Any sales professional will tell you that weather impacts consumer behavior and purchasing decisions. The same is true for sales professionals in senior living tasked with trying to convey the benefits of senior living when our internal clock says “stay put”. Most families recognize that something needs to be done, but the very thought of moving can be paralyzing to the point of inaction during extreme weather.
Our decision-making can be affected by weather events, and understanding consumer behavior during these events is key to unlocking the opportunity to boost sales during weather events. This is especially true in senior living. If you know a major snowstorm is in the forecast, you may be inclined to stock up on food and stay inside. Knowing these behaviors and establishing a protocol upfront about how you will approach your communication with families before, during and after a weather event as part of your sales and marketing plan will help you be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
When hurricane Harvey was forecasted to hit the Texas coast, mega-retailer Walmart chose to make the most out of a difficult situation despite the approaching weather event. The local Walmart decided to divert as many trucks carrying one of their most popular items, the Strawberry Pop Tart, to stores located in the hurricane’s path. What was the result? They sold 7% more Pop Tarts than they typically do. This is not new for Walmart. Keeping a careful watch on the weather report, Walmart is able to implement a sales plans designed to maximize profits during severe weather events.
Here are seven key tips to get you to get organized
- Keep Your Eye on the Skies
For most of us, this is part of our daily routine. If you see a potential for a weather event five days from now your community team is probably springing into action with ordering extra supplies and scheduling extra staff. This is your time to send out an activity calendar or a bad weather postcard to your database. Ideally, the consumer should receive it as they are dealing with the weather.
- Organize a Follow-up List
Bad weather days are a great day to make follow up calls because of your increased likelihood of connecting to a family who may be home. But what leads should you spend your valuable time reaching out to? A good rule would be to anyone who has inquired within the last 90 days or who has toured and having difficulty connecting with post-tour. Next, consider contacting any lead that has inquired within the last 45 days that you have not successfully connected with over the phone. Following those, reach out to any lead classified as warm and finally those that are cold. This approach will allow you to maximize your call time with leads that have the strongest potential.
- Get Creative with Your Follow-up
A great way to connect with families is following up with a message that highlights the uncommon hospitality your community has to offer. As part of your follow-up can you offer to drop off a meal to the potential resident? Instead of following up just to “check in”, try this: “Our chef made some delicious chicken soup and I am making a list of folks to drop it off to. May I put you on the list?”
- Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat
Call to confirm your scheduled tours. If they want to reschedule why not offer to give them a lift? Arranging transportation not only makes things easier for someone who has a limited ability to drive during a weather event, it can speed up the touring process. Other options to consider would be to arrange a local car service or Uber.
- Meet with Families Virtually
In extreme weather conditions, families and seniors want to stay inside. Advances in technology can help bring the community to the customer with virtual activities. Offer to Skype or Facetime an exercise program or musical concert. Do a virtual walk-through of your community or a meet and greet with your department directors.
- Post Storm Engagement
An image is worth a thousand words. Use the power of a photograph or video to show how your residents spent the day. Were they out with your staff building a snowman or enjoying warm cider around the fire? Your picture should show the great lifestyle and peace of mind your community provides, enticing consumers to want to see more of what you offer. If your community is social media savvy consider posting on your social channels to share with prospective families. You can also incorporate this into a post-storm or pre-storm email blast to your CRM database.
- Include Family Testimonials
Use your happy family members to tell the story of what life was like during bad weather events before their loved one made the transition to a senior living community. This unbiased source will help boost confidence in your community. You can then share these stories in your communications, social posts and pre- or post-storm emails to showcase how senior living communities are safe havens for residents during inclement weather events.
Weather-related events can have a significant influence on a family decision to place their family member in a senior living community. Therefore, every community should consider a weather specific marketing plan that they can implement quickly. Being nimble, quick and precise will help you engage with more families and close more sales.