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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

CW Ep. 15: Sales & Marketing with Traci Bild

Traci Bild, CEO of Bild & Co., discusses the process of transitioning from in person to remote selling – the future of seniors housing is here!

Hi, this is Traci Bild, CEO of Bild and Co. Today I am recording for Bridge the Gap a session that will help you understand how to pivot from an in-person sales environment to a remote sales environment, which for many people is a really uncomfortable transition. Today we’re going to dive into that.

 

I’m so excited to be with you. And yes, these are unprecedented times. We are being required to live our lives in such entirely different ways. And not just us, but our children, our partners, our friends—we’re all learning how to maneuver our lives with this new, new. 

 

Now, one of the things that I’ve seen consistently as we’ve continued to monitor sales and the senior living environment throughout the country and in the UK in Canada, is that salespeople in particular are really struggling to make that transition. And when I say transition, it’s using all the tools that for so many years within their career were real assets: body language, making that eyeball to eyeball connection, being able to read their prospect, leveraging their entire killset of professionalism from how they dress and talk and carry themselves. Now, it all boils down to what they can convey over the telephone or a live zoom or FaceTime tour. 

 

Think about it: whether you have two, five, 20, or 200 senior living communities, all the different individuals you have with vast levels of experience in the role of sales. Some of your salespeople have been in the business for one or two decades. A lot of the new people that you’re hiring might have a sales background, but really no experience in assisted or independent living memory care. So not only onboarding them to the industry as a whole and what we do and how we do it, but now you’re trying to help them understand how to sell really a premium sales tickets in a remote environment that really is offering something to consumers that they’re afraid to buy. There are so many things that are working against us with the constant news of the deaths and the impact of COVID and skilled nursing and the confusion around the differences in skilled nursing and assisted or independent living.

 

But there’s some great news. And what I want to do in this session today is help you find your power. So whether you are in sales, a regional sales manager, regional ops, a VP of sales, a CEO, an owner investor, whether you are in active adult, independent assisted, maybe you’re transitioning a hotel into the senior living space– I’m going to show you how to easily pivot. 

 

Now, when I say easily, you have to be careful not to let your mind get in the way, right? So sometimes we think in order for really successful transitions to occur, they have to be really difficult and painful. It’s just not true. What matters today is execution. First, I want to remind you of one of my favorite quotes: You can’t do better until you know, better. So today I’m going to really alert you to what’s currently happening across the country as prospective buyers call our communities in their time of need to learn how they can help themselves or their loved ones despite their fear and comfort their guilt around doing so. 

 

So let’s start and let’s break the sales process down into bite size pieces. So we look at sales and we look at marketing and many executives and individuals will lump those two together. What I want to remind you is that sales and marketing are two entirely different things. Marketing is lead generation. Sales is lead conversion into a move in. One is very technical. So in marketing, the majority of that is happening online with really great content, keywords, SEO, pay per click, social, beautiful websites with very clear calls to action that funnel visitors into active leads. That individual and that skillset is very different than what I’m talking about here today, which is the sales process, that sales individual that is responsible for your community revenue.

 

So let’s stop and think about that. This person, in reality— and usually what we see in a 100, 125 unit assisted living, independent living community— there’s typically one person in the role of sales. So this one individual that you choose to invest in when it comes to their comp plan, how you onboard train and support them with the skill sets needed to sell in today’s very complex environment. This individual is responsible for your revenue. So take that in for a moment. So whether you’re sitting at 4 million a year, 5 million a year, whether you have 10 vacant units or you’re at zero lost revenue days, where you are, is in direct correlation to both your executive director, who is that ops and sales leader on site and the sales person in the role of generating the movements that are needed to generate the revenue to operate as a business.

 

So just think about: How are you finding these people? How are you training and onboarding them? How have you equipped them with the knowledge and the skillset needed to sell right now in a world they’ve never been in before, where all leads are coming in pretty much online and over the phone. And then no one can come in to tour because most states are shut down to in-person tours. And we’re moving in is even difficult due to the need to quarantine and explain the complex dynamics around your procedures for COVID. How have you equipped them to cope with all the objections and concerns and fears that the perspective adult children buyers are managing? What we’re finding is that these individuals are not being effectively trained. They’re being hired for their experience, put in the role and expected to get the job done. And as we can see from a record 14 year low in occupancy, industry-wide, it’s not working.

 

Do you want to turn the tides? Do you want to see your occupancy begin to improve velocity of move-ins grow at market rate rent without the need to discount? Without using expensive third party paid referral sources who take your first months rent? Invest in that one individual, that sales person and your executive director who has the ability to really change the trajectory of your revenue stream, your cash flow, the success of your business. 

 

I’m going to be really frank with you: I’ve been an entrepreneur for 25 years. I remember how difficult it was during the great recession. You have to decide: who are you going to be? How are you going to show up? Are you even going to be here in two years now? We’re in this pandemic. You have to ask yourself the same question. If you were there, then, and you’re here now, odds are you’re going to come out okay on the other side, but it is not going to be easy. 

 

In my own business. I am working harder than I’ve ever worked in the history of my company. But you know what? We’re on fire here at build. We’re having fun. We feel complish yes, we’re working hard. We’re also working smart. We’re digging in. We’re giving it all. We’ve got, we’re changing lives. We’re turning around companies. We’re helping people to survive and thrive in this pandemic. But you know what? It’s a mindset. It’s a choice. We are going to come out on the other side, stronger, better, retaining all of our staff, helping our clients do the same. What is your stake right now? What are you going to proclaim? How are you going to show up today, tomorrow and into next year? What will your story be? You first have to decide. And now I’m going to show you from a sales perspective, how to make it happen. 

 

So when we look at the sales process and we break it down in seniors housing and care, we pretty much have people who inquire. That’s how they find us, right? They’ll inquire into our buildings. So right now during the pandemic, typically we’ll call or inquire via the website then they would typically tour. But with the pandemic, we’re doing more FaceTime, zoom live tours. Well, I wish we were. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is a lot of canned and emailed video prerecorded tours. So we’re going to get to that. Then we have this followup component, right? And what we’re finding here at Bild is that followup basically isn’t happening. There’s this paralysis that’s taking place in the industry where people think they’re doing these things, but they’re not.

 

And through our research department here at Bild, we do lots and lots of mystery shopping every day. And we have something called a 360. And we inquire via the web. Then we acquire via phone and we speak to the sales person. And we hold that lead for up to two weeks to see if they follow up with us. And what we’re finding is it’s simply not happening. We’re going to talk about how to change that today. 

 

And then that critical closing aspect: How do we get people to actually buy doing a pandemic when they’re afraid and when their job might have been lost and they’re helping their parent to make this transition and maybe have to help pay for it and make the move and the packing and all of those complex things that go into the smooth. And then how do we hand this off successfully to resident services for a powerful life changing customer service experience.

 

So the things we’re going to dive into today. Now I do have to talk fast because I only have a limited amount of time to keep your attention. So I’m going to stay pretty high level. If you need to reach me, if you have a question you can text me directly. My cell is (813) 390-3349. You can call me at +1 800-640-0688. Or you can email me directly at tbild@buildandcode.com. That’s tbild@bildandco.com. 

 

So let’s get down to business: The inquiry. The reality is most people that are looking at assisted, independent living, memory care, active adult, they have no experience with it. They don’t really know what it is. They don’t know what they need. Something’s happened in their lives that’s led them down this road. So whether it’s themselves a loved one, they probably are being told if it’s a parent by a physician of some sort, you know, someone who’s in the medical life of their loved one, that they need to look at an assisted living because mom or dad can no longer care for themselves, right?

 

So it used to be, they could walk in, they could call, they could go to your website, but pretty much today in a COVID world, they’re going to your website. They might do a search, maybe go to three, four, five communities online. And from there, they’ll start to call. And they might fill out a web form if there’s even the option to do so to inquire. They may just find the phone number and directly call. This is where in most cases we find the greatest area of opportunity for all operators. This is quite frankly a disaster. And you might think that I am being a little dramatic here. All you have to do is hit pause right now, just pull up Google. Punch in assisted living in your local market. And you call the first three to four locations. You will see exactly what I’m talking about. 

 

What we’re finding in our Bild and Co research department- we’ve been doing competitive analysis, mystery, shopping to gauge customer experience and performance for over 10 to 15 years- and we are doing a lot of this right now in particular. And it’s, it’s pretty much a given. If I’m going to do a sample shops for a prospective client for, you know, someone who’s coming online with us here at Bild, I already know we do the shops to show them that there is incredible opportunity. I would tell you, I would have complete confidence if I took nine operators out of 10, I would say nine of those would get under a 40% score out of a 100 in their inquiry experience, which is really gauging the buyer experience. And that’s with leeway. We use a COVID-19 shop form that gives them some leeway, right? And I want to explain what’s happening. 

 

So first let’s look at our websites. Google your site, your community right now. Go to it. Be the buyer, right? So you might put in your community name, Google or even just assisted living or memory care. Are you showing up in the top three or four? If not, there’s a lot of work that needs done, and that’s a whole different podcast. But click on your link, go to your site. What do you see as an objective buyer? 

 

Does this site speak to me as the buyer or is it all about you as the seller? Is there a very specific call to action as to how I get information or how I have my questions answered? Because when someone goes online and does a search, they always have a question. That’s why they’re there. What is assisted living? How much is memory care? Assisted living, Clearwater, Florida, right? They’re looking, they have a question. Where are they? How much are they? What is it? 

 

So when they go to your website, you want to have as little content that’s as high impact as possible. Lots of beautiful visuals and if you can, your own photography, not stock photography. But even more important than that right now is a popup or something right on your homepage that allows people to schedule a virtual tour. And they need to be able to schedule it right there on your website. I don’t care how many barriers you have. You need to get this worked through. So whether you have a chat function you add, and someone can schedule an immediate live virtual tour for the next two hours, whether there’s a calendar option and they can click and access a calendar and schedule a virtual tour live. You need to get this live. 

 

So what I mean is the last thing you really want to do is have a prospective buyer tour your website on their own. I’m sorry, tour your community. You want to be able to really personalize this experience because this is a highly emotional, personalized sale. Now, can you have canned video tours online and available? Of course you can, you can have pricing floor plans, all of that, but you absolutely want to make sure that in order for them to get it, they have to opt in. You want to get their mobile, their email and their name. That is critical and who they’re looking for. 

 

So what calls to action are available? Is it simple and easy for me to speak or schedule an immediate appointment with someone or do I have to dig around your website? Do I need to call? And you’ll see why when I say, do I need to call what happens then? So I’m trying to make this very simple, very actionable. That’s all I want you to look at right now on your website.

 

And if it’s an opt-in on the website, I do want to ask if you’re sending a lot of attachments, work with your marketing team to create a web link. So that means when you are following up with leads and I would highly recommend that you have an automated process where when someone ops in there’s a funnel that it takes them through and they get what you want them to receive professionally from the company and it’s a link to a landing page with everything they need: floor plans, it might be pricing Q&A, something that is very simple high level. I would rather it be a discovery piece that maybe ask them two to three questions, like sort of an engaging opt in survey that leads them to the next step. I’d rather that then you give them information, but I know that right now you’re lean on staff. You’re multitasking. We just at least need to capture their phone number and their email. Once they get the information and look at it, you can follow up and build the value and schedule the next step, okay? 

 

So I’m going to give you some leeway here. So that’s online. Let’s make it easy. Let’s make it simple and let’s capture the lead. So important. Once people call, what we’re finding is that there is no one to take the call and you’ll see this, if you do calls yourself. So that means I might call three, four, five communities and either I’m told no one’s available to take my call right now, I’m sent to the sales office and I get voicemail, or I’m disconnected in route to the sales office, but it will typically require me to call back two to three times just to reach someone who can help me. And if I leave a message, it can take easily up to 48 hours to get a return call. And then of course, as you know, it’s phone tag. This is unacceptable, particularly if you’re occupancy sitting at 85, 86%, you are absolutely in that case, losing leads. 

 

So what you want to do, I would, first of all, make sure that I have a phone number that is a direct line to my executive director or sales person’s company-provided cell phone. You do not want your sales calls going through the front desk and honestly being handled by someone that is on minimum wage. Now, if you have a really great training program and that person is trained on how to effectively capture the phone number and the name before transferring the call in case it’s disconnected or the person doesn’t leave a message, okay. But I’d rather see a sales specific phone line.

 

And if you call here at Bild & Co, you will always get ahold of us. Jennifer, myself, we use called Ruby. It is incredible. I have a hundred percent confidence that anyone calling my company is going to reach Jennifer or I, if they’re looking to work with our firm, because we make it a priority. We’re here to help people. So call. We will let me know who’s on the other line. If I’m available, I’m going to take it. If not, I might say, hey, can you patch it over to Amy or Jennifer or Jocelyn, but they’re going to get someone who can help them. Because you know what, if someone takes the time to call you, you need a system in place to make sure you are there in their time of need, because a day or two later, they might have already changed their mind.

 

And remember when people pick up the phone to call an assisted living or a memory care community, it’s already past time. They’ve already wrestled with their guilt, their fear. They’re ready to talk to someone. So no more trying to determine, well, you know, is that a hut, a warm lead? Is it cold? Can they really afford it? You know what, just do the right thing. Get their call routed to someone who can help them right then and there, or at least schedule a time for someone to call them back within the next two hours, but a live person who can collect the name, the phone number, schedule the time for the call and let them know they’re looking forward to speaking with them and that can get a cell phone and an email. That’s how you capture the lead, okay?  And then you want to make sure that you execute and that you actually follow up when you say you will for that appointment. 

 

So first we have to capture the lead. And I know that sounds so basic, but guys, it’s not happening. So once you capture the lead, then what you want to do is make sure that you have a great sales system in place that really focuses on finding the needs of the individual calling, building value in regards to the next step. These are two things, again, that are not happening. What we’re seeing is salespeople who are verbal vomiting as we call it. They’re dumping everything on the caller, trying to do it really fast because they don’t want to take too much of their time. They feel bad. It’s COVID. Listen, people have more time than they’ve ever had. They’re lonely. Some people are in despair. They need to talk to someone. It’s like therapy, slow down, have a system. 

 

To do proper discovery, your salespeople need to ask 10, 12, 15 open-ended questions. And really what they’re doing more than anything is helping the individual on the other end of the line process what’s happening in their lives. They’re helping them to figure out what the problem really is, the implications that has on their loved one’s lives and their life, their family’s lives. And they are advising them as to what the next best step is based on what they’ve heard. And what that means is not only does your sales person and your executive director who are responsible for taking these valuable inquiry calls, not only do they need to know how to transition from asking yes or no questions, they need to understand how to develop meaningful relationships over the telephone, without relying on their body language. Because you know what, they’re over the phone now. 

 

This is a very complex transition for most salespeople who prefer to make calls quick cause they feel bad. They don’t know how to sell professionally over the phone. They really don’t know how to ask open-ended questions. So they’re asking things like yes or no. Is mom living alone? Is she mobile? Does she have a support system? What are her needs? It’s like an inquisition. And when you go after someone via an inquisition, people put their guard up and they feel threatened versus real, genuine, compassionate concern. What’s happening in your mom’s life right now? And who’s there to help her? And how’s that impacting you? How’s that affected the dynamic of your relationship? What happened that led to this situation? How long has it been going on? How are you doing? Is there anyone else supporting you right now? What’s most important to you as you look to the next six or 12 months and we continue to deal with COVID? And what’s really important to you and the future as you look at, you know, how your mom is going to continue to cope living on her own and how that’s affecting your relationship? What’s really your greatest concern right now? If this continues as is for say another six, seven, eight months, how’s that going to impact you? How about your mom? What are your fears? I mean, what are you really, really thinking right now? 

 

These are the types of questions we need to be asking people. And salespeople will tell you, oh no, no, no, no, no way. That is way too personal. I don’t even know them. I’ve not even met them. You know what? If you can’t do this, you’re not in the right job. You are going to physically be responsible for caring for this individual’s loved one, their mom, their dad, their grandmother. If you can’t find the courage to make an emotional connection and go deep over the telephone and learn how to do that, there’s no way in the eyes of that perspective buyer that you’re going to be able to feed and nurture and care for and love on their mother. If you can’t even build a connection with me in this five-10 minute call, if you don’t care enough to really ask and learn about my loved one, do you really think I’m going to trust you with her life? These are the implications of a poorly trained sales person and why investing at least in the inquiry training is so important to your company’s future viability. 

 

And I don’t care if you pick up a book at the bookstore and you learn how to sell. Hey, you can get my books, Zero Lost Revenue Days off my website for free. You can download it. It’s right there at bildandco.com under Resources. It’s called Zero Lost Revenue Days. Or you can just order it if you want to Mark it up and have it delivered, I think for $12 off Amazon, okay? So you can learn how to master this right there for under 15 bucks or for free or we can help you, but you’ve got to do something. And if you just want to get a litmus on how these inquiries are going, I’m happy to do three free complimentary on the house mystery shops on any three communities of your choice from your portfolio. Just shoot us an email at the email I gave you. Or if you forgot and didn’t write it down. Just email revenue@bildandco.com and just say, Hey, I’ll take you up on those three free mystery shops. And we’ll tell you we’ll review with you what’s happening. And if it’s a state where we can record the call, you’ll hear firsthand. You get the detailed feedback from our shoppers on how the customer experience transpired, how they felt, if they were connected emotionally, if that individual drilled down and cared to learn about them. And then of course in the inquiry, what’s really important is listening so that you can really feel what’s happening in that individual’s life and build the value regarding the next step. 

 

And here’s the big problem: Salespeople don’t even know what the next step is right now or okay. Logically they know psychologically. And from a training perspective, they are still struggling in many cases because doing a zoom live tour is very different than doing a tour in person for 20 years or 10 years, right? This is a transition. So we need to make sure that we’ve roleplayed with them, that we have got them really comfortable with how to schedule the next step in the process:

 

So based on what you’re telling me, it sounds like you’ve had a really, really rough couple months. Your mom has fallen and not only did you try to protect her during this time, but she’s been in the hospital twice. She just had her rotator cuff surgery. She can’t use her arm. You’ve been there every day, caring for her. You’re extremely concerned because she’s falling three to four times this year already. So your options are sort of remodel her house in the sense of you put new flooring in that’s, you know, slip resistant, you keep her from going upstairs. You get some home health or a team of people who really can help her. So whether it’s cooking and cleaning and putting in those new floors, or you consider as her doctor recommended looking at some different options where she can live in a community with this design for safety and that has people can provide wonderful, delicious, nutritious food for her companionship care so you can be the daughter again. Is that correct? 

 

So when we listen, we can recap to sort of make sure we’ve heard correctly and what you’ll find in most cases that people say yes, yes. But then they’ll add more and yeah, as you talk about that, like, I really want her to have hobbies again and to have friends again. All of her friends have died. She’s so lonely and I’m her only outlet. Okay. I understand. I really do. 

 

So the next step. Do you see how I’m physically saying the next step is we need to be very clear and concise and advise people to what the next step is. And again, we’re on the phone. So we have to understand that a lot of salespeople, their next step is okay, the next step is I’m going to send you a tour that you can look at over email. I’m going to have all the pricing and the floor plans. I’ll have our specials in there, our activities, calendar, and our newsletter. Yee haw, that’s exciting, right? That’s what people are getting as the next step. Highly trained professional will be able to say, so the next step is, as you can understand, it’s a little different with COVID. So when would typically invite you in for an actual visit to our community, introduce you to residents and staff and allow you to taste our food, what I’d like to do, if it’s okay, is I’d like to actually walk you through with my phone face-to-face and take you through our community. I can still do that. I can introduce you to a couple of residents. We might pass to some staff members. Now you won’t be able to taste the food, but I can even take you into the kitchen to meet chef Frank. So if you have a moment, I can do that now, or we can schedule some time later today or tomorrow. What works best for you? 

 

That’s it. And I’m going to tell you nine out of 10 times, they’re going to say, well, I can do that now. Or, you know what can we do that in a second and have my husband on with me? You’re going to move them to the next step. You just have to ask. Now, this sounds really easy, right? Teaching salespeople, changing habits, transitioning them, building confidence in this process, trust, comfort levels, that takes time. I can do this very easily because I’m a professional. I’m a trainer. This is how I sell. Your people have to be taught. And trust me, I did not come out of the womb, a great sales person. I had to learn. I too was taught. And then I mastered it through reading and learning and repetition, repetition, repetition, practice, failure, trying again. This is why coaching is so important. People need to be able to record their calls and hear them and have someone coach them through what they did well, where they kind of dropped the ball and where they can be better. They need to role play with them and build their confidence. That’s how you become a master. And you know what? A sales master will convert 75% of all of these incoming inquiries over the website and over the phone into an immediate virtual live tour, 75% of the time. 

 

And then from the tour, what we need to be able to do as we move to that stage of the sales cycle. And you’ll see the inquiry process is where all the trouble is coming up. We’re not finding needs, building value, connecting emotionally. We don’t even know what’s going on. So then, you know, if you don’t ask any questions, how do you have empathy? How do you know what to even present? If all you know is that they live in the area, their mom was told to look for an assisted living and they need to make a move in 30 days, you’re just going to sell you on price. You’re going to discount. You’re going to compete with the guy down the street. You don’t have to do that if you’re a professional. You can hold out and sell at market rate because you had to build value. You know what you’re worth, you don’t have to discount. You don’t have to be in the wolf pack of those 10 other properties who are all vying of the same resident, who do nothing but show and tell and win over people with the best pricing. You can hold out and sell at the rate that you need to be buyable and deliver on the customer experience you are promising.

 

So if you have a strong inquiry process, the actual virtual tour and close should be the easiest part of the sale, because you should be excited to say, okay, so I’m so excited to show you our community. Now I know I’m walking you through. Of course, I’m just going to keep the camera on the community. That’s okay. If you have any trouble hearing me, please just speak up. What I’d like to do to save time is I know that what’s most important to you right now is that rehab for your mom, because she just had a rotator cuff surgery. I know that food is really important because you’ve been, you know, really providing her with her meals. And it’s been really tough on you, but I want to show you the kind of delicious food that your mom is going to have access to here from our regular restaurant to our coffee shop. And even if she’s not feeling good, our delivery, right? And then I also just want to introduce her to one of our residents Ruth, who I have to tell you reminds me so much of your mom and I’m just going to stop by her apartment. She doesn’t know coming. I’m going to see if I can’t get her, you know, just to offer a few words because she moved in about three months ago and she was terrified, but she’s thriving. So if it’s okay with you, that’s the focus. And then of course we’ll make our way to a couple models that I’d like to show you. One is the one bedroom and then we have the two bedroom because I know that she needs her space. You want to be able to come and stay with her from time to time.

 

And of course that’s going a little more difficult COVID but we’re getting closer to opening up. But once that’s passed, which it will, you’ll have that extra space. So let’s get going. All right. So I’m not going to walk them through the entire community. I’m going to go straight to the rehab area. If I have that, I’m going to kind of cue and wave over someone who might be involved in my rehab therapy services. I’m going to stop by and take a risk because, hey, I know that Ruth is awesome and would be more than happy. She might not be camera ready, but she’ll laugh because I know her. I’m going to take her to the models and I’m going to keep this high level. All right. 

 

So it might not be an hour like it would in person. It might be 15 to 20 minutes. Now I cannot see my prospect, but I’m aware, I’m listening. As I’m going to the dining room. I’m asking questions. So what’s most important to you about mealtime or your mom, more importantly? What kind of things does she like to eat? So I’m not holding up a menu. I’m going line by line and talking about us and the kind of foods we serve. I’m asking about mom” what kind of foods does she like to eat? Give me an idea: what would she have in the morning for breakfast? Well, she typically likes to have a piece of toast and tea. That’s it? Every morning. All right. Well, you know what? That’s easy. Very, very easy. Does she like sugar and cream in her tea? Oh, absolutely. Okay. Wonderful. 

 

Well, I will tell you that would be no problem. We want to keep her routines the same. We want to make sure that she feels like a queen living here and that we are serving her that tea and toast and really making her understand that this is her home. And again, we can have that delivered to her room, particularly with COVID in play, or she can go down and have that. And we are socially distancing, as you can imagine. But we can get her into the dining room or she can always stop by our cafe. 

 

So I’m customizing the visit experience over Zoom. Now, again, she can’t read my body language. I can’t read hers, but the key here is I’m keeping the conversation focused on the buyer, their needs. I’m asking questions, I’m customizing what I’m showing. I’m not showing and telling. I’m discovering. I’m personalizing. Now at the end of this visit, what’s most important is that I, again, recap what I heard in my own words to make sure I’ve got this right. And then I move them to the next step. 

 

So I might say as my last question in discovery of this visit and showing her so on a scale of one to 10, I’m just really curious. So, what do you think of our community with 10 being the highest? And if they say an eight. Okay, that’s fair. What needs to happen to make it a 10? What I really need to see it. I mean, I see it, but I need to see it. Okay. So the next step is- now every next step is going to be different based on what state and city you’re in. So the next step might be that if you’re open, they can come in, but I’d make it very clear when you come in, this really is for people who are, you know, 90% certain. So what I’d like to do is go back to the office. Let’s go through the floor plans that I showed you the models of let’s talk about the differences in rate. Make sure we have an assessment scheduled to lock in. Okay, what is this going to look like financially? And I’d like to go and schedule that face time if everything looks good face to face for you and your mom to come in together and long with your husband because I know that’s really important to you. So we have a few more minutes now and we can walk through that or should we schedule some time later today or tomorrow? I know that we spent a lot of time together already. 

 

That’s my optional close. Now, remember you’re solving their problem. Most people will want the answer right now. They’re going to keep talking to you unless it’s all about you and what you want and what you need and your community and your operator. If it’s about them, they’re going to keep moving forward because you’re an expert. You’re advising them. It’s about them and their loved one, their needs and their concerns. So what is the next step? You need to be very, very clear. The next step is. And then if you schedule it right then and there, even if you go back and you do the financial review and you schedule the onsite tour, maybe it’s in two weeks because they need to quarantine before they come in, whatever your procedure is, you’re going to be very clear about that. You’re going to make sure you have two forms of contact information, as far as the phone and an email. 

 

And then you’re going to-guess what? If you’ve already scheduled the next step, you don’t have to play phone tag. You don’t have to try to catch them, find them. You want to ask. How’s it best to reach them as text, email, or phone calls best. You’re going to enter everything into your CRM so that everything is in there. And if you’re a leader, if this is not happening, you own it. You as the leader of the company it’s up to you to make sure your people have the tools and the resources needed to be successful. And that you have someone that is holding them accountable to execution. If that’s not happening, own it and change it today. If you don’t have the leader who can help to execute, call us. We can help you. Is there someone who can take this ownership in your company? Somebody has to do it because right now for this industry, sales are so low. The move outs are exceeding move ins. We’re seeing just such traumatic cashflow. We’ve got increased costs with PPE and labor. This is really a very frightening time. And from a business perspective, sales has the ability to turn everything around on the revenue side for you.

 

So closing should be the easiest part of the process. And at every step you’re always closing to the next step and you’re scheduling it right then and there. And you’re giving them an option of two. So is the next step to collect a credit card over the phone to hold the apartment and schedule an assessment virtually? Is the next step to come in for an actual final tour and make a deposit? If so, let them know they need to bring their checkbook. They need to be prepared to put down a deposit and fill out the paperwork and secure the apartment. If it’s a lease up, what is that process on your new development? And these are all of the steps that are required. 

 

And it sounds really easy. We think, oh, they inquire, they tour and they move. No! There’s many stages to the sales cycle and it requires expertise. This isn’t just, you know, a hundred dollars sale. This is $120,000 sale over a two year stay. If you are not willing to bring sophistication to your sales process, to really look and make sure that the sales and marketing process are cohesive and working together to generate the proper leads organically, and then having those convert into moved-in residents within a very short time period, then that’s on you. For so long, our industry has just kind of settled for the fact that, well, this is healthcare, and we’ve had this customer service perspective, this reactive sales approach. Well now with our owners and investors really looking to see a return on their investments in the faith they put in our communities, they expect more. And I understand. I think we’re going to see a separation of sales and marketing from operations because operations is inundated, overwhelmed with staffing and regulation and lawsuits and care needs. They don’t time to think about sales and marketing. And if you’re an operator, you understand that. Let ego go to the wayside and let your investors, your owners help support you. Accept the help they’re offering. Don’t be hardheaded. These are tough times. 

 

And if you’re an investor, understand, we have skeletal staffs at the operational level. People are stretched thin. They can’t even hire the staffing they need in most cases to move in the residents that they want to move in. We’re in very unique, complex and difficult times. While you may want to make a great return and have 20, 25% AOI, you know what’s important right now? What’s important is getting through this very difficult time with all staff retained, with residents retained, safe, alive through this pandemic, helping as many new residents as possible. 

 

And all you’re doing is breaking even and not really growing and having a huge margin right now when you look at all the businesses that have gone under and shut down, that’s a win. But if you’re willing to hunker down and really put your mind in the right place of growth and finding your power and giving your people, the sales, the tools and resources they need to fill every last apartment. What I call Zero Loss Revenue Days, thus the title of my book. You can do that too. It’s all about your expectation. What is it you want? Where’s your bar? What’s your risk tolerance? Are you willing to go all in and do what your competitors won’t? Is sales and marketing important to you? Only you know these answers. 

 

I hope you found this training valuable. Start to observe, pay attention. Have your salespeople record their end of the calls and listen, and self-evaluate. Reach out to us and let us do that complimentary mystery shop on three of your communities and help you understand what the real buyer experience is, where the gaps are and what needs to happen to pivot and change and grow and be better because you can’t do better until you know better.

 

Okay, I’m here. All you have to do is reach out. You can shoot an email to revenue@bildandco.com. You can text me at (813) 390-3349, or reach me by phone at +1 800-640-0688. I believe in you. You’ve got this. These are unprecedented times, but you know what? It’s times like this, where we learn what we’re made of. It’s not what happens. It’s how you respond to what happens that matters. Stay safe and be great. This is Traci Bild with Bild and Co recording for Bridge the Gap. See you next month.

 

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CW Ep. 15: Sales & Marketing with Traci Bild