Lara Moga

Referrals, especially resident referrals, have an enormous impact on sales generation for the senior living industry. 

Your residents already have chosen to live at your community among friends and be a part of a supportive, loving environment. By developing a positive partnership with residents and establishing a resident referral program, a community’s sales team can tap into this resource and potentially see an increase in its annual move-ins by as much as 50%.

Residents are our own brand ambassadors who take pride in their home and community. They want the sales team to do well and are happy to confirm for their peers that what they read in our marketing materials is indeed true. Yes, the food prepared by our executive chef is healthy and delicious. Yes, we’re a vibrant community where residents live and thrive.

Residents gladly will share their positive experiences to bring potential sales to the door. It’s up to the sales team, however, to convert resident referrals to sales. Remember that residents already have done most of the groundwork for us. We just need to open the door, give a warm welcome and roll out the red carpet.

How do you ensure resident referred guests receive the red carpet experience when they visit your community?Deliver memorable and exceptional customer service from start to finish. Sales teams need to make sure each guest experiences a positive, lasting first impression of the community.

At Covenant Retirement Communities, our sales teams use pre-appointment checklists and walk through the open inventory each and every morning before a prospective resident’s arrival on campus.

Some of our basic pre-appointment checklist items:

  • Are guest suites and model apartments located near the elevator and easily accessible to the common areas? Are they immaculate and staged to feel inviting and homelike?
  • Is there a clear and unobstructed walking path on the tour route and in the model apartments and guest suites?
  • Is signage visible indicating the community’s amenities, including the pool, fitness center and spa, creative arts center, library and other common areas?
  • Are the lights on in the common areas, lobby, dining room, library, billiards room, fitness center, pool/spa area, model apartments and guest suites?
  • Are the common areas clean and sparkling?
  • Do signs identify prospective resident parking spaces?
  • Are the flowers and plants fresh in appearance?
  • Are snacks and beverages readily available in the closing room or sales office?
  • Are collateral materials, including pricing information, floor plans, event calendars and amenities, on hand?

You never get a second chance at a first impression, so pull out all of the stops:

  • Treat each guest as you would a family member, and extend every possible courtesy to establish an environment of trust and respect. Guests may not remember every detail about the apartment or tour of the community, but they will remember how you made them feel.
  • Offer prospective residents complimentary overnight visits, and treat them to complimentary lunch and dinner with the resident ambassadors. Guests always should be accommodated in the most attractive, professionally staged guest suite or model apartment that offers them the comforts of home.

Resident referrals are the ultimate gift to sales teams. Rolling out the red carpet for these special prospects is key to converting these gifts to sales. At the end of the day, the residents will thank you — their friends and family will become their neighbors — and you’ll have closed the deal!

Lara Moga is national sales manager at Covenant Retirement Communities Inc., one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit senior services providers. It serves 5,000 residents at 14 retirement communities nationwide and is a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church.