DIY Marketing Part 1: Assess thyself

This is the first installment in my new blog series about how to market your facility and organization more effectively. During this series, I’ll outline the entire long-term and post-acute care marketing playbook so you can do it yourself. 

The first phase of any engagement with a client is an assessment of their current situation, which evaluates six elements; Metrics Trends, Evaluation of Marketing Team Performance, Competitive Advantages Determination, Physical Plant Evaluation, Reputation Assessment and Evaluation of Competition.  Let’s examine what you should be looking for in each of these areas.

1. Metrics trends 

Ideally, we like to evaluate three to four years of data for the following information.  If you don’t have this type of data, start tracking it.  Most organizations will have some or all of this information, it just takes some time to pull it together from its various sources.  Here’s what you should collect:

Nursing home metrics:  Admissions, Discharges, Referrals per month, Referrals per month by source/channel, Declines, Lost Leads and Conversion Ratio.

Assisted living/independent living metrics:  Move Ins, Move Outs, Referrals per month by source/channel, Conversion Ratio, Tour/Referral Ratio and Move In/Tour Ratio. 

For each category:

  • Are the metric trends positive, flat or negative?
  • What are the referral trends for individual referral sources (health of our relationship) or channels (effectiveness of tactics such as advertising and special events)?
  • Are conversion ratios at bench marks?  For SNFs we look for a 50% overall conversion ratio and Declines and Lost Leads at 20% or less of total referrals.  For AL/IL we look for a 25% overall conversion ratio,  a Tour/Referral ratio at 50% and a Move In/Tour ratio at 50%.

Metrics are a critical management tool you need to track and understand.  They provide insight into which strategies and tactics work (or don’t work) and on how your team performs during critical phases of the referral generation and conversion processes.  Referral data gives you insight into the health of your professional referral relationships, while conversion ratios can be an indicator of your reputation in the community. 

2. Evaluation of marketing team performance 

Observations of admissions and marketing team members while they are executing their day-to-day activities are conducted to evaluate their sales and marketing skills.  We evaluate their abilities by observing contact with referral sources, contact with prospective patients/residents and interaction with other team members.  During this phase of the assessment we also evaluate the entire team’s performance with turn-around time on referrals (SNFs) or the approval process for prospective assisted living/independent living residents. 

3. Competitive advantages determination

It is critical that you understand what separates your facility/service from its competition. Competitive advantages are specific features of your product or service that meet the needs of referral sources and residents more effectively than your competition. We encourage you to conduct a group brainstorming session with department heads and discuss elements such as staffing ratios, team member experience levels or longevity, specialized programs and services and unique service attributes to come up with the competitive advantages you will communicate to referral sources and prospective residents.

4. Physical plant evaluation 

Conduct a walk-through of the building to evaluate its appeal to prospective residents and professionals who visit the building. Look for strengths and weaknesses. Come up with a plan to improve the appeal of your building.    

5. Reputation assessment 

A reputation assessment is a multi-faceted evaluation of the program/facility’s reputation in the community.  It includes meeting with referral sources, vendors, caregiver stake-holders (nurses, medical director, etc.), families and residents/clients and asking the crucial questions: “What do we do well, and what should we do differently or better?”

6. Evaluation of competition

Competition evaluations should come from three vantage points: you, the prospective residents and the referral sources.  Ask for permission to tour your competitor as a colleague in the industry, offering the courtesy in return (most won’t take you up on it). Have a “secret shop” completed on your competitor where someone (not you or anyone on your staff) poses as a prospective patient/resident. Ask your referral sources about the competing facilities and services in your market, including what they do well and what where they may fall short.

Your assessment of your situation should be an in-depth, honest appraisal of what you are doing well and what you should be doing differently.  It should be neither all rosy nor all negative. Once you’ve evaluated your current situation you can create a plan to overcome your challenges maximize your opportunities. 

You are now into step one of the DIY plan to maximize census. In my upcoming blogs, I’ll discuss the next phases, including:

I look forward to putting this series together for you.  I encourage you input and feedback, please do not hesitate to let me know if there’s a topic you would like me to address in this series or in the near future.

Topics: Executive Leadership , Facility management , Finance , Leadership , Risk Management , Staffing