By Susan Saldibar

If someone was to say to you, “What is the price of admission for a new resident?” you’d probably recite the deposit amount, along with any other preliminary or ancillary charges. But what about the cost of admission? That would be your cost, as an operator, to admit a new resident. Again, you might put pencil to paper and list out all the various processes, including phone time, paperwork time, maybe even the cost of the paper itself. But it’s doubtful that you’d add in the cost of things like paper chasing or the cost of the time lag when family members respond to paperwork at a snail’s pace. Even more doubtful that you’d identify (let alone list) any major errors or missing documents that could cost you a lot downstream. But you should. Thousands of dollars per month could be at stake.

Darren Mathis, CEO of LincWare (a Senior Living Foresight partner) tells me there are plenty of touchpoints along the admissions life cycle that can cost senior living operators serious money; especially if they are still relying on manual admissions processes.

Here are three key areas where a lack of automation and centralization of admissions documents can have an impact on bottom-line revenue:

  1. Unsigned documents — Documents that fall through the cracks can be costly, Darren tells me. This is especially the case when it involves losing months’ worth of rent. He recalls the comments of Nate Boswell, co-founder of SAL Management Group, who told him that after losing thousands of dollars in uncollected early move-out fees, “I kept hearing the same thing from our community EDs, who had residents saying things like, ‘Hey, the sales rep said it was $2,800 per month, not $3,000 per month.’ They’d pull out the agreement and realize that pricing wasn’t completed in the document or the agreement wasn’t signed. Further calculations showed an average loss of $3,000 per month, per community in move-out losses. And that document would not have slipped through the cracks if they had an automated admissions platform,” Darren says.
  2. Time lag on document execution — We all know that time is money. And it’s an adage that becomes abundantly clear when the lack of returned, executed admissions documents hold up a move-in. It’s another area where automation makes a big difference. “You can’t overestimate the time savings when family members can complete forms remotely, online at their own convenience”, Darren tells me. And he has numbers to prove it. One client recently reported that automating their admissions process resulted in 67% less time taken to receive executed online forms than with snail mail. They also reported that, post-automation, the financial commitment turnaround for out-of-state residents dropped from three days down to about ten minutes. Wow.
  3. Sales time spent paper chasing — Staff can spend weeks of valuable time chasing paperwork. And you are paying them for it. Playing phone tag and sending emails. Cajoling the residents and family into signing and returning forms. That’s a lot of low-value work at a high-value cost.

And Darren makes another good point about the negative impact that glitches in paperwork, or just sheer volume, can have on the move-in. Namely, it can lead to a decision by a resident to “put off” the move-in altogether. That re-opens the field to your competitors who may be able to offer an easier, faster move-in process. The financial impact? A lost client.

The advantages of automating a tedious, error-prone set of processes can also reduce the potential for misunderstandings. And misunderstandings can cost money too. As Darren says, “We talk to operators all the time, especially on the finance side, and we ask, ‘What’s your biggest fear?’ And, more often than not, it’s having a family member dispute fees, and then walking to the file cabinet to pull their residency agreement, and realize it’s not signed,” he says.

How much will that cost you? Darren would say, “Don’t wait to find out.”

For more information about Admit+ and LincWare, please visit their website.