It’s hard to think of many decisions that families must make that are more important than care for a senior loved one. Knowing this, as those who help families navigate the sometimes complicated world of senior-living, we are providing the best service possible when we personalize the experience for each family.
I’m a checklist person. I want to be sure I hit every point and don’t miss anything important. Interestingly enough, this proved to be more of a detractor when I worked with potential residents and their families in a senior living community.
At first, I wanted to be sure every person I encountered had the ‘privilege’ of seeing the entire community, met most of the leadership team, enjoyed some of the delicious food AND I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to show off the indoor pool! Wow, what tiring visits these folks ENDURED! I can’t even recall the number of people I wore out by dragging them to three different model apartments, ensuring they saw the hair salon as well as the outdoor garden – without really focusing on what was important to them.
While it is fantastic to be so proud of all that you offer and show it all off to everyone — this ‘feature-can overwhelm and confuse the customer. Thankfully, this quickly became obvious to me and I began to have greater success by focusing on learning the most important points the senior or their family felt was important. Asking more questions up front and listening to what was on their mind helped me customize an experience that fit their needs. When I customized that first visit to ensuring their top one to two to three interests/concerns were met, the customers felt connected and that I understood what was most important to them.
Prior to the visit, ask questions to determine how you will make the most of their visit:
- What is your Mother most concerned about, regarding this move?
- What is her normal routine throughout the day – including wake-up time, morning activities, afternoon activities and evening?
- What hobbies interest her? Both currently and in the past?
- Have you discussed apartment option sizes? How would she feel about her bedroom being in the main area of the apartment (studios don’t work for everyone!)?
- What can you tell me about her food preferences?
- When a family has been referred by a partner referral source such as A Place for Mom, be sure to connect with the Senior Living Advisor to discuss their key needs – make the most of having this extension of your sales efforts by strategizing to make the most of this valuable opportunity
With these answers in hand, a very specific visit can be planned in advance to include tailored apartment choices and the most important team members they should meet during the first visit. Additionally, planning to introduce them to residents with similar interests and even planning a couple of tasty food choices can make ensure their experience is unique to them.
When you take the time to share this information with your whole team at stand up or by sending a short email summary – everyone can make the most of the potential resident’s/family’s time in your community.
Post-Tour Follow-up Planning
As we all know, most families don’t make their final decision during their first visit. Customizing your follow-up efforts will help the family stay focused on their key concerns and keep moving forward. We have all experienced the satisfaction when a family expresses their relief when you have made the process easier by answering their questions early on, giving them the confidence to take the appropriate steps to ensure their loved one’s safety and comfort.
Strategize with your team following the family’s first visit. What did they observe? What worked for them? What questions or concerns remained? By addressing these right away, the family will likely appreciate your help with meeting their needs. Rather than inviting a family back for a second tour, invite them back to meet the neighbor who lives next door to the apartment they think will work best for their Mother. Or, let the prospective resident know your dining team has seafood gumbo on the menu next week and since that is their favorite dish, you’ll be bringing by a sample and the team is anxious to hear what they think.
Here’s a few real life examples to inspire personalization:
- One gentleman I had talked to by phone on a weekly basis for no less than three months, was only interested in ensuring his little dog would be happy in our community. Knowing this, we offered both of them a weekend trial stay in our guest suite. Once the doggie approved, the move happened right away!
- One couple had practically eliminated Independent Living as an option because of their concern about the cost – after asking more questions, I learned they thought the cost would be 3x what is really was – and they could easily afford our very high-end community! Once these fears were alleviated, they moved right away and were thrilled!
- Two sisters who desperately needed to live in our community were paralyzed by having to dispose of so much of their belongings. By determining this early on, we connected them with a senior move specialist who removed all concerns and handled the down-sizing for them. Sometimes your resources are the key to a decision being made.
In my 10 years of working in communities like yours, I found that the hesitation to make a move most often centered on the fear of the unknown. When these roadblocks are eliminated or at least diffused, the path forward will be so much easier. We all know these are important decisions families must make. If we take the time to personalize each experience for individual families, the amount of time it takes to make their decision will be reduced and more quickly their loved one can join your community!