– Special contribution by Donna Cutting, the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems –
While opportunity in senior living has never been better; the competition has never been greater. Your prospective residents are much more informed and typically visit many communities before selecting their new home.
How do you ensure that the tour you give your prospects is the one that stays on their mind? Personalization is the key!
The old cookie cutter tour that comes complete with a monologue about your “unique” features and a coffee mug with your company name on it is no longer enough. It costs an average of $900.00 marketing dollars to generate one tour, so make each one worth your while by personalizing to your prospect. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Deepen Your Discovery: Spend less time telling people about your property and more time asking questions. In your initial phone conversations and at every opportunity dig a little to discover both the needs and wants of your prospective resident. What are their likes and dislikes? What hobbies have they enjoyed in their past and present? What do they care about most? The more you know, the better prepared you are to personalize their experience.
Welcome Them By Name: A simple way to personalize any experience is by using your guest’s name. Provide a personalized parking space; a welcome sign in the lobby or the marketing office; or surprise luncheon guests with their name on the menu. The sales team at Splendido, a Mather LifeWays community in Tucson, Arizona, does all three.
Involve Your Entire Team: At Red-Carpet Learning Systems, we train our clients to provide guest advisories to all staff members. When managers and the front line team are armed with the knowledge that a special guest is expected, they are better prepared to make them feel welcome. Give your team a little insight as to the hobbies and interests of your guest, and they can help you personalize the tour with their comments. For instance, “Mr. Smith, we’ve been expecting you. I understand you are a United States Veteran. Thank you for your service to our country.”
You can also give your front-line team “first impressions training” to ensure their warmth and hospitality shine through while you’re giving a tour. The more tools you give your team, the more they become an integral part of your sales force. Ensure that your team members know to greet every person in the party.
Plan Your Introductions: Even a hotel with 3 star amenities can provide 5 star service. The same principle applies in senior living. Your competition down the street may have a more beautiful building, but you can win on hospitality and relationships.
You know that one resident that makes your day by singing the praises of your community when you bump into her during a tour? Don’t leave it to chance. Enlist her as a member of your team and ask her to be on hand to greet guests as they tour the building.
Plan to connect your guest with residents and staff members that share their hobbies or interests.
One marketing professional told me that when it came time to help her parents move into a senior living residence, she was surprised by their choice! Their decision was based not on the beauty of the buildings; or the amenities; but on the relationships they had built with people during one of the tours.
Keep a Gifting Closet: Keep a “secret stash of swag” or a closet full of inexpensive gifts in a variety of categories. People care about their pets; their children and grandchildren; sports teams; church; books; etc.
This will ensure you’re ready to personalize for walk-in tours. You could send them home with your company coffee cup – or send them off with treats for Fido and a coloring book for their great-granddaughter. Which is more memorable?
Listen for Opportunities to WOW!: Keep your ears open for opportunities to surprise and delight your guests. When one of our clients asked the son of a new resident if he could help in any other way, the son quipped “Unless you have a cold beer I think you’ve done everything!” The sales person came back 30 minutes later and surprised him with a six-pack.
Your guests are giving you clues to help you WOW them. Are you listening?
Personalize Your Follow-Up: You are sending a hand-written thank you note, right? Sending a note on company stationary is nice. Sending photos of people they met along the way is better.
It takes very little to stand out in a crowd. Make your tour more about THEM and less about you. There will be no question that your community is the right choice!
About the Author Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a team of customer service experts who help senior living organizations turn prospects into residents and customers into raving fans. She’s the author of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service. Get more tips by visiting her website at http://www.redcarpetlearning.com.