New senior living inquiries slowed for most providers in 2020 — but the decrease was markedly smaller for communities that offer both assisted living and memory care services.
That’s according to a new sales and marketing benchmark report compiled and analyzed by Enquire, a company that offers customer relationship management, marketing automation and contact center solutions to the industry. The latest report includes data from more than 4,000 senior living communities in the U.S.
While monthly inquiries slowed by 17% last year — going from 47 average inquiries per month in 2019 to 39 in 2020 — certain kinds of senior living providers fared better than others.
Chief among them were communities that offer both assisted living and memory care services, which only saw a 6% decrease in average monthly inquiries, going from 43 in 2019 to almost 37 in 2020.
The new data lends credence to the notion that communities offering needs-based care have fared slightly better in attracting prospective residents than the rest of the senior living industry. The idea is that older adults who need senior living services simply can’t wait for the pandemic to end and are therefore more likely to seek it out, as opposed to older adults who are less in need of those services and can make do in their current homes for now.
Indeed, the product type’s more steady level of inquiries in 2020 may have something to do with the specialized nature of care these communities provide, according to the report.
Communities that offer independent living also performed better than their peers with regard to average monthly inquiries, going from 50 in 2019 to nearly 44 in 2020, representing a 14% annual decrease. Independent living providers also converted about 5% of inquiries into move-ins, a rate that was almost unchanged from 2019.
The numbers represent a “decent year” for independent living sales in 2020 despite the pandemic, according to the report.
For providers that offered only assisted living services, average monthly inquiries dropped 18% last year, going from 44 in 2019 to 36 in 2020. And memory care communities saw 17% fewer average monthly inquiries, going from 36 in 2019 to 31 in 2020. But despite the pandemic and its pressures, both product types have rebounded from lows seen during the worst parts of last year.
Residential life plan communities, which offer independent living, assisted living and other kinds of care, saw a decrease in average monthly inquiries of 19% in 2020. But the product type’s rate of converting inquiries to move-ins was 3%, which was roughly unchanged from the previous year’s levels.
For all product types, web traffic became a much larger source of new leads, with nearly half of all senior living inquiries coming from the internet in 2020. And the amount of sales activity needed to nurture a relationship with a prospect increased for most levels of care last year, the report noted.
The findings of the report corroborate what some industry leaders have been saying in recent weeks. For example, Belmont Village CEO Patricia Will said that needs-based demand is resurgent, during a recent appearance on SHN+ TALKS. And many sales and marketing professionals commented on the shift to digital, as well as the amount of effort needed to nurture leads, during the recent SHN virtual Sales Summit.