Differentiating Key Messages in Multi-Site Communities

by | Apr 30, 2015

iStock_000027326481_LargeBy Susan Dolton, Vice President, Sales Services

As a marketing partner to many senior living communities over the years, we see our multi-site communities often seeking help in balancing a consistent message with the unique character of their various communities. Whether they have sites across the street from each other, across town or in different states, the challenge is to honor and celebrate their uniqueness while communicating the strength and mission of the organization as a whole.

Many of these multi-site providers have long histories of caring, giving and enriching the lives of seniors. Their goal is to serve today’s resident and to be well prepared for tomorrow’s. Crafting this overall message for the organization is the easy part. But what is the best way to differentiate between the various communities within the organization?

One community may have a 50-year old building with studios and one-bedroom apartments near a highway while another is new with spacious 2-bedroom apartments and views of a lake. Developing a plan for effectively selling multiple communities within a portfolio requires answering some key questions to determine the main selling points and implement specific tactical solutions.

One key question to ask yourself is “Who are you?” For example, communities often take on individual personalities, somewhat unintentionally. Perhaps a resident artist suggests a small public gallery and within 10 years, the community is known for its art classes and rotating gallery exhibits. Recently, a resident was telling me about the discussion group he founded in his community. The ABS group—an acronym for Anything But Sports—meets weekly to discuss a topic that is obviously not sports-related. This group has grown in popularity and has become an integral part of the community’s personality. Perhaps a dining services staff member has excellent baking skills and “Cookies and Milk” has become a weekly event for residents and staff to gather together. Every community has something that makes it unique. The trick is to discover it, celebrate it, and encourage prospects to become part of it.

When training and coaching salespeople, we ask them to develop three key selling points of a particular apartment for a particular prospect. To be effective, the selling points must be customized to the prospect. For example, if the prospect is a dog owner, one selling point may be the apartment’s ground-floor location.

The same theory must apply to the community as a whole. Through the discovery process, salespeople learn the true interests and needs of their prospects in order to present their key selling points. In a multi-site organization, if the communities share a geographic market area, the salesperson should be well trained on presenting the best solution for the prospect.

This cross-selling of communities within the portfolio is embraced by salespeople when they are incented to present solutions other than the community where they are based. We recommend a creative incentive package that rewards salespeople for true teamwork.

Additionally, when all leads are kept in the same CRM, the possibility of duplication of effort is eliminated. Otherwise, a prospect may receive calls from multiple communities within the organization on the same day, making it appear that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

When the salespeople of each community within a multi-site organization operate in sync in, the entire company is more efficient. Through development of customizable key messages and site communication for each sister community, multi-site organizations have a strong advantage to better serve and appeal to their residents and prospects.

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