How to Increase Occupancy in Senior Living Communities
by McKenna Hogan, on Oct 28, 2019 9:00:00 AM
At one point or another, most communities will suffer from low occupancy. While it’s difficult to ensure there are no vacant units, there are steps to take that will help reach as many leads as possible, therefore increasing chances of signed leases.
Whether you have a new community in the development stage, or you’re having difficulties gaining visibility among competition, there are a handful of proactive ways to attract potential prospects.
Below we’ll discuss how to increase occupancy even in the most challenging circumstances.
Why is it important to maintain high occupancy?
To put it simply, occupancy dictates your bottom line.
Realync states that higher occupancy “boosts reputation and gives a competitive advantage in terms of referrals and an overall easier leasing calendar.”
So essentially the better you’re doing, the better you’ll do (probably). All you have to do is get some sort of momentum going in order to keep a steady occupancy rate.
Even if you have a community starting from the very bottom, there are still steps to take to fill vacancies sight unseen. Here we’ll discuss the most effective strategies for your specific situation.
Asses your reputation as a community
Think of it like this: your reputation directly reflects your occupancy. If you have bad ratings and negative reviews online, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
Overcoming a bad reputation is no easy feat, but there are ways to prove to potential renters that you’ve acknowledged the issues, and you’re working to fix them.
For starters, be proactive. If there’s dialogue out there criticizing some aspect of your community, get ahead of it by reaching out to that person and then asking for referrals or a testimonial from a happy resident. Having mixed information looks a lot better than having solely bad reviews.
Next you’ll want to give potential renters the ability to trust you. This requires personal interaction and full transparency of what your community has to offer.
The best way to create constant channels of communication is to provide the platforms to engage -i.e. Social media, a domain, public information- and to set up alerts for when individuals reach out.
It will be best practice to give some sort of response as soon as possible to show current and future renters you care about their needs.
This “quick response” could be made simpler by setting up an automatic reply to anyone messaging you. Make it as simple as possible by mentioning you appreciate them reaching out and that you’ll respond to their inquiry as soon as possible.
Aside from that, just remember that every good review counts, so make it regular practice to ask for referrals and testimonials when you feel like you’ve found a happy customer.
Digital marketing as it relates to your reputation
Aside from the obvious benefits, digital marketing is an excellent way to boost your rep.
Whether your community has had bad reviews, or it’s drowned out by competition, digital content has statistically been proven to create good impressions on renters.
Not only does it provide the much needed transparency, it also shows prospects you care about whether or not renters are making an informed decision when it comes to your community.
Digital tools such as virtual tours, real estate photography and 3D renderings all have the ability to cater to time and physical obstacles often seen by multifamily and senior living renters.
How to decide what digital marketing strategies will work for your community
Contrary to popular belief, not all communities will benefit equally from the same strategies. Every property has a collection of unique characteristics and assets, so it’s important that an assessment is made before investing in a specific tool or tactic.
Being introspective during this process will be very important to coming up with areas your community is lacking in - and also what makes it unique. We’ll start by covering various digital tools and what they can accomplish.
1. High-quality photography
If you’re a community on a budget, high-quality photography is the perfect type of content for you. With average costs only running up to a couple hundred dollars, ROI will prove how much it pays off.
When embedded to your Google My Business listing, benefits such as increased visibility, higher interest, and being more trustworthy are all within reach.
And since GMB listings are free range aggregators, it’s important you stay in control of content posted. Since anyone can post a low-quality picture that shows your community in a negative light, you’ll want to be proactive on what potential renters are actually viewing.
2. Immersive content
Immersive content can include virtual tours, virtual reality, and video. With content marketing generating as much as 3 times as many leads and costing a whopping 62 percent less than outbound marketing, it would be silly to not take advantage of it.
Allowing 24/7 access into businesses, virtual imaging is quickly becoming a household name. And with two-thirds of people wanting more virtual tours, having this tool on your website -and Google My Business listing- will double the amount of interest among users.
3. 3D renderings
For those starting at 0% occupancy, it’ll be a necessity to invest in some type of 3D content in order to meet pre-leasing goals.
3D renderings, virtual staging, and floor plans encourage renters to safely sign leases sight unseen. And with more apartment and senior living renters opting for this choice due to various obstacles, communities that utilize this tool are at a great advantage of reaching as many leads as possible to fill vacancies.
Additionally, interactive site maps -or tools that show real time availability- will help speed up the search process by giving prospects everything they need to view a specific unit within a community in a fraction of the time.
Lastly, stay ahead of the curve
Think of renting season as a bit of a race - renters aren’t going to wait around for your community to deliver. They’re going to go with the best option they see fit, which typically happens in a matter of just a few months.
That being said, you’ll want to jump on potential prospects before your competition beats you to it.
Of course the easiest way to reach potential renters first is by implementing chatbots onto your site. Since they’re accessible 24/7, and convert leads 600-1800% better than traditional conversion tactics, they’re the most efficient tools for being first to the draw.
Aside from chatbots, AI software like automated emails that personalize messages will be a big hit among potential leads. Since personalization and AI are both extremely high in importance to individuals looking into multifamily and senior living businesses, together they make the perfect tool for converting leads.
For further proof, here’s an infographic by SingleGrain highlighting the benefits of AI:
Digital marketing will be key to maintaining occupancy
In such a lucrative market, it can get difficult to constantly keep up with majority occupied units. That’s why no matter where you look people will preach about digital content and content marketing.
The main thing to remember is how every move you make affects your reputation and image - which in turn will affect occupancy. So be sure you’re hitting the right areas when it comes to strategizing, and always assess your place as compared to your competition.