Impact your Closing Rate!
The goal of a senior living community is to provide a positive experience – and not add stress – for each resident, beginning with the move-in decision. A quiet, comfortable location for private conversations regarding the prospective resident’s personal losses, financial matters, and concerns over giving up their house and perceived independence will help foster the development of a relationship, promote “peace of mind”, and reduce the length of the sales cycle.
A room that looks like the prospect’s living room at home would be ideal for this purpose. It should be a logical extension of the tour where the prospect and other family members, if present, can just sit back, rest and relax after the tour.
Some properties use the term “closing room” for this space, but it reminds me of a car dealership, real estate open house or attorney’s office. We’ve all encountered these formal settings, but few would recall them as a great experience!
The move-in process for a senior has different dynamics because it’s a life decision and involves a number of different emotions. If the time is right, the senior will communicate it; and if it’s not, no amount of “hard sell” is going to force them into a move-in decision.
So, how should the sales / marketing office be designed and what items should be included?
- Comfortable, upholstered furniture with enough seating for at least 4 individuals should be organized in a conversation grouping using living room style chairs, preferably high back, and a sofa.
- Create a “great room” feel (even using decorative screens if available) with a clear segregation of “family” area from “work” area. The marketer should exude warmth and friendliness by getting up from behind their desk and joining the prospective resident and their companions in the living room area!
- This family area should be illuminated with warm lighting, using table lamps instead of harsh overhead fluorescent lights.
- Accessorize with a few throw pillows, maybe an afghan tastefully draped over the sofa and other “homey touches”.
One of my more successful managers even displayed a stuffed teddy bear on the sofa. She noted that it was surprising how many potential residents would sit down next to the bear and surreptitiously “give it a squeeze”.
- Hang some nice artwork on the walls.
- Include a mini-refrigerator, stocked with bottled water and various soft drinks, and a set of air-pots with hot water, regular and decaffeinated coffee. Offer some type of home-baked “sweets” and serve it with china plates and cups.
Some communities use a fine china set for this purpose.
Now, for a few don’ts:
- Avoid the use of large office-style desks, file and storage cabinets that create an institutional look. If you must have a work area for the marketer, try to place this at the end of the room ensuring that it is kept neat, clean and free of clutter. If budgets permit, use an upscale desk (e.g. Queen Anne style).Many people like to place a round table in this room, but, these are often unstable and may appear too formal.
- Many people like to place a round table in this room, but, these are often unstable and may appear too formal.
- Don’t use office style or dining room chairs in the living area.
- Although coffee tables and area rugs add ambience, they are generally not recommended for senior areas because of the risk of falls.
- Don’t display big charts, write-on boards and floor layouts that depict all of the empty units.
First, the use of those charts may be counter-productive. If the marketer has just given a tour and helped the prospective resident narrow their choice down, why confuse them with a number of new options for consideration?
Second, this space shouldn’t look like a real estate office. A senior living community sells a lifestyle, more than just a “unit”.
Third, since one of the primary benefits of the charts is as a motivator for the sales team, put them in the office – not in the living room area.
- The use of an interactive computer and electronic signatures for the move-in paperwork may be more time efficient, but gives an “institutional” feel to the process. The marketer can build more trust with today’s senior by using the more familiar and old-fashioned paper method; using a conversational, inter-personal approach to obtaining the necessary data instead of turning it into an administrative, clerical process. Once the information is obtained, the marketer should enter the data into the computer themselves and print documents for the prospect’s review.
In conclusion, move-ins occur in senior living communities when building personnel establish good meaningful relationships with prospective residents and their families. The proper design and use of the sales / marketing room can be an effective tool in that process and management should view the money spent in outfitting the room as an investment that will provide returns over and over.
Given today’s economic challenges, it might make the difference between the prospect not only choosing your community, but in making the commitment to choose any senior living community!
Progressive Retirement Lifestyles is working to create the next generation of senior living communities. Your input will be appreciated.
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