If you’ve been involved in the senior living industry for awhile, you know that expectations for what a community provides have changed. Years ago, the conversation revolved primarily around meeting the physical and medical needs of residents. That’s still obviously very important! Ensuring the safety and care of your residents is, of course your top priority, as it is every community leader’s priority.
But nowadays, it’s about more than quality medical care. Seniors today – and their families – expect a living experience that is enriching to their lives, and takes into account their interests and desires to lead full, engaging lives throughout their senior years. And, the options have broadened, and more information is available. Seniors today can log onto their computers and have countless pieces of information available at their fingertips, such as what options they have, what different communities offer, and much more.
“As the saying goes, you only have one chance at a first impression,” says Sage Age Strategies Senior Consultant Louise Schott. “When someone visits your community for the first time, the little details can add up, both in a good and bad way. That’s why polishing your community’s first impression is critical, and can mean the difference between a new resident or a lost prospect.”
Let’s take a look at some steps you can take, big and small, to ensure you truly put your best foot forward when a prospective new resident takes a tour of your community.
Think About Your Prospective Resident’s Mindset
Before you do anything, or go about changing things to your community or your tour practices, take a moment – preferably several! – and put yourself in your potential resident’s shoes.
This sounds very simple, but it’s something that’s very easy to forget. Consider what mindset your prospective resident is in. Are they excited? Nervous? Upset? Chances are, you’ve met seniors who could hit every single one of those descriptors, and then some.
Consider the questions you would have if you were in their position. Then, walk yourself through the tour experience with the mindset of a prospective resident, starting with their initial pull into your parking lot. Here’s one simple but powerful example: is it easy for them to find parking very close to your door? When they do, are they greeted with a “visitor” sign, or do they see “future resident”? When they walk in, is it clear where they need to go, and is someone waiting to greet them, or are they confused about their next steps?
Do your tour guides do their best to make your residents feel at home, by offering them refreshments, taking their coat, and welcoming them as you would welcome a visitor to your private residence?
Look around you – does your prospective resident see clean floors and windows, tasteful decor, and comfortable accommodations? If you were a stranger would you feel welcome?
The list goes on, but in general, the intent of this exercise is to experience your community with fresh eyes. Other ways to gain this information include asking a trusted friend, family member or coworker to do the same and offer their unbiased feedback, or ask actual, real life prospects to fill out a short survey following their tour experience.
Some Other Things to Consider
So you’ve gone through the exercise described above – that’s wonderful! But the reality is, you can do your best to catch anything and everything that might make a customer’s experience less than ideal, but you are only one person. Here are some things to consider as you polish your community’s first impression.
If you don’t already, consider displaying your community’s mission and values prominently in your welcome area. It shows a serious commitment to the core values that drive your organization, and that’s something visitors can appreciate and trust.
Be hospitable. A tastefully arranged beverage and snack station at your community’s entryway or lobby shows you care about your prospective and existing resident’s comfort.
Show the life and vigor of your community with an activity calendar. As mentioned earlier, seniors aren’t just looking for a safe place. They’re looking for an enriching one. A full events calendar with a wide range of activities shows your prospective residents that you’re serious about providing an engaging lifestyle.
Got awards? Show them! A highlight of your company’s achievements, as well as the achievements residents and workers have earned while at your community, shows respect and appreciation, as well as a level of quality they can rely on.
And most importantly… food. Your community's dining experience is undoubtedly something almost every prospective resident will want to know about. Show your dining staff’s talents by posting menus and highlighting what you do to ensure the best ingredients for your resident’s meals. Showing what you do to accommodate special diets and restrictions can also go a long way.
By following the steps above, and walking through your community as though you were a prospective resident, you can make some major – and minor – changes that add up to a whole lot of meaning for your prospective customers.
Expert Metric Assessment to Support Continued Growth
If you are managing a senior living community and are in need of expertise in developing and assessing effective marketing and programming metrics, contact us today. We excel at helping communities identify what metrics matter most to them and how to create strategies that ensure growth.
Sage Age Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.