To earn resident advocates in your community, the experience you give them on moving day is just as important as on touring day. Read the follow article written by senior living expert, Donna Cutting, CSP.
Fans of the show Mad Men may recall Don Draper telling his team “The day you sign the client is the day you start losing them.”
He’s got a point. In senior living we spend a lot of time, thought and resources figuring out how to attract and move-in new residents. The day we finally get that deposit check is a day of celebration. However, what happens next determines how that new resident and their family members feel about their decision. The experience you give them on moving day is your second chance to make another amazing first impression. Or not.
If you want to earn advocates for your senior living community with every new resident, follow these tips and roll out the red carpet during the move-in process.
1. Make Introductions Early
If you’re on the sales team, be sure to introduce your prospective new residents to other department heads and team members early in the process. In fact: the earlier, the better. Give others a chance to build relationships with your prospects before you earn the deposit check. The more positive relationships a person has in your community, the safer and more comfortable he or she will feel during those first few weeks. Also, they’ll be far less likely to be lining up at the marketing office with questions if they have more than one “best friend” in your community.
2. Underpromise, Overdeliver and Communicate
Nothing puts a damper on the excitement of moving into a new home than a promise broken. Consider Dave. When his Mom moved into her new assisted living apartment, she was looking forward to the new cabinets she was told would be there when she arrived. They weren’t. It took 2 weeks and numerous phone calls before they got there. “The cabinets were one thing. The bigger issue is that they made other promises, related to Mom’s care, that my brother and I deemed far more important. We trusted they would be kept. Now we have significant doubt they will,” Dave says. This community blew their second chance at a stellar first impression. The way to ensure you are under-promising and over-delivering is to communicate. The sales team and other department heads (nursing, maintenance, etc.) must continually communicate throughout the sales process to be sure that what’s being promised can be delivered on in a timely fashion. While your instinct may be to guarantee the world just to get them in, a promise broken keeps you from earning their referrals and possibly them moving out.
Communication, early and often, is the key with every team leader keeping both the needs of the resident and the community in mind at all times.
3. Anticipate Their Needs
Providing a red carpet move-in experience takes preparation and communication. Consider that this is, more often than not, a frightening move for your new resident. It’s a move that is fraught with mixed emotions for both the older adult and their family members. The better you anticipate their needs (and their wants), the calmer the process will be for them. For instance:
- Call to confirm the date/time of arrival so someone can be there to greet them
- Let them know who to ask for if they arrive early
- Provide parking information for the moving truck and family members who are assisting
- Provide written directions for helpers who may not have come prior to the big day
- Provide a meal and snacks in the room, for both the new resident and helpers
- Provide food and perhaps a sitter for pets who are also moving in (this is a great job for a resident ambassador)
- Provide stamped change of address cards
With all of the residents you have welcomed to your senior living community, you probably have a long list of things that have come up. Start anticipating these needs and wants and work as a team to wow them.
4. Personalize Their Welcome
Speaking of the “wow-factor,” the more specific the welcome, the more terrific the welcome. Hopefully you’ve done your discovery work and know a little bit about the person who is to become part of your community. Use that information to personalize their red carpet arrival. For instance, when one daughter mentioned her Mom’s fear that she would no longer be able to eat cornflakes in the morning, the dining team sent up a bowl of cornflakes for her first morning. Another team learned that a new resident was an avid coin collector. Using their connections, they found a rare coin and presented it to him as his welcome gift. One marketing professional heard a family member say, “We’ve got everything we need… short of a cold beer.” He ran across the street, came back and presented them with an unexpected six-pack. Personalize your welcome to add the “wow-factor” to your resident’s move-in day.
Develop a checklist of activities that must be accomplished within the first day; first week; first month and first 90 days of a new resident’s arrival. Chip away at implementation until you have it down pat.
If you spend as much time and effort on creating a stellar move-in experience as you do the tour and sales experience, you’ll have an easier time getting family members to say to their friends; “Let me tell you about this wonderful place I found for Mom!”
About the Author
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a team of customer service experts that help senior living professionals turn prospects into residents, and customers into raving fans. Download her free report 21 Days of Thank You from her website at http://www.RedCarpetLearning.com. Follow Red-Carpet Learning Systems on Facebook and follow Donna on Twitter at @donnacutting.