By Lisa Pearre, Principal/EVP, Client Services, Love & Company
Picture this: You’re about to embark on a long road trip across the country. You know exactly where you want to end up, but you’re not quite sure how to get there. There are also a few landmarks that you want to hit along the way. Before you hit the road, you find your big roadmap, and make a plan for where you want to be, and when you want to be there.
However, as anyone who has ever taken a road trip knows, not everything goes according to plan. You might take a wrong turn, run low on gas, or get caught in traffic. That’s when you go back to the map, make adjustments, and find a different route to end up where you want to be.
This is exactly the purpose of reporting when it comes to marketing your retirement community. To reach the occupancy rate you want, you have to map out your route to get there and keep track of your progress at every step. Although we will gladly manage this aspect of your census development, our real goal is to help you learn how to do so yourself along the way.
Path To Success
At Love & Company, we have developed a proprietary reporting system called Path to Success that includes several tools we use to help our clients plan and achieve their marketing, sales and census goals for the year. Even though leads, sales and closing rates are certainly critical benchmarks, these data points only scratch the surface of the lead generation and sales funnel. We dig much deeper into metrics that provide detailed insights into what facets of the marketing and sales program are working well, and which can be improved.
No one wants to fly blind. Reporting systems give you the power to examine where you’ve been, to use that information to develop realistic projections for where you’re going, and effectively monitor your progress.
It’s important to start with historical data. While we have the experience and benchmarks to help an organization begin planning from a blank slate, nothing beats having the organization’s own historical data. The same things you need to know to develop an effective marketing plan are the things you need to know to develop an effective, long-term strategic plan.
In the short term, this information drives marketing budget requirements and staffing levels, opportunities for residence renovations and aesthetic upgrades to the community, necessary pricing and contract adjustments, and service modifications. In the long term, it drives master planning, operational staffing levels, residential reworking and expansion, pricing and contract adjustments, amenity and service additions, and new strategic initiatives. Reporting systems are an essential component of an organization’s ability to be successful today and into the future.
Some of the key metrics you should evaluate closely include conversion rate of leads to appointments, number of connected call outs and the conversion rate of connected call outs to appointments, conversion rate of appointments to deposits, the proportion of sales that come from each type of lead source, the conversion rate of each source, cost per lead by lead source, individual sales counselor productivity, and more.
You should monitor reports weekly, review results monthly with your leadership team, and conduct quarterly planning sessions with your sales and marketing director. This enables you to quickly identify when something isn’t working, and course correct in real time. When you see a “red flag”—whether it’s a conversion ratio or target number that has fallen behind goal, or even a conversion ratio that’s surprisingly high—it should drive you to ask the questions, “Why? What’s driving this deviation, and is this a problem? If so, what needs to happen to get back on track towards goal?” While the numbers and analysis are fascinating (they are to us!), the point is to identify a course of action, and then take it.
Keeping track of your progress along the way and making necessary adjustments will help you reach your destination: full occupancy with a strong wait list. Although this destination can sometimes seem miles away, with the proper route planned out, and the reporting tools to stay on track, getting there will be a smoother journey.