Leslie Ray, regional director of operations for the Maryland and Pittsburgh markets for Five Star Quality Care, says while he appreciates that many independent providers are doing well in maintaining high occupancy, the larger companies are fighting their own battles.

“I can say that as an industry we are all seeing a dip in occupancy. Five Star is for sure,” he says. “Now, we are making more money and doing okay, but we are concerned with the occupancy, as are most all larger providers.”

In confronting the challenge, Ray points to a series of priorities Five Star focuses on in order to keep occupancy levels strong at its assisted living communities.
  • Revenue Management. “Are we priced correctly to be competitive?” he asks. In some areas the company is not and has to lower prices, while in others occupancy is strong, allowing for price increases.n Product Evaluation. In all cases, Ray says occupancy comes down to three areas: price, product, and personnel. “We continue to market our product, and that’s an active lifestyle for all seniors, no matter where they are in the health cycle.”
  • Marketing to Sales. This area results in Five Star turning from a marketing culture to a sales culture. As more buyers are savvy in finding a community to live in, the provider has to change its approach to them.
”Most come in already having knowledge of the industry and plan to visit many places,” he says. “We have to be on our ‘A’ game to make an impression. We also now have to meet the needs of two buyers in the sales process, one being the resident and two, the adult child.”
  • Social Media and Website. Ray says Five Star focuses a lot of attention in these two areas and as a result has seen an increase in leads.
”We actually see a large increase of clicks to our website through our social media avenues,” Ray says.

“We anticipate that we will be making sells over media outlets, and email, text, or other means. People come in late in the sales cycle these days, and they are doing their homework prior to even walking into the property, forcing providers to make the most out of their search prior to a visit,” he says.