By Pam McDonald
Jeanine Aspen, President of DEI Management Systems Central, a Senior Housing Forum partner, noted that community tours maximize the opportunity to learn about each prospect. She recommends conducting the tour in such a way as to improve discovery and foster a relationship with each new prospect.
She pointed out that prospects have a difficult time comparing the communities they have toured unless they had an extremely negative or positive impression. She recommends leaving the prospect with an over-the-top memorable touring experience.
As Jeanine said, “It begins with the first impression. When a tour appointment is scheduled, you can even stand outside and wait for them to arrive. The person who greets the prospect has to be warm and welcoming. They have to be fully present and connect with prospects. They need to be thinking: Are we going to be a good fit for them? And convey their intention: I’m here to help you make a good decision.”
Make the tour all about them, Jeanine advised and cautioned against talking exclusively about the community. “Some best features are important to point out, but it’s not about the real estate. It’s not about ‘feature dumping.’
“It’s about getting and keeping a conversation going. Around 75% of the conversation should be about them, getting information about their sense of identity. This is whole person discovery,” she said.
Focus On The Staff
Given the importance to move-ins of the tours, Jeanine advocates pre-planning and making the staff a primary focus of the tour. She said, “Have times and places set up during the tour where you introduce prospects to specific staff. Engaging the staff enhances an experience of residents ‘living’ in the community. Above all, train your staff to remember and use the prospect’s name.”
Once prospects have seen the community’s best features, Jeanine recommends conducting a “reverse tour,” retracing steps so prospects can reconnect briefly with staff. As Jeanine noted, “Seeing prospect smiles from hearing themselves addressed again by name 4 to 5 times with brief farewells from staff – such as ‘Goodbye Mrs. Wallace, remember Tuesdays are Italian Nights’ – makes for an excellent and memorable tour.”
Go For Commitment
Another measure of success is ensuring that the prospect has committed to a date and time for a next step with you. “It’s a good tour if you’ve earned a next step follow-up visit,” Jeanine said. “Schedule the next step in the context of information revealed during the tour. For example, if food is important, you can ask: ‘Should we schedule a lunch for next week?’ Or you might say, ‘Based on what we talked about today, it sounds like your sister should come in.’ You’ll lose that face-to-face energy and traction, if you don’t schedule your follow-up meeting during the tour.”
During the webinar, Jeanine was asked how to respond if a competitor is mentioned during a tour. She said: “Don’t say anything bad and don’t be defensive. Acknowledge the information about the competition, but do a turnaround with a story about why so many people are attracted to your community. For example, ‘Yes, Sunrise has transportation, but what people like about our community is . . . .’
“And, if you have just conducted a great tour with a reverse tour, the prospects are grinning knowing that 5 to 6 of your staff know them. That undoubtedly leaves a favorable impression. You won’t need to say anything about your competitors; they won’t stand a chance.”
Find The Quiet Place
As a parting thought, Jeanine suggested that every tour include a trip to a quiet space within the community, like a chapel or out-of-the-way sitting area. She said, “A crucial concern for a lot of prospects is a lack of privacy or a fear of a busy dormitory-like atmosphere. Many prospects have been living quietly in a private home for some time and are apprehensive that a community environment might be too much for them. So showing them a quiet space during the tour can go a long way in overcoming this potential obstacle.”
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DEI uses a three-part process to drive revenue for senior living providers: 1) sales management training, 2) targeted selling skills training, and 3) management coaching. Visit the website today for more information: www.dei-central.com