Competition in the senior living industry is high. While the over-65 population is growing (and will continue to grow), so is the number of units available. Prior to 2020, construction activity was regularly hitting record highs, topping out at 43,826 units under construction in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Needless to say, the pandemic has not been easy for senior living. Our 2020 benchmark report showed a 17% decrease in the average number of inquiries per month across all types of communities. The inquiry to move-in conversion rate also declined significantly (36%). The result is lower occupancy across the board, which is making the 2021 landscape even more competitive.
How can you set your community apart? The answer is “with technology.” This article explores three ways the right technology gives you a competitive edge.
Reach leads faster, more effectively, across every channel
According to a widely cited 2018 study, roughly half of senior care marketers respond to leads within 1-3 hours, while 39% take more than 12 hours.
If you’re thinking that a several-hour delay sounds reasonable, then your community is probably losing a lot of leads to the competition.
The ideal response time is as soon as possible. A host of research shows that the faster you respond, the more likely a lead is to convert. For example:
- After the first five minutes, the likelihood that a lead will respond drops precipitously.
- If you respond to a lead within the first hour, you’re 7 times more likely to qualify that lead than if you wait two hours.
- Half of business goes to the vendor that responds first.
One of the challenges senior living communities face is that, today, leads can come through many different channels. In the past, most leads came through referrals and call-ins. That’s no longer the case. Our benchmark report revealed a huge increase in web leads, to the point where, in some cases, web leads made up a full half of all inquiries. Certainly, the pandemic had a lot to do with that, but people are starting to search for senior housing in the same way they search for everything else — online.
How can technology help?
For most senior living communities, the idea of having someone on hand, ready to respond to every lead within five minutes is a pipe dream at best. But with marketing automation, that dream can become a reality.
Using a marketing automation platform, you can follow up quickly with every lead that comes in online, whether it’s via a web form or an online chat box. And it doesn’t just speed the first follow-up — with marketing automation, you can automate drip campaigns to nurture your leads from the minute they enter your system to the day they move in (and even beyond).
Note that marketing automation doesn’t take the place of the human connection that is a key factor in the selection of a senior living facility. Many people who inquire at senior living communities are looking for an immediate solution, i.e., in the next 30 days. These folks want to talk with someone right away, even if they call during the evening or over the weekend. That’s why we recommend pairing marketing automation with a contact center. By combining the right technology with the human touch, you can guarantee you never miss another opportunity.
Focus your sales and marketing efforts on profit-driving initiatives
Here are a few scenarios that may sound familiar:
- Your sales team spends too much on leads that never convert.
- You operate multiple facilities in the same geographical area and often find your own communities competing for the same leads.
- You don’t know what campaigns are driving results and which ones are just costing you money.
We hear a lot of stories like these. Many communities simply don’t know what sales and marketing efforts are having the most significant impact on their bottom line because they don’t have insights into their sales and marketing activities. In some cases, like in the second example above, this lack of insight results in different parts of the business competing against each other.
How can technology help?
When competition is high, every minute counts. That’s true not just when following up with leads, but also when determining where to focus your efforts in general. A CRM with advanced business intelligence and reporting capabilities will help you focus your sales and marketing efforts on the activities that drive the most profit for your community.
For example, with a robust CRM, you can:
- Capture and aggregate all leads across all marketing channels and communities
- Analyze leads to identify what factors indicate a high likelihood of conversion
- Analyze sales activities to determine which ones deliver the best results
- Automate workflows to create follow-up activities based on specific criteria
- Create custom reports and dashboards for at-a-glance visibility into your sales and marketing operations
- Ensure your team is following your sales process
Provide more digital tools for you community
The first two points were about how technology can improve your business operations. This last one looks at how it can make your community more attractive to prospective residents.
2020 changed many people’s relationship to and expectations of technology. Especially when visits to many senior living facilities were restricted, residents and their loved ones had to rely on digital technology to communicate and keep informed.
How can technology help?
WiFi is no longer a differentiator, but an expected amenity. Here are some technologies that can help your facility stand out from the crowd:
- Telehealth and virtual care technologies to provide remote monitoring and facilitate communication with healthcare providers
- Smart home technology, such as AI virtual assistants (e.g., Amazon Alexa), smart thermostats, and smart home security technology
- Mobile apps — many communities now have their own mobile apps where residents can communicate with one another, sign up for activities, receive facility updates and health and safety alerts, and more
- Virtual reality — VR headsets allow seniors to travel to distant lands and engage in a variety of experiences; they’re also being explored as tools for dementia care
- Robots — see how one senior living community is using robots to provide video chat capabilities, deliver packages, and even tell jokes
Enquire offers CRM, marketing automation, and contact center services to help your community gain a competitive advantage by increasing your sales and marketing team’s effectiveness. Schedule a demo to see how your community can benefit from Enquire technology.