Warning: What The Us Postal Service And Seniors Housing Have In Common And It’s Not Good
Independent living, assisted living, memory care, active adult and CCRC operators must take a hard look at and dramatically evolve the buyer experience because it’s a mess and a lot of residents and revenue are being left on the table
I still remember the day I downloaded the USPS software on my computer and stocked up on labels and boxes in my office in a glee of joy! Going forward, the post office would pick packages up at my door, no longer requiring a trip to the post office. Being an author, the flat book rate postage is a steal, so going to an express option like UPS or FedEx is out of the question. It’s the little things in life that make a big difference to our days and well, this was one of them for me- NO MORE POST OFFICE VISITS!
While reading and writing the last blog for our current Executive book club selection Blue Ocean Shift, the authors were discussing the customer experience people tend to have when going to the US postal service and I literally scoffed out loud because I could relate! They went on to discuss the reasons why they have lost tremendous market share to express carriers:
“The US Postal Service is teetering on the brink as people shift to alternatives like email and express delivery services, which are much more expensive.”
Why is the demand for the postal service shrinking? IT’S PRIMARILY BECAUSE THE TOTAL POSTAL EXPERIENCE IS SO POOR. How many times have you personally entered the US post office and found fast, efficient service, with every window open, no lines and a postal worker happy to serve you? Most likely never! More likely you were one of many people standing in line with a dissatisfied look on your face. Or maybe after waiting five minutes in line, you walked out, frustrated with time wasted and nothing accomplished, swearing to never go back. I can relate as I still avoid the post office at all cost and in the few times I have had to go, I left due to these exact scenarios opting instead for a pack and ship store where I get faster and better service despite the higher cost.
THE USPS EXPERIENCE REMINDED ME OF THE SENIORS HOUSING BUYER EXPERIENCE- SADLY
Reading this I couldn’t help but think of the seniors housing industry. While the resident experience is very good, the buyer experience is awful! We don’t answer of phones 40% of the time and rarely call people back even when a voice mail is left with a return call requested. When finally speaking with the prospective buyer it’s clear the salesperson is in a rush and has more important things to do as amenities are quickly listed along with current specials along with a phrase like, “does this sound like something you would be interested in?” I guess in hopes of closing a quick phone sale?
Should an individual or family decide to drop in to look around, it better be during the hours of 9-5 Monday through Friday and not while the team is in morning stand up, at lunch or in another meeting. Calling or stopping by on a Saturday or Sunday? Well you can forget about that as you will most likely be told to come back during the week. If you are fortunate enough to speak to someone after several calls and do book a visit to the community, odds are you won’t hear from the individual who toured you again; ever- until you decide it’s time for the move and you call them back.
EVERYONE LOVES GRAVY!
“Where are all the move ins coming from,” you may ask?
These are what we call gravy sales, where teams take those individuals with an immediate need to move and who have little time to vet out their options. Motivated families will act fast, it’s the quick easy sale everyone loves so much and that keep numbers on the board for many operators.
What I want you to CONSIDER IS ALL THE MOVE INS LOST DUE TO THE POOR BUYER EXPERIENCE. This is not something to take lightly. Considering that you have control over this and can affect change quickly through a quality training program that is reinforced daily it should move to the top of your list. Without investing a dime in more marketing spend you can double your lead traffic, tours and move ins simply by delivering a fantastic buyer experience to the people already inquiring. In short, better capturing what is currently being lost.
I know, sounds too easy right? For something to work it must be complicated and painful! Not true.
GROWING TOP LINE REVENUE IS THE SINGLE MOST OVERLOOKED STRATEGY USED BY OPERATORS TO MEET FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE GOALS I SEE.
The main reason operators prefer to cut expenses rather than drive revenue is because it’s easier. Truth be told, if given the option to cut rates or retrain the sales and executive directors on the buyer experience and how to create value to drive sales, versus giving away deals; most will pick the deal! People don’t like change and managers tend to avoid conflict at all cost.
You must decide what type of company you are. Cost cutting and deal making isn’t going to get you through the next decade. At some point you’re going to have to stop and take the time to develop a solid sales and buyer experience program that is trained to all existing employees and to all new hires with a strong accountability program to back it up. There is too much at stake financially to continue to wing it. It’s time the seniors housing industry grows up and takes a stand on how it wants prospective buyers to experience our wonderful offerings. The reward will be increased move ins (at market rate rent), revenue, net operating income and the financial ability to re-invest in the community and its people creating a raving fan buyer experience. The choice is up to you.
Have training bones but no core program you are proud of? Bild & Co partners with operators, investors and developers daily; customizing corporate training programs that are developed, branded and licensed for long-term ownership and implementation company wide. Our train the trainer program will ensure your corporate and regional team knows how to roll it out and sustain the investment long-term with emphasis on strong Executive Director sales and ops leadership at the site level. To discuss your own options, text me at 813.390.3349 or shoot me an email at TBild@BildandCo.com
To Your Success,