There are few assisted living facilities that operate at 100% occupancy. I’ve visited hundreds and managers at nearly every one are looking for ways to fill beds.
Someone recently asked me if I had any tips on trying to fill the open units in their small owner-operated assisted living facility. Like many others, this facility was owned and operated by a person with a great background in healthcare but no experience in sales and marketing. This owner was learning quickly but still looking for more ideas.
There is a long list of tips – and I may add to this list later – but here were my questions in response to the question I received.
1. Have you worked with a A Place For Mom or a similar company? If you don’t have time or expertise in marketing, then one of these companies can help with your marketing. Yes, they take a fee that can be substantial – but how much does vacancy cost?
2. Does every possible referral source know you personally and what your home does? If not, stopping by for a sales call to drop off a brochure and maybe some home-made treats, is a good way to spread the word and increase your network. I realize that many in our industry come from a health care background and don’t want to spend time making sales calls. But that’s not how I would look at it – it’s stopping by for a visit with friends to thank them for past referrals and to find how you can help them in the future. Every discharge planner at every hospital, skilled nursing facility, clinic and other health care facility should know you by name. If not, start making some cookies and go for a drive.
3. Is your sales team working for you? Oh, you don’t think you have a sales team? Of course you do! Your entire facility staff, your suppliers and even your residents are all part of your sales team. We all know that word-of-mouth is the best type of advertising for an assisted living facility so help your sales team be more effective. At your next staff meeting, share ideas on how staff can tell others about their facility, create a competition for the most referrals or even give incentives and bonuses. Make sure your sales team is helping fill your facility.
There are dozens of things you can do to help fill your assisted living facility. This list just scratches the surface. How about sharing your favorite tip? Just leave a comment and start a conversation on how you keep your facility full.