This week I toured . . . sort of 2 senior communities in less than 5 minutes
I need to start this report by saying that I am a very fast writer because I do so much writing. While this is only the second sentence in an article that will be about 500 words long, it will take me maybe 20 minutes to write the first draft.
With the stage now set, I will tell you that it will take me much longer to write this article than it took me to do two visits in Northern San Diego County this past week. (You will see why I use “visits” and not tours.) It went something like this: As I wrapped up a lunch meeting with some senior living executives I asked their advice about getting to where I needed to be the next day. They gave me a couple of options and then, knowing about my “on tour” project, told me that one of the routes would take me by a senior community operated by a large national company that I had not yet written about. That seemed like a plan.
Bums Rush #1
The community had decent signage on a busy road and a quick U-turn got me to the front entrance of the building.
I pulled into the parking lot and I kid you not, there was not a single visitor parking spot. I am not talking not an empty spot, they were just completely missing. I drove to the back of the building: no dice. I finally went out and found some street parking.
I honestly figured this would be easy and fun tour.
It was the middle of the afternoon and there was a big sandwich board sitting on the sidewalk that said “Visit Today”.
I walked in, handed my Senior Housing Forum card to the receptionist, told her I wrote about the senior living industry, that I was not selling anything and asked if I could get some information about their building and have a tour.
She said: “You will have to come back tomorrow, all of our directors are out of the building”.
Me: “Is there no one who can show me around at all?.”
Receptionist: “No, but you can come back tomorrow.”
Receptionist: “I am sorry.” I was not offered a brochure or the card of the executive director or marketing director.
Time: Maybe one minute.
Bums Rush #2
As I walked out of the building I realized there was a second senior community that was right next door, so I walked 100 feet to the next building, handed over my card and gave the same explanation. She paused then told me I would need to make an appointment for the next day because the executive director was in a meeting with the owner of the community . . . . Huh?
This building is part of a small local chain. It also had a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk saying they had rooms available. (No wonder, that is true) I was not offered a card or any other information.
Time: 1 minute
I Don’t Get It
I was not a prospect and let them know that because I want to be respectful of their time and I value transparency. That being said, I am not convinced that in either case I would have been treated much differently.
Shouldn’t you always have someone who can do a little tour, who can talk a little about what a great place your community is, someone who can talk about what great things you are doing for seniors in that marketplace?
Maybe I need to do more of a mystery shop to get a more accurate picture of how consumers get treated and, yet, I believe with all my heart that this treatment in these buildings is reflective of a culture that is not so healthy.
I will tell you that at the two buildings I visited earlier this year that were full or almost full I was greeted warming and had a great experience which suggests that an open welcoming approach to all comers creates the environment needed to win residents.
Two more things: 1. If you think I am writing about one of your buildings feel free to tell me. I will be glad to tell and, if it is, talk more about the experience.
2. In the next weeks I will be back in Orange County, CA and maybe other parts of Southern California and will do this again. If you want me to hit one of your buildings let me know which one. I will also, in a few weeks, be in both the Portland and Seattle areas. Same offer applies.