Years ago when I worked for the retail giant Federated, I was privileged to hear a great man speak about the impending demise of the Specialty Store. You remember, those stores where people knew your name, where goods were shipped to your home on approval and where sales ladies in black dresses, and men in suits, showed you to a fitting room or wrapped your gifts.
Those stores no longer met the needs of the emerging population of discount hunters, youthful in-a-hurry shoppers and customers who loved to choose for themselves. The days of the sales clerk, the elevator operator, the tea room and the charge account were over. Some stores held on till the bitter end. The big-box store was in its infancy. No one imagined the future of shopping.
Though many have been credited with this quote and its many versions, the wise merchant said this: “Some people make it happen, some people watch it happen, and some people say, 'What Happened?'”
In senior living, we find many buildings, some not that old, standing half occupied even though they are located in viable, thriving, markets. They struggle for many reasons but with very few exceptions the problem can always be traced to a management team that fails to see what’s going on around them. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day of running a business but without vision and a sense of what the future holds, you are doomed.
One building experienced full occupancy for eight years before they watched their pipeline dwindle as state-of-the-art competitors sprang up around them. Another continued to market to a declining elderly population that had all but vanished from their neighborhood. A third, now with plummeting census, was reluctant to partner with referral agencies because they “never needed them in the past.”
I actually worked with a sales director who swaggered around his referral market telling everyone he was “full” with a two year waiting list. When he went through a rash of move-outs and a management change, he was unable to recover because no one even bothered to call them because “They’re full” was all anyone remembered.
Regardless of what you sell, awareness is the key to your growth. What is happening around you? What old ideas are lurking in your marketing plan that are keeping you from growth? Population shifts, shopping habits, changing resident needs, are all too important to take for granted while you watch your competitors snatch away your leads.
Don’t wish for your success. Make it happen.