Guest Columns

If I were to rob your community blind, you'll never guess what I'd take

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Kevin Williams
Kevin Williams

If I were to rob you of just one thing, what do you think I'd take?

Your resident's credit card numbers? Nope.

The titles to your property? No, not that either.

If I were to rob you, I'd take something much more valuable than your property or a few lousy credit card numbers.

I'd take your resident database and the goodwill you've established with each and every one of the kind individuals who have become residents.

You see, if you were to ask most owner/operators what their most valuable asset is, you'd hear “my property” from most of them. While real estate is certainly an extremely desirable and valuable asset, it's the “most valuable” for very few of you…

Years ago, when senior living communities were just becoming popular in the free enterprise world, those brave entrepreneurs thought that the only thing they had to offer was a room and a basic level of care.

Now, many communities have luxurious independent living options with every type of care and service possible allowing residents everything they would need in one community. While this is forward thinking, this is only the beginning for senior living owner/operators.

I'm not one to predict the future as if I have a crystal ball, but I can confidently say that offering multiple types of care, and other benefits are only the beginning of offerings that senior living owner/operators will offer their customer base in the future.

To help you profit from the forward-thinking concept of offering your residents and prospects other products and services, I'd like to dive headfirst into the underlying principle that drives this entire idea.

Many people refer to this as cross marketing/promotion. But it's really much simpler than that.

The idea that's making the owner/operators a lot of cash is this:

Raising the lifetime value of your residents…

I challenge you that your residents are worth more than you're getting from them. In other words, you should be making more money. That is, making more money, legally and ethically by offering your residents, ancillary products and services that help them fulfill a current need/desire.

Surprisingly, few owner/operators even know the lifetime value of their residents. Yet, the lifetime value of their residents is the core of their business.

Think about this for a moment…

Why else would you even break ground for a community if not for the value of a resident? Residents put food on your table. They pay for that nice vehicle you're driving. They also paid for that vacation that you've just put together.

Understanding this is what separates those who make a fortune in this business from those who merely make a good living.

Your residents are in need of many things when they step foot into your community. At first, they think they are ridding themselves of the burden of being a homeowner, or an adult child needs a place for their loved one to get good care. But it's really deeper than that.

See, depending on what their motive is for becoming a resident, your residents need much more than you're offering them. And, if you offered the product or service they need, they'd likely buy immediately because you've already crossed the credibility gap that desperately needs to be filled.

As a senior living owner operator, you're not offering a place for seniors to live...

Your residents already had that back at their home. You're offering, affordable medical care, companionship, dignity, and as much independence as an aging senior can have. You offer comfort and relief for caregivers, giving them their lives and relationships with their parents or loved ones back. You offer seniors relief from the growing problems of being a homeowner as an aging senior.

So, care, affordability, independence and relief are only the beginning - what's to come? I don't know. But, here are a few ideas to either offer or to form alliances with and get a finder's fee, to increase the lifetime value of your residents:

  1. Geriatric Counseling – These new stages of life are tough for both seniors and their families. Counseling helps in times of need. Other professional services you might want to include are hospice care, and bereavement counseling.
  2. Hair Salon – Just because your residents are seniors doesn't mean they stop caring about how they look.
  3. Moving services - Since your residents are moving out of their houses and many are selling their homes, you should form an alliance with a local moving company and get a finder's fee for a referral.
  4. Eldercare lawyers – Another great service professional to form an alliance with. There's many legal complexities surrounding aging and death, and many pitfalls if not dealt with properly.
  5. Home Care – You may think this would be competing against your community, but the truth is many seniors want to remain in their homes. Extending your services to offer homecare can actually be a fantastic source of qualified leads when seniors are finally ready to move into a community. Helping them get what they want will always put more money in your bank account.

To recap, here's an idea to focus on over the next month: “How can we increase the lifetime value of our residents?” By continuously asking that question, you should be able to easily come up with ways to increase the value of your residents, legally and ethically. The fact is these folks are looking for these services anyway. Why not offer it if it takes little or no extra overhead?

Kevin M. Williams is the President of SeniorMarketing.com™. For more information, call (888) 523-3311 or visit www.SeniorMarketing.com

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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