Guest Blogger, Rick Hunsicker


Rick Hunsicker, Vice President Sales Services at Love & Company, Inc.

Extreme Competition. It’s the current trend in assisted living and in memory care. Independent living is beginning to experience more new competition as well. This competition started around four years ago for assisted living and memory care and about a year ago for independent living.
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Within five miles of my neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, three brand new assisted living/memory care communities recently opened. Two new independent living communities under construction now are within two blocks of each other and a third one is only a mile from the other two!
Aging Baby Boomers is the reason for the increase in construction of senior living communities and thus the competition. The oldest members of this group are in their early 70’s and developers and operators are preparing for them.
What does this trend mean to assisted living, memory care and independent living? It means that the consumer has many more options when looking for housing and care. And many of these options are brand new communities. So, it is imperative that communities and their marketing and sales team are “spot-on” in all areas of marketing and sales in order to show prospects and families that they are the best of all of the increased number of options.
The successful senior community—new or old—needs to be discovered by the consumer prior to his or her move to a competitor, otherwise the sales team does not even have a chance to make their presentation. In order to make a sale, it is important that the consumer or the decision-maker has a chance to see and experience the community before making a decision. Typically, the consumer will be interested in learning more about certain communities and will make calls to schedule a visit. The call must be so engaging and enthusiastically handled that the consumer and/or the decision-maker will want to visit the community.
During the scheduled visit to the senior community, the following must occur:
  • The community must have impressive curb appeal and convenient parking.
  • The parking lot and the entrance must be clean and tidy.
  • The community should have a residential feel.
  • When the prospect enters the community, he or she is warmly greeted and made to feel welcome.
  • The actual presentation must be warm and caring, and should not feel scripted, it should be genuine and natural. 
  • During the presentation, certain questions should be asked in order to retrieve specific information before they leave the meeting room. What is your current situation? What is your future situation? How long have you been looking? What do you like or not like in a community? What is your time frame? What is most important to you if you were to move? 
  • Upon return to the meeting room after the walk through the community, feedback from the prospect should be obtained.  There are specific questions we recommend that can help determine the level of interest right then, and help determine what additional information to provide.  The sales person must always recommend the next step, whether that is to make a deposit or schedule a family member to visit the community or any other needed next step to advance the sale.
  • Two of the biggest failures I see today are sales counselors having prospects leave the community without understanding their real situation and gaining an appropriate next step, and the failure to overcome most objections before the prospect leaves the community.
  • Following up the same day has proven to make a big difference with prospects — do not wait until the next day unless it’s a late in the day appointment. It should be a phone call to the prospect or decision-maker, asking for their thoughts at this time, while it’s fresh on their mind. The question should not be, “do you have any questions?”
This trend of heavy competition has led to two additional growing trends in senior living:
  • Communities are now turning to professional consultants for help with the sales training and sales process improvement, as well as on-going sales coaching and support services. 
  • Many communities are offering special deals, such as a free month’s rent or rate discount, as part of their sales strategy. This is a developing trend that we think will continue for those communities that cannot effectively sell their true value and clearly differentiate their unique advantages.
We have also found that marketing and sales of senior communities is most effective when it is based on how consumers make their decisions to buy.  And, effective digital marketing will continue to be a big advantage to those who do it well.
Fore more information about Love & Company, please contact Rick Hunsicker at rhunsicker@loveandcompany.com or visit  www.loveandcompany.com.
Love & Company is a national senior living consulting and marketing company with offices in Frederick, Maryland and Dallas, Texas.

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