Tony Mullen left his mark on the senior living sales industry long before his untimely passing on March 10, 2018. As the founder, programmer, host and emcee for the annual Advanced Sales & Occupancy Summit in Clearwater, Florida, as well as his many other efforts for the aging community, Tony’s passion for his industry was an inspiration to all who knew him.

In one of his final public addresses, and his last message to his colleagues and attendees at his Advanced Sales Summit, edited and abridged below, Tony warns of the increasing occupancy issues that are facing our industry, and the opportunity for senior living sales leaders everywhere to change the tide.

Sherpa has been proud to be a partner of Tony’s for many years and it’s an honor for us to be the Presenting Sponsor at the 2018 Summit this year on November 12th and 13th.

As I write this in late June of 2017, tensions between the USA and North Korea have never been higher in the last 50 years. Why is this important to the senior living industry? Because uncertainty prevents confidence. Uncertainty, when coupled with three critical issues which are endemic to the senior living industry, will continue to cause a drop in occupancy industry wide, right through 2018. This drop in occupancy should be more concerning to all of us who care about the industry, because it is happening during a “growth period” in the economy and not during a recession. What this likely means is that the root cause of the continued drop in occupancy is within the industry itself. I believe the evidence is overwhelming that there are three root causes:

1. Overbuilding
2. The price charged for what is received (or the value) has dramatically worsened
3. The industry continues to perform very poorly at professional selling

I believe overbuilding accounts for just a small portion of the drop in occupancy. The worsening value has become a serious impediment, with less than 20% of residents strongly agreeing that we offer “good value for my money”. But the most important reason we are doing so poorly as an industry is the failure of 95% of companies to prioritize professional selling and give it the time, resources and investment which is needed. If you are not willing to empirically identify and invest in the people with the right attitude and openness to the unique skills needed, and you are not willing to provide ongoing knowledge and skill development, you will never be able to achieve consistent execution in sales. Your occupancy will continue to fall. This is simply the brutal, empirical reality of our industry. 

I am very grateful to all of you who continue to come each year to the Advanced Sales Summit, as I believe it is the only way to persist in the hardest part of change to produce better results: execution of what really matters. Advanced knowledge has no value if it cannot be consistently executed across an organization and permanently stick inside the culture. Do you know of any other industry where you can do such good for someone over such an extended period of time?

We have the incredible blessing and privilege to change lives for the better.

On the Journey with you,
ANTHONY J. MULLEN

To register for the 2018 Advanced Sales & Occupancy Summit, honoring founder Tony Mullen, visit the event website. 

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