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It’s taken us a full week to absorb all the knowledge imparted to us at last week’s LeadingAge in Boston. What an amazing opportunity to meet people from communities across the country, see the latest in trends and innovations throughout the exhibit hall and learn about all facets of the senior living industry. The team at Solutions Advisors are constantly striving to gather new information and learn about the trends that are leading to changes in our industry. In the spirit of learning, we’ve pulled together some highlights of information garnered throughout the week:

LeadingAge 2015 BostonUsing Person-Focused Practices to Accelerate Quality Outcomes and Quality of Life

  • A person-focused approach to nursing focuses on the individual’s personal needs, wants, desires and goals so that they become central to the care and nursing process. This can mean putting the person’s needs, as they define them, above those identified as priorities by healthcare professionals.
  • It is imperative to understand the lives of our customers – from independent living to skilled nursing. Paying attention to the life stories and experiences of residents is the only way to know their aspirations for the future.
  • Person-focused care is not just about giving people whatever they want or providing information. It is about considering people’s desires, values, family situations, social circumstances and lifestyles; seeing the person as an individual, and working together to develop appropriate solutions.
  • Being compassionate, thinking about things from the person’s point of view and being respectful are all important. It is as much about the way professionals and residents think about care and their relationships as the actual services available.
  • There are many factors in the lives of residents that are directly impacted by person-focused care. It can: improve the experience people have of care and help them feel more satisfied; encourage people to lead a more healthy lifestyle, such as exercising or eating healthily; encourage people to be more involved in decisions about their care so they get services and support that are appropriate for their needs.
  • At the independent living level, this approach will keep residents in their accommodations longer thus creating increased stabilized occupancy. It also provides a more meaningful experience for the salesperson and a stronger connection with the prospect.

Executing Strategic Initiatives: A CCRC Expansion

There was a lot of discussion about expansions and one session discussed lessons learned.

  • Recognize that land is a CCRC’s greatest asset – creatively utilize the land that you currently hold and develop a master site plan.
  • Embrace the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood: invite them in, share activities and resources; begin to know and understand the people that live around your CCRC.
  • Strengthen an already strong reputation for healthcare – A CCRC’s ability to provide excellent healthcare is one of the major decision points for residents to choose one over another.
  • During a growing phase or even a blue-sky expansion a community should identify the areas where it can get ahead of the market and make others catch up. A new or expanding CCRC should continually search for new and diverse revenue streams and eliminate old pricing-stagnation and recreate enticing incentives for move-in.
  • Create a concrete vision that is market defendable and mission compatible and that creates a relationship of trust.
  • Align yourself with champions and focus on daily executable initiatives.
Gregg Scott of RLPS Architects, Patti Adami of Solutions Advisors and James Bernardo of Presbyterian Senior Living

Gregg Scott – Partner, RLPS Architects, Patti Adami – VP of Strategic Marketing, Solutions Advisors and James Bernardo – COO, Presbyterian Senior Living

What Boomers Want

This presentation asked the question, will Boomers move into today’s retirement communities? What must providers and sponsors of senior living communities do to prepare for the Boomer generation? The session was conducted by three senior living industry professionals – a provider, a marketing and sales professional and an architect – with a combined 100 years’ experience in senior living. Once the youngsters in the industry, each of the speakers (one of them our own Patti Adami, Vice President of Strategic Marketing) are now in their 60s and have realized that they’re becoming one of “them”!

  • The Boomer generation is not homogenous – the 18-year span from 1946 to 1964 means that Boomers have very different experiences in music, politics, education and social encounters – and that putting boomers in a ‘box’ is ineffective;
  • Today’s senior living communities are not likely to appeal to Boomers who want more choices, control and a sense of community;
  • While health ‘care’ is not important now, maintaining health is paramount. Communities need to focus on healthy living with expanded fitness and wellness centers – and not just pay lip service to wellness;
  • Engagement is key – communities that partner with universities or other institutions to offer life-long learning will appeal to boomers;
  • Boomers will still want a connection to community – whether through continuing to work or through meaningful volunteer opportunities;
  • Urban, walkable communities are trending over communities that are more distant from urban centers and transportation;
  • Rental contracts will resonate more with boomers who either don’t have the savings for large entrance fees or who don’t want to make a lifetime commitment to one location.

The bottom line is that Boomers are not all one-size-fits-all; that purpose and engagement is important; and that providers should understand that boomers are still 10-15 years away from moving to a retirement community but need to prepare for the future!

Prospect-Focused Selling

Kristin Kutac Ward, President and CEO of Solutions Advisors

Kristin Kutac Ward, President and CEO of Solutions Advisors

  • This presentation spoke of selling the same way you operate a community – with a person-focused approach. It also introduced a new CRM (customer relationship management) system that helps focus on the legacy and life stories of prospects. Our own Kristin Kutac Ward, President and CEO, was on the panel of speakers. In senior housing sales, a new and more robust predictor of future success is called Time in the Selling Zone or TSZ.
  • Rather than counting the number of tasks completed, TSZ tracks the time you have invested in learning about your prospect, where they are in the decision-making process and how you can best shepherd them through the process.
  • Opposite of what many sales persons have been taught, TSZ gives permission to slow down the sales process, allowing more interaction between you and your customer and a deeper understanding of his or her motivations and legacy.
  • Sherpa is a new customer relations management (CRM) tool that promotes time in the selling zone and helps sales teams shift from transactional selling. Nearly a year in the field and with over 200 communities now utilizing the software, Sherpa is helping to shift the paradigm from transactional selling to prospect-focused sales.
  • Instead of simply counting the number of calls and tours, Sherpa measures ‘advances,’ in other words, how the relationship and therefore the sale is progressing based on concrete next steps.
  • Rather than focusing on the typical metrics, Sherpa focuses on the activities that advance the person from denial to thinking, or thinking to planning or planning to action. Addressing the stage of readiness a prospect is in and working strategically to advance that stage to action results in higher conversion ratios.

How much time is spent planning a personal proposal for a prospect, or thinking of a creative follow up that will advance the sale? With Sherpa, the more you learn about the customer and his or her legacy, the greater your chances of success.