Every day around the U.S. over 750,000 seniors wake-up in an assisted living communities safe, happy and living a better quality life than they would at home.
Unfortunately incidents happen, and when something goes wrong, the media brings light to these negative and unfortunate events. As a result, perceptions change and a loss of faith spreads across the market.
In the aftermath of Frontline's critical representation of Emeritus Senior Living aired on PBS, the assisted living industry is faced with a new set of challenges.
First off, there’s no excuse for allowing care and standards to slip at your community, and I strongly encourage you to review your compliance of all rules, regulations and training regimens in the wake of the Frontline piece on Emeritus. Doing so will ensure you’re bringing the best quality of services to your residents that faithfully put their care into your community’s hands.
But, when negative news comes out and prospects interpret that to be the industry standard, how can a community overcome the new objections prospects have?
To start, you must understand there are four main parts of the senior living sales process. These four steps are:
- Build Trust And Confidence.
- Extract Prospects Buying Criteria.
- Align Your Benefits.
- Get A Commitment.
There may be many points of contact between, but these four steps need to happen before a sale is made. New objections from bad news fall into the areas of building trust and confidence, and criteria extraction.
After bad news hits, prospects have a newly formed negative perception of the industry. They’re skeptical even before speaking or meeting with you. This makes your job of building trust and confidence much more important.
Part of prospects new buying criteria is to ensure your community addresses all the concerns brought up in the media. Permitting you work at a community that embraces a culture of care and quality, you’re going to need to overcome these objections truthfully.
You’ll need to explain the benefits and differentiating factors that separate you from not only your competition, but from the community that was featured in the bad news and why incidents like this can’t happen at your community.
In the case of Frontline and Emeritus, the answers to the new objections would be:
- Ensuring adequate staff is on duty.
- Making certain staff is professionally trained. (particularly within memory care)
- Knowing residents health is continually being monitored.
- Ensuring a resident is being accepted into a place that has the appropriate level of care they need.
Rather than telling your prospects and families your response to their objections, it will have a greater impact to show how you overcome these objections.
During your tour of the community, display your impeccable care record. Have prospects and their families meet the care staff, see how responsible they are, show them the checklists (if management allows) and precautions your community takes to ensure exemplary care. Show how you meet all handicapped codes, have special dietary protocol, care inspections, etc.
You’ll quickly put their concerns to rest if you look at it from their point of view. Like seeing a plane crash on the news, they just witnessed horror stories within our industry. What they don’t understand is these stories are few and far between and most likely never will happen at your community. Your job is to put their concerns to rest and show why it can’t happen at your community.
When bad news does hit our industry, meet with your team and come up with proactive strategies to deal with the news. Find out what the new objections will be after the piece hits the market, address the issues, and take action to ensure sure it can never happen at your community. Then, come up with a plan on how to overcome those specific objections and work them into your sales process.
Usually when bad news does hit our industry, the media runs with a rare isolated event. Naturally, our prospects form negative perceptions and new objections. Taking a proactive approach to addressing negative PR to overcome objections, will ensure you’re community improves not only its services, offerings and operations, but also improve closing rates and keep healthy occupancy levels.