One of the most common ways companies across industries measure their customer service is to secret shop their representatives, whether over the phone or in person. Senior living communities also benefit by measuring the service they deliver to senior living shoppers through secret shopping.

Value of Preventing Lost Sales

All of these companies hope to gain more sales, but even more importantly, prevent the loss of sales as a result of ineffective engagement of their prospective new customer. In senior living, the engagement of the prospect with the community representatives is critically important in both the addition of new sales and prevention of lost sales.

If during a consecutive 12-month period you lose a sale once a month that you should have made, it will cost you 78 months of revenue during that 12-month period. This means that if poor performance by one of your representatives causes one lost sale per month and your average monthly fee is $3000, your community would have lost $234,000 (78 x $3000 = $234,000).  As you probably figured out already, for the higher levels of care with monthly fees ranging in the $5000 to $6000 range, the amount of annual revenue loss is even greater.

How Secret Shopping helps prevent lost sales

Secret shopping involves having individuals pose as prospective new residents or family members who document their experience with the community representatives.  Typically, there is a set of questions the shopper will answer about their experience in all forms of the engagement, including the initial phone call or email to the community through the actual visit to the community.  Today, most of these engagements can be audio and, in some cases, video recorded.

The answers to the questions from the secret shopper are scored, and combined to create a total performance score for the community representative.  The scoring is usually broken down into various steps of the engagement, such as initial inquiry or follow-up call or the in-person presentation.

By reviewing the scores of community representatives, it can be determined where low performance may be causing lost sales. Does your community representative have trouble overcoming common objections? Or is it a process problem, such as failing to have the pieces in place to be able to offer extreme hospitality? Whatever the issues may be at your community, secret shopping can help uncover them.

Recommended Secret Shopping Approach

We often hear from communities that they want to have their sales team members “shopped” to see how effective they are in engaging with the prospect over the phone and in person.

However, that’s not always the best first step. First, we ask if all of the sales team members have had recent sales training on how they are expected to handle incoming calls and community presentations. When we see shopping occur prior to clear expectations regarding calls and presentations being set, it can lead to bad data and potentially harm the morale of the sales team.

Before using secret shopping, you should first conduct sales training where your expectations are made clear to everyone being shopped, thereby giving everyone the same opportunity to meet your expectations, and providing better data on where true further training needs exist.

This approach also allows your shopper’s questions and ratings to be based on those aspects of the inquiry call and in-person presentation that you want them to focus on during the shop.

Additionally, we recommend that if you begin secret shopping, you commit to conducting this form of performance improvement consistently over the long term.  This allows you to establish a baseline of performance by individual and community and measure the trend of improvement and reduced lost sales going forward.  It also allows you the opportunity to recognize your top performers and create more highly targeted training topics to hit your precise pain points.

Using secret shopping with the right approach on a consistent basis can provide considerable return on this investment through reduced lost sales and overall increased occupancy. For more information on how Love & Company can help your community, give Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013, or Rick Hunsicker at 214-906-3801 a call today. Or, reach out to us online.

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