The senior living industry is always competitive, but nothing bumps up the stress level like having a brand-new community open nearby.
If a new community has opened for business and has started to cut into your prospect base, you may face an optics challenge. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a visit to a beautiful, modern campus can make the difference between a prospect and a resident.
How can you remain competitive if your community isn’t quite as shiny and new as the competition?
Experience and Management
“New” can mean sparkly and exciting, but it also can mean inexperienced. If your community has been around for years or decades, you’ve likely built a positive reputation in your community.
In your collateral materials, advertising, social media and personal meetings, you’ll want to tout the experience of your management team and the years you’ve been around. Explaining how your community has served seniors in your area over many years also should become part of your brand.
Whether your community is independent or part of a larger group, outline the management strengths and experience you possess.
Affiliations and Specialties
Are you affiliated with a hospital, wellness center or faith-based group? Many people choose senior living accommodations based on affiliation with outside entities.
In addition, having nonprofit status can serve as an advantage, especially if the new competitors are part of for-profit companies. Likewise, if your community is for-profit, you can educate prospects on the advantages of your business model.
Do residents have a say in how your community is governed? Do they run or participate in committees that provide input to management?
In many communities, members of the management team don’t welcome the opinions of the people who live there, and residents don’t have any input into decisions that affect them. If your community works hard to get resident buy-in on any changes in the community, make that clear to your prospects.
Don’t downplay the importance of your food. Does your community have a reputation for superb dining? If so, you’ll want to make that apparent to your prospects and members of your greater local community.
Maybe you have a chef who’s well-known or who has worked in a top restaurant. If so, make her a star of social media and advertising campaigns.
Do you have several different dining venues serving a variety of dishes that appeal to all palates? You’ll want to make sure prospects know — and that your best prospects experience it for themselves during visits to your community.
Quality of the food is important to many people who move into senior living, and it can make or break a community. If yours is superb, it may give you an advantage over the competition.
Residents choose senior living communities for many different reasons, including proximity to their hometown, dining, atmosphere, pricing and more. But the biggest driver for choice of a community is the health care.
Everyone wants to believe they won’t ever need healthcare services, but they also want to know that quality care is there if they do need it. If your community has great ratings in the healthcare arena, make sure your prospects know.
Impressive state inspection scores, low readmission rates, high staffing ratios and training requirements that exceed expectations are all among the healthcare achievements you should share with prospects.
A Passion for Wellness
Most seniors today want to remain healthy and active. Does your community excel in the area of wellness?
Maybe you have a well-equipped fitness center with weight machines tailored to seniors. Or perhaps you have a wellness director with special expertise and accomplishments. You may have a wide variety of fitness classes that cater to all tastes — or you may have an inviting pool and spa area.
If you believe that your community holds an advantage related to wellness, your prospects will want to know about it.
The Best People
Do you have an awesome team? If you believe your employees are true stars in senior living, you can communicate this information to your prospects.
Do you have employees who have been with you for many years? How about team members who residents rave about? You may have individuals on your team who have very specialized education or expertise — and maybe even people who have written books in their field or given presentations to a regional or national audience.
People really do make the difference when it comes to quality of life in senior living communities. Don’t be shy about letting prospects know about your great team.
It Comes Down to Resident Satisfaction
While a sparkly, new community may present some challenges for you, remember that at the end of the day, resident satisfaction is what matters. If your community is providing your residents with the best possible quality of life along with an intangible but priceless commodity — satisfaction — you can remain competitive.