Great leaders don’t expect overnight success. Great leaders know that only hard work and consistent focus on doing the right things right more often than the day before, success eventually appears

My Name is Will Nowell I am the founder of ValueMatch, a Senior Housing Forum Partner.  I was asked to help turn around a senior living community that is  performing significantly below its budgeted proforma. I am now three weeks into  the process. At the bottom of this article you will find the link to the first report on this project. We have provided innovative, inspirational, industry-specific sales training to the existing staff. Learning new skills is always challenging; more so for some than for others. For the most part, everyone seemed positive and commitments were made to follow up the program with frequent practice and monitoring. This is the typical protocol for companies that have gathered together key players and invested a significant amount of money and time in the hope of seeing performance bounce and, ultimately, improve occupancy results. The months following a training event are critical for the company, especially for a turnaround. It is enough of a challenge to assimilate new standards in a community that is running smoothly. In the case of a turnaround, the property will need to adopt the new training and marketing standards and, at the same time, address the existing issues and distractions that are at the root of its underperformance.

Leadership Insight #3:

Show full commitment to change (You can see insights 1 & 2 here) I have seen leaders dramatically influence the overall success of a new program or process with their immediate actions and attitude. If the team sees management jump in and participate in the new program, learn the new vernacular and put themselves in a position to fail, then they quickly understand that not fully participating is not an option. The opposite is also true. If leaders are semi-present and sitting back “observing”, so to speak, then a different message is conveyed and the new program is much more likely to fail. In the case of this current project, the management team came out of the gate very strong. They made it clear to everyone that the new processes and skills shared would be the new standard and that everyone would be expected to work hard to make the needed changes, adopt and master the program.

Leadership Insight #4:

Review the plan on a regular basis and watch for the cracks If all that was required to turnaround slow sales were training, there would be far fewer companies in need of my help. Usually there are other underlying management and leadership issues at the root of the poor performance that need to be addressed. Consistently reviewing the actual daily and weekly performance against the new, clear set of sales and marketing standards helps management focus their observations and objectively identify specific behaviors, actions and attitudes that may be holding the project back. In short, by applying specific pressure you can identify where the holes are in the project.

Looking at the Progress

Immediately following the training, I began visiting the project on a regular basis and held weekly meetings to review progress or the lack of it. Elements reviewed included:

  1. Results of a ServiceTrac Live, (a Senior Housing Forum Partner) sales experience capture program. I asked those primarily responsible for direct selling, in this case the ED and the Marketing person, to record every sales interaction, including both phone calls and in-person visits. They then posted these recordings daily on a shared website so they were available for one-on-one sales coaching.
  2. Marketing and sales activities and results were compared to the agreed upon sales plan. This included accurately capturing and entering all sales and marketing data into the lead management system and using the standard reports as the accountability platform.
  3. Assessment of each sales and marketing contact made during the week, identifying how the contact was handled, where the prospect is in the sales process and whether or not every opportunity to move the prospect forward in the sales process had been exhausted. This process usually opens up opportunities to provide feedback and training to sales team members in a group setting or one-on-one.


It seems self evident that, if community staff follow the process and are accountable to the plan, it will work and everything will improve. But that is not reality. What actually begins to happen is that cracks begin to show. In this case:

  1. The executive director began to openly complain about the organization of the company and even about the efficacy of the new standards and expectations.
  2. The new outreach marketing person and other key staff began to suggest that the executive director was not the person best suited to manage sales.
  3. Because the CRM system had not been used in some time, there was not much confidence in the accuracy of its data or reports.
  4. The outreach marketing database was non-existent and needed to be built from scratch.
  5. There were not enough new inquiries to meet the new sales goals.
  6. The sales people were not really comfortable with the sales training and did not agree with everything that had been taught.

In short, it appears there is chaos. Mutiny is at hand and the need for leadership is at an all time high.

Leadership Insight #5

Be calm, confident, assertive, action-oriented and Stick to the Plan. Great leaders don’t expect overnight success. Great leaders know that only with hard work and consistent focus on doing the right things, right more often than the day before, success eventually appears. The sales team needs to realize that the new program is here to stay and that upper management has the patience and resolve to see it through. Naturally, small amounts of push-back and resistance are expected. Hopefully specific counseling with key employees will send a clear message that, as long as everyone is willing to learn and grow and results consistently improve, no one will lose their job. Unfortunately with this turnaround, results have been disappointing. However I have seen confident leaders show complete resolve. Upper management has gotten very involved. They have listened carefully and taken specific thoughtful actions. They have reacted and reasserted their resolve to follow through. Back with more in a week or two . . . . Will

Turning a Project Right Side Up – The Series

ServiceTrac . . . providing comprehensive real-time performance improvement services to help clients build a culture of sales success, achieve service excellence, and guarantee customer retention.