Life Care Services Credits Sales Revamp For Recent Occupancy Gains

Life Care Services is seeing better occupancy and increased move-ins after refocusing its sales culture last year.

The management arm of Des Moines, Iowa-based LCS reported a 23% same-store occupancy bump for its rental communities, compared to this time last year. Life Care Services also said that move-ins for those communities were up 13% from the first quarter of this year.

A representative for the company didn’t immediately have the portfolio’s overall occupancy rate on hand when asked by Senior Housing News Tuesday.

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Additionally, 65% of Life Care Services’ life plan communities reported a better occupancy rate than the listed NIC average for their metro areas, and 71% of the provider’s life plan communities are over 90% sold.

That’s all attributable to a recent retooling of its proprietary sales philosophy, SalesFIRST, according to Allison Pendroy, senior vice president and senior director of life plan communities for Life Care Services.

“We’ve made an investment of time, focus, and resources in revamping our sales philosophy and culture,” Pendroy told Senior Housing News. “We’re to this point where we can start to put some quantitative data behind the new focus, and it is validating that we’re moving the needle.”

Life Care Services manages 128 locations, 90 of which are life plan communities and 38 of which are rental communities. The company is the third-largest operator of senior living communities in the U.S. by total unit count, according to Argentum’s 2018 largest providers list; and the second-largest operator according to 2018 ASHA 50.

The provider first identified improving its sales philosophy as a priority in late 2016, according to Pendroy. The following year, LCS tapped Tampa, Florida-based senior housing sales and marketing consultancy Bild & Company to help refresh its sales culture.

By 2018, those efforts resulted in a handful of changes: better alignment between sales and marketing, more focused accountability for community leaders, new sales standards, a clear definition of what its sales philosophy means and a revamped sales leadership training process.

“The top leader at every community … is being empowered and held accountable to the results in selling and growing occupancy,” Pendroy said. “We also have more crystallization around SalesFIRST standards, [such as] response times, number of inquiries and number of attempts to make contact.”

A bump in occupancy and move-ins isn’t the only way Life Care Services efforts are bearing fruit. Other more nuanced indicators include improved response times, increased appointment velocity and more phone-outs.

“We’re seeing all of the important behaviors coming together, and now we’re able to calculate it in terms of move-ins and occupancy results,” Pendroy said. “It’s really positive and we would expect it to continue.”

These sales efforts come as the overall senior living industry struggles with historically low occupancy rates, with oversupply and competition pegged as the main culprits. Life Care Services wasn’t the only company looking to revamp its sales process, either. For instance, Bridge Investment Group targeted better sales and marketing as one way to drive occupancy for all of its senior housing operators.

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