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John Leo, Mbark

“The Village Manager is by far the most important person in the industry.”

John LeoCo-Founder – The Arbour Village (2014 Winner – Property Council Best Retirement Living Development)

Wivenhoe Village (2018 Winner – Property council Best Retirement Village Development, UDIA Excellence in Retirement Living)

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Latest industry developments Things to watch

NZ operators take up DCM Institute village management professional development program

The New Zealand Retirement Villages Association has joint ventured with us to take our ongoing professional development program to New Zealand operators.​

DCM CEO Chris Baynes and I presented the joint initiative at the RVA National Conference in Auckland. Judy Martin and Jill Donaldson also flew across for the launch.

In New Zealand, operators have invested significantly in building trust within the community, together with Government and the peak resident’s association.

In January, the RVA and the Retirement Villages Residents Association of New Zealand (RVRANZ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), committing to closer collaboration and co-operation.

https://www.thedcminstitute.com.au/

The establishment of professional development for retirement village management has been a major objective of residents for some time. The RVA Education Committee identified that the DCM Institute program delivered the content, structure and proven participation, and it was a better solution to bring DCMI to New Zealand than attempt to build from scratch.

They identified that as little as 10% of the content requires “Kiwi-ising’.

You are most probably amongst the 350+ village executives now enrolled here in Australia.

It is with your participation and feedback that has allowed us to build DCMI into what it is today, and we must say it’s very rewarding to be recognised by our New Zealand friends who in many areas lead the world in retirement living operations and support of residents.

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62% of sales from referrals!!!

Last month I caught up with my great colleague Linda Hooper, National marketing manager with Living Choice, who happened to mention in passing that they had achieved 62% of sales from referrals…

An amazing result by any businesses standard!  So I asked her to elaborate a little more and what I uncovered was a well thought out targeted strategy, synonymous to Living Choices marketing, that is delivering REAL results!

https://www.thedcminstitute.com.au/

In the retirement living industry, there is nothing more satisfying that seeing the word “Referral” as the advertising source when receiving an enquiry for a village. It’s a powerful validation of not just your marketing team’s efforts but all those who work for the company.

Across the retirement living sector, the incidence of referral is quite low. In our sister company DCM Research’s National resident survey of over 4,000 village residents last year, they found that strong referrals only occurred in 13% of cases. See below.

When Linda first joined Living Choice, they were spending an awful lot of money on traditional advertising, such as print, TV and radio. While this generated a lot of leads, the cost of converting that lead to a settlement was alarmingly high. She soon identified that the referrals, however, had a much higher conversion rate.

Linda with the wider Living Choice team implemented a Referral Reward Program whereby both referrers and those they refer receive a gift voucher on settlement.

While this is a nice “thank-you” present, Linda doesn’t believe it is the main reason for the referral at all – it is just one piece of the Living Choice promise.

Moving into a retirement village is a major decision and people won’t refer a family member or friend unless they are convinced the village ticks a number of important boxes.

In addition to the gift vouchers, Living Choice holds a Gala Reward Event to thank the referrers, those they have referred plus their many resident helpers. They invest considerable marketing funds into these glamorous events and for both residents and the team, these are a highlight on the marketing calendar.

Over the years, the percentage of settlements attributed to referrals has grown to a current 62% of all sales! It’s a percentage that not just the marketing team but all Living Choice staff members and residents can be proud of.

Linda shares “these results also keep the team united and focused on ensuring we deliver on our promise and the best possible lifestyle and care for residents”

Multiple research programs confirm that well over 90% of residents are positively satisfied by their move – as demonstrated from this graph from the same DCM research program last year – it would be great if we can mobilise these satisfied residents!

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Latest industry developments Things to watch What the research tells us

Planning ahead – the number of home care providers is about to collapse

Here is something to put in the back of your mind. Our DCM group colleague Chris Baynes is giving a webinar presentation today for 200 IT executives in the aged care space about the reforms from the Royal Commission and the impact it will have on home care and residential care.

He is proposing that the number of home care providers will collapse over the next three years. Some commentators are saying that over 700 providers could be reduced to as few as 50.

https://www.thedcminstitute.com.au/

The implications for village operators is that the remaining big suppliers will be far more powerful in negotiating to what level they will support village operators in marketing home care as a given support service in a village.

From the chart above, you can see that the 16 largest home care providers have 47% of the Home Care Packages while the 562 small home care providers have just 15% of the Packages.

The Royal Commission reforms require operators to have significantly stronger back office IT and workforce training and oversight. The smaller operators are unlikely to have the cash to make these investments.

At the same time, the home care workforce is likely to be attracted to the higher wages and culture that big operators will be able to offer with the efficiencies and easy technology they will be introducing.

Chris’ advice: keep an eye on your local home care providers and build relationships with the operators that you feel most comfortable with the quality of service but also are most likely to survive.

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WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY (WEAAD) 15th JUNE

According to the United Nations, elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.

In many parts of the world, elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. However, in Australia regulators, consumer advocate groups, organisations and individuals have taken up the fight against elder abuse.

Why not see if your village can join the many other organisations that will be highlighting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day? You could hold an event, host a morning tea, or bring in a guest speaker to raise awareness of elder abuse and highlight the support available for those experiencing it.

Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the positive contributions of older people in Australia. 

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Carers in your village: understanding, support and a policy

While many of our residents move to a village to continue living a full and independent life, their needs and capacity often change as they get older.

For some, the changes occur slowly, and for others, their health and wellbeing deteriorate more rapidly.

Regardless of when they happen, these changes are usually unplanned and result in the need for initial support until formal assistance or services are established. 

Delays in accessing services, reluctance to address needs and the long wait times for Home Care Packages, all contribute to the increasing reliance on informal carers.

Carers and complexities

In our communities, we see the benefits of the vital role that carers play in the lives of our residents, but we also see (and may need to manage) the complexities when the carer is a spouse, family member, friend or even another resident!

We see couples where one person cares for their spouse, and then the carer becomes exhausted or unwell.

Residents become reliant and often a burden on good-hearted neighbours or residents, with the best intent, take up the role of carer for a neighbour and then withdraw their support as they are unable to manage.

Then we have family members who become full-time carers and want to be a live-in carer or, alternately, those who don’t see the need for support or care and are happy to let the Village Manager pick up and do what they can for the resident.

Yes, as Village Professionals, we see it all, and it can be overwhelming for us too.

So, what can we do?

The best strategy is to have some established policies or guides that your Management Team endorses.

Develop a policy for carers to live in the village should the need arise considering:

  • Approval on a case-by-case basis
  • Evidence of medical / GP support
  • Rights of residency, voting, parking
  • The obligation of the carer to abide by the Village Rules
  • Residency ceases upon vacation of resident and consider the termination obligations of the contract and legislation
  • Documented approval rather than a contract addendum

You can also refer to agencies who specialise in carer support:

Carers Australia – https://www.carersaustralia.com.au

Promote services available for older people and their carers:

MyAgedCare – https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/caring-someone

Act now; don’t wait

It is always best to develop a policy when you are not under time pressure or you already ‘have a situation’, when raising new policy guidelines can be misconstrued to being in response to one case.

Preparation of a simple document to start the discussion with your Management Team and possible the Residents Committee is a great first step.

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Welcome to Year Three for the DCMI Village Management Professional Development Program

Thank you for supporting us!

What a huge achievement by the DCM Institute team to be moving into our third year with consistent and growing participation in the Village Management Professional Development program.

We are all very proud – and appreciative – especially with the significant impact of COVID on DCMI participants and the need to restructure the program to deliver workshop days online.

We had to ensure you continued to receive great value, professional development and new opportunities to feel connected to the wider industry.

Sally boosts participant support

Six months ago, we introduced a participant care service to our program to ensure that participants continue to be well supported.

Sally Middleton joined our team to fulfil this role and she has conducted over 250 individual participant check-ins to support our participants achieve their learning goals.

Sally has also onboarded or provided portal refresher sessions to over 140 participants, and supported over 20% of participants to find the information they are looking for either in our online portal or on industry-specific websites. 

Jacqui boosts sales and leadership

Whilst COVID put a temporary hold on the face-to-face workshop days, the DCMI team continued to innovate. We engaged Jacqui Perkins to lead Retirement Village specific Sales & Leadership interactive masterclasses. 

Jacqui brings fresh concepts – always important with sales. The feedback on these masterclass sessions has been great and we have seen a number of sales consultants join the program to access these masterclasses and the valuable information available on the online Knowledge Centre portal.  

Face to face networking is back

However, what we are most excited about is we are heading back to Face-to-Face activities! Village network meetings have already been held in SA, NSW, Vic and soon to be ACT, WA, QLD & TAS.

Even better, we return to Face-to-Face workshop days in June. 

The DCMI team will return to the capital cities to conduct these valuable Professional Development workshop days. We are so looking forward to getting back to these sessions and the added value of the shared learning we get to share together. 

Please join us; please invest in yourself

If you are interested in joining the VMPD program, please register here.

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Retirement Living touches 14% of all people aged over 40 – this is big business​

At times we need to take a step back and think of the sector we work in and the impact it makes on our community.

Our sister publication The SOURCE has been publishing some interesting analysis lately on how many people retirement living actually touches, and also how many new customers we need to bring on board each year.

See the chart above. You can see that across land lease communities and retirement villages we have 300,000 residents across Australia.

Our residents have placed their faith and wealth in our hands, so to speak, a great vote of trust.

At the same time, each resident has about three people that they are closely involved with, as friends, carers and supporters. Many of them will also be a beneficiary of the transition of wealth in the village home at some stage. So there is a financial ‘touch’ as well as an emotional touch.

This adds 900,000 people to a total of 1.2 million Australians that we have a touch point. Given all these ‘direct touch’ people will be aged over 40 years of age, we reach 14% of all people over 40, which is very powerful.

35,500 new sales a year required

In our own bubble, we don’t think of the big picture sales effort that is required to keep our sector humming.

From the chart below you can see that with rollovers and new builds, we need 35,500 new customers to sign up each year, or if you like, 97 every day of the year, including Christmas Day.

With an average village and LLC home now valued around $450,000 to buy in, we need to generate $16 billion in sales a year or $44 million every day.

We are BIG business! If each family home sold to buy into our sector is valued at say $600,000, then $21.3 billion in family home sales have to take place. Imagine all those young families upgrading – it is exciting we think.

As village professionals, we are vital to this ongoing sales process. We are the face and the brand of our community within our local community. It’s a big job.

(If you do not receive The SOURCE newsletter on a Tuesday, you can ask for a free subscription HERE – it’s the best news source on retirement living).

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Your website is often your first impression

Our favourite marketing support is Joshua Hanchett. We asked him to write this piece on the very important subject of websites.

You only get one chance to make an excellent first impression.

In 2021, the website is usually the first introduction to prospective residents and employees so providing a consistent experience online that represents the organisation well is paramount. 

An excellent online experience starts with the following: 

  1. Keep your resident, not the organisation, in mind. Each page should keep them central in the written and visual content. 
  2. Make it easy to contact the right person in the organisation. If your organisation provides multiple services, have a direct line or email to the relevant person. 
  3. Be a guide to your website visitor on their retirement journey. Inform them to make a great decision. Don’t sell. 

With this in mind, what can you do every year to keep your website relevant and visitors coming back time and time again? Below is a short list, but if you don’t have the time, reach out to us. We are happy to help your organisation reach their customer online.

1. Safety and Security – Is your website safe and your organisation’s privacy policy relevant and accessible? Visitors are encouraged to take action on websites by filling in forms, and it’s reassuring to know data isn’t going to be stolen or shared. Security Certificates and Firewall software are easy to install and automate these days.

Tip: Make it a priority at the beginning of each year to ensure your certificates and software are installed, activated, and working.

2. Responsive experience – Does your website provide a wonderful experience on a desktop and a mobile device? With mobile overtaking desktop in multiple demographics, it’s important the user experience is consistent across devices.

Tip: Open the website on a desktop and your mobile device at the same time. How does it load? Is the experience consistent? Is it easy to read and take action?

3. Read and refresh pertinent information. Set reminders in your calendar to read through your website and other sites making up your digital presence, including Google my Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, and listing sites like Villages.com.au. Start simple. Are your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email details correct? Is your pricing accurate on listing websites? 

Tip: Open an incognito window in your browser and do a Google search of your organisation’s name. What’s on display? 

4. Track search, time, and behaviour on your site. Use tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush. Answer these questions. 

Where are your site visitors coming from? Direct, organic, social, or paid? 

Are they leaving quickly or sticking around for a while? 

Where are they spending time on your site?

Tip: Allow this data to inform how you change your website. A better site experience will increase time on site and reduce bounce rate.

5. Focus on Quality content rather than Quantity. Organisations that know their customers well serve their customers well. Speak to their problems and display authentic images of your residents enjoying their newfound freedoms in the community. Quality content will rank well on search engines, keep customers on your site longer, and even keep them returning for more.

Tip:  Treat your website as a living, breathing asset to your organisation. Let your users search online for solutions to their problem. Focus your creative energy on providing answers in a meaningful way. Once on your website, share to your social channels and email list with links back to your website.

6. Ask website visitors to take action – a phone call, a form filled, a downloadable pdf guide.

Tip: Pop ups have their place, but they can often be overused and deter a prospect. Be creative and strategic with your placements of all buttons, forms, pop ups and pdfs. Remain customer centric.

With more and more people online and so many simple free tools available online, there’s never been a better time to pay attention to your organisation’s website – it’s so much more than a brochure.

Set a time to implement these things in your busy schedule. It will pay dividends and speak to your professionalism, credibility, and ability to provide solutions to the evolving needs of your customer.

If you need help reaching your customer online, please reach out to us.

Joshua Hanchett – Your Digital Partner

josh@myheartstudio.com.au

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Possible Royal Commission considerations and ‘wins’ for every Village operator…

If you do one thing in the lead up to the May Federal Budget – grab yourself a coffee and watch this 15-minute thought provoking discussion from Tammy Berghofer, Partner at MinterEllison, about the potential impact of the Royal Commission recommendations on retirement village operations.

There is a very real opportunity for villages to be the major winner from the Royal Commission.

Tammy outlines the opportunities and important considerations for both operators and front-line village professionals.  She highlights the future expectations of residents and the questions village professionals will need to consider.

In this video Tammy has simplified the Royal Commission impacts to village operations into 3 key areas:

  • Impact of a new Aged Care program
    • Instead of three different ‘aged care programs’ (CHSP, Home Care and Aged Care), it is likely they will all converge into one, with people entering the system and then carrying through to high care 
    • Universal entitlement to care – everyone gets to care for free
    • Increased choice, control and flexibility
  • Expansion of Care at Home
    • This is what the Government wants / long term care strategy requirements
    • Need for expanded termination processes
    • Village and care residents will be older and have higher health and acuity needs
    • Increase skills and knowledge for village professionals 
  • Influence on village built environments 
    • Ageing in place considerations will increase in importance 
    • Assistive technology use will increase in importance
    • Possible grant funding options for operators