If your senior housing community is full and you have a deep waiting list don’t bother reading this!

The National Investment Center for Senior Housing (NIC) says the current senior housing occupancy rate is 88.6% this is not great for anyone and while it means some communities are well into the 90 percent, it also means there are many in the low 80’s and below.  Most executive directors I talk to see occupancy as a major area of attention and concern. And yet . . . . in almost every marketplace that is occupancy challenged, you will find one or two communities that seem to have found the magic formula to beat the market. I want to start by saying it is never a problem that can be solved by reducing rates. In fact, reducing your rates to a below market level is often the kiss of death; the beginning of a death spiral.  It is the surest way to tell prospects that you are running a low quality community or that there is something wrong with your community.  Many times you will discover that these outlier communities charge rates that are at the top of the market. If you spend some time dissecting what those communities do that is different you will discover an effective referral network . . . always! Networking is the one thing that can make the difference between being in the middle of the marketplace pack or at the front of the pack.

How Is Your Network

If your network can use some work you might start by taking a look at the chart(1) at the top of this article (You can download a excel version of it HERE) and ask yourself some questions:

1.  How many of these categories apply to your marketplace?

2.  How many names can you fill-in for each category?

3.  For those names you are able to fill-in, how strong is your relationship?  Meaning, do they know you and your community well enough to refer a prospect to you rather than someone else?  

Building a Stronger Network

Here are some ideas to help you build a stronger network:

  • Where there are holes in your network identify individuals and organizations you would like to add to your network.  Write down specific organizations and people.
  • Talk to those people people who are already in your network and ask them to help you make new connections.
  • Remember that networking is a two way street.  One of the best ways to start building new connections is to ask those individuals what you can do to help them with their business.
  • Be sure you are making the right connections. Knowing lots of people is nice for your social life but it does not automatically translate into  improving your occupancy rate.  Knowing lots of people in a single organization is not nearly as good as knowing a few people in several different organizations.
  • Having the right connections means two things:  Finding entities and individuals who will help you grow your business and finding people you like.  If you like hanging out with the people in your network it will be successful and a lot more fun, and it should be fun.
  •  It takes time to get to know people and organizations.  Taking time to develop your network will allow you to feel confident that the people you are networking with have compatible values and philosophies.  This also means that if you discover a connection isn’t working you need to move on.
  • Always leave room in your life for one more connection.  Your success as a networker happened because early on one or two people took a chance on you.  It is only right that you be willing to the same for someone else who is just starting out.  
Some questions for discussion:
As you look at the chart how are you doing?

Are there other organizations that should be on that chart? Do you have any great networking stories to share? 

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Finally: If you know anyone who is looking at emergency call systems I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with them about Vigil Health Solutions.