Enquire Solutions Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Erin Hayes discusses the evolution of the CRM and solutions it provides to the senior living industry.
Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast the senior living podcast on a special series called Industry Spotlight. We have one of our partners on today and we’re very excited to welcome Erin Hayes. She’s the co-founder of Enquire Solutions. Welcome to the program!
Erin: Thanks for having me.
Lucas: And I’m loving your studio setup, Josh and I are envious. I mean, you look like you are ready to deliver the news. I’m wondering, are you interviewing us or are we interviewing you?
Erin: Oh, well, thank you. Live from studio Enquire right here in the office.
Lucas: It looks fantastic. And you know, we’ve had a lot of fun getting to know you and your husband, Luke, and you know, have a lot of respect for the company that you guys have built. And we’ve had fun talking to you and your staff, and we’ve been fascinated with the passion that you guys have to solve challenges and problems within the senior space to help people better serve older adults. So Erin, talk to us about why you guys even got into this and how that happened.
Erin: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of a crazy story. We obviously, I think all of, you know, we weren’t from the industry. I worked for Lockheed Martin before and my husband, Luke who you all know, was working for a real estate company here in Colorado. And you know, I think we’re just natural entrepreneurs. We wanted to do something together, husband and wife. We were engaged at the time and my mom was going through putting her loved ones into senior living. And so, you know, we’re all very close with our families and got to thinking that all of these things that she was going through, there’s gotta be a better way to approach this and to help out all the communities. So that’s how we got into it. It was really, you know, a typical entrepreneur. We moved into my in-law’s basement, we sold everything, we quit our jobs and just went for it. And really my mom would tell us, I’m trying to call places and I’m not always getting an answer or when it’s convenient for me. Also I’m repeating things, are they writing things down? I don’t know. That’s kind of where the CRM came from. And at the time my husband did commercial real estate for large companies, and there was a company that did something similar; call centers for universities. So admissions offices and at a university call it University of Colorado, go buffs. Say you called them, they probably have a few people in admissions, it’s not a large group of people. And so you have all these, these students calling in looking for information, financial aid, they have all these questions similar to our industry and not a lot of people to feel those. So there’s a company that was doing that for them. And we thought what if we had this high touch extension to these communities where we could feel these calls and make sure that when someone calls someone is answering. And so that’s really, it really started with that. And it obviously it’s evolved since then.
Lucas: You know, Josh we talk about it all the time, just how relational the senior living industry is. It’s the backbone of this industry is the interconnections and the relationships that are built. It’s a very high touch business. And so it’s so important to have companies like Enquire that are here to help facilitate those relationships and connections. So Erin, we know that Enquire is a CRM, but it’s a lot more than that. Can you go into some details about what your value proposition is?
Erin: Yeah, definitely and actually we were just talking about this because as we go into 2021, you know, what really are we, and we did start as that contact center. But you know, when we were thinking about that, we thought we’ve got to have a way to really engage with the onsite staff. We’ve got to have a way to communicate, and this was back in 2010. So you know it’s been 10 years, so we’ve had to evolve technology. But we had the basis for CRM. And then we’ve added things like marketing automation and business intelligence and some of those things as our industry has evolved and gotten used to more technology, we’ve done that. And I think that that’s the big key is being able to innovate and evolve and you know, what we started with, isn’t really what we become. But what we’re saying now is we’re really that sales and marketing intelligence platform, we give your team’s insight to not only sales, but now marketing with our lead gen marketing automation tracker and reporting. And we give you that insight to be, to have the intelligence to better run your sales and marketing organizations. So that’s kind of what we would say holistically that’s what we are.
Josh: So this is really interesting. You know, as an outsider of Enquire looking in Lucas and I have been fortunate enough to, as he said earlier, get to know you guys. You’ve been around the industry. I didn’t realize it had been 10 years because I remember you all just coming on and that makes me feel old that we’ve already known each other for that long. And I didn’t realize that much time had passed. So as you have evolved with our industry your company has evolved and your products have evolved. What is forecasting ahead? Some of the challenges that you see with operators, with these communities, as you’re looking to continue to take the next step, but can you give us some insight as to where the company is heading and where you want to be as a service provider to the industry?
Erin: Yeah. Great question. I mean, obviously 2020 has taught us a lot and I will say, and I was just telling you that we had a roadmap for 2020, and when everything happened, we luckily were able to pivot and really focus on what is going to help our clients during this time and future clients. And so, you know, really what our products do is first and foremost, they give you transparency into your process. So, if you’re not capturing data, you can’t measure it. You don’t know really, Hey, is this ad I’m posting online working? Is it driving the right type of prospect? So really giving insight into what are we spending money on? Are we getting a return and how is that converting? So that’s first and foremost, but a lot of the things we’re experiencing now with staffing challenges being remote and being able to, you know, I talked to VPs of sales all the time CEOs, they’re not traveling to their buildings, they are not there. Some are starting to, which is fantastic, I think that’s great. But you know, during this time they weren’t able to do that. So what our tools, what we really focused on, especially for CRM is communication tools. So how can you coach people automated on the go? How can people be remote, click to dial, click to text, to do some things different than what we’re used to doing. And especially, you know, we support senior housing and post-acute, so what about the sales teams that aren’t in the hospitals anymore? You know, how are they having to deliver or how are they delivering messaging now and tracking it? So I think that really focusing on transparency and allowing them to really assess what they’re doing and what’s working, filling some staffing challenges, you know, our contact center call center, they’re all from home right now. So I’m in the office 30,000 square feet. And it’s me, I think our CFO’s here. So I get the place to myself, I could do laps. It’s kinda nice, maybe work out a little. But I bring my kids in here and they scooter around. But yeah, I think being remote, staffing, having us be able to fill those gaps, working remotely. Even when people were remote, having the call center to be able to kind of fill that call back up the gaps when they’re not answering the phone. And there’s less inquiries to go around. So, they’re having the speed to lead is still true right now. I think we’re focusing a lot on those pieces. And also of course always being user-friendly, focusing on items that just make the sales job easier and also more virtual and remote.
Josh: So you mentioned a couple of things there and I want to make sure our listeners caught that. So I think Lucas and I often take for granted that you know, all of our listeners come from such a diverse group all within senior housing. And as you know, and you just touched on, there’s kind of this post acute terminology, there’s the senior living. But senior living is like a really broad category and there’s all types of senior living providers out there. Is there a certain client that is perfect for this product; the product and service you deliver? Or is it anyone in senior housing this is useful for?
Erin: Yeah, oh my gosh, that’s such a good question. So when we started, it was you know, CCRC life plan, ALIL Memory Care Rental. We’ve really focused, I would say the bulk of our business is still that, you know, senior living assisted living memory care, independent standalone rental. But you know, the cool thing about our product is when we built it and we’re not built on anything, we built it from scratch. So I wish I could show you our minimum viable product back in I think we released it in 2011. There are three screens, you know, it just got the job done, and we’ve obviously evolved that, but the really good thing is when we were building it, we wanted it to be customizable, but not just where we had to do all this development, but configurable for any industry. So we support prosthetics companies and physician groups and some of our life plan communities are big not-for-profits are spinning up physician groups. And so they want to be able to refer their residents to that group. So, I wouldn’t say there’s, there’s really a perfect client. I would say that the great thing is that you don’t have to go out and customize an expensive software to get the job done. We have all these templates already built and even working with some of the hospital systems on the business development side, we’re supporting that. So for senior living, the really cool thing is if you do operate multiple products and not just independent living rental, but you have some skill or you have some memory care, you can combine that all in one platform so they’re not siloed and move referrals throughout that continuum. So we do have a lot of clients that may bring someone in for a short-term rehab or respite, and then they want to refer them over to their independent living or assisted living, which is really, really great because, I call it revenue leakage when someone comes and uses your product or your services, and then they go move in somewhere else. So really keeping them within your family of products is what we aim to help our times do.
Josh: Well, that is so fascinating. I’m actually glad that I asked that question because I did not realize you guys were that diversified and I think it is true and I think we’re going to see this more and more as senior living and senior housing evolves. I think Lucas, we’ve talked about this; senior living has so much potential because of the entrepreneurial spirit and the problem solving spirit of these different providers to be innovative and to adapt to new technologies and to embrace new care needs and care models that Enquire is a solution there that is configurable, I think is the word that you used Erin. And I really, really liked that. So positioning ourselves and pivoting here a little bit, I want to talk about some of the things and the resources that you provide to the industry, because I have personally been seeing a lot of stuff blowing up on my different social feeds about Enquire and all the cool things like webinars and different informational topics that you guys provide for free to the industry. So can you tell me a little bit about your strategy and what you guys are doing to help provide content and information through these difficult times to our industry?
That’s a great question. You know, usually I am on the road every week. And so since March I’ve been home, which I’m sure my kids absolutely love but we really had to rethink our strategy; how to disseminate information out to the industry and really wanted to give some really useful information, via webinar during this time. So on enquireresources.com, we have a ton of different resources. And one thing we did was a webinar series on really, how do you use the tool you’ve already invested in better and things you can do to kind of supplement staffing challenges such as automating part of the sales and marketing process, things like that. We’re also have the industry COVID report. It comes out monthly and actually October is coming out very soon. So look out for that. And I’ve actually had a lot of fun doing those. And I personally work with our team to pull those numbers because I’m really intrigued with, when you look at just our line charts in there, we break it out by what your community offers. So we have independent living or a combination of ILAIL memory care standalone and so on. And so when you look at those, you know, we all know April, it’s kind of like the bad word month, right? The April, that was our kind of the bottom, you know, where we weren’t seeing inquiries. We weren’t seeing move ins. You can see the trend, we were crushing it in January and February, our industry had more inquiries than ever. And I think that’s due to a lot of the technology, the marketing, the lead gen, our marketing companies and the industry where we’re doing a great job with digital with a lot of new things that they had at their disposal to do. So it looks so good. We were crushing records and then, you know, everything happened and we saw that line go down. But the cool thing is to see the rebound. I mean, I think inquiries in June and July were 58% ups from April. And we were still in this situation. So I really think that if you go in and you download those reports, you can see that progression, you can compare. We’re not just giving percent increase and decrease. We’re giving actual monthly numbers, so you can compare what am I, what do I look like compared to the market and remembering it’s an average and we do have, they vary by States. You know, we see Florida, for example, they always get 80 inquiries a month, they’re all buildings, you know, they have a lot of demand. So looking at it by your region and also your state, will give, you know, Colorado, we’re in the 45 to 50 inquiries a month range for AL, for example. So we break all that out. Interesting to see the rebound October just a little summary before I put out the report, but it’s looking a lot like September. I mean, we’re not quite at 2019 numbers and that’s okay. That’s okay. We are very, very close and tours, whatever your definition of that is, that is interesting because we’ve got virtual tours happening. Some people have onsite, so those are down and we know that, but we’re using tools and technology to do the virtual piece of that. So that’s a good resource to look at as well. A ton of different workflows and infographics on there too, but we’ll be doing a lot more webinars just as we navigate into 2021 what initiatives we think will be important for 2021, we’ll be coming out with that too.
Josh: Well, you know, I think everything that you’re doing to invest, not only in your clients, but into giving back to the industry, in sharing, even the benchmarking data and allowing people to understand how the industry is had some low points this year, how we’ve bounced back to be able to compare and contrast. That’s always very, very important for all stakeholders in senior housing, but our audience also needs to know, you guys have invested in us. You guys have invested in Bridge the Gap the platform, the only way that me and Lucas are able to provide the thought leadership on our platform is because of great partners like Enquire for investing in us and investing in getting the information out there that is way broader than just the inquire topic in brand. So every week we have been able to, you may not even know this Erin, but we’ve been able to expand our content to add additional shows other than just the Josh and Lucas show. And it’s all thanks to the investment into our industry and into the platform that you guys have made. So thank you so much for that.
Oh, you’re welcome and you know, I think that to that point, Luke and I are in this business because we’re very passionate. So, you know, if you talk to us on the phone and you ask about contact centers, they will say, you know, I’m just super passionate about this. So that’s just it’s really easy to be passionate about this industry. I’ve all my best friends are from this industry. I’ve really come to enjoy just your thought leadership and the thought leadership of just everyone on LinkedIn or wherever you’re looking. And I think that, you know, as far as just the numbers and the data, I think we’ve always been data rich and a little bit report poor for this industry. I think we have a lot of data and a lot of things we can share. And I think that the high tide raises all ships. So sharing the information, aggregating information, sharing it with others and being able to help out, you know, setting whether it’s setting goals for your internal team or setting what you are going to budget for as far as marketing and investments. But yeah, I love your program. And I think that this is a great time for us all to come together. I think 2021 is going to be a great year. I really do
Lucas: Well we agree with you. And speaking of 2021, is there anything new at enquire that your customers and clients can expect that’ll be coming up?
Erin: Yeah, so we are really excited about 2021. And you know, when we’re talking about the roadmap for next year and what we’ve been doing this year, that we’ll release, it really was automation, automation, automation, and then integration, right? Because integration helps automation. And so, you know, we’ve come out with a new dashboard that really is answering that question; what do I have to do today? And my sales team uses our CRM, and so I’m in there all the time. So our sales team is in there all the time and I track everything, I love it. But you know, really when they get in, what do I need to do: calendar, goals, you can customize goals by role and by community or care level. And so that’s really good to really reinforce that sales performance and what they need to accomplish. We have all of that integrated with outside lead gen and for senior living. It’s really, you know, those referral source online directories whether it’s online chat that we’re doing, we’re putting in a lead you know, anything from the website or digital ads or paid social or all that, that stuff is going on. And then for post acute, we’re integrated with naviHealth and Allscripts and the referral systems like Epic, and we read the efaxes. So that is really helping our clients really tell the users, Hey, you don’t have to enter all this stuff. We’re going to automate it. We’re going to put it in. We’ve got a keyword, a lookup where it alerts you if there’s a high cost med or there’s something like if a word that sticks out that you should probably look at that referral a little closer,insurance verification. So we’ve got a lot of things that are really helping automate that front end, lead gen, get those into the CRM so we can track our win-loss percentages. I mean, that’s really, really what we need to do, and then we need to qualify those. So the other thing we’re doing is a lot on the mobile app; click to dial, click, to text, click, to call all of that auto logging. So there’s not that data entry after I make the call, then I have to enter it. It’s going to prompt us for the notes. We’ve got on the desktop, the texting where you can receive and send. So a lot of communication, which is key right now. Especially since people are all over. People may not be coming to your community. With the marketing automation platform, we allow you to send out, you know, do you want to set up a virtual tour? And even for our outside business development people, the referral sources, you know, targeting those people that are giving you referrals, which referrals are coming back up in September and October, people are more comfortable. And how are we doing virtual coffees, or are we doing events virtually with them? And how are we tracking? So I think that that’s really some of the stuff we’re focusing on for 2021. And of course we put in the way to put in your budget and actual costs, you can actually measure your marketing return. So cost per lead,cost per move in, those are huge things that people, our clients are taken to budget meetings with leadership and saying, Hey, we don’t have to guess anymore. This is how many leads came in. This is if they moved in which you can’t get from marketing automation software, because it doesn’t know if they move in our tour and here’s actually what we spent. So that’s huge, you know, just knowing, just having the insight to that is what is what we’ve really focused on.
Josh: So Lucas, Erin; mind blown here with that one question, how we just covered so much stuff, but the takeaway for me was like Erin. But basically 2021; Erin has an app for that. Let’s just leave it at that.
Erin: We’ve got an app for that. I love that.
Lucas: Totally, you know, Erin, it’s always fun talking to you. And we just know that you guys not only have built an amazing product that services senior living operators and providers, but you guys have created a great culture in your own company and we enjoy spending time with you. And so we know that our listeners are going to want to spend some time with you too, and connect with you. So we’ll make sure in our show notes and on our social media, we really encourage all of our listeners to go to BTGvoice.com on the partner section and make sure that you connect with Erin and her team there. Erin, thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Erin: Thank you for having me. It’s so good to see your faces.
Lucas: Yes. And we long to see each other very, very soon.
Erin: Yes, definitely. Thank you.
Lucas: Well, thank you so much for your time and thanks to everybody for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.