Don’t Just Fill Your Community. Fill it with the Right Residents. In a perfect world, recruiting new residents for your community would be simple.
Every prospect you meet would be a perfect match. He or she would require the type of care you’re best equipped to provide, have the appropriate level of acuity, fit the personality of your community, have a likeable and supportive family, be expected to have an above-average length of stay, be able to move in the moment you have an opening, have the financial means, and, of course, want to live in your community.
Back to reality. You’ll likely never meet the perfect prospective resident. You can, however, greatly improve the odds of finding the right prospective resident – someone who could most benefit from the care, amenities and environment you offer, who will integrate well into the community, and who will help your business succeed.
Identify your objectives. Be authentic to your brand. Know what prospective residents want and need. Leverage technology to target prospects who will help you meet your objectives.
Identify Your Objective
What is the objective of your recruitment efforts? The question may seem obvious, but the answer will shape the criteria you use in identifying the right residents to join your community. Do you need to fill apartments immediately? Are you looking to maintain a healthy waiting list? Are you seeking residents that have particular care needs or a certain anticipated length of stay?
Each community’s objectives will be different. And objectives can shift with fluctuations in occupancy rate, changes in ownership structure and other factors.
Define Your Brand
Your brand is foundational to your resident recruitment program. More than a logo and tagline, it is the essence of what your community is – the promise you make to your residents and their families. It conveys what it’s like to be part of your community and what sets it apart from others. It encompasses everything from the cleanliness of your facility to the way your staff interacts with residents and families, the experience and skill level of your staff, the food you serve, the amenities and activities you offer, the cost of living in your community, and much more.
Take a hard look at who you are. Identify the things you do exceptionally well and the things that differentiate you from your competitors. Be honest; attempts to portray yourself as something you’re not will be exposed in poor ratings and negative reviews.
Describe Your Ideal Resident
Be equally thorough in understanding the type of residents who will help you achieve your objectives. What are their care needs (both current needs and anticipated future needs)? What is their acuity level? When would they be ready to move in? What is their expected length of stay? What is their financial picture? What type of environment will make them think, “This could be my home.”?
Align the Stars
Compare the profiles of your brand and your ideal resident. If they’re in sync, you have a solid foundation on which to build your recruitment efforts. If they aren’t sufficiently aligned, consider the changes you should make to become the right community for the residents you seek.
Ensure, too, that your marketers understand and embrace your objectives, your brand and the profile of your ideal resident. They can’t find the right additions to your community if they don’t have a clear picture of who those residents are.
Leads on prospective new residents can, of course, come from numerous sources, including hospitals and physicians, places of worship, community organizations that serve senior citizens, your own marketing campaign and (hopefully your most enthusiastic advocates) your current residents and their families. Technology can be a powerful assistant in assessing those leads to identify those who will help you meet your objectives and then guiding prospects through the steps of engagement (tours, qualifying assessments), conversion (commitment, payment) and, finally, move-in.
Virtually every community uses some sort of digital tool to track its leads, from simple spreadsheets to customized software. Like customer relationship management (CRM) programs used in other industries, these tools are typically task-focused, summarizing past interactions with the prospect and the next steps to be taken. They help marketers manage their to-do list but offer little insight to help them focus on the right prospects.
New apps are changing that, incorporating features that help the sales team prioritize the prospects who best align with the community’s objectives and then help the community deliver better care once the resident moves in.
App settings can be adjusted based on the community’s needs, from filling open apartments quickly to finding residents who have specific care needs. The software then ranks prospects based on how closely they match the objective, allowing marketers to focus their efforts appropriately.
Once a strong prospect has been identified, the software keeps a community’s management and marketers on task, pushing them to outline next steps and then take those steps.
Milestone tracking components document such things as whether a prospect has toured the community or completed a qualification assessment. On a case-by-case basis, this helps marketers keep a prospect moving through the process. And when reviewed collectively, it can provide data to use in strengthening resident recruitment efforts. For example, discovering that if milestone X occurs, a community is twice as likely to land the prospect, or that if milestone Y does not happen, interest level drops off significantly.
Finally, life enrichment information about a prospect can be easily documented – their hobbies and interests, their favorite sports teams, key facts from their past. This can help marketers overcome barriers to move-in. For example, if a prospect expresses concern that moving into a senior living community would mean a loss of independence, the marketer can highlight amenities and activities that align with the prospect’s interests and how those opportunities will allow the prospect to be more active and social than he or she is now. And when the prospect moves in, the information can seamlessly migrate to the community’s management software, giving caregivers insights that will help them provide more customized care.
Whether you have apartments to fill immediately or are maintaining a waiting list of future residents with specific care needs, recruiting new residents for your community is a never-ending challenge. But with a well-defined brand, a thorough understanding of prospective residents’ wants and needs, and the right technology, you can fill your community with the type of residents who will help you achieve your objectives.