“It’s a different era we live in. It’s a different story to tell,” Jacquelyn Kung, DrPH, CEO of Activated Insights, told attendees during SMASH Week 2020.
At a Senior Care Sales & Marketing Summit session Thursday on Changing History in Senior Life, Kung shared feedback from sales, marketing and consumer research on residents and family members’ experiences of senior life.
Happier employees = happier residents
Activated Insights, which oversaw data collection for Great Places to Work and Fortune magazines, relied on surveys of more than 500,000 residents, family members and senior workers to highlight industry trends during COVID-19.
Employee engagement is key to increasing sales and increasing utilization, said Kung. Data shows that employee engagement with senior life and care has declined by 2% overall. Although engagement increased in April and May, when “we found our purpose to protect our seniors,” that engagement slipped in the summer and continues to stagnate.
The most effective way to increase employee engagement is through inspiration, human connection and innovation.
“We need to inspire and re-inspire your sales and marketing team members to believe what an amazing, fantastic product they are selling,” said Kung. “Find ways to build more of this human connection that was lost during COVID, be it with residents or prospects. Encourage everyone to innovate.”
Kung said her research shows that happier employees mean happier residents, and happier residents lead to more referrals.
In communities with happier team members, she found that prices were on average 5% higher than in communities with less fortunate team members, and occupancy was 2% higher. It’s not that these communities are growing or premium communities. Rather, she said that because the sales and marketing teams are happy and “sell it better,” these communities offer fewer discounts and incentives to move in.
On the consumer side, residents and family members – especially when it comes to assisted living / memory maintenance and independent living – are still happy in their communities. Kung said they love how the staff went above and beyond, as well as the updates and information from management on how safe they are.
“Use this to identify your brand and brand ambassador,” said Kung. “There are people who love your communities. Let them sell and market your communities for you. Use this information. “
For the most part, she said, research shows residents and families are now looking for seniors, not restaurants and social options, but testing, a maintenance-free lifestyle, and cleaning and communication protocols.
“All of this informs our storytelling,” said Kung. “The maintenance-free lifestyle. Communicate about how much communication there is and how much good, truthful information you will get from your management.
“All of this is to keep our older adults as safe as possible. This is how we want to re-create our story and then get the rates and results for the occupancy. “