Amy Alvarado-Plank, Sales and Marketing Director of UCF Legacy Pointe, knew she had a problem.
Lunch and learning activities are an important sales strategy for the senior living community under construction at the University of Orlando Central Florida campus, with an average of 25 potential customers per session. But as Covid-19 upgraded in mid-March, seniors began to cancel their RSVP.
Alvarado-Plank’s team, on March 20, started working remotely and followed their depositors through phone, email, and video conference. Quick action immediately brought benefits. Legacy Pointe closed a deal in April, and she believes her team can get another five deals before the end of the month.
Senior housing sales and marketing teams across the country are turning to virtual travel and utilization technology to consider transitioning to advanced housing during the Coronavirus pandemic. That allows them to continue to connect with providers and developing leads that can be converted into personal travel and cancel Stay at home and open the building to non-essential workers. Some teams have also moved to remote working environments, while others are still working on-site and are assisting front-line employees in providing meals and supplies to residents who are limited to their apartments.
The marketing and sales team has responded to the challenge of Covid-19, as Traci Bild has predicted that it would happen last month. Some of the largest senior living providers in North America, (for example, Revera in Mississauga, Ontario) believe that their sales experts are showing their talents in the current crisis.
Despite this, they still do the work for them. A survey conducted by the National Senior Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC) from April 13 to April 19 showed that due to Covid-19’s concerns, the move-in activity continues to end. Suppliers believe that potential customer conversion/sales slowdown is the most common reason.
However, other data shows that immigration counseling is still flowing to the elderly, and a more significant percentage of potential residents have urgent needs. Therefore, although the sales team works differently than usual and may very well not be able to reach the average number, the efforts that they are putting force are still essential to prevent the loss of occupancy caused by Covid-19.
Virtual tour and others
Arrow’s senior vice president of sales Cassie Tweten said that despite the significant drop in face-to-face visits, the sales and marketing team that immediately adapted to the current reality is conveying the message that its community is open.
Arrow, based in St. Charles, Missouri, handed over all its 22 community personnel to non-essential personnel by March 12, and the number of new queries plummeted by 47% in the following week.
However, before Covid-19, the operator had provided virtual travel for potential customers and family members outside the country and extended the service to potential local customers and their family members.
Additionally, some Arrow communities have implemented “window tours” for families to view model houses and critical public areas from the outside.
Rose Pietras, vice president of sales and marketing, conducted a virtual tour of Watercrest Senior Living before protecting its community on March 16. Watercrest is headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, and has 14 communities in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Also, Watercrest implemented email and phone invitations in new marketing campaigns and follow-up work, to visit the community effectively, and provided links to community websites where possible.
Revera’s team is reaching out to existing residents to find out if they have any friends of their own that may need support. For those people, Revera has already started to make snacks, soups, or other nutritional porch drops. Then, for those who are tech-savvy and interested, the provider will follow up on virtual tours.
Legacy Pointe’s sales and marketing team can set up and test its office phone system to ensure that it can work properly in a remote work environment. The team also adapted BombBomb, an email platform that allows sales personnel to record customizable videos and add them to email, text, and social media channels to add a degree of personalization to virtual interactions, Alvarado-Plank said.
April Morin, director of sales and marketing at Fleet Landing, said that the focus of virtual travel has always been the fast learning curve of sales teams that were previously reluctant to accept technology. Fleet Landing is located in Atlantic Beach, Florida, and is a continuous care retirement community.
Fleet landing companies use virtual travel to continue with potential customers on their sales journey, as well as virtual coffee conferences and one-on-one video chats. In this way, Morin’s team can share the screen, communicate with potential customers through virtual tours, and provide comments within the community.
Strengthen existing relationships
The sales team is conducting more communication to convey a sense of urgency to prospective customers and build trust between potential customers and their families so that they will be taken care of when deciding to purchase.
Arrow’s sales team will host virtual events with potential customers and newly-developed depositors, and hold one-on-one meetings through the video conferencing platform Zoom. To help seniors who may find it difficult to use computers and technology platforms, Arrow’s marketing team has developed an advanced and friendly “how to use zoom” guide. Tweten said that this proved to be so beneficial that other suppliers had already contacted Arrow to use this information to educate their prospects.
Watercrest is using video conferencing and adding email newsletters and updates. Pietras said that the provider also uses telephone communications, and similar to Revera’s porch Didi, has found creative follow-up products such as groceries that can meet the urgent needs of potential customers and loved ones.
Facts have proved that this epidemic is an ideal opportunity to reduce the anxiety of the sales team to take action in uncertain times. The Fleet Landing focuses on potential customers who want to take demand-based steps and emphasizes what is happening at the community level to counter the feeling of isolation felt by everyone inside and outside the community.
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