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157: Erin Hayes

Erin Hayes, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Enquire Solutions, discusses benchmark data metrics and the importance of understanding the data involved with resident move-ins.

Get the 2019-2020 Benchmark Report HERE.

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We have one of our good friends on the show today. We want to welcome Erin Hayes of Enquire Solutions. Welcome to the program.

Erin: Thank you!

Lucas: I should actually say welcome back to the program because you’ve already joined us once before

Erin: I have, so much fun.

Erin: Well, we’re ready to have some more fun around metrics. And some people might think like how metrics are fun, but actually there’s a lot of people in the industry that are so hungry for more metrics, they want more metrics. They want to be able to get the right kind of data around solutions that they’re trying to provide and goals that they’ve set. And the only way you can do that is by being able to track, being able to measure and get those metrics. Right. And you guys are great at this. You are the CRM for the senior living industry. Almost everybody knows that, but very interesting today, we’re going to go over some trends, some things that you guys have been tracking. We have a lot of questions around this. So why don’t you open up by just kind of giving us some framework about this discussion?

Erin: Yeah, so the benchmark report has been coming out since 2012 and the reason we started doing it and obviously now we have so much more data, but the reason we started doing the benchmark report is just because we realized in this industry, we had a lot of data; data rich, report poor right? So we want it to be able to aggregate data from all over and people wanted that, they have their data, but they want to know how they stack up in the industry. And when we started, we didn’t really break that, we had rental versus CCRC or life plan, and now we’re able to have such granular data from our system because people classify their communities as to what care offering or mixture they offer. And so in the new benchmark report, which will come out on Monday, and you can download, is comparing 2019 to 2020. So typically we just do the year, the last year all the data we have, but because 2020, as we all know, was a little bit different. I’ll talk about that. This year we compared it because to set 2021 goals, we kind of have to go back and look at 2019, when we were rocking and rolling. And also in 2020, you’ll see the trend for January and February when you download the report. It was great, we had the best January ever, all levels of care. So very promising for 2021 and I looked at recent data January for 2021 is looking really good for everyone.

Josh: So Erin, help our listeners who have not downloaded this report or ever seen your benchmark report yet. Give us a little bit more understanding of this; is it national data and is this across the senior housing spectrum of care? Tell us a little bit more about that.

Erin: Yeah, good question. So, we work with over 4,000 senior living buildings, over 5,000 if you include skilled nursing and you know all the ancillary post-acute services. And so we are nationwide, in the report, it breaks out a region. So we have five different regions that we look at. I think it’s similar to what Asha looks at as far as regionalizing the data and the good thing about that is when we have a company say in Wisconsin and they operate 25 communities, we can pull just North central data. Because we see differences like Southeast Florida, they get many, many more inquiries than say Iowa, where Luke’s from. Right. So it’s kind of that demand piece. So we can look at a single client versus where they are in the United States. And also based on what that community offers, we can kind of weed that out and compare it. So it’s national, we did in this report for a life plan, we actually didn’t include the health centers or anything so those are separated. So we call it life plan residential, which is really their IAIL memory care

Josh: And correct me if I’m wrong. But one of the first things we’re going to talk about is 2019 versus 2020 metrics. Is that in data?

Erin: Yeah, so it’s interesting because obviously we compared what if 2019 was our baseline, at least for 2020, which it should always be going up. We should always be doing better. How does 2020, what really was that variance between the same time period last year? So we looked at things like conversion rates and we’ll talk a little, those are a little different too, for 2020, because of the tour situation, we weren’t touring as much. It was about half what we usually do in tours. We’ll talk about that. But just looking at how many activities it takes to get a move in that the sales cycle length definitely increased in 2020 maybe because people were holding off some of that pent up demand. We might see that go back down in 2021. So there are some things that we want to compare, you know, to 2019 to see what that difference was.

Josh: Okay. So hit the ground running. What do we need to talk about first?

Erin: Okay. So first of all, average monthly inquiries. So these are all of the different regions North central, Northeast, South central, South East, West. This is the variance in inquiries overall average monthly. So say, in North central they were down. If they looked at their monthly inquiries on average for IL, they were down 27%, but some fared better. The West, they were only down just 9%, 13%. We’re kind of okay with that. I mean, it wasn’t huge, you would think it would be worse like 50%, but it really wasn’t. So putting this in perspective for and this is IL and AL, and this really tells us, and it kind of explains conversion rates, right. So I’m gonna flip this over. Here’s our average conversion rates. There we go. So appointment is an inquiry to tour that went down, but that’s to be expected because we didn’t have as many tours. When you look at the benchmark report, you’re going to see the V in April. So for every level of care, every metric we have inquiries, tours, move ins. It V’s down very low in April and then it crawls back up to August. And then we kind of sat at like an okay variance to 2019 after August. So you could kind of see that pent up demand. The close ratio to tour to move in. That’s closing, that’s very qualified leads that came into tour. What are we closing at? That actually went up, but I don’t want people to be deceived by this because with less tours it’s a fraction. So it went up compared to 2019. But what I also think is interesting is our result rate, that’s our inquiry to move in rate, stayed pretty 7% was what 2019 was. And this is all up for all levels, IL, AL, memory care. So I guess the takeaway really is, this result ratio because we had less inquiries probably, and we had less move in that’s probably why it stayed the same, but I don’t really like to look at always conversions because you can make conversions look however you want. If I don’t put in every lead, my rate’s going to be higher because my denominator of my equation is lower. But that’s the interesting thing here is 7% across the board inquiry to move in. And of course in our report, this also varies by market source, obviously unpaid referrals, they convert much, much higher. Um, and then there are things like direct mail that, you know, you pump out a lot of volume and they convert much lower.

Josh: So for our listeners that are just listening to this podcast and you can not see Erin’s whiteboard artwork that I think surely you’re not erasing that right now. That was goodness. Um, but it’s a pink outlined, framed whiteboard. But I want to go back, you said you got to slow this down for me because you said 28%, we were up, but don’t be deceived. And it was because we probably had fewer tours, which meant I think now you’d correct me if I’m wrong, fewer tours during the pandemic. Um, so the people that were touring were probably already fully vetted, pre-qualified so to speak, they weren’t coming in to just visit and see if they liked the interior or have a lunch. I mean, these people needed care, they could afford care, they were coming in to make a decision. Is that kind of what that is? Right?

Erin: We didn’t have people coming and perhaps also not looking at multiple communities because of the pandemic. So we could probably infer that if they were coming, like you said, they were really serious, but there also wasn’t much competition that they were also looking at. So our close ratios were better, which just shows the work that the sales team is putting into it to actually get those closed during this time. Um, but also yes, less tourists happening and some of those are virtual. So those are intermingled, you know, if they weren’t holding onsite a lot, we’re doing virtual.

Josh: Well, and so you just went where I was wanting to go next. And so I wanted to see, you see a lot more sales actions than just our narrow lens here in the communities that we have, or that we go into. But it seems to me that communities and sales leaders and leadership teams really were forced to make a pivot, to do more virtual things and to get creative on how they were creating an experience for that potential prospect to understand what they were really getting before they could actually come into the physical plant, the community. I’m wondering if that could be part that we’re doing a better job at maybe qualifying, we’re doing a better job at giving people virtual experiences where they maybe don’t have to visit the community five times before they make a decision. Do you have any inkling of a forecast that maybe that upward trend, that percentage may stay high as we’re moving forward? Because there’s some things I think we’ve just gotten better at that maybe we never had to do before. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Erin: Yeah, I think that the adjustment to virtual is going to carry over and actually help boost these numbers for 2021. I do, because you’re right. So when you look at average monthly, say for assisted living of total tours, it definitely went down. We’re not, there were no retours, I think it was an average of maybe two to three a month, you know, not as many as we’re used to doing. So I think that they are utilizing those tools better to cut down on the amount of face-to-face. In fact, in the average activity to move in, face-to-face obviously went down, you know usually it’s four or five and it was three pretty much across the board, three touches face-to-face. I think to your point, if we can utilize the virtual touring, the use of video. We actually have reports out with some of our clients on video and conversion rates in 2020 for people that received a personal video from a salesperson, or I really like when the ED sends one, I think that’s great. They converted much higher than people that did not. I think that those tools are going to really help and hopefully keep that high.

Josh: So give me a big picture, because I think I hear when I talk to people, even outside of the industry and they say, Hey, Josh, you know, what did you do? And I’m like, well, you know, you kind of don’t want to go into a 30 minute conversation trying to, so I’m like, I kind of take care of older people, you know, that sort of thing, Oh, that must be terrible right now. It’s like, that’s a terrible business to be in. And I’m like, no, actually it’s wonderful. But translate from the data that you’re gathering, what did our industry experience just as far as the sheer volume of people calling the community’s interested in care. I mean, 2019 versus pandemic year, what did that, what was the difference?

Erin: So there’s some interesting things. And when you download the report, there’s a lot of commentary about this, but one thing we did see that was real. So even though inquiries were down, when we look at the mix of how people were submitting inquiries, we always look at that. Where are they calling? Is it a paid referral? Is it unpaid? Or is it web; meaning web submission, not the market source was a call tracking number and they call, how do they submit information? We saw for every care level, maybe except there’s memory care I think pretty even to last year, but we saw a 20% or more increase in web form submissions. So with all these negatives going on, we saw decreases, you know, talk about web forms went up. This I think is also a testament to how we’ve adapted the digital, focusing on digital; people are at home, they’re researching, we focus on pay per click, we focus on getting content out. I got a lot of great emails through marketing automation from our clients. I think they’re fantastic, like, um, guides for nutrition while you’re at home, things like that. Things that people can use and download, we did see a big jump in web activity. So people are online researching trying to figure out what they’re going to do and maybe, and we saw the sales cycle longer, but they’re waiting a little bit longer probably to inquire. And perhaps we’ll see that happen in 2021. So, lots of web activity, which is interesting, and in calling went down.

Josh: Okay. So Lucas hates when I do this, not your Lucas, my Lucas. Um, he hates when I do this because I don’t want to chase a rabbit just a minute because you talk, we’re talking about virtual, we’re talking about how that’s changing the world of marketing and sales and all that. In your crystal ball, do you ever see a day for senior living when we turn to the consumer decision-making process is almost as fluid as making an online purchase at a like renting a movie through Netflix or buying a large important piece of equipment or something through Amazon to where literally you have a virtual shopping, a virtual educational experience on where our providers are so gifted and everything is so transparent and pricing is there and there’s ratings and reviews. Do you ever see us getting to that point or is that, hey, we’re dealing with humans here, not automobiles. This is never going to happen. Like what’s your crystal ball saying about that?

Erin: I mean, I think it will. And that’s a great question. I think it’ll mimic kind of buying a home. I kind of see it going now. So when you, and it’s been a while since I bought a home, but you know, there’s so many tools you can go on Redfin, you can go and look. yIt used to be, you had to call your real estate real estate broker, they had to go to the MLS, which then they’d have to print out all the pages for you. And then they’d have to somehow, they email it or they drop it off right or fax it. So we’ve come a long way in buying a home because we can literally go. We didn’t look, Luke has a real estate license, so we did our own, we did our own whole deal ourselves. So I think that, yes, we’re going to see a shift. And I think we’re already seeing it with the web activity. I mean, 50% of the source for our inquiries for life plan come from the web, they’re online looking. So I think they’re going to do a lot of research. I think the companies that put a lot more content out are going to fare better, but I do think then when you get down to having to go see the house, I think we’re still gonna, gonna need that. Because we’re not just renting it like rentals, Airbnb, BRBO, we don’t even see it. We just go, this looks good. We’re going to trust the reviews. We’re going to just book it. I think for a long-term purchase, we’ll still see that. But I do think that the people that are putting more information on video, worksheets, things that are more transparent, they’re going to do better.

Lucas: Well, Josh, I’m going to chase this rabbit hole with you, my friend, because it made me think of something else. This whole conversation around middle-market and affordability, or another term is attainable housing. I think in order to crack that egg, so to speak, there’s a big rush for this right now. People are trying to figure out how do I approach that kind of like $2,500 a month, $3,000 a month, you know, maybe even less than that person to come in and live here. And I think it’s technology, that’s going to be able to scale that. And maybe these are parts and pieces that eventually helped somebody come and disrupt this thing is where they streamlined the whole deal with technology and people are going to come in and rent, you know, $2,000 a month, $2,500 a month place to live.

Erin: Yeah. I mean, I actually have so many ideas right now, but I need to focus on what I do, but I think so. I think there’s some technology that definitely, I think people I think it’ll come out and it’ll be, I mean, right now it’s really, Hey, we go online and you search. There’s not really, you know, there are paid referrals that aggregate stuff, but there’s not anything really like Redfin where actually providers are just listing things. I think that it could be interesting with technology and as it’s the adult child too, I mean, it’s going to be the millennials that are now going to be looking, and they’re going to want things like click to book an appointment. They’re going to want you to respond back to their web form way quicker than we’re used to. Like, there are different expectations that we need to be prepared for.

Josh: I think you’re, you’re dead on. And I just loved that I got Lucas to chase a rabbit for once with me, he went down the rabbit hole, just like that. And success, my day is made. So Erin, talk to us, is there any more metrics that you feel like out of this report? Obviously we can’t download it all for our listeners right now on this show, but any other key metrics that we need to be talking about that need to be on the radar?

Erin: Yeah. So the one that everyone always asked me about and clients will call me and they’ll say, Hey, can you talk to my sales team about how many touches it takes to get a move in because they don’t believe me and they need to hear it from someone else. And so we published this, I’ll tell you what they are and it won’t be really shocking. This is how many activities per move in. So ILAL memory care life plan 22, this did not go up. I thought when I had pulled these that it would take a lot more touches and these are all people that moved in in 2020. We looked at how many activities they had in CRM, which could be some are automated, some are not. So these are just total that the, this is average so some people might’ve had 50, right? Some people have two. But this has not changed. I mean, I think for ILAL last year was 21. Life plan, always harder, longer sales cycle. But this is just interesting because this, you can automate some of these. So with marketing automation, you can actually send out; say in CRM, they pick an objection of guilt or safety and security for memory care that can actually trigger marketing automation that’s now personalized to the person and you’re actually making that sales cycle shorter because you’re giving them content in between your sales person, having to make these calls. They’re also more likely to answer the phone we found. Um, but it does take this long to get. So it’s the, you know, he, she, who follows up, wins the deal. But these are important metrics to know because, the other one we’re trying to pull, actually someone texted me yesterday. They said, I want to know how many in the first seven days of an inquiry, if you do one to two touches versus three to five, what is the conversion for that person? Does it go up? Does it stay the same? How many touches should we be doing? So those are the types of things that people text me, call me, just ask me about, and I think it’s really interesting. The other one that I got asked about is home visits, and this will be shocking to you. So home visits, right? Oh, a lot of people are calling it porch visits because you know 2020. But really if you look at this, average conversions from inquiry to move in for a yes – no home visit, this is shocking.

Josh: While you’re writing, I’m going to tell our listeners, this is an episode you’ve got to go actually watch on YouTube because I feel like I’m in a huddle. Like I’m like, she’s marking on this board. We’re about like, we’re in a huddle. We’re about to break and go conquer the world. Cause she’s drawing up a play here. So this is amazing.

Erin: Okay, I’ll explain for people that aren’t on youtube. But this is an inquiry to move in for everyone who moved in 2020, HV home visit, did they have a home visit or not? 34% of those people moved in that had a home visit. That’s crazy. 8% is the no. So again, and a COO asked me this actually. And I said, that’s really interesting. I can pull that data. So this isn’t in the benchmark report, but I think we’ll come out with a blog on some other random metrics, like how many calls on average a week yield the better conversion. But this was interesting, so even it’s just taking the time to do something. But I mean, I would do this all the time. It’s being creative about follow-up, even if you’re dropping something off, so this is just taking the time and it converts way better. So I thought that was really, really interesting.

Josh: That is very interesting. So I’m going to make an assumption that may be wrong, because I haven’t downloaded the report yet, but did home visits go down, the number of home visits go down during this past year? Or did they actually go up?

Erin: They either stay the same. And if you look at the reports we released on our blog, we did one a month last year starting in, I think April, and then we kind of tracked the trends. Home visits either went up or stayed the same. Because obviously you’re not having people come in. So, you know, going to their home or standing outside at a distance or actually visiting with them outside. And obviously, it was during the summer, those picked up too, because you could be outside. But yeah, I wouldn’t say they went down, they either stayed the same or went up, which was interesting to me too

Josh: Well. So this is really cool information. And probably Lucas and me and a bunch of our listeners can totally nerd out on this, but for the non nerds out there, maybe they’ve got their head a little bit in the sand. Why, like wake them up right now, why should leaders in our industry be paying attention to these metrics?

Erin: Yeah, so I think that there’s lots of things you look at, especially when you’re setting goals for 2021, and I’m a sales leader. I oversee our sales and I will tell you, even for our industry and we had great growth last year. But still, we had goals for 2020. Um, but we had goals and I think that it’s, you know, you need to look at these for making goals to make sure you meet your numbers in 2021. That’s the reason we put 2019. So you can almost, you can either take an average or you could just say, I’m not going to look at 2020, I’m going to go back to 2019, but looking at your numbers and comparison to these, first of all, you can make some assumptions if they’re lower and you can also make some assumptions if they’re higher. I mean, if you have more unpaid referrals, you’re probably converting way better because those convert better than others. If you don’t have people who are out or doing virtual events are out in the community, you might not see as many, and that’s a direct correlation. So, the other thing you can do is look at your rates and say, I think one thing is unpaid referrals is a good one. We want more un paid referrals because they convert better. So we know that we need 10 unpaid referrals, right? Well, you can say what you convert outreach to referrals. So it’s just as simple. Maybe it’s 20%. So you just divide this by 20% and you get 50, so we need 50 a month of outreach. So it’s very simple math, but then you have some, some rhyme and reason to what goals you’re setting. If you were one move in behind and you need that one more, how many more inquiries do I need to generate from a lead gen perspective to get that one more move in a month? Then you go to marketing and you say, we need this many more inquiries, so you can set and then you can measure it, go quarter by quarter and measure it and see if it’s actually working. So I think being concerned with whether you’re over or under the average, and again, these are an average, not median. There’s definitely, we take out the outliers, but there’s highs, there’s lows. This is just simply the average. So it’s not the end all be all in my opinion, but it’s good to just know kind of where you stand against those.

Josh: So, Lucas I see you on screen, the wheels are turning right now, is your mind blown or what?

Lucas: My mind’s blown in the best possible way. I mean, I would geek out on sales data and I mean, to me, the big takeaway here is that in 2021 you can not leave anything on the table. And if you are not tracking this stuff, you’re basically hurting your organization. You’re hurting your ability to provide the great services that you provide to those that need it. And you’re gonna lose to the competition down the street. It’s where occupancy is at an all time low historically, for obvious reasons because of coronavirus. Now is the time to regroup and get a strategy and you can not execute on a strategy if you don’t have data and you don’t, you’re not able to track it well.

Josh: Well and I’ll tell you what I love about what you guys are doing, Erin. I feel like for quite a while now in our industry, we’ve done an okay, some of us better than others, job of gathering data or entering data. And then we never do anything with it. So I love that you guys are aggregating this and putting it into a useful package that we can actually understand some behaviors that are happening, that are changing in the marketplace so that we can actually make educated decisions on strategies as leaders to hit the marks. And so that’s really exciting what you guys have done and a shout out to Lucas as well, cause he’s not on with us. And I’m curious, just let’s set the numbers aside for a second, if we can. I think people in the world, when they think about working with their spouse, they would probably rather jump out of the window that I’m sitting beside right now. You guys seem to make it work. What’s the secret?

Erin: That’s a great question. So when I present my one liner is; we own the businesses together and yes, we are still married and then everyone laughs. But I get that question a lot and first of all, we’re pretty solid. But I can say, even solid people probably are like, oh, I couldn’t work with my spouse. I think we kind of got lucky on this, is that we’re really good at different things. And so when you’re really good at different things and you stay in your lane and you admit to I’m good at this and not so good at this. I do think that helps. I think that we keep each other honest, we challenge each other and it’s been especially difficult during COVID because we’ve been home and our kids are home and we work together and we had to make rooms in the offices. So, I just enjoy, I mean, Luke’s, you know, one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and he’s very encouraging and he’s kind of just one of those people that doesn’t stifle, he’s not the one that when you say something, he immediately says things of all the problems that come with that, he’s more of a yeah, we should look into that kind of person. So he does give our executives the opportunity to really lead, which I like, and he is a great leader. He leads by example. So I appreciate that. I’m more of a, let’s do this, let’s get this done and he’s more of the visionary, so he kind of thinks a bit and then I can make it happen and execute. But yes,it’s definitely, I mean, it’s been about 10 years and we threw two kids in the mix. And I do think there’s sometimes like, stop talking about work and they’re five and six, so they know. It’s been a really great journey and I think that as far as just looking at the data, to your point about just utilizing the data and looking at it, I mean what we’re doing now with the reporting piece, and that was really something we invested heavily in, it’s something Luke and I are very passionate about getting out to everyone. Making it free for people to look at, but for our clients, especially as far as goal setting and getting those and implementing them, we now have goal modules where we’ll actually, you can click a button and it will upload all of the benchmarks. And that way, if you’re new or you haven’t or you don’t really know where to start, you can always go in and edit it, but it gives you a starting point. And so that was really important and we’re going to continue to evolve our offerings. I love real-time dashboards. You can just look at online, kind of like some of the ones that we look at now on just stats for coronavirus, for example. So those are some of the things we like to do. We like to get that information out and it’s fun for us. I think that anyone who wants some sort of statistics, email me, you know we have the data it’s just about what do you want it to look like or what do you want or what do you want to get out of it?

Josh: Well I know our listeners are going to want to connect with you, those that haven’t already, but thank you for what you guys do at Enquire. Thanks for the benchmark overview that you’ve given us today. I know everybody’s going to be eager to download more. I know Lucas is going to tell them how to do that.

Lucas: No doubt,, where you can access all of our shows. And a big thanks to Erin and Lucas and the entire team there at Enquire. Josh, we cannot do Bridge the Gap without our partners and our supporters and Enquire has been an incredible partner. And it’s just a great relationship because what you guys are providing is so needed. And so we encourage all of our listeners to check you out, go to our partner page at You can also access all of our social links. We’ll make sure that we put all of Erin’s information in the show notes and you can get all the information there. With that being said, thanks to everybody for listening to another great episode of Bridges the Gap.

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157: Erin Hayes