As operators, we have three main points of focus when it comes to the financial health of our community: Driving sales by welcoming new residents into our community, controlling our move-outs, and controlling our expenses. All of these require attention from the executive director, every day.
Sometimes, we put more focus on one area. For instance, we may not put much focus on getting the next move in—isn’t that a job for the sales team? Those of us without a sales background tend to shy away.
But a few important actions can help us become better operators and help our sales team know we support them.
First: The most important person on the sales team is the executive director. As the executive director, you are the sales leader. Even without a sales background, an executive director can make the difference in whether a new resident moves into their community or one down the street. As a former community relations director, I understand the importance of getting assistance from the executive director. I knew my supervisor was invested in my success and was always there to help close a sale.
When an executive director steps into the discovery room and greets the tour, they make a meaningful impact. It’s the perfect opportunity to help a resident or their family understand the community on a different level and to see that you truly care about their well-being.
It is always helpful for an executive director to help in making calls from your lead database. You are ensuring that your sales team is following the process and following up—we all know there is a ton of competition around. In addition, you yourself get a chance to follow up with leads. You can see how things are going and whether they have questions. If you’ve lost a lead to a competitor, you can ask what you could have done better. As I have made calls, I have been able to answer questions and overcome any obstacles to help close the sale. In other businesses, it’s rare that a customer gets to hear directly from the CEO—i.e., the executive director.
Making calls in your lead database doesn’t require a ton of time, but it does require you make room in a busy day. But when you do this, you show your sales team you are invested in their success.
Creating relationships with referral partners is another way an executive director can make a difference. As you get to know who your referral partners are, you can better understand your residents, based on who referred them to your community. You can also develop ways to build a stronger partnership in serving seniors. As a community relations manager, I always relied on my relationships that I built for referrals. These relationships mean more than many realize.
Invite referral partners into your community; let them tour; help them to understand what services you offer your residents. Let them experience why your community should get referrals. Make it a welcoming experience—just as if they were coming to move in a loved one. They will in turn provide more referrals to you, once they see the quality of care provided, engagement in activities, cleanliness of your community, and all services you offer.
Finally, protect the time of your sales team. Their time should be focused more on revenue-generating activities. It took me a while to learn this. Often, I thought I didn’t need to manage someone’s time, but I realized this is important. Your community will always be busy. But the time your sales team is consumed in “operations” is time that your competitor is helping another family into their community.
Sales must concentrate on bringing new residents into the community. There is always someone out there who needs our help. By protecting the time of our sales staff, we allow them to keep the front door open to new residents interested in enjoying our beautiful communities.
If we take these small steps, the impact on the community and its financial health will not only improve, but also be sustainable.
Get updates on the latest news impacting senior living through our Argentum Daily newsletter.