No Place Like Homes
Every salesperson is on the lookout for new referral sources. It is often difficult to obtain more business from existing accounts. Their own client and customer base may have remained the same, and they, too, may be feeling the pains of competition. So, where should you look next? What area is growing?
One suggestion is better understanding the needs of those in assisted living facilities and mapping out a plan to reach out to them.
There are approximately 33,000 assisted living facilities operating in the U.S. today. The number of residents living in a facility can range from several to hundreds, with the most common size being between 25 and 150 individuals.
These are facilities dedicated to helping seniors who need assistance with the activities of daily living yet desire to remain as independent as possible. Some facilities provide more care than others and often, for additional fees, they provide a long list of additional services, from delivering medication to doing the resident's laundry.
It's estimated that 1 million Americans currently live in assisted living facilities. Assisted living residents can be young or old, affluent or low-income, frail or disabled. According to an AARP research study, a typical resident is a widowed or single woman about 85 years old. Residents may suffer from memory disorders, or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges.
Assisted living may be appropriate for anyone who can no longer manage living on their own but doesn't require medical care. You may be looking at everything from a small home that has been converted to care for a few residents with special needs to a large 10-story building housing hundreds of residents in a hotel-like setting.
Several years ago in an HHS research study, ALF administrators estimated about 24 percent of their residents received help with three or more ADLs such as bathing, dressing, and locomotion. They estimated that about one-third of the residents had moderate to severe cognitive impairment.
AARP has estimated that the average rate in assisted living ranges from $2,100 to $2,900 a month. Keep in mind there are also residences charging more than $5,000 a month. They may also have special programs for Alzheimer's patients, transportation to the local mall and a long list of exciting activities and programs.
AARP also noted that most residents pay out of their own pockets. While few people have private insurance coverage, in very limited cases public subsidies are available. However, they have stringent eligibility criteria, generally do not cover the full cost of staying in assisted living and may provide funding only for a limited number of eligible applicants.
Where to begin your selling plan for reaching assisted living residents?
Begin by making a list by area of all the facilities in your community. You may want to contact the state licensing division, which will provide a list of facilities. Note that in some areas of the country, assisted living facilities may be referred to as adult congregate living, personal care homes, domiciliary, residential care facilities or residential housing. You may not find anyone using the term “assisted living” in your area.
Remember also that these programs may be located in a neighborhood just like yours, or even a small home up the street. Their size does not dictate the care they provide. You may be surprised at the number of facilities in your area that you were never aware of.
Make a list of the products you sell that would be of interest to their residents. Do you have products that make life easier? Mobility and bath safety items are always of interest.
Visit with the social worker, nursing administrator, rehab director or administrator of the facility regarding doing a product in-service program, sponsoring a family education program on a Sunday or inviting professional staff to learn about the products and services you offer.
Consider your retail pricing. Many of these residents and their families will pay cash for their purchases, as they do for their rent.
Make sure that, each week, you call on one or two of these facilities in your hometown.