Before the COVID-19 pandemic, if you asked any C-Level executive in the senior living industry, “What has been your biggest pain point during the last 15 years?” the answer almost certainly was: low occupancy. They needed more sales, more move-ins, more revenue, and increased NOI. While this is still a major concern, two others have risen to the top, thanks to the unforeseen consequences of the pandemic.
The top 3 pain points senior living C-level executives are feeling today:
#1: Recruiting top sales talent
Despite the fact that sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and others have made it easier than ever to a) post a listing for an open sales position to a wide audience, b) target your ideal candidates, and c) efficiently accept resumes, the fact remains that weeding through a stack of unqualified or inexperienced applicants for a senior living sales position sometimes feels like a monumental task. Couple that with high competition for well-qualified sales professionals – both within senior living and across other industries – and upward pressures on compensation, and you can begin to see the scope of this pain point.
Solution: In the current environment of staffing shortages and a wider variety of open positions to apply for, applicants are evaluating your company just as much as you are evaluating them. Want to stand out as a great place to work? Take a page from your sales funnel and treat applicants like you do sales inquiries: acknowledge their application with a timely follow-up call or email. with them. Offer enticing opportunities for professional growth including training and coaching toward mastery. Paint a positive picture of your company culture by sharing testimonials of happy staff.
#2: Retaining sales staff
A great sales team is like a championship sports team – they need continuous training and coaching to stay in top winning form. They need the support and encouragement of leaders that understand the challenges they face and acknowledge the hard work it takes to move the occupancy needle. They also need a positive workplace culture in the community to keep up not only their own morale but that of everyone on staff.
Solution: A strong and positive culture in the workplace makes for happy staff that want to stick around. It doesn’t happen by itself though; it has to be established and nurtured by the leadership on a daily basis. Giving out kudos, bringing in lunch for the staff on a regular basis, and maintaining an atmosphere of positivity are all good examples of a strong culture. Also, look for ways to support the professional and personal needs of your staff, like ongoing opportunities for training, coaching, and mentoring.
#3: Low occupancy levels
While filling senior living communities to 100% has never been easy, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the difficulties faced by sales teams. Negative stories in the press slowed the flow of qualified leads. Hinderances like locked down buildings that prevented in-person tours made moving prospects along in the sales cycle more difficult than ever. Vacancies or scheduling gaps in sales director positions at communities let inquiries fall through the cracks.
Solution: Hiring good sales talent is just part of the solution. It’s also necessary to retain great people by providing opportunities for professional growth, and train and coach them to mastery and success. The last part of the solution is to make sure the community’s back-up team is always rounded out, providing continuous coverage by key staff members trained in the basics of the sales system so no lead gets lost.
These pain points for senior living industry C-level leaders don’t need to continue being a source of grief. Others have been where you are and have solved the challenges and moved beyond them. Consider enlisting the help of an executive coach with senior living industry experience for a fresh perspective on your challenging pain points – and some solutions you can implement.
Ready to find out how Grow Your Occupancy can help you? Book your complimentary 30-minute strategy session here.