Seniors Housing Business

JUL 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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24 www.seniorshousingbusiness.com Seniors Housing Business n July 2018 Innovative. Capital. SOLUTIONS. www.ltcreit.com Joint Venture Preferred Equity Mezzanine NNN Lease engine results. As a result, commu- nities need to find ways to solicit positive reviews from their hap- piest residents. Something as sim- ple as encouraging residents and families to leave a positive note on Google Reviews can have far- reaching results. "We're not too far from asking, 'Alexa, what retirement commu- nity should I move to?' and get- ting a recommendation based on behavior, location and online reviews," says Mann. "In the future of digital marketing, online reviews are going to be huge." Of course, a genuinely positive reputation always starts at the same place — with employees. Naturally, communities with a talented and caring team will get positive reviews and a strong rep- utation that makes for long-term positive effects. "If you think about what resi- dents are actually buying, it's the staff and services," says John Fall- dine, CEO of Bluespire. "If the community has a good culture, it becomes a family to the resident. Leverage that." Staff is key not only for keeping residents happy, but also for imple- menting all the digital marketing efforts. If a community doesn't have staff buy-in on a marketing campaign, it's destined to fail. Staff can also be the creator of the aforementioned digital con- tent, making them the voice of the community to the outside world. However, it's extremely important to have an inspired employee with both the time and the inclination to keep the content flowing. "Now and then you'll have a CEO who does a good bit of writ- ing, but often we supplement con- tent for our clients," says Mann. "The beauty of content is it's the gift that keeps giving. Once it's online, it never goes away." Many communities cost them- selves money by straying away from the basics: training and benchmarks, notes Adams. To avoid this pitfall make sure re sales team members are sell- ing in line with the culture of the community. "Do ongoing learning and sales training. It's a relationship-based sale in our industry. Nurturing your referral sources and being in contact with them through tech- nology platforms is really critical." Be a community resource Another marketing strategy that is based on reputation is to make a community a resource to the sur- rounding area. The more a seniors housing community can open itself to the public, the better it will be perceived by that public. Falldine suggests becoming the neighborhood expert on suc- cessful aging, wellness, dementia and caregiver support networks through public events. Although he admits it's "not a quick fix" to existing challenges and is "a hard sell when you're at 70 percent occupancy," it is a long- term approach to building a strong reputation. "You have to do it not expecting a lead. You do it for all the right reasons and become a resource for your neighborhood. That will bleed into referral sources, your reputation and your goodwill," says Falldine. "It won't drive leads tomorrow, but it's not something enough people do." The end result is a positive view of a community by seniors and their adult children. Then, if a per- son's need for seniors housing sud- denly becomes urgent or a higher priority, the decision to move into that community is obvious. This is all part of the idea of cre- ating a specific culture for a com- pany or community, and com- municating that culture on every level. That includes the digital marketing, the outreach events, and what a community actually looks and feels like on the inside. "It's important all your mes- sages work together and use the same strategy, so you don't con- fuse the market," says Kraft. "Dif- ferentiation is essential. Some com- munities don't even understand what makes them different to sell prospects on it." Differentiation will become even more important in the age of the Internet, suggests Mann. When seniors can get transportation, food and home health all from an app, why would they ever need to leave their home? Of course, isolation has well- documented negative physical and mental effects on seniors. The seniors housing industry must sell potential residents on the cultural, social and health benefits of being around other people. Despite seniors housing's rela- tively low penetration rate, which ranges from about 10 to 12 percent of the potential resident popula- tion, there are some positive signs emerging, notes Mann. The key, he says, is to show pro- spective residents that moving into seniors housing is something they should want to do. Communities that make themselves an aspira- tional move for seniors, rather than a move made out of necessity, are performing quite well. As an example, Mann mentions the Latitude Margaritaville loca- tions, which are more like vacation resorts targeted toward musician Jimmy Buffett's famous "Parrot- head" fans. The communities have an incredibly strong culture and brand, and as a result are doing incredibly well. "People camped out for days in line to reserve an apartment. That's because that's an aspi- rational move," says Mann. "Granted, we don't all have the Jimmy Buffett brand or a beach to offer, but we should be looking to move our brand to a more aspira- tional position." n

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