Most mornings, I find myself reading through the Senior Housing Forum blog to keep up on industry concerns and news. There is usually at least one new article that catches my eye, and this morning’s had to do with a troubling trend towards falling occupancy rates. As stated in the article, Bob Wilgus, Director of Marketing and Strategic Digital Communications for Leading Response, there is a recent downward occupancy trend from the low to mid 90s to the mid 85% across the U.S..
Contributor Valeria Whitman (from the assisted living/memory care market) cited an increase in new development creating more inventory, and also a changing consumer base. These emerging challenges create a need for new marketing perspectives. “Communities really need to understand what the needs of the adult children and residents are,” says Valerie. “They also need to take their competition into account. And as it increases, look at what their own communities are doing differently; how they’re standing out,” she adds. Read More.
As the Marketing Director for Live 2 B Healthy®, I work with hundreds of communities across the US who are struggling to keep up with this ever-more-challenging market. It is a very real struggle, especially for smaller, independent communities who may lack the budget of some of their neighboring competitors. As unbelievable as it may seem, I have run across more than one senior living community that does not even have a website! Their reasoning? ‘Our residents don’t even use computers’. And, while that may be so for a dwindling group of older residents, those children, and even grandchildren, who are researching safe environments for their loved ones to move into, DO use computers! I have been in the position of researching for my Grandmother recently and would not even have known how to contact a community that did not have a website.
Most of the communities we work with do have very nice websites, and many of them have even ventured into social media – especially in the form of local Facebook Pages. Those who regularly use their Facebook Pages to post community news, events and photos generally find that, even if some of the residents do not have access to Facebook, many of them do. As do their children and grandchildren. And they enjoy being able to see news about the activities that their loved ones are involved in. It alleviates the fear that their parents or grandparents are isolating.
All of these new marketing challenges can be a lot for a small community with a limited budget to keep up with. Many of the more successful independents have begun following the example of their larger competitors and creating partnerships within the senior living profession of products and services that can help make their communities stand out from the crowd. For example, rather than trying to initiate a Wellness Program from within their own resources (including hiring, training, structuring), they are partnering up with Live 2 B Healthy®. With our services, they can afford to have a first-class Wellness Program, run by professionals, for a fraction of the cost of the payroll alone for hiring someone to manage the program.
In addition to the cost factor, the ability to market your community as having a Wellness Program, staffed by Certified Personal Trainers, goes a long way towards setting the bar for the competition in your area. No longer are you advertising the same “caring staff”, “welcoming living spaces” and “shuttle service” as everyone else. Today, with all the competition, those items are not even selling points – they are expectations. Consumers expect that you would be providing these things. With professional partners, like Live 2 B Healthy®, you can afford to add amenities that will set you apart. Things that will peak the interest of those who are searching for a new senior housing alternative.
One of the most amazing things about Live 2 B Healthy® is our marketing program. Especially for smaller communities, our marketing department can help your community set up and manage much more sophisticated marketing programs, such as newsletters, blogs, social media, press releases, videos and professionally produced marketing materials. Because we have helped hundreds of communities step up their marketing, we know what budgetary restrictions communities struggle with. And with our larger, bulk production schedule, we can help provide many of our communities with surprising, fun amenities that are tailor-made for small marketing staffs.
If your community is facing a lower than normal occupancy rate in 2018, we would encourage you to contact us for more information on how we can help provide your community with a first-rate Wellness Program to help you differentiate yourself from the competition.