Between Steady and Swamped: Our September Roundtable Roundup – Varsity Branding

Although coping with issues like employee retention and vaccine mandates, communities are reporting that leads and sales are somewhere between steady and swamped. Additionally, Lana Peck shared move-in and move-out numbers from the National Investment Center for Seniors (NIC) Executive Survey, and Zack Collevechio and Jodi Gibble shared valuable insights on data analytics and mystery shopping.

From Swamped …

Some community marketers  reported nonstop activity, sharing comments like: “The phone has been ringing off the hook and it’s very hard to keep up.” “We have a move-in almost every day next week, so we’re running as fast as we can.” “Business has been really strong and we’re really happy about that. Right now it’s like a fire hose and we don’t want to turn it off!”

… to Steady

Although not slammed, other communities were making consistent progress.

“Things are going steady and pretty good,” said one marketer. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but we are getting quite a few people interested in independent living. Personal care seems to have picked up somewhat.”

Staffing Issues

One issue standing in the way of move-ins for many communities is staffing challenges. Several marketers said they couldn’t accept new residents because they didn’t have the staff to care for them. We heard comments like: “The challenges that we’re facing are with dining services and actually getting and retaining staff. We’re so short-staffed and it’s not sustainable.” “We’re still having issues with staffing, so we have to turn people down because of our census issues.” “Regarding admissions, at the skilled level we have to turn people away because we don’t have the staff to care for them.”

Impact of COVID-19 Lingers

COVID-19 rates are back up in some communities. One marketer commented: “We had to scale back things in our dining room because our positivity rate is up, so we’re putting some restrictions in place. Another said, “Unfortunately, we had an outbreak in our SNF, so we are monitoring this closely.”

One community is seeing plenty of tours and leads, and its marketer shared, “I think that people have learned how to live with COVID-19 better than we’d thought because it doesn’t seem to scare people anymore to live in congregate living. I think people have started to just peacefully coexist with it and can’t put their lives on hold anymore.”

Vaccine Mandates

To combat COVID-19, some communities are requiring employees to get vaccinated. One marketer shared: “We’ve just released our vaccination mandate, which will begin on November 8. We haven’t heard any pushback, so not sure if that’s a calm before a storm or if it truly won’t be an issue.”  Another said: “We have a mandate of October 15,  and I think some people are waiting to see if we’re serious about that deadline.”

Lana Peck Shares NIC Executive Survey Insights

Lana Peck, Senior Principal from NIC, shared insights from the latest wave of NIC’s Executive Survey. Details on Wave 32 can be found on NIC’s blog by clicking here. Note that the NIC Fall Conference starts November 1 in Houston. More information can be found at this link.

Lana shared: “Towards the end on Wave 32 (the end of September and encompassing the month of August), organizations that said their move-ins were accelerating had gone down quite a bit. As the infection rates have spiked in regions around the country, we’ve seen it reflected in this move-in data as well. Accelerations decreased over the past 30 days. This may be related to the Delta variant, but it also may reflect that some of the pent-up demand is working through the system. Note this doesn’t mean the occupancy is declining, but that the rate of move-ins is slowing. As we look at the move-out data, the grey bar shows that there has been a slowing of move-outs, which is obviously a good thing to stabilize occupancy.”

Mystery Shopping Insights With Jodi Gibble

After mystery shops at 55 senior living communities, Jodi Gibble, sales consultant at Varsity, shared best practices:

  • Answer the phone and collect information
  • Conduct pre- and post-tour sessions
  • Provide enough information on the website to entice the prospect to tour
  • Ensure the website is up-to-date (calendar of events, etc.)
  • Be generally interested in the prospect and/or their loved one
  • Ensure that the community is tour-ready
  • Follow up with all emails and tours (Jodi only received calls or emails from half of the communities she called/toured)

For more information, contact Jodi at .

WildFig Data Discussion

Zack Collevechio from WildFig Data, an organization working in the data analytics space, shared key points for senior communities to keep in mind:

  • Create a data plan — Planning and organizing your data before you want to analyze it is an unglamorous, but vital step.
  • Examine — Look at relationships and trends within your data to estimate ROI when perfect tagging/tracking does not exist.
  • Experiment — Test different levels of spending and observe the effect it has on results.
  • Go deeper — It’s good to know how many calls or chats you receive in a day. It’s even better to know what people are calling or chatting about.
  • Prioritize — Implement a system that directs your sales staff to the best prospects.

If you want to discuss any of this with Zack directly, you can send him an email at .

Look for our next monthly roundtable recap in your inbox. Until then, please be sure to join our weekly Sales & Marketing Roundtable on Thursdays at noon ET, 11 a.m. CT and 9 a.m. PT.

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