Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

December is 13 weeks away – the topic on everyone’s lips is sales

If there’s one thing we’ve been picking up in our weekly conversations with village professionals, it’s that sales across the industry are patchy, at best.

Yes, there are exceptions. Anecdotally some people say sales are holding (and in some cases even improving slightly).

But for many others sales have stalled significantly. For instance, if you were achieving one sale a month, you may be achieving only one every two months at the moment (we are talking outside of Victoria).

You would know that sales momentum is very important; it keeps everyone on their toes plus operators happy. With December 13 weeks away, do you have momentum? If not, now is the time to act rather than waiting.

What is momentum? It is a full sales pipeline and as many prospective residents nodding their heads positively. They can see they should be continuing the conversations with you.

Is the interest out there in these COVID times? What will make heads nod?

Here is a graph of 12 months traffic across Australia on our sister DCM web site,

What you can see is that the number of people searching for a village is higher, in fact 7% higher, in August 2020 than in August 2019.

And remember, this includes Victoria where all the customers are in lockdown.

The customers are there. In fact, I am being told that the people who actually visit villages are far more committed than usual. They know that they need a ‘safe harbour in a storm’.

Again, our sister group DCM Research has just completed a survey of 2,200 non residents and found that COVID-19 has increased a feeling of vulnerability (43%) and isolation (31%). And this is for all people aged 60+ surveyed, not just people who have personal triggers.

So the customers are definitely out there, they are looking for options and they are committed. But how much can we do as village professionals on the front line?

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in tough sales markets, it’s that ‘one percenters’ matter. 

It’s the addition of all the little things that add up to a big impression on customers. The one percenters.

In this promotional video we have just done for this month’s deep dive topic in the DCM Institute’s Village Management Professional Development Program, I discuss the importance of having several people in the village that a prospective customer meets – not just you. These extra touch points give reassurance and also take all the reliance off you.

Check the video out as a thought starter. The challenge is to start now – the customers are there, they are willing, and December is just 13 weeks away.  

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch What the research tells us

Independent resident surveys and the importance of benchmarking the sector

It’s time of year where many operators need to consider their requirements under regulations, the Code of Conduct or Accreditation to invest in an annual resident survey.

If you are a NSW village you are required to conduct a resident survey under Rules of Conduct, for instance.

We’re a huge supporter of this process.

It’s an opportunity for residents to be heard, and for operators to obtain information that can develop into future services and business plans.

Personally, we prefer surveys that are undertaken by a third party, and provide the opportunity for benchmarking across the sector.

Why is benchmarking important?

Benchmarking is how we, as an industry, identify the highest level of achievements in the sector, so we can improve our performance standards.

This is valuable data that can be presented to governments and the media.

In-house resident surveys are still a valuable exercise and can be useful for operational decisions.

But we believe it is far more powerful to understand where you fit in the sector.

This highlights areas for immediate attention, areas for celebration and possibilities.

Here are some key questions to answer when considering your survey process:

  • Does it cover the key elements of the ARVAS standards?
  • Will it address key legislation requirements to provide evidence of review?
  • What performance and speciality areas are investigated?
  • How engaged will residents be?
  • What information could you collect that would benefit residents?
  • Which survey format is best for your village – written, online or a mix of both?
  • How are you going to collate and interpret results?
  • What is the best mechanism to share results?

There are a range of survey services, including the DCM Research one stop outsourcing program.

 Drop me a line HERE and I can let you know your choices.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Join your colleagues at DCM Institute’s Village Network – join us in October

One of our key commitments at DCM Institute is assisting village professionals around the country build strong local peer support networks.

We recognise the importance of these networks as a place that can provide:

  • Connection with likeminded peers facing similar experiences
  • Peer support to help solve challenges
  • Validation of current practices
  • The sharing of knowledge and experience
  • The opportunity to keep up to date with industry trends and local issues

Please join us and your local colleagues at the village network gatherings scheduled for October where we will discuss the challenges, opportunities and state of the sector.

Find the upcoming dates below, and click here to register.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Now is the time for emergency and fire safety preparation

Emergency and fire safety are key components of a compliant, safe and well managed village.

Be it for Workplace Health and Safety requirements, Retirement Village Act compliance or as part of a development approval condition, every village is required to have an emergency and fire safety plan. 

And fires aren’t the only threat a village professional needs to be aware of. 

Other emergencies like gas leaks, bomb threats and cyber attacks must also be planned for.

In my experience coming out of winter or early spring is a great time to schedule the review of these plans and any supporting activities.

Things to review:

  • Fuel reduction activities such as tree lopping and bush trimming
  • Fire warden refresher training
  • Continuity plans in the event of there being no access to the village, no phone lines, no electricity or no access to emergency contact records
  • Accessibility and visibility, like cutting back of hedges
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for residents that may require additional assistance from emergency services
  • Alternative route maps in case residents cannot leave by their usual route
  • Fire equipment and maintenance, including the checking for deterioration of hoses and equipment
  • Emergency lighting
  • Evacuation procedures

Here are a couple of ideas we’d suggest, as part of your review:

  • Consider inviting the local emergency services in to update them on any new process, personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEP), equipment or access arrangements
  • Revisit notification systems – notification strategies, door knocking, telephone trees, window signs
  • Organise a guest speaker from fire services to refresh all residents on their own personal plans, particularly if in higher bushfire risk areas
  • Arrange for warden and volunteer resident refresher training

We’d also recommend engaging in a two-way dialogue with the resident committee, wardens and your team. Even consider developing a resident interest group that may act as a sounding board to be engaged in supporting these activities throughout the year.

Latest industry developments What the research tells us

Join the Property Council Retirement Census

The upcoming PwC/Property Council Retirement Census is open and just around the corner.  

It’s open to all Australian retirement village operators and there is no cost to participate.

The Retirement Census profiles the physical characteristics of villages, ownership details, business attributes (e.g. tenure, financial structure, operating overheads), sales, resident profiles (e.g. demographics, length of stay), and future development.

We’d encourage all villages to participate, as the census is vital for:

  • Tracking the state of the sector
  • Comparison with international markets
  • Government lobbying
  • Providing data and facts for operators

Operators who participate in the survey get a free 60+ page report to helps them benchmark their business and keep up with sector trends. 

For more information, click here.

DCM Research National Resident Survey 2020

We’d also like to draw your attention to DCM Research’s National Resident Survey.

This piece of research is designed to help village professionals understand their residents and allows you to benchmark your community against the sector.

Participating villages will receive:

  • Final report in hard and soft copy (175 pages+)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) for each village and operator.
  • ResiRating – Score out of five for village and marketing purposes.
  • Resident satisfaction score out of 100.

The National Resident Survey is in the field in September. For more information, click here.

Key things to help you everyday

Effective customer engagement: creating a sense of community unites us

By Rebecca Hogan3C Management

It is critical that the retirement living ecosystem is viable and sustainable.

Achieving effective customer engagement will drive growth and brand awareness.

Increasingly the people accessing retirement living are looking to be part of a social community, so people feel as though they are part of something greater.

If operators create a sense of community, it gives people the opportunity to connect with people, establish new friendships which makes people feel safe and secure.

Customer experience should be your No.1 priority:

  • Obsess over your customers by delivering value.
  • Having digital communication lines open by creating a ‘listening centre’. Let the customer know that it is okay to communicate what they are feeling.
  • Operators should be encouraging customers at all touch points to reach out to their Operator. This not only improves your service, but also empowers the customer to mediate their own concerns and self-manage their independence.
  • Implement a communication strategy that creates a sense of community and belonging.
  • Change your mindset about social media. Use social media as an engagement tool, not just an online platform to promote products and services.
  • Get creative and do not hesitate to try something different, because without customers there would be no service to operate.
  • Scale your customer engagement budget. Business is not as it used to be.

If you need a hand in developing your customer engagement strategy be sure to reach out to DCMI Industry Partner Rebecca Hogan, 3C Management.

Latest industry developments

Introducing DCMI’s newest team member

We’re excited to announce the newest member of our team, Sally Middleton.

Sally brings a wealth of village experience in customer engagement, customer support and hands-on experience and knowledge of the retirement living sector.

Sally joins the DCMI team as our Client Engagement Leader and will be responsible for further building our relationships with the DCM Institute’s participants, and supporting them to meet their professional development goals.

Welcome Sally.