We have collected data, we have sliced and diced that data a million ways from Sunday.

We know lots and lots of things about residents who purchase senior living. We have collected data, we have sliced and diced that data a million ways from Sunday. We know a lot about their families and why they encouraged or choose senior living for the elder loved one; why they choose our senior living community and what they perceive makes us better than the competition.

So What?

Perhaps we need to spend less time looking at those people and spend more time talking to the non-buyers. I recently read an article titled The Six Best Marketing Ideas I Have Ever Heard and all 6 are great. The article is worth the read, but # 6 . . .

“To listen to the customer, you have to talk to the customer”

. . . is the one that really got me thinking. One of the really weird aspects of senior living is that we are not a customer-service business in the traditional sense. With relatively rare exceptions, the move to a senior living community is a one-time purchase decision. A huge decision for sure, but only a one-time decision. We don’t need to spend nearly as much time working on customer retention because changing communities is a rare occurrence.   

Ok . . . I know sometimes people get unhappy and change communities and that creating resident fans is really, really important for referral business. But that is nothing like restaurants, retail stories, consumer brands and airlines where it is relatively easy to make a change, like I recently did when I got fed up with bad customer service at American Airlines and moved to Delta and Southwest.

The 90%

All of the data says 90% of the elders and soon to be elders in this country want nothing to do with what we are selling. It doesn’t matter how nice it is, how great the amenities are, how good the wellness program is, how great the life enrichment program is, how expensive or inexpensive cost is, they don’t want what we are selling.

Two Groups

There are two groups of non-customers we need to be talking to:

  1. The 10% –  Not all of that 10% end up moving into senior living. There is a common perception that the senior living market penetration is around 10%. But if that number were analyzed, a bunch of that 10% would not have come from the 90% bucket, being forced by family or circumstances into senior living.

    We need to be talking to that 10%, asking them why they find senior living an appealing option. These are people who, in a sense, have a perception of senior living as a lifestyle choice. We need to figure out what parts of the lifestyle they like and want and how they came to this decision. We need to use that information to inform our building design, our program design, and our marketing messages.

  2. The 90% –  That “No Way” 90% could tell us a lot about how they perceive what we do. That would help us understand what parts of our story are not resonating. Or what parts of our story are just plain not being heard. Listening to this group could really help us move the dial. 

If you are having these conversations with the non-customers and would be willing to share some of that data, it would help us all. Figuring this stuff out would make the industry stronger and improve the lives of elders.

What Say You?

Steve Moran