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Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Village sales are booming, but now’s no time to be complacent​

The DCM Institute team regularly speaks with village professionals around the country, and we’ve been pleased to hear about the strong sales cycle experienced by many in the sector.

Some operators have reported as many as four sales per week, and many now have no vacancies.

This is great news, and supports results of a study our sister-company DCM Research conducted with Australia Online Research (AOR) from March through to July.

The study identified 43% of people aged 60+ are feeling an increased sense of vulnerability as a result of COVID, prompting 20% to reconsider the suitability of their own home.

This is a huge opportunity for retirement villages.

Complacency creeps in

While a strong sales market is a good thing, there can be some negative consequences.

It’s so easy for a sales team to fall into complacency when things are going well, and disciplined practices we implement in harder times like follow-up calls and engagement activities can easily fall by the wayside.

One of the biggest mistakes a village can make is to stop looking for process improvements or ways to engage new potential residents.

Let’s not forget, it takes potential residents up to an average 18 months to make a final decision.

So even in the good times, it’s vital to keep momentum going. 

Lead management

One key area to focus on is lead management.

Recent research indicates up to 97% of prospective clients start their search for a village on the web. Many of these people will visit your website several times before making an enquiry.

It’s worth considering how you engage with prospects who are spending time on your website, and how this knowledge may then benefit your sales process.

When a prospect enquires on a website, we collect general information – name, phone, email address and timeframe to move, for example.

This is helpful, but what if we could gain a deeper insight into the prospect?

Give a little, get a lot

The use of gated offers, the opportunity to download an e-book, interview, checklist or research, not only helps prospects make their decision to contact you, but it positions your village as the expert, and sets the tone for a helpful, transparent relationship.

You can also use this to collect further information such as housing preferences, locations of interest and hobbies/interests, to get to know the prospect on a deeper level.

This insight is gold to salespeople.

It lets them build rapport quickly and importantly provides an opportunity to tailor service and engagement activities to each prospect.

Furthermore, if a sales person is able to see the number and type of interactions a prospect has had on the website prior or during their engagement it allows them to prioritise and add further value to the client’s journey. 

Always be on the lookout for opportunities

Whether the market is booming or bust, we should always be looking for opportunities to bring the client to their decision sooner and aiming to create strong, engaged waitlists.

Investment in these types of lead management strategies always pays off.

Even when the times are good, it’s the one-percenters that count.

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Key things to help you everyday

Christmas is coming, but will your residents’ parcels arrive in time?

After the year we’ve had, it’s fair to say plenty of us are hanging out for Christmas.

With just seven weeks to go, we thought it was worth researching the postal cut-off dates to make sure everyone’s parcels arrive with plenty of time to spare.

This year we’ve set a few reminders, and it’s worth sharing these dates with your residents who might want to send parcels of their own.

Australia Post guidelines

Sending within Australia:

Send Parcel Post by Saturday 12 December 2020.
Send Express Post by Saturday 19 December 2020.

For sending letters within Australia this Christmas, standard delivery timeframes apply.

Sending internationally:

Delivery dates to send your Christmas parcels and letters overseas are listed below. Circumstances can change rapidly, so these dates may be subject to change. Also, note that time in customs is not included in our delivery time estimate and is outside of Australia Post’s control.

Recommended final sending dates for major destinations (Standard Post):

USA, Canada, UK, Europe: Monday 16 November 2020

Most of Asia: Monday 23 November 2020

New Zealand: Friday 27 November 2020.

You can find more information on the Australia Post website here, but as is always the case with this sort of thing it pays to err on the side of caution!

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Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

What’s ageism got to do with it?

The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately shone the spotlight on some of deep-seated ageist attitudes towards older people.

As village professionals it’s important to understand how we can offer support against this.

Next month, the DCM Institute will be running a session on this very topic with Jane Mussared, chief executive of COTA SA, and Mike Rungie, Director of the Global Centre of Modern Ageing, joining us for the discussion.

As a prelude, we recommend tuning into an upcoming session from Every AGE Counts.

In what is bound to be a great discussion between Ashton Applewhite and Jane Caro, this session will cover the impact ageism is having in today’s society and what we as age service professionals should be doing to minimise it.

The session takes place on Tuesday, November 24.

You can learn more here.

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Key things to help you everyday

DCMI supporting village professionals around Australia

One of our chief aims at the DCM Institute is providing a platform that helps village professionals connect with their peers from all around Australia.

Last month, the DCMI team held our popular virtual Village Network meetings with participants from all around Australia.

There were seven in total, from Dubbo to Taree, Rockhampton to the Gold Coast, and we had participants from the ACT, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. 

These informal online meetings have proven especially valuable for village professionals in regional and remote locations.

The opportunity to network with peers, share ideas and knowledge, validate current challenges and discuss industry wide and local topics of interest is critical, but not always easy for people working in remote areas who are unable to attend bit city industry events. 

This has only been exacerbated with COVID-times.

So, we’ve been overjoyed to share our knowledge and experience with village professionals, while providing a valuable point of contact.

In this round, Sue from Dubbo said, “Since joining the DCMI program and Village Network I never feel isolated or lonely. Joining the program is one of the best decisions my employer has made.”

If you are from a regional or remote area and working as a village professional, feel free to reach out and join our next free online Village Network gathering.

You can sign up online here.

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Key things to help you everyday

Managing relationships with your residents the right way – a simple guide

As village professionals we’re privileged to actively participate in the daily lives of our residents.

Building these relationships is one of the best parts of the job.

But, it’s important to remember that we are in a trusted position with our residents. In the end of the day our role in their lives is a professional one.

There must be clear professional and personal boundaries with our residents, and these need to be recognised by all staff members.

Given the nature of our work and the fact that we get to know our residents over many years, it can be challenging to manage relationships in the ‘right’ way.

So, we’ve provided a few tips as a best-practice guideline for your village.

Friendly, but not familiar

A good technique to help staff understand these relationship boundaries is defining exactly what ‘A Right Relationship’ is in your village.

Keep it simple, as a statement about behaviour that can be reinforced in meetings and training.

Here’s an example you might use:

‘We will be friendly and fair, professional and personable, always maintaining respect for everyone in our community.’

A few things you should consider:

  • Be clear with residents about our role and its limits
  • Avoid disclosing personal information
  • Understand our professional obligations and comply with relevant legislation
  • Maintain privacy, confidentiality and abide by the resident’s rules

Acknowledge each resident as an individual

It’s no secret that some residents are easier to like than others.

But we can’t let this influence our behaviour.

We must demonstrate that we treat all residents equally, and acknowledge each resident as an individual.

And residents have responsibilities too

Like anything in life, these relationships are a two-way street!

Our residents should be willing to treat staff and their fellow residents with respect. If they’re not, it’s our role to make sure these expectations and responsibilities are clear. 

The key thing is to have a plan in place.

The DCM Institute covers this topic in greater detail in our Professional Development Program.

You can find out more here.

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Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

Living with the pandemic – Are you prepared for the second (or third) wave?

As some of you may already know, DCM Institute’s Judy Martin also happens to be the Chair of the Global Ageing Network (GAN).

This organisation seeks to enhance the quality of life for the ageing, connecting and supporting care and service providers around the world.

Recently, Judy was part of a worldwide discussions on lessons learned from the Global COVID pandemic so far, and how these might help us prepare for future waves.

While there were many lessons identified in the discussion, Judy believes five of these are key for the retirement living sector.

  1. The important role technology played as a communication medium
  2. The benefit of mobilising the sector together to work on solutions
  3. The interaction and division between health, aged care and social care
  4. A new spotlight on improving services for older persons
  5. How ageism impacted response strategies

The DCM Institute team has also reflected on the sort of broader pandemic measures we as village professionals should think about including in our long-term business continuity plans.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Embrace technology both in your workplace and in your ongoing village communications
     
    1. Establish a preferred app or software program that will be your go to communication aid. Use this in day to day communications.
    2. Tap into local technology grants and programs that can help support residents to develop their technology skills.
       
  2. Mobilise together and develop relationships and networks that will be valuable in the future
     
    1. Establish a local village professional working group.
    2. Establish a village working group with residents and head office.
    3. Reach out to past/retired team members to assess their ability to assist in emergency situations.
    4. Consider joining the DCMI Village network meetings.
       
  3. Ensure that your plan includes support to assist to deal with health crisis
     
    1. Reach out and establish a working relationships with your local Public Health Network and hospital.
    2. Enlist the services of an emergency healthcare specialist. 
    3. Set clear boundaries of where the village’s role starts and stops in regards to healthcare, and make sure all staff are across these.
       
  4. Heighten your focus on services that can be provided to residents
     
    1. Keep an eye out for further grants and programs that can benefit residents and sign up to community grants scheme notifications.
    2. Consider which resident services will be maintained as business as usual, and which ones will need to be ramped up as needed.

Further to this, in the Village Network meeting this week held by DCM Institute there was healthy discussion about the importance of building business practices in villages that consider and reflect the ongoing pandemic and natural disaster risks as business as usual.

Learning from the lessons of the first wave is the best way to inform our future actions, and drive the best outcomes for our residents.

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Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Finding new residents for your village – it’s not just a matter of being seen

Filling vacancies at your village can be a tricky task.

At the start of the village sales process you’re trying to achieve two goals – create awareness and generate interest.

The easiest way to do this is listing your village online.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that it’s not just a matter of being seen, but a matter of putting your best foot forward.

1. Understand your key messages

It’s going to be difficult to achieve a result if you don’t understand what you’re trying to say. 

A good way to get started when developing your key messages is thinking about the points of difference your village offers. This could be anything from the village’s location to its unique facilities.

Strong key messages help your village stand out.

And while it takes a bit of thought, it’s worth the effort.

2. Advertise your vacancies, establish your presence

Now that you’ve got your messages, it’s time to reach potential residents.

Typically, you’ll do this by listing your vacancies on a web portal.

But as Villages.com.au Head of Industry Sales Solutions Carmella Rowsthorne says, some web portals are more suitable than other.

“Finding the right balance between lead quantity and lead quality is a key challenge in village sales. That’s why it’s so important to list on a portal that people trust,” she said.

Once you’ve chosen your web portal, the messages you’ve developed will inform the choices you make in regards to copy and the images.

3. Put your best foot forward

So, you’ve developed your messages and found a web portal to list your vacancy.

But how do you make your village more appealing than the one down the road that’s done exactly the same thing?

Carmella says uplift options like purchasing a MREC banner or a promoted listing can be a good way to separate your village from the rest of the pack.

“On Villages.com.au promoted listings tend to deliver 30% more sales for our clients,” she said.

“With so many villages out there, it can be a great way to make your village stand out.”

Finding new residents for your village is more than just being seen.

It’s about putting your best foot forward.

With a little bit of thought and planning you can be confident you’re starting the starting the sales process on the right foot.

For more information about finding new residents for your village, you can contact Carmella here.

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Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Are you preparing for Accreditation?

It’s the time of year where many village professionals are starting to think about compliance with the Code of Conduct and/or Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme.

One of the key activities of the Code of Conduct and Accreditation compliance is the conducting of an annual Resident Survey as one of the means of consultation. 

The DCM Group can assist you with this!

Working with the DCM Institute team, the DCM Group has designed a Resident Survey that will tick many of the compliance requirements for both the Code of Conduct and Accreditation scheme.

It will not only help you meet compliance obligations, but also provide great insight and information that can be used in future operational planning for the coming year. 

If you are interested in this great new service reach out to DCM Group’s Anna Archibald here.

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Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Providing support when residents face the big decisions in life

“We don’t know, what we don’t know.”

This perfectly sums up the way our residents might feel when trying to tackle the significant financial and life decisions that come later in life.

Here are some typical questions a resident might ask:

  • Where can I get a Seniors Card?
  • Can I access taxi vouchers?
  • Is there a fitness class for older people nearby?
  • Who do I contact for government concessions?
  • What do I need to do to plan my will?
  • What is MyAgedCare and what do they do?

Having the answer to all these questions is almost impossible.

But we can give our residents access to information that is accurate and appropriate.

This gives them the power to make the right decisions, at the right time for themselves.

Making this information accessible, in a format that can be easily understood, is key.

Here are some ideas:

  • You might have a folder which has print outs or fact sheets about services
  • A poster with some key websites or agencies dedicated to older people
  • A village iPad which has links saved for easy access
  • Guest speakers giving presentations or one on one appointments
  • Newsletter articles on specific topics
  • Seniors card info showing special offers and discounts

Here are some useful websites you can use as a starting point:

As we’ve mentioned before, you’re not expected to have the answer to every question.

Letting our residents know where they can find the information to make their decisions is the best way to achieve a positive outcome.

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Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Reporting Results What the research tells us

Retirement villages have a perception problem, and this means first impressions count

Our sister company DCM Research has just completed the DCM Prospect Profile survey of 2,207 people aged 60+, and we’ve had a sneak peak at the results.

What we’re seeing is a serious retirement village perception problem.

Look at the figure above.

Just 14% of respondents perceive retirement villages to be an affordable option, and over half (51%) think exactly the opposite.

On top of this, 42% of respondents think they’re small, with little storage space.

Not great conversation starters.

Digging a little deeper

DCM’s research partner, Australian Online Research (AOR), wanted to know why people felt this way, so they compared the perceptions of non-residents to people who had just moved in to a Village.

And the difference couldn’t be starker:

More often than not, many of the Potentials had been to a village many years ago and had a dim memory, or simply had a rough opinion that has over time become a firm opinion.

AOR found visiting one or more villages turned most people around.

The hard part is getting them to the village.

First impressions are so important

I’ve often said in the retirement living industry it’s the one-percenters that count.

Retirees are increasingly using digital platforms and your website may be one of the first points of interaction with potential residents.

So, it pays to look at your website with a fresh pair of eyes.

Rather than ticking off the list of all the information we as operators feel like we need on our websites, consider “how you build connection” as part of the impression.

Two easy solutions:

  1. Invest in photography and video that highlight the personality of the village and the people. Ensure it has an element of authenticity, that represents what they will find. Do not try to be all things to all people. 
     
  2. Present the village homes as real homes, that people can see themselves living in. Show the village as an optimistic, vibrant place where real people enjoy living. Consider virtual tours with real residents and staff showcasing the style of living and how it caters for individual taste. 

While these strategies are not particularly ground-breaking, they require investment and creativity.

But in my experience, the return on investment is great.

And in these uncertain times focusing on foundational activities such as these will be vital.