America’s elderly population is growing rapidly. The senior living sector is expanding to meet its needs.
Know The Market & Its Lingo:
“IL.” “AL.” “Memory Care.” Do those terms mean anything to you? They should (see sidebar) if you want to pursue business with senior living facilities. “When you have the lingo down and you’re knowledgeable about the industry, that’s going to be very helpful in showing prospects that you’re someone they can rely on – someone that ‘gets’ them,” says Nina Shatz, who does extensive business with senior living facilities.
Connect With The ‘BOM’:
BOM stands for business operations manager.
“They’re the ones who do the purchasing,” says Shatz, brand development director at HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000). Use LinkedIn, web searches and/or navigate your network to identify BOMs. If you have a mutual contact, try arranging a referral. If not, Shatz suggests first approaching the BOM through a succinct, well-worded email that conveys how you’re uniquely positioned to help them. If that doesn’t work, don’t be shy about making an in-person cold call, says Shatz. “Ensure you have self-promotional items you can give out, including items for the receptionist,” she says.
Provide Staff Uniforms: Senior living communities rely on a variety of employees, including nurses, front desk staff, drivers, maintenance personnel, cooks and more. Many of these employees are required to wear logoed uniforms. “This can be a source of ongoing orders,” says Shatz.
Arrange For Welcome Gifts: Clients in the senior living niche often like to provide new residents with move-in gifts. Consider directing clients toward items that are both useful and welcoming. Shatz, for example, has had success with blankets. Other practical items to offer include calendars, hot-and-cold bead packs and even magnifiers. “This is a great market to set up calendar programs,” notes Shatz.
Sell Staff Gifts: Senior living providers aim to minimize churn and keep staffers engaged and motivated. One way they seek to accomplish that is through employee gifting. Recently, Shatz executed a sale of 1,500 tumblers for a senior living client. “The tumblers went to every person who works for them,” she says.
Key In On Special Events: Staff and family members of residents at senior living communities sometimes participate in walks and similar fundraisers to support the fight against Alzheimer’s, dementia and other diseases that afflict seniors. Provide participants with team shirts and other products – water bottles, wristbands – they can use in their do-gooding.
Provide brochures and giveaways that salespeople for senior living communities can give to prospective residents or families who are interested in placing a love one in assisted living or memory care. Everything from mugs to umbrellas has been a hit for Shatz.
Senior Living 101
Know these basic terms from the senior living facility industry.
Independent Living (“IL”): This housing option is for older adults who can still live independently, but who don’t want property maintenance responsibilities and who could benefit from certain services and amenities that facilitate retirement living.
Assisted Living (“AL”): Assisted living residents do not need the level of care offered by a nursing home, but do require a moderate level of nursing and personal care support with things like housekeeping, medication management and more.
Memory Care: This is long-term specialized care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other types of memory problems.