Executive Book Club Selection: The Relationship Economy by John R. Dijulius III

Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age

I’m excited about this book club study, it will transform your seniors housing organization and the projectile of revenue. In twenty years of teaching the importance of emotion-based selling, this read will forever cement the need to overhaul seniors housing selling once and for all.


You will walk away from this blog series understanding why just 35% of prospective buyers decide to buy and move into your assisted living communities. Even better, I will show you how to quickly transform your assisted living salesforce from pleasers and order takers to advisors and sales communication masters.


In The Relationship Economy, author John DiJulius teaches business leaders about the importance of relationship building in the digital age. He argues that despite the advances in tech, we’ve become a less connected society. We have dramatically evolved away from face-to-face communication, and the skill of building rapport is evaporating. No where has this been more evident than in the seniors housing industry. Over the past year, tour volume halted as communities were shut down to outsiders and all sales moved to some type of tech platform. From online inquiries to One Day tours, face-to-face, in person sales delivery stopped.

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As we slowly re-open our senior living communities to the public, customer personalization and relationships are more important now than ever- and they will be the key to success for senior living operators and businesses moving forward.


In chapter 1, John aptly states, “Being able to build true, sustainable relationships is the biggest competitive advantage in a world where automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are eliminating the human experience, which is what creates the emotional connections that build true customer loyalty.” I could not agree more.


In this executive book club study, I will transfer this valuable information into our industry lingo and provide real life application so you can execute as you read along. As the leader of your organization, you will fully grasp the importance of personal connections and how that specifically affects sales, occupancy, revenue, and the value creation of your seniors housing assets. You will never settle for route selling tactics again.




In advising and consulting with assisted living owners, operators, and developers daily, we have a bird’s eye view into most seniors housing operations. We see what works, what doesn’t, and sadly epic failures. It took a solid year to reach the lowest occupancy on record, a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is going to take a year or more to see a solid recovery. Those executives who hyper focus on revamping their sales process and buyer experience, training, inspecting expectations, and reviewing KPI metrics daily will see a dramatically faster rebound.


There is pent up demand, seniors need us now more than ever and their adult children are burnt out and exhausted. The only way you are going to earn their business is if you make the experience so powerful that the value of moving exceeds the pain of packing up a home that represents a lifetime of memories, confronting those very raw and difficult conversations, and agreeing to pay upwards of $5,000 per month.

No discount, deal, or rent lock is going to create this kind of value. It might get someone in the door, but it’s not going to close them. In our work coaching over 100 seniors housing sales directors each month and doing thousands of mystery shops annually to gauge the buyer experience, I can tell you that all discounting does is diminish your margins on people who would have moved in anyway.

“Today’s illiterate is those who have an inability to truly make a deep connection with others.”



 Want to see occupancy grow at a rapid click? Prioritize the retraining of your seniors housing salesforce. You must teach those individuals responsible for generating revenue to slow down and take the time to build meaningful relationships, that build trust, value, connection, and ultimately lead to a moved in resident.

Chapter by chapter we are going to tear through this book, The Relationship Economy, and apply the lessons learned to seniors housing sales, marketing, and resident retention. I’ll also show you how to use these same strategies to improve employee relations, loyalty, and longevity. There is a lot to learn here so let’s dive into what you can expect and why you need to share this seniors housing executive book club study with your entire organization- for sure your leadership team and industry peers. The change must begin with you or as we will see in this book, innovation and technology will come in and do it for us.





Since technological advancements have come at the expense of human connections- and we’ve seen this with the massive transfer of leads coming not to your telephone or front door but to your website first; organizations now need to reinvent their business model to marry digital and human experiences in the best possible way.

Technology is changing the world and doing so at the cost of weaker human relationships that are vital to the customer and employee experience. For this reason, the Relationship Economy is emerging, and I must say, I’m excited about it because for me, it emerged 20 years ago!


Consider how technology has impacted assisted living sales:

  • Upwards of 50% of all incoming leads are starting their search on your website where the words, images, and static screen make the first impression; not your individual community sales or executive director, residents, or front desk concierge.
  • According to the  Pew Research Center, 67 percent of seniors are active on the internet which means they are not only finding you online but they are searching for reviews- which for many operators are non-existent or could lead them to  Glass Door which is where a lot of employees tend to negatively vent.
  • When searching online, versus being referred by a resident or professional, prospective buyers see your top competitors too and, in most cases, there is nothing to differentiate one community from another; 98% of websites say the same thing, making it a game of “Eeny, meenie, miny, moe!



In a Relationship Economy the primary currency is made up of the connections and trust among customers, employees, and vendors that create significantly more value in what we sell. These relationships and connections help make price irrelevant. Read that last sentenc

In our research here at Bild & Co, in accessing the buyer experience as well as the competitive environment in the assisted living industry, this is the single biggest barrier we see over and over. 90% of the communities shopped fail to establish a meaningful connection with their prospective buyer. Meaning they talk more than listen, fail to ask open-ended questions leading to proper discovery, rush the call, attempt to prequalify, and ramble deals off like they are selling a timeshare rather than a human experience.


Don’t believe this is happening at your very own assisted living communities? Click here for a complementary mystery shop on your own portfolio and let the evidence speak for itself.




In chapter 2 we will examine the rapid pace that business and customer service are changing, particularly in assisted living; it’s changing like no other time in history. Meaning, it’s time to rip the band-aid off and retrain your entire organization to adapt now, before it’s too late.

In chapter 3 we will explore ways to humanize the assisted living buyer experience as I take the valuable knowledge presented in this book and customize it to what your organization does day in and day out. Failure to connect with prospective buyers is the single greatest barrier to your occupancy turnaround and I’ll prove it to you throughout this series.

In chapter 4 we are going to look at the touchscreen world we live in while in chapter 5 we will learn a systematic way (you know how much I love systems!) to build rapport with others personally and professionally.

Chapter 6 will show us how businesses are executing these principles in their organizations. Chapters 7 and 8 look at the benefits of strong relationships between your business and customers, and your business and employees. With employees scarcer than ever in the senior living business, understanding how to retain them is as important, if not more, than how to move in new residents. I’m going to dive into this in detail because they go hand in hand.


Chapter 9 will teach us how to be the Uber of senior living…I can’t wait! Oh, and chapter 10 emphasizes the importance of the micro experience to customer loyalty. This will be critical not only to getting more direct resident referrals but professional referrals that ultimately should be the life blood of your traffic source.

In conclusion, chapter 11 puts everything we learn together through this executive book club study into the broader context of a meaningful life. As John says, “customers don’t recommend business they like, they recommend businesses they love.” With development about to pick up again and that tsunami of seniors coming our way, it’s not the deals, discounts and incentives that will get people to buy; but the relationships your employees build, the connections they are able to make, and the trust developed that will give buyers the confidence to move their loved ones into your assisted living community.