What is cost creep? According to a recent article in Senior Housing News that features quotes by Sherpa COO Jayne Sallerson, the term describes three things: “rising expenses, lead generation and occupancy levels.”

This PDF article from Moore Diversified Services explains some of the expenses involved with assisted living. But let’s take a look at the other two factors, lead generation and occupancy levels. How do we find more qualified prospects and then what can we do to encourage them to move in? Before we go to the phones and make as many calls as possible, here’s what Sallerson said in her article for SHN:

“Do you need more leads? Yes, we always want those top leads, but the bottom line is we spend a lot of time fielding leads rather than focusing on the leads that we have today and building that relationship… If you do that, that’s what makes you go from good to great — from five move-ins a month to seven a month.”
Allocating resources to fewer, more qualified leads is a great way to increase conversion ratios. But does it matter what kind of prospects we look for? According to Sallerson, it is important, for, at least, avoiding cost creep.

“We all know that the most urgent leads are typically the highest acuity where most of our sales counselors spend their time and then discount the importance of the ‘I’m not ready’ leads from moving in… We then drive up our expenses by finding more channels of generating ‘urgent’ leads, which ultimately will not grow occupancy if attrition continues to grow.”

With higher-acuity residents, costs go up. On the Sherpa blog we’ve discussed the benefits of having more active and driven residents. They may say they aren’t ready to move yet; they say their too young, too healthy. But these are the residents that will keep the costs of medical and other maintenance down and drive funds toward things that make your community more attractive to prospects such as activities and better facilities.

The hard way is often the right way, and when it comes to spending more time working towards moving in low-acuity, higher-functioning residents, you’ll be surprised at the increase in move-ins and decrease in costs for your community.

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