By Susan Saldibar

Way back in 2019, like most senior living marketers, Heather Freemont was not preparing for a pandemic. She wasn’t planning ahead for lockdowns, worrying about budget constraints, or strategizing on how to deal with negative PR. There was no binder sitting on her shelf called “Global Pandemic Response Playbook”. There was no “war room” in which to run simulations of how various scenarios would impact their marketing strategy. Instead, this VP/Marketing for Maplewood Senior Living was doing what she always has done. Planning for uncertainty.

Be Prepared

“Heather didn’t panic, mainly because she was already doing what she needed to do for Maplewood.”

Nate O’Keefe, CEO of Roobrik (a Senior Living Foresight partner) has been working with Heather Freemont and the Maplewood team since 2018. “Maplewood has been a dream client, with a reputation for innovation and rigor,” Nate told me recently. “So if something is not working or doesn’t have a clear purpose, they move on.” The amazing discipline of Heather and her team became evident as early as April. “We talked with a lot of folks who were really struggling to see through weeds,” he says. “Heather didn’t panic, because she was already doing what she needed to do for Maplewood.”

Tools to Weather Any Storm

I spoke with Heather recently and asked her to share what they did at Maplewood to accommodate the fresh influx of concerns and physical limitations brought about by COVID. What is impressive to me is how her existing strategy of diversification created a resilience not experienced by so many other communities. Here are three things that really stand out:

  1. Get the technology in place to roll with the punches. Heather was already using Roobrik’s online decision tool, well before the pandemic hit. The assessment allows website visitors to answer key questions and gain insights about their situation to better organize their needs. It fit well with their lead generation strategy, enhancing the resources they put in place to help seniors and families make better decisions.
  2. Use multiple communication channels. “We quickly transitioned to using digital means, including slide shows, electronic brochures, videos, Facetime tours, and photos to demonstrate the newly-created opportunities offered at our communities,” Heather says. This helped fill the void left by the sudden shutdown of in-person visits and tours.
  3. Offer multiple content options. This helped ensure Maplewood reached the right people with the right message. “We quickly adapted our website and other communication streams to make health and safety resources readily available to families. And of course, Roobrik helped with their ongoing insights and periodic COVID reports,” Heather says. “We were able to deliver pertinent updates and information on our practices and protocols of safety, sanitation, infection control, and prevention.” Exactly what families and prospects were craving at this point. 

Significantly Increase Your Tour-To-Move-in Ratio

Roobrik helps us talk to people who appreciate third-party analysis of their situation to help them determine what their next step should be,” Heather tells me. “I also think that, by offering this tool, it enhances our credibility among our customer base.”  

And Roobrik delivers another benefit. As web visitors use the Roobrik tool, it provides increased insights into their unique situations and what they want in senior care. Those insights have enabled Heather’s sales counselors to better plan their conversations. And to meet people in their journey in a much more customized way.

But what I think is really cool is that operators like Maplewood who are using Roobrik can engage folks who might otherwise have left the website! It’s a decision tool that meets them where they are — even if that’s in the middle of a pandemic. And it helps them make faster, better decisions. Because of that, according to Heather, these prospects are often more serious about making the move. “We have significantly increased our tour-to-move-in ratio,” Heather says. 

Considering all this, it’s not hard to understand why it’s easy for Heather to recommend Roobrik to other marketing leaders.

Nate, however, gives the credit to a strong collaboration between his team and Heather’s. “Our best partnerships with the strongest results, come from open dialogue and a shared commitment to serve prospects and their families. These have been core Maplewood values from day one.”

Stay the Course, Lean Into the Challenges, Don’t Freeze

For Heather and the team at Maplewood, it’s about doing things right from the start and not taking your eye off the ball. They had no “playbook” on how to deal with COVID. But what they did have was a culture that prepared Maplewood for the dynamic road ahead. Something to think about as we head into the months and years to come. Change is a certainty. Are you prepared?

How is Roobrik is preparing senior living communities for the challenges ahead? You can learn more and request a demo here.