Senior Living Sales Suffer Missed Opportunities

Senior living sales deficiencies have been identified in the past by mystery shoppers and studies of industry data. Yet providers still struggle in some areas, leading to lower than desired conversion rates and move-ins.

A report released this month by customer relationship management (CRM) provider Enquire Solutions points to several missed opportunities based on its analysis of more than 1,000 communities’ sales data.

Capturing every lead

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“The biggest takeaway is we know that not every lead is captured,” says Erin Hayes, the company’s CIO and controller. “It’s a known fact. We’ve mystery shopped and found that people don’t answer the phone on a regular basis.”

Among Enquire Solutions’ findings, 31% of call-ins never see a CRM, 20% of sales activity is never entered into a CRM and 68% of web leads are not converted.

Call centers, or 24-hour outside sales teams, have been found to be effective in reducing the fall-through of calls, and many providers have established them in-house or are utilizing third-party providers in conjunction with their internal salesforce.

They have netted a 61% average for appointment conversions versus 37% for communities that do not work with call centers.

But there is still more a sales team can do on the community level, Hayes says.

Setting sales expectations

One missed opportunity pointed to in the report is that salespeople give up too soon.

The inquiry-to-tour time frame was nine days on average in 2014-2015, Enquire Solutions finds. For inquiry-to-move-in, the time frame was an average of 83 days, accounting for a 138-day average move in to independent living, and a 51-day cycle for assisted living.

But what some salespeople are missing is the number of points of contact a sale actually takes, Hayes says.

“This is stressing the importance of not just taking the low hanging fruit who has an immediate need,” she says. “The person called for a reason. On average for independent living, it takes 19 contacts. That’s a lot. Most people quit after four or five.”

Of those 19 contacts for an average independent living sale, five are in person, according to the report. For assisted living, the average number of contacts is eight, including three in person. For memory care, nine total contacts include two face-to-face.

“This [data] can be used for setting goals,” Hayes says.

Understanding the audience

While online advertising has proven effective, with an appointment ratio of 29% for community site and social media advertising, there’s still merit to print advertising, Hayes says.

Providers should look to multiple sources of advertising to cater to the different preferences of the generations they are targeting.

“There’s going to be a big shift, and everyone needs to be prepared. Independent living [prospects] are looking on behalf of themselves. For them, print advertising is still huge, and a high inquiry to tour conversion,” she says.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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