From Vacant to Vibrant: Strategies for Boosting Retirement Home Occupancy
The face of retirement living has transformed over the last decade with changes influenced by shifts in demographics, lifestyle preferences, and advances in the senior living industry. Retirement living communities are now designed to be vibrant, modern and community-centric environments where seniors can enjoy their older years in comfort, feeling safe and secure and surrounded by like-minded peers. However, faced with a more active and independent aging population, purpose-built retirement residences can find themselves struggling to maintain high occupancy rates. Here are some key strategies to help retirement homes boost occupancy and create appealing and enriching environments for residents.
Know your customer!
Knowing your customers’ behaviours and preferences is the cornerstone of a successful business. Take time to understand your customer’s needs and desires and structure and align your business operations – including product development, marketing, and sales- to reflect and meet these. What are your customer’s key motivations and drivers? What is important to them? What would influence their purchase choices? What are their pain points? How can your product solve these? Conduct surveys, focus groups, and market research to gain insights into what potential residents are looking for in a retirement community to ensure your product meets expectations, and sales and marketing activities reflect customer’s desires.
The importance of consistent and good-quality leads
The foundation of a successful sales strategy is a consistent flow of good-quality leads. Ongoing evaluation and monitoring of the efficacy of your marketing channels and their returns on investment is key to understanding what is working well and what isn’t. This data will allow you to adjust and refine strategic and tactical marketing activities accordingly to drive a steady flow of high-quality prospects with a genuine interest in your product.
Relevant and engaging marketing
With seniors now more tech-savvy, active and health-conscious than ever, traditional marketing channels must be combined with online platforms to create a comprehensive blended marketing approach that optimises reach and engagement. While it’s important not to overlook the challenges life in older age can present, it’s equally important to acknowledge the independence and vitality of today’s older individuals so avoid outdated imagery of seniors as frail and dependent. Use clear imagery in your marketing that resonates with your audience, perhaps using real-life models to avoid the clichéd stock photos commonly associated with senior living. Marketing should leverage digital outreach and reflect products and services designed to cater to diverse and active lives.
Your website should take into consideration the needs of an older audience. It should be easy to navigate and incorporate design elements that enhance readability. These include the use of clear and large fonts, simple navigation, large clickable areas, and clear calls to action. Social proof is key with seniors, so utilise the power of testimonials and success stories from current residents to reinforce your marketing messaging.
An empathetic approach to sales
Investment in later living arrangements is a highly considered purchase that can be both complex and sensitive for prospective customers and their families. You are not only selling a product – you are selling a lifestyle that signifies a significant change in living arrangments for prospective residents, one they may be resistant to embrace as they approach their later years. Selling change of this significance can be laden with emotion and demands a bespoke and empathetic approach to mirror the importance and significance it holds for prospective residents. In addition to possessing product expertise, sales teams should demonstrate empathy when managing the sensitivities that surround this. They should be able to answer questions and handle objections sensitively, comfortably and with confidence. Service Level Agreements with guaranteed response times should underpin all stages of the sales process to ensure the quick and efficient handling and resolution of enquiries and queries.
Host events and experiences
Modern retirement living spaces are contemporary, stylish and vibrant. However, the outdated perception of retirement communities living in institutional or clinical environments still prevails for many. Take the opportunity to showcase your premises with an events calendar designed to position your property as a vibrant hub of social activity. This allows prospective residents to experience your premises firsthand more naturally than a typical sales tour. Get creative in your event planning, customising experiences to resonate with your target audience. Looking to attract more male residents? Consider organizing sporting events such as cricket matches to attract interest in your property. Other ideas include wine-tasting evenings, culinary classes, book clubs, seasonal celebrations, summer barbecues, and engaging guest speakers, all of which are excellent opportunities to showcase your property to potential clients.
Focus on what can be changed
While there are elements of your product that cannot be changed – for example, the location or layout of your premises – there are aspects over which you have control, and these should be subject to continual review and improvement. Ongoing assessment of all aspects of your sales and marketing activities to ensure they meet pre-defined standards will optimise the potential for generating high-quality leads, ultimately boosting conversion rates.
Download our free ‘Maximising Sales Rate Checklist’ to help identify and monitor key elements of your sales and marketing activity and help identify areas for improvement to ensure sales rates are optimised.
Preparing for the discovery visit
For a prospective client, a discovery visit to assess the suitability of your retirement community as their potential new living arrangement is one of the most important meetings they will have as part of planning for later life. Acknowledge its significance by ensuring you are well prepared, and treat the visit with the respect it deserves. Review the notes from initial discovery calls to familiarise yourself with the client’s history and their stage in the decision-making journey. This allows you to tailor your approach, ask the right questions and provide the necessary information to help them reach the right decision. Ensure discovery meetings are held in a quiet but welcoming private space, with tea, coffee and refreshments on hand, where the client can feel at ease and comfortable discussing their potential living arrangements, any bespoke requirements and sensitive financing matters.
Drive brand visibility with partnerships
Collaborative partnerships with companies and organisations aligned with your target markets naturally open doors to new audiences and expand brand visibility. These could be on a local level – think link-ups with your local bridge club with referral schemes in place – or a more strategic approach, such as marketing collaborations with cruise companies, healthcare providers or financial planning organisations.
Targets and Database Management
An organized, targeted and measured approach to sales objectives, underpinned by a robust CRM to help manage and monitor the success of your efforts, can optimise the effectiveness of your sales activities. Establish KPIs to measure and monitor all stages of the sales process. Set targets for such metrics as the number of quality leads received each week, the ratio of enquiries to visits, and the ratio of visits to reservations. Measuring the conversion rate along the whole sales funnel will highlight which elements work and which require improvement. Support this by maintaining a comprehensive CRM system to capture and track all leads and related actions. This allows for the efficient monitoring of sales data, helping to enhance customer relationships and drive efficient, data-driven decision-making for better results.
The Power of Customer Referrals
And don’t forget, your most valuable and trusted advocates are your customers – your existing residents. Implementing a referral program that rewards recommendations from existing residents can provide you with your most powerful sales leads, backed by the trust and esteem of their testimonials.