Whether a new competitor moved to town, the organization is experiencing a PR crisis or you’ have opened your doors in a new location, we can all agree the Achilles heel of senior living communities is maintaining high occupancy. A variety of factors affect occupancy levels, including demographic need, resident and team member satisfaction, quality of care, lack of qualified leads, disjointed sales and marketing teams, increased competition, among others. While the gut reaction is to implement a quick fix and wait to find a long-term solution until it happens again, it is important to address the real reason occupancies may be dipping to guarantee sustainable successes.
- Dig deep. One of the best ways to address a situation is through a Root Cause Analysis (RCA). While RCAs are very common in hospital settings and more recently skilled nursing, they are not often utilized in the senior living industry. A root cause analysis can be performed individually as a learning and discovery tool or include an entire team. The Joint Commission released a guide for healthcare organizations to utilize, which can be the extra push needed to identify what is causing decreasing occupancies and put your community back on track.
- Engage your team from the bottom up. It takes a village, and the village is larger than your sales team. Each employee of the organization has the responsibility to uphold core values and engage with residents and prospects. In order to communicate the message effectively, look at the age-old idea of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). Your sales team may have a perfect understanding of why it is important to increase occupancies, but has this message been communicated to everyone? If your sales team receives commission, why does it matter for the nursing team or kitchen aide to help increase occupancies? By flipping the card and showing each department the hard-hitting facts and how it impacts them, you can better engage the entire team to then better engage prospects and residents.
- Check your marketing. If your marketing efforts are not reaching the target audience or you are not seeing a return-on-investment, it’s time to switch things up. Identify the strategies bringing in the most qualified leads and invest more there. Survey your residents and family members to identify how they digest marketing and stick to those few strategies. While it can be tempting to mimic competitors doing any and everything, those tactics may not produce the same results for your organization. Asking your audience key questions is the clearest way to avoid marketing waste and increase occupancies.
Understanding how to improve occupancies can be a moving target. By identifying roadblocks, implementing higher employee engagement and ensuring your marketing dollars are being spent effectively, your organization will have the opportunity to reduce turnover, increase employee satisfaction and maintain a stable census for years to come.