Achieve 100% occupancy

Achieving 100% occupancy or maximum revenue is a worthy goal for many providers in the senior care industry. It symbolizes ultimate success and results in an organization realizing its financial objectives. As a principal of Premier Coaching and Training, I ask attendees in our live seminars: “What does it take to increase referrals, admissions, and census/revenue?” My answer is very specific. We motivate referral sources, elderly consumers, and their caregivers through healthcare sales and marketing to choose our facility or service to meet their needs. To achieve 100% occupancy you have to understand the difference between healthcare sales and marketing.

Healthcare sales is the

active motivation of prospective customers. Referral development sales motivate healthcare and other professionals to choose your facility or service to meet the needs of their patients/clients. Conversion sales processes (converting referrals into admissions) motivate prospective residents/clients and their caregivers to choose your facility or service to meet their needs.

Marketing is the passive motivation of healthcare professionals, prospects, or caregivers to choose you to meet their needs. Marketing tactics include advertising, public relations, direct mail, Internet, and special events. Successful marketing tactics result in a prospective customer deciding to engage you in a referral or admissions sales process.

The following best practices and strategies have been proven to help organizations achieve and maintain maximum census and revenue. While this not an all-inclusive list, these are the most important.

Sales and marketing best practices

Track key sales and marketing metrics. Sales and marketing metrics (admissions, discharges, referrals, conversion ratios, and others) are a critical management tool that enables you to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of your referral generation strategies and the skills of your admissions and marketing team members. Most importantly, you must evaluate your current metrics to create a marketing plan with realistic goals and objectives that will help you achieve 100% occupancy.

Train admissions and marketing team members. Participants in our live seminars are asked if they have ever been trained in healthcare sales and marketing. Typically, fewer than 10% have had any sales and marketing training. Your team members are not born with the knowledge, skills, strategies, and tactics necessary to maximize their ability to generate qualified referrals and convert them into admissions; they have to learn them.

Create a quarterly marketing plan. Marketing plans are a description of the activities your team will execute to grow qualified referrals, and increase admissions and census. Quarterly marketing plans make it easy to manage and track your progress at completing your sales and marketing activities.

Key marketing strategies and tactics

Increase referrals from existing referral sources. Our experience with providers in all segments of the elder care industry has demonstrated that there are significant opportunities to increase referrals from existing referral sources. Create a list your existing referral sources and ask your team the following questions:

  • Are we doing everything to make the job of the referral sources easier?

  • What was the date of our last in-service? (If more than a year, schedule one!)

  • Do we have relationships with all of the potential referral sources in these organizations? No? Make a list and target those individuals for referral development.

Develop new referral sources. Once you have a list of your existing referral sources look at all of the other providers in your area that do not refer to your organization. For example, there may be 10 primary care physicians (PCPs) who refer to you, but there are 20 PCPs in the market. Target the 10 PCPs who do not refer to you for referral development.

Improve your admissions process. Part of our client work to improve revenue is focused on the admissions process. The typical admissions process challenges to overcome include slow turnaround time, cumbersome clinical or financial assessment processes and challenging clinical and financial criteria for admission. These problems frustrate referral sources and families, reduce the number of referrals you convert into admissions, and reduce the number of future referrals you will receive.

Communicate your competitive advantages. Competitive advantages are features you offer that enable you to meet the needs of referral sources and prospects more effectively than your competition. Competitive advantages help your organization overcome challenges such as an older building, previous negative reputation, inconvenient location, or higher prices.


The admissions or marketing position in our industry is the best sales and marketing job a person can have. When we do our jobs effectively we help referral sources meet the clinical, functional, and psychosocial needs of patients. We also help families make informed healthcare decisions ensuring their elderly loved ones will get the care they need. Keep this in mind as you execute the above and you will achieve 100% occupancy.

Luke Fannon is the Founder and Principal at Premier Coaching and Training, Unionville, Pennsylvania. For more information, call (484) 429-5846 or visit Long-Term Living 2010 October;59(10):42-43

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