By Susan Saldibar

Thankfully we don’t have “old folks’ homes” anymore. The one size fits all retirement home has been replaced with a spectrum of care options. We now have in-home care, life plan communities, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. And there’s pressure for operators to offer multiple options and choices, which adds a layer of complexity, especially from an infrastructure perspective. Nevertheless, to compete in this industry, you need to be able to raise your hand and say, “Yes, we can do that”. 

But you won’t get anywhere if your CRM is groaning, “No you can’t”. 

Williamsburg Landing Life Plan community is a good example of having the confidence in your CRM system to be able to say “Yes, we can do that”. Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, this gated community spreads over 137 acres and is home to about 497 residents. They offer everything from independent living (gorgeous homes, I checked them out online) to adult daycare, to assisted living, to memory care and skilled nursing. All this flexibility requires a level of sophistication that makes a “You can” infrastructure critical to their success.

Lisa Bates is Senior Director of Marketing Sales & Communications for Williamsburg Landing, overseeing a staff that includes assistant directors of sales, a relocation coordinator, and other marketing specialists.

Recently, I asked Lisa to shed some light as to how an operator with such a robust portfolio is able to accurately keep track of everything – from marketing and sales to billing to accommodating growth. They are users of the Continuum CRM (a Senior Living Foresight partner) platform. Here is our Q&A:

Q: Do you have any processes that you consider unique to Williamsburg Landing?

Something unique to Williamsburg Landing is our two-tiered deposit program and waitlist. We have a $1,000 deposit waitlist, which includes some discounts and perks for depositors, but no priority placement. We also have a $10,000 waitlist whereby the date of deposit gives the individual priority when a home or apartment becomes available. That deposit is then applied to the entrance fee when they commit to moving here. Deposits are refundable anytime until a commitment is made to a specific home, If they cancel after accepting a home, there is a small cancellation fee, which is subtracted from the deposit.

Q: What were some of the challenges you had that other systems couldn’t meet?

We tried two other systems before going with Continuum CRM. Neither could really be customized as much as Continuum. Furthermore, the learning curve for the staff was shorter and the training we received from Continuum was outstanding.

We found that the other systems were more geared toward managing just the sales journey. They stopped short of taking the process from end to end and following the money.

Given our unique deposit/waitlist process, we needed to reconcile with our accounting office on a monthly basis. We also had to track the application of the deposits against the entry fees when people moved to settlement or had refund requests. Other systems were not able to do this without a lot of manual work on our end.

Q: What were you looking to achieve by working with Continuum CRM?

There were several things that Lisa and her team were looking for:

  • We needed the software to be easily customizable to meet our needs. We wanted to be able to edit the software, rather than change our existing processes.
  • It had to be efficient and easy for staff to use.
  • The software also had to have the ability to draw out relevant data to strategically manage workflow.
  • We needed flexibility to be able to pull data from other workflows and combine them to form new ones.

Continuum does all of this, as well as providing reporting features that were much more extensive than the other systems. And it’s user-friendly as well.

Q: How has Continuum helped you to improve your processes?

Since our staff was included in the customization process, they were much more engaged and, therefore, more eager to use the software. Reports are easier to pull, and we did not lose any of our leads in the process. The system is fast, and the fields are fully customizable, so it can grow as we grow. The keystrokes are not repetitive. Their customer service is extremely prompt, and it’s delivered by the people who built the program. We aren’t required to pay extra charges for support whether we need it or not, like some other companies.

Q: Any words of wisdom for other operators with similar infrastructure challenges?

I would recommend asking your staff to list their top elements they need from a CRM; what they like, what they don’t like, and any elements that they would add if they could design the best CRM to support their work. We did this and then interviewed multiple companies, finally narrowing it down to three. Then we had the staff try out the respective companies’ “sandboxes”. After the thirty-day trials, the staff voted on the program they liked best. That was Continuum CRM. And our team is as invested in the program as they were involved from day one!

Since we have had the program, our sales have increased, our overtime has decreased, and our reporting capacity has allowed us to work smarter not harder.

For more information about Continuum CRM, please visit their website.