Assisted Living Marketing Staff vs. Ownership/Management?

Lots Of Responsibility, Little Authority

Some assisted living marketing directors and representatives get little support for their efforts – from management and/or staff. I really feel for them. Yes, I do realize that operations are critical. In the care business, you must provide great care. However, for a variety of reasons, the marketing personnel and plan are also vital elements in assisted living facility success.

Marketing, and its results, directly effect all the major players in assisted living – owners/management, residents/family members, staff members..

  • Enable the owner make a profit, and the management to meet their goals and responsibilities.
  • Drive (and increase) the revenue that enables the residents and family members to continue to get superior services.
  • Help the staff to keep their jobs and get paid fairly.

I feel ownership/management must give their marketing staff the freedom to make decisions and the resources to be successful. And why not? The return on investment (ROI) in assisted living is pretty good…in most cases the new revenue per move-in is more than $30,000/yr.

Management’s Point Of View

On the other side of the coin, would I just give carte blanche to a marketing director or staff member? No way. Authority does not come until a professional shows me that they have a management mindset, a marketing philosophy and a work ethic that they believe in…and I am willing to support. They must prove to me they have a strategy, plan and systems that will get a good return on their time and talent, and on my money. Put bluntly, they must sell me on their ability to make me more successful.

It seems that the road between owner/management and marketing is a two way street.

Working Together, Building Trust

Here are recommendations for developing a business culture that allows ownership/management and marketing to respect and support one another, and work as a team to increase an assisted living census.

Owner/Management Marketing
Hire a person with:

  • The necessary marketing, organizational, communication and technical skills.
  • An ability to continue learning and to keep up with the trends, especially the technology trends.
  • The heart to care for seniors and to care for your business.

Then trust them and let them do their job.

Treat your responsibilities less like a job and more as an owner would. More support and freedom will come when an owner/management feels that you see their perspective, understand what they are risking and can lose, and act in their best interest.
Require a strategy and a plan. If your trust level is low, then you should assist the marketing staff in developing their strategy and plan. However, do not micro-manage. Develop and work a strategy and a plan. To gain trust and support, you may involve owner/management in the development process. Update when necessary and keep management “in the loop”. Remember, they are also a target market that has to be sold.
Set a budget and spending guidelines. Allow a certain amount of money to be spent without approval.Note: When a marketing director cannot spend $100 without permission, they lose credibility with their referral sources. In addition, their ability to act with confidence and at the right time is extremely limited. Prioritize and wisely allocate your budget. Show how monies are spent (and will be spent) and what business they generated. That means a good database with a tracking and reporting system that is easy to use and does not bog you (or anyone else) down.
Do not laden your marketing staff with serving you. It wastes their time and your money. It also creates stress that saps energy and hurts morale. Instead, support them. Ask “how can I help?” If you want a report, set it up so you can quickly grab the data and/or reports directly from the marketing database. It is my belief that management should be informed, yet not annoyed by trivial interruptions. To avoid bogging yourself down, set up a template/report in which you can easily update information they like to keep track of. You can “cc” and “forward” important e-mails. And you can even send them Google Analytics reports to show your website traffic.
In general, put yourself in the marketing staff’s place. Look through their eyes. In general, put yourself in ownership’s and management’s place. Look through their eyes.

Choose The Same Side

A lack of respect and/or support between ownership/management and the marketing staff creates tension. Each side wastes energy on their lack of trust and looking for how the “opposition” is messing up. The result – less move-ins.

When a client has a low census, this type of disfunction is one of the first things I look for. I know that even proven strategies and systems will fall apart when there is internal tension. It is critical that there is only one side when it comes to filling an assisted living facility. Marketing must be integrated into the business and the care culture. Respect and support must flow back and forth between ownership/management and the marketing staff. The result – more move-ins.

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