In just about every sport, from a golf swing to a baseball pitch, a key fundamental to master is the follow through. Without it, all of the effort in the world can amount to nothing as your golf ball heads into the woods.
In Senior Living we spend a lot of effort getting prospective residents in the door, but how well we learn about them and follow up after they visit makes a big impact. There are some best practices on tours and follow up you can use to make sure your process is working as it should. We enlisted APFM partner Enlivant for some expert tips.
Make sure your tour is as unique as the family
Through thoughtful discovery, you can learn about what each family truly cares about in order to highlight those areas on your tour. APFM partner Enlivant built a framework for discovery called Building Meaningful Relationships, designed to get discussions rolling by asking open-ended questions and avoiding checklist items. “When our teams feel comfortable in asking the right questions, they can better understand the past and present story of each potential resident and their family members” says Enlivant’s VP of Sales, Joe Zukauskas. “We want to make sure we have the complete picture of what is important regarding cognitive ability, financial and nutrition information, but also on what really motivates and inspires them in emotional, social, and spiritual engagement.”
Since none of us can be everywhere at once, one way to make sure every family receives an outstanding, personalized tour is empowering everyone on the team to be part of the process. “Our teams understand they have an intricate and important role in not only caring for our resident, but in helping people before they become a resident as well” Joe says.
Training more team members on the sales process requires an investment but if fully committed to, it can make the tour experience more gratifying and help the “pride and passion” of your employees take center stage.
Nail the follow up process
Just like your tour, the follow up process should be personal and reflect the family’s timeline, interests and care needs. If the need isn’t urgent, instead of calling and asking if they are ready to move in you might invite them to come back and attend an event. This way, by the time that family is ready to make a decision, they are comfortable your community can provide what they need.
For many families, the senior living search is a new experience so they may not have known what questions to ask during their tour. “We have certain expectations of how we work with customers after they leave” says Joe. “Handwritten notes and a follow up call from our Executive Director after 24 hours are standard. A lot of questions arise after they leave because they are still processing.”
Just like with tours, Joe believes that taking a team approach to follow up is best. At Enlivant, the Executive Director and Care Services Manager get involved to make sure all financial and care related questions get answered. “We believe that once a resident moves into the community, if they have financial and/or care questions they should be able to approach the Executive Director or Care Services Manager (our Nurse), so we want to have those relationships built from the beginning.”
Make sure you are getting all feedback
Getting feedback on what the touring family has seen ensures that you can answer questions and address any concerns. Enlivant does this by maintaining a close partnership with APFM Senior Living Advisors (SLAs). “We have expectations of our teams here to make sure they are in constant communication with their SLAs. We share with the SLA what we learned about a potential resident to make sure we are doing everything in our power to provide a good experience for them as they are going through the decision making process.”
APFM has found that there is often information the family does not feel comfortable sharing with the community, such as comparisons to competition, that they will tell an SLA. For Joe, knowing more about a family’s needs means more than just having a higher chance of gaining a resident. “The bottom line for us is that it’s more important for the people we serve to have the right solution in place, than to try and fit them into our community – the more we work with APFM and referral partners, and we do the right thing for the customer every time, the better it is going to be for everybody in our industry.”