Parc Communities provides independent and assisted living as well as memory care with an overarching philosophy, that hospitality helps them stand apart. The organization based its operational excellence on the Ritz-Carlton model and has continued to deliver exceptional service to residents for more than 20 years.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic created serious challenges not only for existing residents but also for prospective residents who were still in the “thinking stage”, still only considering the decision to move. The impact on the industry was clear.
Investing in Occupancy
“We’ve seen occupancy retreat nationwide, and our success, whether as the developer and operator of our own properties or as a third-party manager, depends on our ability to outperform our competitors,” says Andy Slavin, Executive Vice President for Parc Communities. “We all know that the primary metric for that is occupancy.”
In late 2019, Parc made a shift in the way the company approached sales and occupancy. They partnered with Sherpa to continue developing a sales culture that aligned with a person-centered approach but also gave them a totally different set of metrics with which to measure success.
“Traditional sales management and the standard KPIs by which we’ve traditionally measured success really only captured part of what we needed to accomplish by way of healthy, stabilized occupancy,” says Slavin. “In 2019, we articulated a goal to be able to consistently outperform the competition in our target markets by managing occupancy instead of chasing sales.”
“This was not just going to be implementation of a new CRM system… this was going to be a new way of operating, of doing business.”
Managing vs Chasing
For Parc, managing occupancy meant doing things in an orderly, thoughtful way. Contrast this with chasing sales, which involved increasing the number of calls and working with a greater number of leads without a clear plan. To do this, they decided they needed to undergo a transformation of both the sales process and to look differently at the way sales were managed.
“It meant our embracing new ways of measuring productivity, identifying opportunities, and predicting success,” says Slavin. “We recognized that it wasn’t that we needed to change how involved we’d been, rather, we needed to change how we’d been involved.”
Having onboarded Sherpa in late 2019, right before the pandemic hit in early 2020, it was an opportunity to implement new sales strategies and tools at a time when everyone needed to adapt to a new selling environment. By adopting a Prospect-Centered Selling approach and enrolling in a 6-month leadership training with Sherpa, Parc motivated their sales teams to spend more time per prospect, and more time overall, generating advances that would eventually lead to an increase in move-ins for their three communities, even during the pandemic.
Sherpa training helped Parc not only engage in the selling behaviors that led to results, but also to measure and track sales effectiveness.
“In looking at these new KPIs, Time in the Selling Zone, the planning sessions, creative follow-up and home visits, we’re also able to identify and correlate behaviors to productivity,” says Parc’s Vice President of Operations Woody DeWeese. “What it’s done is created a lot of enthusiasm and buy-in at all levels in our sales culture.”
“Our ability to correlate Sherpa-centric sales behaviors and leading indicators to improve move-in trajectories has been what’s most transformative.”
The Parc sales teams were able to more than double their Time in the Selling Zone per prospect and increase their total selling time by even more. They found that something as simple as planning sessions were notably effective in generating more move-ins. They nearly tripled the volume of planning sessions, and the average time spent per session went up by more than tenfold. Along with an increase in selling time, these adjustments led to more move-ins, even during the pandemic.
When Parc decided to adopt the Sherpa methodology, tools and training they had no idea what was around the corner by way of a global pandemic. Yet the foresight to invest more into their sales team’s training and technology while strengthening the way sales management interacted with and tracked sales activities has made all the difference during an incredibly difficult year. They took a leap in transforming their sales culture and the risk paid off.
“It goes to show you that, yes, you can have an incredible move-in month in December during a pandemic,” says DeWeese. “It requires a little twist in your thinking and what you’re focused on from a sales perspective. We’ve embraced these leading indicators, and our teams have had a lot of success as a result.”