As discussed in RealWorld 2018 sessions.
A question many senior property management professionals may ask themselves is, “When it comes to leads, why are we still struggling with occupancy?”
As with most business challenges, there’s not just one, but several reasons for this: there just aren’t enough leads to meet the supply; the leads you do have aren’t qualified; you’re working with fewer resources than necessary to follow up with leads; and, leads tend to go cold very quickly when you’re not able to respond in a timely manner.
To understand this challenge, you first need to look at current sales and marketing trends in the senior living industry.
Demand is increasing
According to Senior Journal, the population of people 65 years old and older is expected to reach over 83.7 million by 2050. With this growing senior population, there is also a burgeoning demand for high-quality senior living options—and the competition is fierce.
What does “high-quality” really mean? While fewer people are looking for traditional “nursing homes”, independent and assisted living residences are thriving. Today’s typical senior living facility offers upscale, advanced amenities, comfort and privacy set within beautifully decorated, well-appointed environments. Different attitudes and preferences are driving the demand for higher quality amenities and more personalized service.
Today’s seniors are healthier and more active than their parents were at the same age. They’re affluent and more tech-savvy than you think. So how do you capture more of this evolving and digitally astute group?
You can positively influence the new seniors (who are often baby boomers) and their adult children (who typically are driving the search and final decision) by meeting them where they already are, communicating their way and by making the entire renter journey as effortless as possible.
Following are three ways to connect with the right senior living renters and their families at the right times in the right places, and boost speed-to-lease for your properties.
Make sure your website is working as hard as you do
It might surprise you to know that 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores and shopping malls.
So clearly, making a good first impression online is critical to boosting speed-to-lead and speed-to-lease. But how can you ensure you’re putting your best face forward and attracting the most lucrative prospects?
No surprise here—it all starts with your community website. As your number one first impression tool, it should be both eye-catching and hard-working.
The ideal customized community website features professional photography of your community as well as interactive, immersive content. Examples of this include 2D and 3D floorplans, 3D virtual tours and interactive site maps. Of course, websites should be mobile responsive and search engine optimized to help boost organic search traffic and ensure the right prospects can find you. The most effective websites not only captivate, but also convert prospects, often leading to an on-site tour. If your website is also ADA compliant—offering larger text sizes, alternative explanatory text, and high-contrast colors—its effectiveness is increased even more.
Your website is also the first place to start building an interactive, positive relationship with your prospects. Live webchat functionality has evolved to become an indispensable tool for businesses who want to keep prospects engaged and to provide the answers they need, almost instantly. And webchat never sleeps—it’s available when you can’t be, 24/7. In fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person is one of the most important features a website can offer (Inc.).
Think outside the Internet Listing Service (ILS)
To drive the most qualified leads, the best approach is to utilize a variety of proven marketing channels. The tendency is to rely on expensive ILS marketing, which would be shortsighted. Ask yourself this: where are most of your leads actually coming from? The internet? If it’s ILS listings—which ones? Which leads are most lucrative and what’s the most effective way to follow up with them? How should you best allocate your marketing dollars?
A robust marketing automation or CRM system ensures you capture every prospect, no matter how they come to you, and automatically integrates their information with your property management system. The most powerful CRM systems offer lead nurturing, prospect profiling, and the ability to deliver personalized content—all designed to maximize engagement.
An effective CRM system also offers reporting which provides visibility into site performance and the entire leasing process so you can pinpoint the best ways to increase operational productivity. Comprehensive metrics help identify leasing trends and maximize marketing and advertising spend. CRM applications are so beneficial, they can help increase sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34% and sales forecast accuracy by 42% (Salesforce), while effective sales organizations are 81% more likely to be practicing consistent usage of a CRM or other system of record (Aberdeen Group).
Be there for them—24/7
While seniors and their families do search online, they eventually pick up the phone. And when they do, the person on the other end should represent your property and your brand with as much professionalism and warmth as possible. This is especially important for seniors and their families, who find making the decision to move to an assisted living facility an emotional life event.
Senior Living property management firms that employ a 24/7, senior-dedicated contact center enjoy efficiencies and outcomes that far outweigh the expense. But it’s important to understand that a true, full-service, multi-channel contact center for the Senior Living market is much more than just rooms of people answering phones; team members are carefully selected and trained based on their level of empathy and ability to understand the challenges facing families of seniors. Often HIPAA-compliant, they field prospect calls, answer questions, set appointments and more, every hour of every day. In fact, 40-60% of leasing inquiries are not captured by on-site teams. Senior contact centers help ensure every call, email or live web chat inquiry is captured, so you never miss an opportunity.
Your leasing team may be limited, but your options aren’t with a dedicated senior contact center. It’s a proven way to add that personal touch when it’s needed most.
If you find occupancy for your senior living properties is a struggle, remember, it’s all about bringing together marketing, leasing, residential and community technology to make the most of every touch point throughout the renter life cycle. Get your website right. Lessen your reliance on ILSs. And be there for them round-the-clock. As a result, you’ll find your speed-to-lead, speed-to-lease and occupancy increasing as fast as the senior population itself.