Growing Occupancy in Senior Living Through the Prospect Experience

March 3, 2020 Melissa Bagnoli

Your first step to full occupancy is the experience that captures your prospects and clients. There’s often a systematic approach in building occupancy in senior living organizations – such as hiring the right salesperson. You may spend countless hours trying to find the right salesperson, sending them for training, and then focus on sales conversions to measure their success. But that may not be the right strategy. What if you focused on the prospect or client experience as the strategy, and the sales process as the tactic?

The Importance of Capturing Leads

The first step in building occupancy is capturing the lead from the minute they initiate the first inquiry. Grandview Consulting and Management conducted a telephone study of retirement communities across Canada. It found that:

  • 10% of phone calls went straight to voicemail
  • 35% of the time the person on the phone seemed distracted
  • 45% of phone calls were answered by someone who was difficult to understand due to background noise or an unclear telephone line

Based on these findings, it’s clear that senior living organizations should be putting more emphasis on their reception desks, in order to better capture leads. That includes better training and coaching for staff who work at the reception desk and answer phone calls. On average, a person considering a senior living organization will call 5 communities and visit 2 to 3 in person.

You simply can’t afford not to capture that information and send the inquiries to voicemail.

Prospect Experience vs. Sales Experience

The prospect experience and sales experience are very different, and they both have a major impact on building occupancy. The client or prospect experience includes customer experience, hospitality, and how you make them feel. The sales experience is the process and flow of your prospects, specific sales goals, and the use of specific language. The emotions your building evokes is what is going to sell prospective clients.

The Framework of Great Service and Experience

There are a few fundamentals that you can bring into your building to improve the resident experience and improve your occupancy rates:

1. Overall Voice and Vision

Start by determining your overall voice and vision. What do you want your residents, families, staff and prospects to feel and experience when they walk into your building? What will they see? Walk through each department to determine what it will look and feel like. 55% of first impressions are made by what people see – painting the right picture ahead of time will help ensure a good first impression for prospects.

2. Create a Can-do Culture

Be sure to look for a positive, “can-do” attitude, when interviewing and hiring staff. A negative employee can be toxic and create a negative environment for your staff and clients. Behavior breeds behavior, and your managers and leaders will have a major impact on the overall work environment.

3. Invest in Your Team

Invest in ongoing education for your staff beyond their scope, such as communication or customer service, and be sure to tell them why they are being trained in a certain area. This will help ensure well-rounded staff and an overall better experience for residents.

4. Strive for Better

Listen to your residents to learn where improvements can be made in your building. Hospitality is most important in senior living organizations, so make sure you are detail-oriented and never let your teams become complacent.

Building occupancy in senior living organizations is difficult, but with the right strategy and process in place, you can bring your occupancy rates from good to great. Check out our webinar The Prospect Experience, to learn how small changes can lead to full occupancy!

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