Are you really capturing and working all of the leads that come into your community?
The first time Blair Carey of Retirementhomes.com told me he felt the one of the biggest problems senior housing operators faced was too many leads I thought he was nuts. We have had many more conversations about this and he has continued to pound away at the same point. I have become convinced . . . . The Senior Housing Lead Problem Most operators generate leads come from (or potentially come from) a lot of different sources. They include, or might include:
- Personal recommendations
- Calls off street signage
- Directory Services like retirementhomes.com
- Direct mail campaigns
- Community website
- Pay to play websites like A Place for Mom
- On and off campus events
- Newspaper Advertising
- Radio Advertising
- Hospital and other local referral sources
- Consumer review sites like SeniorAdvisor.com
Lead Problem #1: Capturing the Lead
This is so fundamental that it is hard to even write about, but in truth most senior housing communities lose leads because they either capture insufficient information from the prospect, or capture enough of the correct information but key lead data doesn’t get passed on to the right people to respond to the lead. At a bare minimum, the sales team needs a name and phone number, but this bare minimum does not give the sales person very much to work with. Another lead capture problem is making sure the lead actually gets to the sales team and that they can read or comprehend the information. My guess is that if you had a way of figuring it out how often this occurs, you would be appalled at the number of times someone makes contact with your community and it is over before it starts.
- The handwriting is so terrible that it is impossible to figure out the phone number or name.
- The notes in the CRM seem to be written in a short-hand that renders the data useless.
- At the end of the shift, the slip of paper with the lead info gets shuffled to the bottom of a stack of papers and when discovered a week later, the message taker is embarrassed they forgot to pass the lead on, and so it goes in the trash.
- A prospect calls after the front desk receptionist or concierge has gone home, or even worse, when the receptionist is on break and the person who answers the phone says “call you call back when someone is in the office?” (you’d be surprised how often this happens to me when I make my own calls)
Most operators try to manage this problem by using some kind of system the most popular of which is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or an index card system. When either are used properly the negative impact described above can be minimized. Unfortunately, when staff members don’t fully comply with either type of system, your sales team will continue to be frustrated.
Lead Problem #2: Qualifying the Lead
If a lead gets into the hands of sales team, they immediately go to work trying to figure out if it is hot or not. If its’ hot lead, meaning a high probability of moving into the community within the next 30 days, it gets worked and worked hard. The problem is that each month many operators will gather 30 or more not hot (warm??) leads. They hopefully go into some sort of electronic or manual tickle system and theoretically those leads get worked periodically with the idea that some will someday turn into move-ins.
The Not So Hot Problem
Because of the relatively high number of new warm leads that show up each month (probably over 50%), most will not get worked the way they should. So when they ultimately go from warm to hot, it will either be a random thing as to whether or not you get a shot at them, or even worse they will have a negative impression because you didn’t follow-up. How do you handle these not so hot leads? How many hot or not so hot leads do you get each month? What advertising generates the highest number of leads for you? Looking Ahead: How to keep leads from slipping through the cracks later this week or early next week.
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Great points that you have made… I can completely appreciate where you are coming from and in a nutshell what I see is that if too many leads are an issue it is because they are not handled appropriately to begin with. I have done sales training for years and I have a standard saying of “people do not tour retirement communities for fun.” Meaning they do not just wake up one morning and say I have nothing to do so I think I will go and try and get a free lunch. There is always a need and many times the individual is just not willing to share that need. This is always the sales person’s responsibility to build that relationship so the individual is willing to share that need. This is where that warm lead turns into a hot lead. Asking the right questions is imperative in this process. Another key point is education, many of the so called “warm” leads are warm because moving into a community is an overwhelming process. They do not know how the process works. A good sales person will always educate and simplify the process for the individual telling them step by step how the move happens.