In October, A Place for Mom was proud to host Debbie Howard, founder and CEO of Senior Living Smart to discuss effective Manager on Duty (MOD) programs. Howard has over 20 years in senior living sales and marketing, and often presents training’s on effective MOD programs along with turn-key tools created by Howard and Senior Living Smart.
Howard starts off discussing the demand and need for leadership in all communities. She says it is important to implement a MOD for evenings and weekends when the sales team and executive director are not in house. Howard states, “We really run a 24 hour business” and with this, it is important to have someone residents, staff, and touring families can go to if any issue were to arise. MODs should be visible and present rather than being behind closed doors. This position is very hands on and establishing the roles and responsibilities of the MOD early will ensure an effective implementation of the MOD program.
Howard says MODs should be responsible for handling inquiry calls and tours, and should therefore be properly prepared to handle this new duty. Before implementing a MOD, communities should have MOD candidates trained in basic discovery skills. This is important as Howard points out the 50% of inquiries happen on evenings and over the weekend. This is also the time when many families drop in to see a community, and so MODs should be prepared to show them around the community and provide a welcoming and insightful experience.
To further support discovery training for MODs, Howard recommends communities practice role playing at manager meetings where everyone must collect information and walk through the process. Along with this, mystery shops can be extremely useful to coach and train MODs by providing feedback on their strengths and weaknesses with activities like giving a tour or answering an inquiry call.
MOD and Sales Alignment
Part of this experience includes the MOD collecting all the necessary information for families and the prospective resident, and passing along all of this information to the sales team for prompt follow up. Howard says that in her experience working with sales teams, they prefer be alerted of prospective clients right away, so she recommends setting up a way for your MOD to contact your sales director when they are away from the community, rather than having the lead sit in a mailbox until Monday.
Howard says by working together with the Executive Director (ED), the MOD can feel confident and ready to take on this leadership role, knowing the ED is there to support them. With an MOD program, staff, residents, and even visitors also know who to go to for issues or concerns – and that there is a manager presence on hand. She says to be important for MODs is to compile a binder or folder that includes checklists and information that the ED and MOD can go over together after the weekend. This would include things such as inquiry calls, tours, incidents that occurred, etc.
Further things to consider including and updating periodically within the MOD binder is a community fact sheet compiled by the sales and marketing team. Howard says this should include the details needed to provide anyone who comes in requesting a tour or information about your community. Howard suggests including: styles of living, which apartments are available to show, which apartments are rent ready, amenities offered, any other pertinent information– like a unique features of your community that sets you apart from competition. This fact sheet serves to support the MOD with proficiency and knowledge to properly handle families looking in to your community. It can be stored in the binder or at the front desk, depending on the personal preference of your community.
In the training of MODs, tours are a significant part to focus on in order to show a united and seamless leadership front within your community. Howard says that it is especially vital as many families decide to tour during the weekend when they have more time and flexibility. To compete with your competitors, your MODs should be well versed and prepared for meeting and connecting with families during these tours. Howard states the importance of “sit, walk, sit”.
Per Howard, “sit, walk, sit” training includes asking visitors to sit upon arrival to get a better understanding of the basic information on what they are looking for and need, developing a positive rapport with visitors, and so you can personalize the tour to their needs – show what will matter to them if they live at your community. Further, Howard suggests providing a few opening questions for MODs to ask visitors, and to teach them how to use open ended questions to encourage visitors to elaborate on their answers. To help in this training, Howard says have MOD applicants shadow your sales team on tours and other family interactions.
MOD Best Practices
In sum, Howard and her team at Senior Living Smart have provided excellent tips and suggestions to implement your own manager on duty program. The best practices to implement, as according to Howard are the following:
- Create a comprehensive schedule giving clear understanding of management coverage and hours. This is to ensure that hours are being met and there is understanding that this is an additional role to the position the employee already holds.
- “Consistency, clarity, and fairness in scheduling will prevent issues with buy-in”. Employees that become a MOD must understand that there will be some holidays and weekends they will have to work, and that there will be a rotation and fair scheduling of these days.
- Make a MOD binder and include tools to help MODs be successful.
- Don’t forget to leave the MOD keys for model and rent ready apartments for touring.
- Executive Directors should review MOD checklists to ensure the programs integrity and provide consistency.
- Regularly practicing inquiries and leading tours will help to train and build confidence for MODs.
- Mystery shops should only be used to train, coach and develop MODs. This will help give feedback on successes and things to improve on.
If you would like more information, watch the webinar Debbie Howard taught for APFM, as she answers partner questions and provides additional resources for those interested.