Over the past 10 years as a consultant, I have continuously been reminded of one basic concept that universally drives success or defines failure with achieving budgeted census or revenue at a facility or business unit: the engagement level of the administrators (Executive Director, CEO, etc.) with admissions, sales and marketing.
Engagement has many definitions, but this simple sentence from businessdictionary.com sums up the concept very well: “The more engagement an employee has with his or her company, the more effort they put forth.”
Administrators who put forth the additional effort by becoming fully engaged with the admissions, sales and marketing process typically experience higher average daily census numbers than their peers. These Administrators also create engagement in their employees resulting in measurable higher quality and excellent reputations, which significantly helps with maintaining above budget census/revenue.
Let me give you two examples:
1. Strong Engagement: I recently scheduled a coaching visit with the administrator of a long-time client with whom I meet quarterly. In our previous visit, the facility’s team and I had identified that census challenges were developing (a 5 percent decline from January to June) because there had been an increase in the number of referrals declined by the facility.
In the following months, the administrator evaluated why the acceptance of referrals was declining and created a plan to eliminate any unnecessary refusals. The team members engaged in this processes included the administrator and the admissions, marketing and nursing departments. The plan included commitments from the administrator and the team to execute best practices in the admissions process and improve the skills of the care team. They held weekly meetings to track their progress on the various aspects of the plan.
The net result was that declines were reduced by 15 per month, admissions increased by 11 per month and census had increased by an average of eight residents per day, exceeding budgeted expectations.
This example shows how an engaged administrator can identify a negative census trend, evaluate metrics to determine the potential cause of the negative trend, reform the behavior of the team, and create ways to track the turnaround plan.
2. Poor Engagement: During a coaching visit with an assisted living client, I asked the executive director and the director of community relations two simple questions: “How many move-ins can you expect in the next month, and what do you anticipate your census to be at the end of the month?” Neither person could answer my question.
The net result? One move-in and four move-outs the next month, creating a decline to below budgeted census by the end of the month despite excellent lead and tour traffic.
Unfortunately, the executive director did not see the value in being engaged with the process, and subsequently, neither did the director of community relations. Neither held weekly meetings to discuss trends with metrics, census and execution of a strategic marketing plan.
Not all situations are as simple as these. However, the administrator’s engagement with admissions, sales and marketing is one of the best leading indicators of future success with achieving budgeted census or revenue.