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Marketing An Assisted Living Facility W/no Budget

Posted by Mkter on 250 Points
HELP!!! I have a former client who is in desperate need of Marketing her Assisted Living Facility. Brand new Facility. ALF is a home providing daily living assistance to the elderly community 55yrs. and above. These are residents who assistance with Activities of Daily Living, meals, medication, everything short of a nursing home except with a more "homely" feel. The Administrator has developed brochures, business cards, has attended some networking venues/Luncheons within the industry to get the word out. But has not done any true marketing in respect to advertising, website, direct mail etc. What can one do in a case like this where she doesn't have much of a budget, and suggestions have been given to her to open her mind toward what needs to be done to get the word out. Any suggestions??? Thx! Colette

  • Posted by MonMark Group on Member
    Colette: Your "former" client has chosen to dabble in marketing the and there...performing the least expensive, once in a while, it seems. As you have learned, marketing is a full-time never ceases.

    So, my only recommendation would be to have her get back out and network...period. If not, then my recommendation would be to close the doors or cut services. That sounds hard and cold, but that's the way it is.

    They have no money for marketing, so they must live with the consequences of that. Get out and raise money, or call an end to the suffering.

  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    Yes that's correct. It amazes me how one feels nothing should be done for the exception of "verbally spreading the word" within the community - and feel the job is done. Months later, they're wondering why clients and inquiries are not coming their way.

    Any ideas on what else one can do at very little cost??
  • Posted by wnelson on Member

    The first thing I'd do is strongly suggest that the Administrator set up a marketing budget. Without a budget implies the administrator is looking for great "free" ideas. There's no such thing! Properly designed, your marketing efforts should return 10 or more times what you invest. 10 times no budget is "nothing." You get what you pay for. In situations like this, what you end up with is doing a bunch of little cheap things that are really your marketing budget. But, because you haven't done any of them completely or effectively, you end up with no results. In reality, instead of doing a bunch of little things, if you add them all up and do one BIG thing that is done right to be effective, you can get results. Start by letting the administrator know that expecting effective results on marketing with no budget is unrealistic.

    Typically, an adult care facility price tag is $100 or more per day. That's revenue of $3000 per month (at least) per client. For each client, typically, costs are relatively high so it may cost $75 per day. That means each new client you secure is $750 per month. If the place is only 3/4 full with room for 20 clients, this means the facility has an opportunity cost of $3750 per month profit by NOT getting word out and filling their rooms. It seems this would be worth some investment.

    At the very least, have them invest in a marketing strategy. The strategy, as you know, covers who their target customers are and segments them, where they find out about the product/service by segment, who the competition is, what the unique features of the company are, and then set some direction based on that - brand, pricing, product/service strategy, etc. It's only after that's established that you put together a marketing plan with activities to address those customer segment you target.

    To my experience, adult care facilities most often are chosen mostly by word-of-mouth by a family member - people who have (or have had) loved ones in the facility, social workers at hospitals, and through the state agencies. Also, people want their loved ones in a facility near them so the community is a good source. I would consider these to be "segments."

    For the people who have or have had loved ones there, activities to keep the facility at the top of their mind (retention activities) work. Sending a newsletter or even a personal letter from the administrator every so often to them can help. And specifically asking for referrals would help.

    For the hospital social workers and state agencies, this is a "personal relationship" issue. Ethically and perhaps legally, these people can't "take sides" and refer the facility - they have to pass out information from every place they are aware of. However, they typically will pass out a bunch of brochures with one particular one on top, with a wink to the people they are talking with. Having a good relationship with these workers will help to make sure your information is on top. Having a conversation to find out to whom they passed your brochure periodically (weekly?) will help so you can follow up.

    As for the community, having very good signage is key. Direct mail can help. Advertising is a reasonable thing to do - radio, local newspapers, bill boards, etc. The goal is to have mind share - when people in the community hear "adult care facility," you want them to think first of this facility. Visibility is what you want.

    Additionally, there are companies who help place people into adult care facilities. They work on a contingency basis - it doesn't cost anything unless they make a placement. Typically, the cost is like a month's client fee. These are reasonable to invest in.

    For a 20 room facility 75% full, if you're missing out on $3750 per month in profit, it is reasonable to budget between $500 and $1000 per month on marketing. Some of the things I mentioned cost more in terms of time versus money. But, getting the word out in the community will cost something. While this investment probably will not net results short term (a month or two), they will pay off in the long run.

    I hope this helps.

  • Posted by Steve Hoffacker on Member
    Marketing can be done very well for very little money and be very effective. WOM is the key part - but not the only part. Many other forms of relationship marketing exist - and most are free or next to nothing in cost. I'd be happy to explore this with you.

  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    Yes Steve.
    Relationship marketing is key. In fact she's done alot of that through several luncheons and presentations to small case worker/social worker audiences.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Based on what you said, I have a few strategies I would pursue.

    1. Partner with Insurance Agents/CPA's/Attorneys who do family planning. Those who are active networkers best of course and those who do seminars top priority. Many, if approached the right way, will be happy to send referrals along as a value add to their existing clients. If you do an effective one on one with them, you can find out their info and how best to refer them as well. As I always say, focus on what is in it for THEM, and they will take care of you. As far as the seminar goes, your client can help to "sponsor" their seminar by finding a venue, arranging food, things of that nature. Then your client may be allowed a few minutes to speak, or even hand out literature, again making sure she picks up business cards to do a proper follow up.

    2. Help your client plan her OWN seminar. You are saying no budget, well, if you partner effectively, you can do this with no budget...takes some work, but it can be done. Get others to donate their goods and services as a way to get in front of these folks. Advertise through online networking organizations and local networking events. Does she belong to BNI, local chamber, other?

    As Steve said, I would love to be of further assistance to see if we could lock in some clients and begin to kickoff the referral machine!

  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    Good information, Thank you all.
    We actually did a small mailer to some family planning attorneys. I've sugg. doing a much larger mailer inclusive of family planning social workers, accountants and attorneys.
    mcassity: as for planning your her own seminar something like an open house? We had one, and it had a great turnout.
    What other ways can someone do WOM?
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Accepted
    these are some ideas I had for an assisted living center client of mine.

    Visit personally the hospitals-- they are the ones who are the sources of referrals. We did daily faxes to those hospitals-- the case workers are the ones recommending the care a patient needs after discharge. We'd daily fax the availability of rooms. We have room for 3 beds-- that way it was a no brainer for the case workers and the family faced with care decisions.

    The marketing director regularly brought cookie breaks to the case workers-- in personalized boxes. The more you are in front of these people the better. We made contact with geriatric docs in the same way.

    We created as many opportunities/events as possible for open houses. Every remodel, we did a polyenisian night-- you could do a bingo (you know how the blue hairs love bingo!) Don't do it for $$, you'll need a license.

    We prepared talks to the VFW and other similar orgs. The topics were on insurance, how to pre arrange care, etc. This is also a topic for chambers etc-- there isn't anyone in the audience that isn't faced with elder care.

    What we also found is the way leads were handled needed help. Every call in to the desk was tracked. Prior, the front desk person would just quote a rate. We tracked that info and followed up. Leads like this should only result in one of 3 things (and the 3rd isn't likely in this scenario). They go with you, they go with someone else, or they postpone.

    Sell Well and Prosper tm
  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    It's so funny you should recommend the face to face hospital visits. I actually have that on my list of things one can do to start the New Year and share their new rates. Simply host a breakfast or afternoon break session with bite size items, coffee, tea and tons of brochures, business cards and leave behinds ie pens, post notes etc. to get in the faces of the social workers and case mgrs. that make such discharge plans for families in need of an ALF. I think a fax note of some sort to the diff. hospitals with open bed count and availability is a good suggestion. Thank you great info!
  • Posted on Member

    You can do an open house sure. Other ways would be to hold a seminar that tackles issues that this client base might deal with. Tax issues, retirement planning, Long Term Care Insurance, and pull in the experts to do the talking...this would allow her the ability to follow up with attendees and build her database...again, the point being to build the database to market to and get the referrals flowing. feasibly, she could do one or two of these per month with attendance of between 30-50 pretty easily (depending on the size of your market of course)

    Good luck!

  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    That's an idea. These venues can be simple and allow her to gain the exposure and build a contact database.
    Great - Thank you!
  • Posted on Member
    Just a note: Hospital discharge planners are very difficult to get in front of. They are bombarded with advertising and have heavy case loads. If you offer them a CEU for their Social Work license and feed them, you might get to them.
    You may want to think about getting in front of real estate agents who work with seniors. The National designation for realtors who work with seniors is Senior Real Estate Specialist. Offer them a tour of your new AFL.
    Best of luck to you!
  • Posted by Mkter on Author
    Good Information Lisa. I will definitely check into the Senior Real Estate group.
    Thank you!!

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