Since the title of this blog leads with the term “anatomy,” it may be helpful to interchange “assessment” with “examination.” That interchange helps with the analogy of how we care for our personal health and how we take care of our business’ health. We have regular physicals or examinations not only when we have pain but also when we are feeling great. The same philosophy should apply to caring for our business’ health.
Just like our health, we may feel terrific and everything may be great with our business; but referencing the analogy, how often have you learned about something at your physical that you never would have realized until pain developed from it? In these cases, we are told, “Well, if you had come in earlier, we may have been able to cure your problem more easily early on than now that it has progressed to a more critical stage.”
For the same reason, we strongly recommend that every senior living community, or multisite organization, have regular “examinations” or assessments conducted by external third-party experts on their “health.”
A variety of assessments can be conducted for a senior living community, and this blog will focus on an assessment relative to a community’s ability to remain competitive and succeed into the future. Some refer to these as marketing and sales assessments, but as you’ll see shortly, they involve more than just examining the marketing and sales program.
What Goes Into an Assessment
When you have a complete physical examination, a lot of what determines your overall health is examined. The same is true for a community examination, and I’ll briefly describe what is examined in an assessment and how the observations and recommendations are presented.
A multipage executive summary of the assessment and all recommendations is presented for a quick review.
Positives or SWOT Analysis
In some cases, the main body of the assessment will indicate not only the positives, but also the weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In some cases, where the last three components of the SWOT analysis are clearly specified in the body of the report, the initial part of the report emphasizes the community’s positive aspects, setting the stage for an ongoing positive approach.
The assessment examines the community’s physical product including the grounds, common areas and amenities as well as the services delivered in all care levels. This section provides a scorecard for each area of the community resulting in an overall rating of the entire community. Each category of the scorecard is rated on a 1 to 10 scale to demonstrate each area’s relative strengths or weaknesses.
A community’s health is reflected in the opinions of its customers, residents and family members. The assessment includes small group interviews with random residents—and in some cases family members—to solicit their opinions about the community’s strengths and weaknesses.
Like residents, community management and staff members also can provide valuable information about positive community aspects as well as areas that need improvement. Therefore, the assessment includes a group meeting with the department managers without the executive director or sales team members.
Branding and Positioning
All parts of the marketing program that create awareness of the community’s brand and position with prospective residents and family members in the community are examined. A big component of this section is to determine whether the branding and positioning accurately reflect what the residents and visitors experience, and to provide recommendations on improvement, if needed.
Marketing Planning/Lead Generation
The assessment carefully reviews the community’s marketing plan and budget as well as all methods used to generate new leads. It also reviews how the existing lead base is managed to ensure continuing contact with prospects to advance them through the sales process. A careful analysis is also provided on the cost effectiveness of each marketing tactic and whether the appropriate level of investment is being made in lead generation and lead advancement.
Sales Systems and Processes
Following the marketing and lead generation portion of the assessment report, observations and recommendations are provided on the entire sales process, from how new leads are handled at the first inquiry through the sales presentations, follow-up activities, documentation in the lead management system and advancing prospects through the sales cycle to closing and move-in. Assessments frequently identify easy-to-cure problems with how prospects are engaged and moved forward in this section.
Mystery shopping The sales team members can be added as an optional service in the assessments, because they can relay how they engage prospects on the phone and in person in real life situations.
Assessments also review pricing of the community from an internal perspective, including how different unit types are priced relative to each other and to their different advantages, such as location and view. Assessments can be expanded to include a competitive pricing analysis.
The last section of the assessment includes a prioritized listing of recommendations with those having the most immediate impact at the top. This prioritization gives the community a checklist from which to begin executing the recommendations.
Value of an Assessment
You may invest anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 for a typical full-scope marketing and sales assessment, depending on your community’s size and care levels.
Using our popular return on investment measurement tool, Rick’s Rule of 78, if the assessment uncovers a condition within your product or a flaw in your marketing/sales process that causes you to lose at least one sale per month, over a 12-month period you would lose 78 months of revenue. If your average monthly fee is $4,000, then you are losing $312,000 in that period.
If your assessment identifies a condition or flaw and recommends a cure, and you execute a prescription for that cure, your investment of $15,000 to $25,000 could result in a gain of $312,000 in that first 12-month period. If executing the cure actually results in not only preventing lost sales, but also helps you garner better community health, marketing and sales strength by obtaining one additional sale per month and netting two more move-ins per month, then that investment would result in additional revenue up to $624,000.
Although a community assessment is not a potential life and death situation that could result from not having regular physical examinations, one can certainly enhance a community’s health and viability.
Having an expert third party conduct regular assessments on your community’s health relative to remaining competitive and maintaining high occupancy can provide insight to proactively make the necessary improvements in your product, marketing and sales processes. And, the return on your investment in these types of assessments is significant when the recommendations are successfully implemented.