From cost-cutting to cross-selling, there are no shortages of ways that businesses can increase revenue. The strategies that are best suited for any business (and are poised to have the greatest impact), however, will depend on that business’s industry and the specifics of their operations. The senior housing industry, of course, is no exception. Indeed, senior housing operators have several opportunities to go beyond traditional revenue management approaches that rely on retrospective data to predict demand and maximize sales. They can also adopt new(er) technologies that allow them “to maximize sales, occupancy, and revenue by anticipating the needs and expectations of residents and their families,” as well as reduce and manage operational costs. The senior housing operators who embrace these new methods and technologies, moreover, will not only be able to achieve sustainable revenue growth, but also capture a larger share of a rapidly growing market.

Increasing Revenue Through Marketing & Sales

The goal of any business is growth, so the most immediate way in which senior residence operators can increase revenues is through increasing sales. Of course, some things are easier said than done; but in the case of senior living facilities, taking a more strategic approach to marketing will allow operators to grow and exceed sales targets.

1. Align Marketing with Sales

It’s estimated that there are over 800,000 people living in residential care facilities and roughly 1 million living in nursing homes in the US alone. That’s a considerable market to share in, and with the number of Americans ages 65 and older expected to more than double over the next 40 years, it’s only going to grow.

Bar chart of number of older Americans from 1960 to 2040

But when you consider that there’s also more than 31,000 senior living communities in the US, plus another 15,000 nursing homes, it quickly becomes evident just how competitive the senior residence market is. And in highly competitive markets, marketing plays a significant role in capturing, maintaining, and growing marketing share, and increasing revenue to remain competitive. This is precisely why it’s important to align marketing with sales. With so many competitors in the marketplace, it’s not enough to simply bang on doors and follow up on leads. Indeed, sales teams also require marketing collateral not only to distribute, but that can support lead generation and reduce friction points throughout the sales process. Senior living marketing strategies, moreover, should span a variety of channels and tactics, and have clear and measurable sales and lead gen goals. While traditional marketing collateral (such as brochures) should be distributed through mailer and strategic partners, senior living marketers should also leverage digital channels to support branding and lead gen goals. After all, many senior care decision makers are younger relatives who rely on online sources, and senior living marketers must ensure that they’re marketing materials are accessible. And there are no shortage of online channels where sales messaging can be adapted into strategic content marketing assets. From promoting content on social media to developing landing pages for paid search campaigns, sales messaging can be repurposed into a variety of formats, and then used to target senior care decision makers online. And the leads that this content will help generate will be more qualified because, insofar as they are already engaged with a facility’s messaging, they are already one step down the conversion funnel. This will save sales teams invaluable time and resources on the lead nurturing process, and allow them to increase occupancy at a much quicker rate.

2. Establish a Clear Unique Selling Proposition

Of course, a huge part of effectively communicating any sales or marketing messaging (in any format on any channel) is establishing a clear unique selling proposition (or USP). Essentially as the elderly population continues to grow, so will the number of senior living facilities. So to be successful and compete effectively in the marketplace, senior residences must clearly articulate what distinguishes them from the competition, and what speaks to their target market. As HydroWorx explains: By doing so, they will attract, retain and increase the aging-patient population and will increase [continuing care retirement center] revenue for years to come. Exciting clients about amenities available in their next stage of life is key to […] success, and a USP can accomplish this. By identifying your unique USP, you can use it to increase sales by promoting, positioning and packaging it in a way that makes your facility impossible to resist. Not all senior living facilities are the same, and the same can be said about their residents. Different seniors have different needs, and different facilities cater to those needs to varying degrees and in different ways. By establishing a USP that’s inline with their target market, senior residence operators can ensure not only that their messaging appeals to that target market, but that they attract the right residents for their business model.

3. Diversify Services Based on Demand

Customer acquisition isn’t the only direct way to increase revenues through sales. Senior living operators can also increase the value of each customer through cross selling or upselling. As Doug Fullaway illustrates: One of the most overlooked areas for improving revenue is evaluating and analyzing the assessments for desires or interests vs. needs. Many residents don’t ask for a service because they don’t even know it’s an option. By doing more frequent or even informal evaluations of a resident’s desires and interests, you may be able to add a service either to their plan or to the list of offerings with very little effort in creation or service delivery. In other words, every potentially viable service that operators can offer their guests represents a new source of revenue. It’s important, then, that senior residence managers not only ensure that residents are fully aware of their array of services, but also make efforts to understand their residents’ needs and how they can develop new service offerings based on that demand.

4. Implement Strategic Time Management

The old saying that time is money couldn’t be more true than when it comes to delivering services to senior residents. Every service offered in a senior living facility comes with costs that impact profit margins, and one of the biggest cost components of providing any service (whether basic or auxiliary) is the time involved in delivering it. Consequently, senior residence operators should have a clear understanding of the time associated with providing each of their services. From there, operators can calculate the average time for all of their services, and provide itemized invoicing for each of their residents. This allows operators to both develop more accurate forecasting based on occupancy rates, as well as offer families more transparency on the depth and degree of care that residents are receiving.

Increasing Revenue with Operations Technology

Beyond increasing sales, senior residence operators can also bolster revenue by integrating technologies at the operations level. These technologies, moreover, range from resident care to facility management, and can expand profit margins and building asset values by reducing operational costs.

5. Telemedicine Technology

Simply put, “Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecommunications technology. It’s a form of care that doesn’t require physical presence or a physical exam.” In other words, it reduces the need for in-person interventions, and frees up labor resources so that staff can focus on delivering on its USP and providing services that are directly tied to generating revenue. So what does implementing telemedicine involve? Well, it involves smart tech like wearables and leveraging electronic medical records (EMR) to provide highly specialized medical advice in a non-clinical setting. In other words, it allows remote specialists and medical staff to access guest biometrics and history so that they can deliver care directly to residents from a remote location.

6. Smart Energy Management Systems

Energy consumption represents a significant overheard for senior living facilities. From climate control to lighting, from private rooms to common areas, energy consumption is tied directly to resident safety and comfort. It’s no surprise, then, that senior residence operators can significantly bolster their profit margins by using smart energy management systems to eliminate superfluous energy consumption.

Smart HVAC System

Smart IoT and machine learning technology have completely reinvented HVAC energy management. Specifically, smart thermostats and occupancy sensors allow operators to monitor and adjust to fluctuations in occupancy in both private rooms and common areas. Commercial smart HVAC systems, moreover, significantly outpace the functionality of their residential counterparts (such as those sold by Nest) — which aren’t designed to manage the demand of commercial occupancy patterns over a large number of rooms. Indeed, commercial energy management systems (such as Verdant’s) will monitor resident rooms and for motion, body heat, and temperature, and then use that data to adjust room temperatures in real time. This allows for the best possible resident experience at the lowest energy cost. For example, Verdant’s EI smart energy management system employs machine learning and AI algorithm to analyze historical local weather patterns, thermodynamics, and peak demand loads in real time to constantly optimize energy consumption throughout all four seasons. Indeed, smart energy management systems (and their cost savings) have become commonplace in the hotel and student housing industries. Finally, the benefits of smart energy management systems extend well beyond automating and optimizing room temperatures. Specifically, the remote management features of IoT-enabled smart energy management systems also allow facility staff to monitor HVAC output, and ensure that climate control systems are running at peak efficiency. These features include HVAC diagnostic alerts whenever the HVAC system isn’t performing within expected parameters.

Smart Lighting

Lighting costs also represent a significant expenditure for senior residences, but smart energy management tech is bringing down lighting energy costs, as well. Similar to smart HVAC systems, smart lighting systems help operators to (1) understand energy needs, (2) manage and optimize energy consumption, and (3) automatically adjust to changes in resident occupancy patterns. Similar to IoT-enabled HVAC systems, moreover, smart lighting systems also employ occupancy sensors, as well as time-based lighting schemes, to optimize energy consumption. In fact, IoT-enabled lighting systems even adjust lighting intensity according to time of day, providing a seamless, safe, and comfortable experience for all senior residents. Finally, some smart lighting systems also interface with smart HVAC energy management systems so that operators and other facility managers can monitor all energy consumption through the same interface. For instance, Verdant’s occupancy sensors integrate with third party lighting technology to ensure that lights turn on/off according to whether anyone is in the room.

7. Predictive Maintenance

Just as smart technology is helping senior living operators manage their energy consumption, it’s also helping them maintain the actual infrastructure that’s consuming that energy. Essentially, maintenance costs can represent a significant expenditure for any senior living facility. With resident health and safety being top-of-mind for operators, it’s imperative that critical infrastructure is operational, and subject to as little downtime as possible. Furthermore, if left undetected, maintenance entropy will not only lead to negative or disruptive resident experiences, but inflated repair costs down the line. Predictive maintenance, however, allows operators to leverage sensor data to identify maintenance issues efore they escalate into much more costly and disruptive issues. For example, if HVAC equipment isn’t performing within the required parameters, a smart energy management system will alert maintenance staff to wasteful energy consumption trends, allowing them to isolate malfunctions, and then address them before energy consumption costs sky rocket and/or equipment failure reaches a disruptive level. As a result, maintenance problems are identified before residents notice them, and operators avoid incurring exorbitant repair costs. Indeed, senior living operators can also use the very same sensor data to create maintenance schedules based on real-time usage data, planning their maintenance activities around times that residents are not in their rooms.

Aligning Revenue Targets with Industry Growth

To survive in a growth economy, all business must continue to, well, grow. As more Boomers continue to retire and more Gen-Xers approach their golden years, the senior living industry is poised to experience phenomenal growth in the coming years and decades. A growing market share, however, also means an increase in competition. So it’s more important than ever that senior living operators employ revenue strategies that allow them not only to keep pace with industry growth, but stay ahead of it. To establish and maintain such a rate of growth, moreover, these strategies need to span the gamut of their operations. Specifically, senior living operators should be investing in technology that allows them to both increase sales and cut costs. Indeed, it’s the only way operators will be able to capture a greater share of an increasingly faster growing market.

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