We are all scared to death of what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to the reputation of senior living. The fear is that new residents will not move in, existing residents will move out, our businesses will suffer, and older people who really need the quality of life we offer will be worse off for not moving in.
I get it!
I have had the same fears.
We Have It Completely Wrong
I am 100% convinced we are completely wrong!
Nearly every day I talk to operators who are moving residents into their communities. And I am not just talking about need-driven memory care and assisted living. Just today I had a great conversation with Chris Hyatt, the CEO of New Perspectives Senior Living about two buildings where they are moving in a bunch of independent living residents. (You can read about how they opened two new senior living communities in the face of the pandemic HERE.)
Russell Rush, the creator of the R3R1 Senior Living Sales System is currently on-site, working to fill an independent living community in the Northeast and he has closed 30 out of 30 tours in the last 45 days. The only reason he is now slowing down is that the company he is contracted to all but stopped their marketing activities and he is out of leads.
We Are Actually Really Good at What We Do
We tell the public we are a great way to age well, maybe the best way to age well. But if we are honest we often don’t believe our own press. Too many times I have heard senior living leaders say in one form or another that they want to make enough money so that they will not need the very thing they are selling.
Not only are we good at what we do, we are getting better. COVID-19 has forced us to take a hard look at what we do and how we do it. We are better at tapping residents and non-life enrichment staff to create meaningful life enrichment programs. I am seeing operators figuring out how to do things more efficiently and creating new models of senior living.
Have you ever had someone try to sell you something they didn’t really believe in or believe was a good value? It becomes pretty transparent and most of the time the sale won’t get made. When we are not so sure about how good we are, how good senior living is, our team members will know it and it will impact how they interact with residents and prospects. When we are not sure we are all that good, prospects will sense it. And that lack of trust will turn into a disastrous self-fulfilling occupancy-crushing prophecy.
We are still, even through COVID-19, doing great amazing things for residents. The public sees through all the negative press and we need to do the same.