By Amira T. Fahoum

The first of this two part series explored how one community was willing to do a deep honest assessment of their true strengths and how they used that assessment to hit 100% occupancy.  This second part in the series addresses some of the specific strategies they used to exploit those strengths.

By Amira T. Fahoum The first of this two part series explored how one community was willing to do a deep honest assessment of their true strengths and how they used that assessment to hit 100% occupancy.  This second part in the series addresses some of the specific strategies they used to exploit those strengths.

While, I believe in the elder-directed model,  I also understand not everyone gets support from their corporate offices to do a culture overhaul.  So, my last point, a layered marketing approach, offers some marketing ideas that your bosses can wrap their heads around.  When the community was able to clearly articulate what made us different, we employed the following layers to ensure our message could be heard:

  • A solid online presence.  I’m going to be honest. If you continue to stick your head in the sand and say, “I’m just not tech-savvy” or “our demographic just doesn’t use that yet”, you’re not going to be successful for very much longer.   You must have at least a basic understanding of what online marketing is and why it is important.  Then, find yourself someone to help you with it if you can’t do it yourself (and trust me, I thought I could, but it is a full-time job).
  • Consistent referral source outreach.Knowing your referral sources is one thing. Being well-known amongst your referral sources is entirely another.
  • Consistent “wow” of your customers. Find out what makes your leads smile and do whatever you can to make them smile on a regular basis.
  • Consistent communication.  Newsletters, e-newsletters, postcards, flyers, hand-written notes, etc.  Again, being well-known amongst your leads is critical.  This is where the layering is important: only 1% will act on a postcard they receive or a newsletter they read. So, remind them several times and send several communications.  Even calling to personally invite them to an upcoming event works.
  • Be generous. In your quest to be well-known, make sure its not because you are “pushy”- only calling to “check in” or asking “are you ready yet?” Invite them to an event (a FREE event) as I said above. Better yet, make it a free AND fun event.  Give them a gift on the way out and a thank you afterwards for coming.  You won’t be bothersome if they are getting something in return and feel like you aren’t just there to sell them something.

Remember when I said I didn’t have the answer, but you did?  I’ve outlined the process that we went through and continue to go through.  Marketing is an ever-evolving process and certainly keeps us on our toes.  Now, the cure to your occupancy woes will have to come from you: do you really know your competition?  Do you really know what makes you different?  Are you really willing to put in the time and effort to do the layered marketing approach I outlined above (there are certainly no shortcuts)?  Most importantly, are you (and the people around you) really willing to make changes if you find that you don’t have much that makes you different? One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion. ― Voltaire   Amira T. Fahoum is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Ridgeline Management Company based in Eugene, Oregon and operator of seventeen assisted living and memory care communities nationwide. 

She is the President-Elect of the Emerald Marketing Association and holds her assisted living administrator certificate in the state of Oregon.  She can be reached at afahoum@ridgelinemc.com