Before we reveal the secret to why these prospects moved into the particular community, we must first provide a little background history. About a year ago, we rolled out our Digital Comment Cards (DCC) service. Although there are a multitude of DCC types, this article focuses on the New Tour DCC. The function of the New Tour DCC is to collect real-time feedback on the customer experience upon completing a tour. Here is how we approached this study.
HOW IT WORKS
Once a tour had been completed, the communities email the prospect and include a link to a custom branded online survey. (This is not extra work for the sales counselors. It is simple enough to compose a draft email and make it part of the normal workflow in the CRM.) Once the survey is completed, an email with a PDF of how the respondent answered each question is automatically triggered and sent to the sales counselor. The survey is composed of 5-10 questions about their overall experience with the community. One of the most important question we focused on was the following:
“Are you planning to move into our community?”
If a respondent answered anything other than “yes”, then a comment box opened asking them why they were not planning to move in or unsure about moving into the community. These comments provided the sales counselor with the opportunity to overcome the objections.
It would be a fantastic marketing campaign to say that the New Tour Digital Comment Card was the reason those residents moved in. But that would be somewhat misleading. However, we can say that the New Tour Digital Comment Card played a huge role in the decision. Here is why.
THE ROLE OF THE DIGITAL COMMENT CARD – MOTIVATION TO FOLLOW-UP
As a sales trainer and public speaker, I have consistently told my audience that if they want to see an increase in closing ratios, do a better job of following up. Most salespeople follow up 2-3 times, and then mark the prospect as cold. However, I think we can all agree that it takes a minimum of 5-10 “touches” with a prospect before they actually move into a community. Knowing follow up is crucial to the close, I asked the Regional Managers to dig into the CRM to see if they could see any difference in the follow-up habits between the respondents who completed a DCC and those who did not. Guess what they found? Are you ready for this knowledge bomb?
“FOR THOSE PROSPECTS WHO COMPLETED A DCC, THE SALES COUNSELOR FOLLOWED UP 5-10X MORE THAN WITH THOSE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE A DCC.”
If nothing else, the Digital Comment Card served as a motivator to follow up with the prospects. In the event that knowledge bomb did nothing for you, here is another one.
“THE OVERALL INQUIRY TO CLOSE RATIO INCREASED ON AVERAGE ABOUT 5% IN THE FIRST QUARTER!”
Have you experienced an “AHA” moment yet? Are you beginning to see the ROI potential? Have you started calculating your commissions yet? If not, perhaps what I share next will help.
MORE MIND-BLOWING RESULTS
The industry seems to be on the fence when it comes to technology. The fear is that our prospects are not technically savvy enough to use the service, and as a result, many decision makers choose to reside in their comfort zone and settle for mediocrity. As the quote goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done.” In a world where everyone is trying to fit in and be the same, it takes courage to stand out and be different. Courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of it. So, I applaud those brave souls who take that step of leap into the uncharted territories. However, after experiencing the results, no applause was needed. For about 6 months, we closely tracked the results of the Post Tour Digital Comment Card in 50 communities. The results…well no further explanation needed.
ON AVERAGE, THE COMMUNITIES EXPERIENCED A 50% RESPONSE RATE. OF THOSE WHO RESPONDED, 23% MOVED INTO THE COMMUNITY.
Here is my honest and humbled opinion. It’s really not the lack of courage that is holding us back. It is our own prejudices to the seniors we serve. Communities all over the world are introducing seniors to technology, and it is life changing. But let’s take this a step further. Let’s not use technology or the age of our residents as an excuse. After all, the industry seems to be changing on a daily basis. One of the trends that has experienced a significant shift is the role of the adult child. The majority of the time, the adult child is intimately involved with the decision making process. And guess what? They are technical savvy – at least enough to be able to go online and correspond via email.
So, the question remains. What would you do to get 23% of your prospects to move into your community? If we are being honest with ourselves, most of us would take 10% or 15%.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Occupancy will always be a challenge in the senior living industry. The question is what are you going to do about it? Some of you are probably thinking you do not have it in your budget. Maybe you have competing priorities that take precedence. Here’s one I hear all the time. We are a company with multiple communities, so our corporate office handles these decisions. Hey, I get it. Budgets are tight, and you are being asked to do more for less. Actually, I don’t get it. I could probably walk into any community and tweak a few things in your budget that would free up the financial resources to implement just about any service you need or want. Here is where I would start. Cut the amount of money you are spending on new leads. Most of you already have enough leads in your CRM to fill your community. However, the sales counselors are not following up because of the new leads we keep feeding them. The studies show that we spend about $500-$600 for a qualified lead, yet we are losing 70-80% of those leads to our competitors.
So, that’s why we created a turnkey solution that is so cost-effective, it should be illegal to not use the service. For the cost of one lead, you could pay for 6 months of the Digital Comment Card service. For those of you who pass the decisions off to your corporate office, how has that worked out for you so far? I have been around the block enough to know that even if you do not have full operational control over your budget at the community level, you are still allotted funds that you do have direct control of.
Let me break this down for you. Let’s say you have one Assisted Living community. If by rolling out the New Tour Digital Comment Card service brought in just one more move-in than average for the entire year, your return on investment would be over 2,600%! If that number does nothing for you, I am literally throwing my hands up. I got nothing else. However, if you are like the majority of the folks who are reading this and cannot imagine going another day without knowing more, then I applaud you.
So, here is my advice. If you are a Sales Counselor, you should be running to your ED’s office requesting to implement the DCC. If you are an ED, you are the CEO of the community. Make the investment in your folks. If you are a regional manager, make a decision that will impact your communities. If you are the “big gun” in the company and all spending requests must come through you, then be the kind of leader you would follow.
Look folks. I just shared the benefit of the New Tour DCC. I did not even touch on the other DCCs in your arsenal (e.g. 30-Day Move-In, 30-Day Move-Out DCC, General Feedback (collect feedback 24/7/365), Net Promoter Score, Employee Engagement, and many more). We will have to save those for another article. After all, if you are not convinced by the New Tour DCC, the other ones don’t really matter anyways. Here is my prediction. 2 out of 3 companies reading this article will implement the DCCs. If you are not one of them, then it is your competitor to your left and right that is. So, the question remains: What will you do?
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