“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

By Kent Mulkey

George: “My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat . . . It’s often wrong.”

Jerry: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

 –Seinfeld, “The Opposite” (1994)

With the average occupancy in seniors housing hovering around 90%, it appears that many operators accept the status quo since there has been little change in recent years. It makes no sense that owners can look at the lost $450,000/year in unrealized revenue (in a 100 unit property), and $6,000,000 in capitalized value and not radically change their behaviors to drive greater success.  

Owners and operators often spend the majority of their time (80%) working on the day-to-day tasks of the business and a fraction of their time (20%) working on the business of finding new customers. Clearly, the opposite ought to be the case.

Let’s face it — working on stuff (projects, spreadsheets, meetings) is easier than dealing with people’s stuff (emotions, indecision, family dynamics). People are messy. And, people is the business.

I recommend to seniors housing professionals that if they aren’t willing to get into the “emotional paint” with seniors and their families, perhaps it’s time to find another profession.

Here are a few tips that I have seen help drive huge business success in seniors housing:

1.    A prospect-centered selling culture is foundational. The features and amenities of your community matter very little. The prospect who musters the courage to visit a senior community is what matters and demands our full time and attention.

2.    Tell the customer the truth. If you feel you can’t take care of their mom, be honest. Don’t try to build your occupancy on the backs of residents who you can’t adequately and safely serve. The right people will come your way.

3.    Too often, a contentious rather than a cooperative relationship develops between the sales and operational staff. The Executive Director is in the best position to develop a sales-oriented culture by involving everyone on the team in relating to and meeting the needs of prospects.

4.    It is the experience your customer has with your community that matters, not the service you think you are offering. Most people won’t give you feedback, but they will tell others of their experience. Work to make your customers into fans, who tell the world about the positive experience they had (or are having) with you.  

Tying It Together

Managers focus on things, creating greater efficiencies (less confusion) by working in the business.

Leaders focus on people, creating greater effectiveness (more customers) by working on the business.

If you’ve been grinding hard at work but still running into brick walls in growing your business, just remember Jerry’s words: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”