Amber Cox’s background in sales and marketing, combined with her role as Vice President of Sales at Oakdale Seniors Alliance and Bridge The Gap Ambassador at Bridge The Gap Senior Living Podcast, makes her a valuable resource in the senior living industry.
Next Best Home: One of the key focuses in senior living is maintaining occupancy. Many communities aim for 100% occupancy, but is that a rational and achievable goal?
Amber Cox: That’s a great question. While 100% occupancy may seem like an ideal goal, it may not always be rational or achievable in the senior living industry. We need to shift our perspective and reevaluate our data and metrics. Instead of aiming for 100% occupancy, our primary goal should be 100% efficiency.
Next Best Home: Can you elaborate on what you mean by “100% efficiency” in the context of senior living?
Amber Cox: Certainly. 100% efficiency means that we are utilizing our resources effectively to provide the best quality of care and services to our residents. It’s about optimizing the use of our facilities, staff, and resources to deliver exceptional care. When we focus on this, the occupancy rate becomes a byproduct of our efficient operations.
Next Best Home: So, you’re suggesting that the emphasis should be on maintaining the quality of services and care rather than just filling rooms?
Amber Cox: Exactly. Instead of obsessing over occupancy numbers, we should concentrate on providing top-notch care and services, which will naturally attract residents. Reputation management, ensuring healthy and happy residents, and a content staff are critical metrics to track. When these elements are in place, the occupancy ratio tends to balance itself.
Next Best Home: With the recent inflation and rising housing costs, are there any strategies that senior living communities can implement to address these financial challenges?
Amber Cox: In the face of economic challenges, senior living communities should explore various strategies to remain financially viable. This could involve reevaluating the layout of rooms and potentially remodeling to cater to the preferences of a new generation of seniors. For example, integrating smart home technology, offering onsite medical services, or incorporating telemonitoring and telemedicine services can enhance the appeal of the community.
Next Best Home: That’s a great idea. Embracing technology and adapting to the changing needs of seniors is essential. Are there any other ways that senior living communities can become more sustainable and financially stable?
Amber Cox: Absolutely. Another approach to financial stability is to foster integration with the surrounding community. By partnering with local services and businesses, senior living communities can create a mutually beneficial relationship. This can drive more visitors, prospects, and their families to the community, contributing to its financial health. Focusing on organic leads and growth, as well as enhancing the sense of community, can be a win-win for all involved.
Next Best Home: What about lead generation in senior living communities? What are some of your thoughts on taking more control of authentic leads?
Amber Cox: When it comes to generating leads for senior living communities, my perspective is to stop competing and start connecting. We need to recognize that we’re all part of a broader community, and our common goal is to serve seniors and their families. Instead of just focusing on leads for our individual communities, we should work together as an industry to ensure that seniors find the best possible care and living options.
Next Best Home: The concept of senior living becoming a somewhat archaic model over time. What do you believe is at the root of this complexity and confusion?
Amber Cox: I believe the senior living industry as a whole has been slow to adopt technology and modern marketing practices. I like to refer to it as the “Tesla method.” We can learn a lot from companies outside our industry that have integrated technology and marketing seamlessly. For instance, when Tesla develops a new product, they thoroughly test it before bringing it to the market. In the senior living industry, it’s common to build communities without fully testing the operations. We need to take a more strategic and testing approach rather than rushing to achieve full occupancy. Even the hospitality industry has a process in place before they welcome guests.
Next Best Home: So, should we be incorporating a more hospitality-oriented approach into senior living?
Amber Cox: To some extent, yes. I believe we need to make the senior living industry more appealing and accessible for people looking to join it. It’s currently in its own silo, and if we adopt a hospitality approach coupled with a strong focus on human service, we can attract more candidates who find the industry intriguing. I envision a transition from senior housing to senior service, where the emphasis is on providing exceptional care and services.
Next Best Home: Can you elaborate on how the industry has changed over time and what’s needed to bring it back on course?
Amber Cox: The senior living industry is still like the “Love Boat,” but it doesn’t have the same feel-good factor it once did. It has become somewhat institutionalized because investors often prioritize metrics based on real estate profits and investments. The truth is, real estate and operators of senior housing are interdependent. To bring the industry back on track, we need more collaboration on the data and metrics we focus on. We must emphasize the human service element and concentrate on the quality of care, resident satisfaction, and reputation management as key factors.
Next Best Home: Can you share one significant process you’ve implemented to promote sustainability and generate quality, organic leads for your senior living community?
Amber Cox: We’ve implemented a pause on lead generators that charge high referral fees, as over time, this is not sustainable, and it raises costs for residents. We’ve seen positive results from this change.
Additionally, we’ve adjusted sales incentives rewarding referrals and organic lead generation, aligning all our marketing efforts, and focusing our sales teams on the same goal.
Next Best Home: Thank you, Amber, for sharing your valuable insights and ideas for the senior living industry. It’s clear that taking a more collaborative, community-centered approach is crucial for its future.
Amber Cox: I believe that by working together and embracing change, we can ensure that the senior living industry continues to provide top-quality care and services for our seniors and their families. It’s all about building a strong and compassionate community within the senior living sector.
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