Friends, we’re going to talk about something a little…delicate. Something that might seem a bit crass. However, what we’re going to talk about is an essential part of your lives and absolutely necessary for your health. Or, that is, the health of your business.
By now, we’re all (too) aware of COVID-19 and the dangers it poses, particularly to the seniors in our care. By now, you’ve probably already instituted a slew of different procedures and rules to keep your residents and families informed, safe and knowledgeable about everything happening in and outside your community. And by now, you’ve probably realized that we’re in this for the long haul…and what does that mean for your occupancy rates?
Yes. We’re going to talk about occupancy rates. And lead nurturing. And marketing to that lead pipeline so that your new business initiatives continue to chug along, even during the pandemic. It sounds a little bit icky, doesn’t it? But here’s the deal: you have to do it. Really. Because the need – the need for your community – is still there. In fact, McKnight’s Senior Living reports that community move-ins are still happening. In fact, some communities have seen an increase in occupancy due to the coronavirus!
Still, you definitely don’t want to be tone-deaf or brush the concerns of your leads to the side. You want to make sure you’re being sensitive, understanding and accommodating, while also projecting professionalism and expertise. Here are some great ways to do that:
- Acknowledge that, yes, there is an elephant in the room.
This should be pretty obvious, but it always bears repeating. Don’t shy away from the fact that COVID-19 is out there as you’re pitching your leads. That doesn’t mean you have to shove it in their face, but it’s an opportunity for you to let them know that, yes, the health and safety of your residents are important to you and, yes, you’re taking it seriously. Some ways you can communicate this without sending out a big media-wide bulletin are:
- Adding a line or call-out on your email messaging with a link to how your community is handling the situation
- Brief your sales team – and office staff – on talking points about COVID-19 and what response your community has taken so they can speak accurately and intelligently to leads.
- Position your benefits in an appropriate way.
Remember how we mentioned that occupancy rates are increasing even during the pandemic? According to McKnight’s Senior Living, 79% of participating senior living operators have seen no significant changes in move-outs, while 21% have seen increased occupancy. This could be from any number of reasons, from family members realizing they can no longer safely “check in” on Mom or Dad thanks to stay-at-home orders, to seniors realizing that living in a place where all their needs are met (and they don’t have to leave “home” to have fun) is a pretty great deal. This may be a good opportunity for you to highlight benefits that your community gives to residents during this crisis, such as:
- Not having to go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions or run errands
- A secure and clean environment (talk about how often you’re cleaning and the CDC guidelines are not new for your community. You work all year round to keep illness out.)
- Having medical professionals and assistance available from the word “go” as soon as anyone has a sniffle or cough
- Remember, this too shall pass.
Although COVID-19 is at the top of everyone’s mind these days, remember that it will eventually recede. And when it does, you and your community will still be there, caring for your residents and (hopefully) providing valuable information for your leads who will decide that moving into your community is a good idea. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your community is a community, not just a place for coronavirus information, and market appropriately. Use your gut, listen to your leads and families and you and your residents will be in a good place now and in the future.
SeniorVu knows this isn’t the rosiest of times (we write as we sit in our home offices in yoga pants). But you and your community provide an incredibly valuable service to seniors and their families, and we’re here to help you in whatever way possible. If you’re needing help on balancing your marketing efforts with your COVID-19 efforts and everything else that’s on your plate, contact us, and we’ll see how we can help you weather this storm.