Going Against Goliath: Tackling National Senior Housing Brands – Part II

When you learn your assisted living community is going up against the national brands of the senior housing industry, how do you tackle the competition?

It means honing in on the basic skills and gaining the confidence to be better.

This starts with the telephone relationship with customers.

From the initial inquiry a family makes regarding an assisted living community, there are so many opportunities to run rings around the communities in your area that are using calls centers to handle their telephone and internet inquiries.

First, it’s helpful to start with a telephone and internet mystery shop. Using these for training purposes is very constructive for your team.

Plan to invest in your people with education and training. They may be the most compassionate sales people on this earth but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are skilled in telephone discovery and closing. They may have had sales training but telephone tactics may have been less emphasized. Telephone skills also need polishing. Just like any sport requiring practice, it’s always good to go back to the basics and refresh techniques.

It’s thought that the longer the call the greater the likelihood someone will move to the community. Duration of the call is important. Quality of the conversation is critical.

According to a study, 18 percent of the time no one obtains a caller’s name and address. Is that occurring at your senior assisted living community and CCRC?

As much as 95 percent of calls that come in are missed without being picked up.

While we understand sales people aren’t glued to their desk, there needs to be a system in place to not lose incoming calls. Often they are transferred from a main number where a receptionist has no clue if the sales person is at their desk or not. An answering machine may pick up or not. This is an important step in starting the customer relationship.

The “David” community’s sales person has an opportunity to issue an invitation and be the person the family meets when they come to the community. This is a real advantage. They are building the relationship with the same person rather than being turned over to another person.

Considering that statistically it may take 3.3 visits before someone moves, it’s all about the relationship which can easily get off on the right foot on the telephone call.

It’s important on a telephone call to take the time to get to know the family and their situation. A sales person does this by asking open-ended questions. There’s a give and take of information but a good sales person with telephone skills knows how to put a person at ease, ask questions and offer solutions.

They can assure someone that they will be here for the family and will help a prospect make the best decision.

We often find sales people revert to the “kitchen sink” approach. They seem so happy to have a customer on the telephone, they provide an endless amount of information about the community without giving the person a chance to digest the information. They need to “close” throughout the call by saying, “Our community is so special that I would really like your family to come and visit. Could I invite you for lunch one day or would you like to come in for a cup of coffee so we can meet each other.”

The Ehlers Group will offer more telephone tips in our future blogs. For information about our telephone mystery shopping and telephone training, please call us at 954-726.9228.

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