“It takes a village to fill a village and to maintain it.”

By Pam McDonald

Steve Moran, Senior Housing Forum Publisher, coaxes valuable information from Paul Peck, Sales Director for Carlton Senior Living, about how they maintain 98% occupancy across their enterprise. Watch the video below; it’s another in Steve’s “Conversations” video series.

You can also revisit Part 1 here in which Steve and Paul discuss the importance of operations to occupancy.

Make Sure Your Salespeople ‘Feel the Love’

To keep a sales team successful, Paul believes it’s vital to train them well, support them and reward their successes. While each of Carlton’s communities is budgeted at 95% occupancy, the company strives for the goal of 98%. To that end, they maintain a number of reward programs – for both salespeople and operational staff.

An example is their “We’re Great at 98%” initiative. Every time sales leadership notices line staff doing something that promotes occupancy, staff get a raffle ticket that can be exchanged for prizes. They get 5 tickets if they introduce themselves to prospects on a tour using Paul’s formula for a successful associate interaction.

Formalized Reward Program

They’ve also instituted a “Best of the Best” program through which they select winners, on a quarterly basis from 30 staff positions identified across the company, who are deemed to have gone “above and beyond” their job descriptions.

A committee of 10 reviews written compliments – from managers, residents, family members and others – and select winners. They receive acknowledgment, a trophy, polo shirts, cash and other prizes. Then all these winners are invited to the Silverado Country Club in Napa for another ceremony where the “Best of the Best” are named for the year.

Training in “Peck-O-Nomics”

Not only are line staff trained in the rewarded manner of introducing themselves to prospects, but they also are versed in “Peck-O-Nomics”; that is, what it takes to secure a move-in. Paul trains all staff, and especially the sales backup team, on what he refers to as “4 by 5 on a 4 by 5”.

These are 4 processes of 5 steps each printed on 4 x 5 index cards. The processes are: (1) follow-up, and the 5 steps used with people on the phone; (2) tours, and the 5 steps for conducting a prospect visit in the community; (3) the associate interaction with prospects that are on a tour, and the 5 steps of that; and (4) moving the prospects closer to a decision to move in, and the 5 steps for that, which advance the sale.

Who Backs Up the Salespeople?

Paul points out, “The majority of the department heads are trained from day one as part of the backup team . . . to do walk-in tours and take inquiry calls for their community. And there’s very structured monthly ongoing training so we keep them fresh in the process.

“In sales, even if we have 2 people dedicated – one a sales manager and one an assistant – we find that even with 7-day coverage, you’re going to be on a tour and your partner’s off for two days and here comes a walk-in tour. We’re able to have that backup team step right in and handle that tour.”

Taking Occupancy from 82% (the National Assisted Living Average) to 98%

Paul believes there’s no reason every community can’t get their occupancy to 98%. In fact, he’s writing a book that focuses on “operational driven sales success” because, he says, “It takes a village to fill a village and to maintain it.”

Paul believes any community can get to 95% occupied, “if they’re supporting their salespeople, setting realistic goals, holding them accountable to those realistic goals, and checking those goals on a weekly basis against their targets. And, doing the same thing on the operational side.”

Setting Realistic Sales Goals

“. . . [H]olding people accountable to the goals they mutually agreed upon, that’s another critical piece,” according to Paul. “If we at the Home Office set goals for communities without involving them in the goal setting process, we may set goals that are unattainable. Once they [staff] think they’re unattainable, they are. They lose their energy, their drive to meet and exceed those goals.”

Paul concludes, “When you sit down jointly you have their buy-in and participation in setting goals and then when you’re holding them accountable, they feel . . . they’re going to hold themselves accountable because they agreed; ‘yes, I can meet this goal.’ And when everybody’s meeting their goals, there’s no reason they can’t be at 95+%”

Carlton Senior Living, founded in 1985 and headquartered in Concord, California, offers independent and assisted living, as well as memory care through 11 communities in the San Francisco East Bay – from Sacramento to San Jose. They’re currently constructing a new community in Santa Rosa, California, which is scheduled to open next year.