Last year, I had the opportunity to visit three of A Place for Mom’s (APFM) top partner communities in terms of total referred move-ins during 2014. The top APFM partner community had 42 referred move-ins! When I reflect on my time working in communities, I know I speak for Sales Managers everywhere when I say, “20 move-ins from APFM referrals in one year would be unbelievable!” Imagine what 42 move-ins would do for your community.
During my visits, I asked each of these top APFM partners, “How do you get so many move-ins from our referrals?” Since touring these communities, I’ve had time to ruminate on what I observed, and I’m sharing their answers with you below.
3 Best Practices from 3 Top Partners
1. Have Systems in Place to Quickly Respond to Referrals
In my last two years with APFM, I’ve seen that top partner communities are the quickest to respond to referrals. It often seems offensively obvious, but many of us are “too busy” to respond within 30 minutes. The most successful properties have systems and processes in place to ensure their community is always responding to leads within 30 minutes – no matter the day of the week. All three communities agree that this is an essential best practice and contributes to part of their success.
A Sales Manager at one of the top performing communities was surprised to hear that not everyone followed-up with new inquiries as quickly as possible. This Sales Manager, a consistent award winner and top performer at her organization, said that she takes “speed to lead” to the next level. She does this by ensuring APFM’s local Advisors know about her speed in responding to our referrals. Our Advisors receive a response to each referral they send her, which lets the Advisor know that she has responded to the lead and will follow up with the Advisor when she has new information to share.
Her next step is to show that she will go above and beyond with APFM-referred prospects. For a “hot” referral, she will drive to their home, current rehab or hospital to visit. She once met with a veteran who needed to be discharged from the veteran’s hospital over the weekend and was frantic. She drove to see him on a Saturday, assisted him in getting his affairs in order, helped get him home from the hospital, hired a mover to come on Sunday, signed and explained each page of his new lease agreement, and helped him downsize. That was all in one weekend, and the gentleman is still happily living in her community years later. I spoke with our APFM local Advisors in her market, and they all agree that she is the go-to sales manager in town. They know that she will respond quickly and move mountains for each family.
2. Community Leadership Supports the Sales Team
The Executive Directors I spoke with at the top communities fully supported their sales team. It sounds simple, but how many Executive Directors (EDs) or General Managers (GMs) give their community sales associates non-sales focused tasks or projects? This would include, assisting with community activities and (non-sales) events, or covering for the front desk attendant or concierge during a lunch break. While a sales associate should be involved in some community events/activities, the best EDs protect their sales team’s time. When sales associates are working in the daily community operations, who is trying to fill those last few apartments? The most successful EDs go one step further by creating a sales culture throughout their community where all departments understand the sales goals, protect the sales team’s time and get involved in the sales process.
3. They Have a Positive Attitude
The top community Sales Managers from last year made me feel like they do whatever it takes to be successful. They have the drive to be productive every day. They prioritize the daily activities that will drive results and they get them done. Whether it’s two home visits, three calls to “hot” leads, a visit with a local discharge planner, or 50 phone calls, they get it done. This positive attitude was contagious and is definitely one of the reasons for their wild success in 2014.