Six Activities to do to Increase Your Occupancy Rate
Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on November 07, 2018
Six Activities to do to Increase Your Occupancy Rate
Ask any senior living community owner or manager what their greatest fear is. Go ahead. I dare you to. What simple 9 letter word can make even the most seasoned administrator tremble? It’s vacancies. Yes, that’s right. Vacancies. (Cue the dramatic overture). Does this topic make you cringe? Would you like to read about some strategies to boost your occupancy rates? Good! You have come to the right place.
I’ve traveled all over our country, and no matter what region I’ve been in, the conversations have sounded the same. “We love our community members. We provide a great experience. How do we attract people to OUR community?” “We have tried x, y, z, and x again with no discernible results”. The sentiment is echoed everywhere I go. Does this sound familiar? I’m seeing a lot of heads nodding yes. What if I told you that there are some simple methods that YOU can start to employ today to fill your vacancies and to keep your community full? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be your ideal community. Is it going to be an easy and quick process? Maybe. Maybe not. These tips HAVE helped countless of your peers, and I believe they can assist you too. So, without further delay, here is our list of some tried and true methods that deliver results:
1. Use digital marketing to generate inbound leads.
How amazing would it be to have a continual flow of inbound leads coming to you?!?! Are you envisioning a life of no more cold calls? Are you imagining what you could do with all of that extra time that you currently spend on cold calls? Well, imagine no more. Having a smart and defined digital marketing strategy is a must-have in today’s world. Your community needs to have relevant information, or content, to bring people to your community. Free tools and checklists are a great way to drive traffic to your website (and then into your community). A free guide to touring a senior living community would be a great asset for anyone preparing for such a journey. Remember, YOU are the experts in this field, and you have a wealth of knowledge that you can share with people during what can be a stressful time period in their life. Become that go to guide for seniors in your community, and don’t be afraid to put your resources out there! You should be available and share your content on all relevant social media channels. In a survey conducted by DMN3, over 80% of baby boomers use Facebook. Yes, you read that correctly. Over 80%. Don’t miss any opportunity to reach the seniors in your community. There are numerous how-to guides available to assist you if you need additional direction. We have several resources listed on our website, which is www.seniorlivinglink.org.
2. Use member testimonials to create your community story.
People want to feel included, and people respond to real human experiences. Please remember that your community is potentially going to be their next home. It should be inviting, and anyone who visits your website or your facilities should leave with that warm and fuzzy feeling. How can you effectively do this? Compile a list of member testimonials and showcase them on your website and on your social media pages. Recruit some current community members and appoint them as ambassadors for your community. Let your member ambassadors help lead your community tours. Let them post their testimonials on your social media channels. Do you remember freshman orientation in college? Do you remember how much better you felt by having fellow students “show you the ropes?” Do you recall how nervous you were at the start of your orientation tour? Create a welcoming tour for your seniors by letting your prospective community members get to know not only your community but some of its members as well. As Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”.
3. Set clear occupancy goals, and share them regularly with your team.
Have you ever heard of the six degrees of separation game with Kevin Bacon? I thought so. Now, picture every one of your employees, and imagine how many people in your community that each employee interacts with on a daily basis. Your employees can be your greatest asset, and they can be the voice for your community, but they need to be informed of your goals and be given ownership of their involvement in your community outreach process. How can you achieve this? Do an update during staff meetings or on vacancies and on current initiatives. Make it fun for your staff. How does a monthly or quarterly contest sound for your organization? You can offer a free lunch for the winning team, or maybe an extra paid day off for the winning employee. The great thing about this is that it’s so inexpensive to do, and yet it builds your team morale AND contributes to your community growth.
4. Utilize free resources, directories, and organizations to maximize your results
I recently had to assist a friend whose parents were searching for their new forever home. This friend lives over 2000 miles from her parents. Can you imagine how many hours we spent online researching prospective centers for her parents? You need to be visible to all of your potential clients. You need to reach as many people as you can in the most efficient way possible. Get on as many free directory lists and websites as you can. A wonderful place to start is www.seniorlinkliving.org. The number of invaluable resources that are available on the site is incredible. Guess what else? There is no fee! Yes, you did just read that correctly. No fee. Senior Link Living allows you immediate access to all of its resources at no charge.
5. Choose extra services wisely, and tailor them to your community members
Numerous polls and surveys have said that the potential loss of their independence and the loss of their individuality are the two biggest fears that senior citizens have when they are faced with the idea of moving into a senior living community. What can you do to address this? How about having WiFi available throughout your community? What about offering personalized transportation services for a trip to the movies, or for a night out at a restaurant? Have you ever traveled to a foreign country, and found upon your arrival that you have no cell phone service? Have you ever wanted to venture out from your hotel only to be told you have no availability for transportation? How did you feel? It was a little overwhelming at first, right? You may have experienced these inconveniences during the duration of your vacation. A prospective new community member is going to be at your center for the duration of their life. These basic services don’t cost that much extra, they can deliver a huge ROI, AND they keep your members happy and independent.
6. Invest in training for your sales staff
I honestly can’t stress this enough. Your sales staff is paid to drive referrals and to ultimately increase your revenue, and they need to have the knowledge and the tools to successfully do their job. Have you set requirements for the number of calls your salespeople make per week and the types of call points they should see? Every one of your representatives should know what their target numbers are for calls, revenue, new referral sources, and any other metrics you want to measure. These should be communicated to your staff on a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule, and your staff needs to be held accountable for their efforts.
How has your sales staff been trained? Did you know that there are numerous online sales tools that are either free or available for a nominal amount? Education can only enhance your team and improve your community, and courses should be offered for staff development.
I know this is a lot of information to digest, but you now have 6 highly effective and inexpensive methods to apply to your outreach efforts. My suggestion is to start with one or two initiatives that you feel will generate the biggest impact on your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to try these and to break out of your comfort zone. I am going to be breaking each of these 6 strategies down into more detail in some of my upcoming posts, and I can’t wait to hear feedback from each of you. If you have any success stories or tips that you would like to share with us, please feel free to send them our way. We ALL have a huge responsibility to take care of our seniors, and we should be able to learn from and to encourage each other.
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