Chuck had recently moved into an independent living community. We talked about his past military career and looked at shelves in his apartment that displayed medals honoring his service. I also admired a collection of decorative wooden ducks, perhaps a little smaller than the real birds, made from smoothed pieces of fine wood. Chuck had carved them in an impressive display of craftsmanship and had kept them looking well polished. I asked a bit more about his work, and I learned that the ducks had played a major role in his move.
Legacy, letting go and moving on
Counselors at the community I was visiting Chuck had been building a relationship with him for several months. He and his daughter talked to me about them sending him gifts like pies, and even meeting for drinks and a few laughs. Still, he wasn’t ready for a move. There was a strong attachment to his home and the things he had put into it and made for it, including the woodworking he made in his shop. This was part of him, and he wanted to hold on.
“The only reason I stayed there as long as I did is because of all of this memorabilia,” Chuck said, pointing to the ducks on his wall. “Things that are personally hand made by me or something that was done by me–I had all of that in that house. Everywhere you looked, I did something. And you get attached to stuff like that.”
Even though it was increasingly more difficult for him to stay in his home, Chuck was holding on to his identity and legacy, a legacy attached to the wood shop he couldn’t use and the house around it, as long as possible.
Then something interesting happened. A counselor on the sales team had been building a relationship with Chuck. They felt there was enough trust between the two of them to ask to take one of the ducks back and display at the community’s library. The answer was yes. One of the prized and polished wooden water fowls was on display. Chuck moved in bringing with him the rest of the collection. I’m grateful he shared them with me and had a great time chatting with him.
Bridging the gap
If it weren’t for the multiple home visits, the sales counselors might not have had the opportunity to learn about Chuck’s memorabilia (the ducks and other possessions, his “Mermaids” that have strong attachments). Without having spent time building a relationship, there wouldn’t have been enough trust or a comfortable time to ask him to donate his art for the community to enjoy.
While this specific strategy is saved for Chuck and his ducks, the fundamentals are universal. Spend more time getting to know and building trust with prospects. Visit them at home or where they feel most comfortable and pay attention to things that they find important, even if it might not seem relevant to a move or the immediate future. Listing the services and amenities of your community is scheduled way after understanding the aspects of your prospects’ lives and specific situations. Pay attention and find ways to show you care about them as people first, prospects later.