Today’s aging population is not the same as it was in years past. Because they’re more active, more involved and more fit, older adults today are interested in lifestyles that will keep them active and healthy for years to come.
When it finally does come time to select a senior living community, they’re likely to seek a well-rounded facility that emphasizes health and wellness and offers myriad opportunities to stay active. As a result, communities that offer such amenities as fitness programs, extensive opportunities for socialization and alternative wellness modalities such as warm water fitness pools are poised to attract, capture and retain the individuals in this profitable market.
New senior living communities have learned that to become a revenue-generating provider, they should have:
- Increased census and referrals, which increases ROI
- Fewer resident discharges
- Cutting-edge fitness options and high-tech amenities
These goals probably come as no surprise. To increase revenue, however, there’s no doubt you must achieve them.
The occupancy of the facility must always be a primary focus. Why? Because it drives revenue and determines profitability.
So let’s look at ways to create or update marketing plans to increase occupancy.
Be Better Than the Competition
Marketing today is different than it used to be. Gone are the days of being able to increase census — and revenue — simply by referrals from doctors, hospitals and community events. As interest in your facility drops, you may wonder what piece of the marketing puzzle you’re missing.
You can increase your qualified leads by ensuring you’re providing something no one else is and then advertising that. Boost your online presence with your unique selling proposition — your USP — and promote the products, services and features that will distinguish you from other communities and will draw residents in.
In other words, do what you do best. Provide a top-notch facility with a high level of care, and then make sure prospective residents hear about it.
Align Sales and Marketing Strategy to Increase Continuing Care Retirement Center Revenue
Why is it important to actively market your facility? According to the National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, there are more than 31,000 senior living communities nationwide, and they serve about one million older adults. That’s a lot of competition to take into account.
By executing a well-thought-out marketing plan, you can promote a product so people want to buy it. In other words, drive revenue through marketing. These same marketing successes or failures can also affect your facility’s census. By marketing your facility in a smart, targeted manner and offering a high level of care,you’ll decrease your vacancies while increasing revenue.
When you properly align your sales and marketing efforts, you improve your return on investment (ROI) potential and a large revenue-generating opportunity — up to a 20% increase in overall revenue generated. And the good news is, it’s never too late to align these efforts.
But aligning sales and marketing does more than just increase revenue for your continuing care retirement center (CCRC). It also makes it easier to successfully measure ROI, evaluate performance and identify changing attitudes, strategies and markets.
With senior living communities, real estate is the biggest cost. The incremental cost of adding residents is comparatively low. Regardless of what you’re spending on marketing, look at this: How much is each empty room costing you, based on an average stay? Your marketing should be creating more revenue than it’s expending. The marketing climate is changing and
business is no longer based solely on word of mouth. Sure, positive reviews are important — no doubt. But just as today’s older adults are more active and involved, they’re also more Internet-savvy. They’re googling “senior living” and similar searches at five times the industry growth. Demand for senior living has increased approximately 3% yearly, and older adults’ online searches grew 15%.
Your word-of-mouth and online reviews might be helping now, but that pipeline isn’t guaranteed. Instead, make sure you’re not only targeting your market audience, but that you’re also ensuring your facility is marketable. Revenue is driven by occupancy, and where there are census issues, there are often marketing failures.
Get Your Facility Marketing Ready
As you implement your new marketing strategy, you need to ensure your facility — both inside and out — is truly ready to be promoted and marketed. You don’t want potential customers to see it one minute before it is.
Remember that prospects are first judging your book by its cover. They’re going to see what you offer, what upgrades you provided and what differentiates you from the competition. Quality of care — truly vital to the decision-making process — is not something your prospects can easily evaluate on a tour. They’ll be able to best judge that after admission.
How do you measure up? If you’re falling short of expectations or projections, you can enhance your image, increase revenue for your retirement community and keep your facility profitable by ensuring you:
- Strive for marketing success, along with positive public relations. Marketing increases revenue, when done right. Public relations simply shift public perception — generally from negative to positive. Just because your facility has an impeccable public image, though, doesn’t mean you won’t have empty beds.
- Evaluate your marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, you can’t count on word of mouth to fill beds anymore. As times change, so must your marketing strategy. Make sure you’re targeting your clients where they are, whether that’s by printing brochures, investing in online advertising or taking out ads in the Sunday paper. Understand where your audience is, and go after them.
- Position your staff for success. When your marketing team brings prospects to the front door, is your team ready to guide them on their tour, or are they left waiting – or worse yet, are they left on their own to figure out what to do? Be sure the staff giving the tour are well-versed in all of the amenities offered and can highlight each, even if it is not on the potential clients “wish list.”
- If you’re at capacity, raise prices, but don’t stop spending on marketing. Sounds crazy, right? However, in doing so, you can help maximize your community’s potential by ensuring you can fill rooms quickly, if the need ever arises.
But this isn’t the only way you can increase senior living revenue and census. You need to find your USP and then promote it. Every facility is one-of-a-kind. What product or service do you offer that you can promote? Find your USP and capitalize on it to ensure families and individuals understand your facility’s benefits.
Find Your USP?
What, exactly, should you be promoting about your facility to differentiate yourself from the competition?
When you’re ready to embrace both formal marketing campaigns, such as mass and targeted marketing, and informal promotion, networking and word of mouth, you want to emphasize your specialized products.
But before you can convince anyone else that your product is the best, you must believe it yourself.
Research and evaluate your target market’s needs and identify your USP — what makes you different. As the branding tool for your facility, your USP will drive your business and your success. To be used with every marketing effort you execute, your USP will help you build a lasting, positive reputation in your community.
Your USP might not be obvious. It may take some creativity and introspection to find it. One way to identify your USP is through the “four P’s of marketing”:
- Product characteristics
- Price structure
- Placement strategy — location and distribution
- Promotional strategy
Within one of these P’s is your unique position in the market, which will help you stand out from the competition.
What do your competitors think about themselves? Take a look at their print ads and their commercials. What are they focusing on? What are their marketing messages emphasizing? Now, how do you compare?
Pinpointing your USP is more than just identifying products or services — it’s also about targeting what you say you sell.
When you identify something that makes your business stand out from all the others, you’ve found your USP. Having trouble identifying it? Look at:
- Viewing your facility from the outside. Can you look at your business objectively? What do customers really want and need? Are you providing this to them? In their eyes, what would make your facility stand out from all the others? Talk to your current residents and find out what made them choose your facility over another.
- Packaging. Nearly everything comes with packaging these days — a box, an envelope, a wrapper. Your facility is no exception. It needs to come brightly packaged to ensure your wrapper — your staff and your building — will engage and attract customers so they can discover the amazing product just beneath.
- Pricing. People rarely make decisions on price alone. They’re usually considering the entire package. If you’re losing to competitors solely on price, you must find what makes you different and then build your marketing plan around that feature.
- Identifying a performance gap. What needs are going unfulfilled in most communities? How could you address, remedy or improve upon that gap?
- Identifying purchase decisions. What drives your customers to select the community they do? Although identifying traditional demographics — gender, age and income, for example — is helpful, you need to go beyond the superficial and beyond their obvious needs. Sometimes people make purchasing decisions based on desires rather than needs. What are your customers’ motives for selecting the facility they do?
Identify USPs That Will Excite Residents and Increase Senior Living Revenue
What makes you different from other communities? What do you offer that no one else does? How can you counter the statistic that approximately half of senior living residents experience major symptoms of depression?
To be successful, you don’t have to have a product or service that’s unique, although it helps. What you do have to do is stand out, which is accomplished by uncovering your USP — which will, of course, be what makes you different.
But beyond this, you must ensure your USP is viable. To find this out, ask these questions: Does the need for this USP exist? Is that need currently unmet?
It’s not always easy to uncover your USP, but once you do, you can easily leverage it to increase revenue for your senior living community. What types of USPs are valuable to your audience? Let’s talk about some services and resources senior living management offers. How can you market amenities like these to increase senior living revenue?
- Entertainment options. Building a successful community means catering to the needs and desires of residents. Whether that’s building a putting green, organizing outings to professional sports events or museums, offering fine arts classes, or hosting lectures from local professors, retirement no longer means being inactive. What entertainment amenities do you offer that are unique to your community?
- Health and wellness services. Keeping the brain and the body active is important. From offering yoga classes to underwater treadmill walking to “brain training,” facilities that challenge the brain and move the body safely can do wonders in preventing depression in aging patients.
- Concierge services. Who doesn’t enjoy going to a hotel, where one phone call can take care of dinner arrangements, flight reservations and a car service? Luxury senior living communities agree, and that’s why they offer these value-added services at prices lower than what residents could arrange for on their own.
- Cooking and dining options. Some upscale facilities offer full, high-end kitchens in their units. For those residents who still love to cook and entertain, this is a great selling point. Other facilities offer multiple restaurants within their communities, providing options for choice and variety.
- Social events. Moving to a retirement community offers ample opportunities for meeting people and making new friends, reducing isolation and the risk of depression as a result. How do you encourage social development at your facility? Do you share Thanksgiving meals with the less fortunate? Decorate cookies for a soup kitchen at Christmas?
- Community service. It’s great to feel needed, regardless of your age. With myriad opportunities — and plenty of manpower — to serve others, getting or keeping residents involved in their community is easy and important. Can residents serve as a surrogate grandparent, help tend community gardens or give lectures to others?
It can be difficult for some people to make the transition to a senior living community. It’s understandable. But when health, safety or social situations call for the move, tangible USPs like fitness pools can help older-adult offerings like the above facilitate the transition and make it more attractive.
It’s important to position your facility to be unlike any other. The opportunities for promotion are endless, and getting potential residents excited about their life changes can be a significant competitive advantage when it comes to closing the deal.
How will you take the next step?
Encouraging the Transition Through Unique USPs
As America’s older-adult population continues to increase, so will competition for top-notch senior living communities. To be successful, these communities must continuously position themselves on the -edge of technological development. By doing so, they will attract, retain and increase the aging-patient population and will increase CCRC revenue for years to come.
Exciting clients about amenities available in their next stage of life is key to your success, and a USP can accomplish this. By identifying your unique USP, you can use it to increase sales by promoting, positioning and packaging it in a way that makes your facility impossible to resist.
And when you find the USP that improves quality of life, health and social involvement while reducing the risk of depression? That’s truly something worth getting excited about.
Ready to learn how HydroWorx can play a part in increasing your revenue? Read about why water works for senior services and learn how our products can help your community achieve its financial goals.