By Susan Saldibar

One of the more interesting articles I’ve read lately floated the idea that we might be on the precipice of a new technology renaissance coming in the wake of COVID-19. Certainly, technology has more than risen to the challenge. And we’ve grown used to these new tools, along with the promise of more in the months to come.

One technology provider who understands the growing needs of senior living communities during this pandemic is WelcomeHome (a Senior Living Foresight partner). I spoke recently with Co-Founder and CEO, John Lariccia. We talked about how communities can better utilize technology to, not only survive the pandemic, but to come out the gate even stronger when things open back up.

First, however, some stats collected by the team at WelcomeHome:

  • Leads are down by 45%
  • Sales are down by 54%
  • Move-ins are down by 52%

Tools of Engagement

Scary stuff but, as John points out, this is a snapshot. These numbers won’t remain this way. John, in fact, has great hope for the resiliency of this industry and its ability to rebound better than ever. But how quickly will it happen? That, according to John, may depend on how well operators can leverage the new “tools of engagement” — virtual meetings, virtual tours, and a CRM that maximizes accessibility and tracking of new communications methods.

“With sales cycles lengthening, you also need to make sure you are utilizing tools to help with your sales cadence,” he says. “That means using your calendar invites and reminders. A good CRM that won’t let you forget and can automate things for you,he adds.

How successful communities make these transitions will also depend on how well they are able to understand the needs of prospects and employees. Because both have been transformed in the way they communicate and their expectations. To name a few:

  • Greater familiarity with virtual meetings and videos. And they’ll expect them to get even better and more intuitive to use.
  • Hyper-responsive communication calibrated to fit their interests and needs.
  • A hunger for details. Especially when it comes to things like safety and additional services needed.
  • Work style and location flexibility for employees. Many may like a more blended work environment and may be reluctant to come back inside your community doors if they don’t have to.

Navigating a New Reality

John shared six key adjustments operators will need to make to navigate successfully through the post-COVID world and beyond. They are as follows:

  1. Embrace virtual. Plan on connecting more frequently with more “face-to-face” time. That means embracing the use of video conferencing. Your prospects know that they don’t have to wait for an on-site visit or meeting. Make sure you have the basics covered (turn your camera on!) and that your CRM is able to store your recordings. As well as a reference, they can provide an important training tool to improve your presentation skills. You should also be storing collaterals on sales basics, such as handling objections.
  2. Make every moment count. Make sure you are seizing every opportunity (and using technology) to engage with your prospects and connect with your team members. If you are switching to remote work, make sure you are leveraging your communications platforms to keep everyone on the same page. Because virtual communications typically bring less distraction, it should make it easier to focus and listen more attentively. 
  3. Don’t give up. The post-COVID experience for prospective residents and their adult children comes with a greater dose of caution than before. Be patient with prospects. Understand the reasons for delay or for a “non-decision” decision. Remember “not now” doesn’t mean “never”. Keep your eyes on your goals.
  4. Thrive with new ways of working. Embrace the new options that evolved from dealing with COVID. They give you and your team much more flexibility than you had before. Make use of that flexibility as to where, when, and how your team works.
  5. Inspire and engage your team. This is where leadership is so important. Be sure to check in regularly with your team. Be their source of energy and enthusiasm for the future. Keep your lines of communication wide open. There will be ups and downs. Be prepared for them. Stay positive.
  6. Be agile. If you haven’t already learned to accept and adjust to change now is the time to get used to it. Know that the upcoming months will be different. You are not going back to business as usual. And that’s a good thing. Keep focused on current data and trends. Make sure you are responding accordingly.

“This is a new world with new tools of engagement,” John says. “It’s time to use those tools to help you embrace new ways of working and connecting. Those who do will thrive!”

For more information about WelcomeHome, please visit their website.