The weight of first impressions

Every continuing care retirement community (CCRC) knows the vast importance of consumer tours and personal visits. Some communities may even be tempted to go out of their way to plan the best possible environment when they know visitors are expected at 3 p.m. You know who you are.

Here’s a wake-up call to all long-term care communities, just in case you need one: These days, most of your future consumers/residents have a rather clear picture of what they want in a future senior living environment—or as they’ll call it, their “next home.” Compared to your typical retirement home intake census of 3-5 years ago, today’s consumers are much more savvy in their research, and they’re willing to invest much more time in “getting to know you” before they’ll think about opening their wallets.

And it’s not just about the upcoming Baby Boomer generation, the “hot” age group everyone likes to focus on right now. One of our feature articles this month follows an age 70-something Kentucky couple who spent a summer traveling to seven different CCRCs across six states. They didn’t just stop in for the usual “day-tour”—they chose to check in as “guest residents” for several days (and nights) at a time.

Some of their observations may shock you. Some of their observations will confirm what your own organization has realized is important to your residents. But in all cases, this couple’s observations during their “CCRC road trip” can serve as productive lessons for all owners/operators, as well as for directors of nursing, dietary directors and activities directors.

The real point is, your visitors aren’t just visiting—they’re actively researching you. And they’re taking good notes. (Hmm… What might a two-day/three-night visitor notice about your facility?)

Your facility’s strategy for visitations—which consumers will view as “try before you buy” opportunity—could be the best (read: FREE) marketing tool you could ever have, or it could backfire in a big way. What you’ll learn from your own visitors is that the little things matter—the little things your administration and staff do every day, because they’re SUPPOSED to do them every day, not just when a visitor is present.

Because when your next visitors knock on your door, you may have only one chance to make a great first impression.

Topics: Design , Executive Leadership , Facility management , Housing , Operations , Staffing