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Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

Take a deep breath – Time to focus on team and self-care.

I speak to many village professionals on a weekly basis and in recent weeks I’ve picked up a change in tone from panic to calm, to a sense of weariness.

After months of changed working environments, having to adapt and adapt again and continually stretching both personal resources and finances village teams are becoming weary.  

A conscious understanding of how you and your team are responding to this crisis/pandemic is vital. 

As my great colleague at Human Psychology Samantha Young most recently shared, “We all respond differently to crisis. Some of us switch into ‘action’ mode and become more transactional in how we interact with others. Some of us go quiet and withdraw.”

So how can you be supporting your team and importantly yourselves amidst this ongoing uncertainty?

Samantha offered the following options that focus on the basic human needs of fulfillment, belonging and security.

Make your community a safe place to work

Are your employees concerned about the cleanliness of the environment they are working in?

Make sure you have appropriate reminders and resources to reinforce guidelines around cough/sneeze etiquette (into a tissue or elbow), social distancing reminders, hand washing practices, and staff not coming into work when they feel ill.

Update policies and procedures

Having clear policy and procedures to deal with work in a pandemic situation is vital.

Are you able to accommodate flexible working arrangements? If so what are the parameters around that? Will you be encouraging your team and self to have more regular annual leave?

Do you need to review KPI’s and performance measures? 

What additional policy do you need to encapsulate the emergency management act regulations and restrictions – recording of temperature, tracing records (i.e. physical contact with others), hygiene requirements, laundering of uniforms, etc?

Also, consider what new forms of communication policy needs to be in place? Considering things like media responses and use of electronic messaging ahead of time can save a great deal of stress.

Leadership

Do what you can to take the pressure off your teams.

Recognise that we are all human and that we will all be more distracted right now.

Set expectations about failure, uncertainty, and interdependence. Ask people to speak up.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • We’ve never faced anything like this before so there are a lot of gaps in what we know.
  • We need to hear from everyone. If you’re worried, please speak up.  

It’s also important to practice active, frequent and honest communication and keep everyone informed about important issues and changes. Try to host gathering/meetings sometimes without an agenda with no order of business but to share feelings or concerns.

Mental health

Revisit how and what you can do to support your teams and own mental health.

Does everyone know how to or need to be encouraged to access the Employee Assistance Program?  Share local mental health service details. 

Normalise the conversation around mental health and well-being in team meetings and offer opportunities for suggestions around how to assist each other during this time.

Be a little more conscious and sensitive of the impact the crisis maybe having on out of work life. Many staff are unsettled or uncertain during this time, so it is important to ensure everyone feels safe, informed, and supported.

Caring during a crisis

In times of crisis, every interaction we have is telling a story about our leadership.

Being vulnerable is one of the most courageous things you can do as a leader. Engagement is going to require concerted effort and attention from leaders to build and retain trust and engender a sense of purpose and worth in their teams.

Samantha shared, “Leading during COVID-19 will require sustained energy in the face of disappointment. Passion to try again and persistence to press through obstacles. Boldness during uncertainty and endurance when it is tempting to quit.

“Belief precedes hope so give people something to believe in. Connect effort and sacrifice to the big picture. We are in for a long and bumpy ride through COVID-19. Now more than ever, we need brave leaders, dealers of hope, who can inspire, engage and genuinely care”.

If you need support don’t hesitate to reach out to the DCM Institute team at dcmi@thedcmgroup.com.au.

Categories
Key things to help you everyday

Sales are ‘not the thing’ over the next 12 months – it is MOMENTUM to settlement!

What will happen to sales over the next 12 months?  Who really knows? But lead management will be vital.

This means maintaining a link with buyers in their journey to finally commit to buying their village home, and then selling their family home and settling on their new village purchase!

At DCM we call this “momentum to settlement”!

Over the last few months I have been asked several times “what’s going to happen to sales” and “what should we be focusing on”. Oh, if only I had that crystal ball…

However, from my past experience opening a brand new village at the beginning of the GFC when sales just stopped, and my past professional experience of turning around stalled villages and villages in receivership, it is all about MAINTAINING MOMENTUM & HAVING A PLAN

It is vital that sales teams do not lose momentum and that means supporting them by maintaining strong campaigns to attract new enquiry. 

In difficult times we need to overfill the sales funnel, knowing even the most committed customer may find it hard to sell their own home, for a range of real reasons.

We also know that retirees can take up to 18 months to make their decision. Therefore it is vital that we maintain their interest in the retirement living solution, and particularly your village. 

Do we send an enquiry pack, invite them for a tour, and follow them up, only to be told they aren’t ready? The most common excuse for not buying!

I strongly believe there is no one size fits all solution here. There needs to be multiple lead management/engagement strategies working in unison. All with the objective of moving the prospects decision forward to purchasing, and sooner.

So what helps to do this, particularly in this COVID environment where physical contacts and events are trickier? 

Understanding and language

COVID has been with us now since late March – that’s four months. Even with the lockdowns and ‘no inspections’, we all have seen a change in the emotional drivers of the potential customers, and especially their children, who are now enquiring.

We need to understand these drivers and equip salespeople with the new language, the words that connect with these new customers.

Our DCM colleagues have research in the field now, asking 2,200 potential customers what are their emotions. They also have thousands of people sending emails from villages.com.au every month asking for information – and post COVID 70% of those people are the children, who are worried about isolation form mum and dad (see the research story following).

With this understanding and language, we can work on working with the potential customers.

Momentum to Settlement

It is vital to stay TOP OF MIND with your prospects, to build a relationship with them where they feel like they have an emotional connection with your organisation, and to continue to reinforce that this accommodation solution is the right choice for them.

Consider how technology can assist with your lead engagement activities:

  • Sign prospects up to your organisations blogs, newsletters, magazines, etc
     
  • Ask them or show them how to follow you on social media
     
  • Consider your digital advertising requirements (to ensure your advertising campaigns pop up in their feeds/adverts)
     
  • Consider short EDM campaigns (that can also be added to your website as blogs) to help their decision making (how to choose an agent, styling tips, maintaining independence, a resident case study, get to know the manager, services for seniors in the local area, etc.)
     
  • Use technology to your advantage
    • Touchnote is a great app to send a personalised postcard – construction update, renovation picture, residents enjoying the lifestyle
       
    • Use apps like Calendly to help schedule a return visit or a time for you to visit them
       
    • Make a short video on your phone of something of interest in the village
       
    • Consider sharing appropriate industry news/research
       
    • Send a video from the villages.com.au video library as an interest piece about retirement living
       
    • Use the Retirement Living Council’s Book of Wise Moves booklet as an opportunity to reach out

Be creative! But whatever you do, maintain the momentum to settlement!

Categories
Latest industry developments What the research tells us

Please join our 2020 retirement community research program

Over the past three months we have been working with operators and peak bodies to design the optimum market research program for these challenging times.

We have identified we must do deep research into who is today’s customer and what drives them in this COVID world. We need to capture the satisfaction of our residents and maximise our relationship with them, and market the strengths. And we need to ensure we are recognised as responsible corporate citizens.

The three research programs will deliver on these ideals.

Unique and accessible research program

Looking forward, sales will be challenging, and the knock on effect for every operator will be great.

Maintaining services for residents, settling departing resident obligations, retaining and supporting staff, securing the value of the physical community itself, will all be impacted.

New potential customers must be identified and engaged. Existing services must be reviewed and promoted. Regular business requirements must be executed.

As importantly, the sector must get on the front foot of community discussion on the benefits of retirement communities.

Each of these challenges and opportunities require sound data to take proactive actions.

We have designed the three research programs to deliver operators this data. As we have done in previous years, by building volume engagement, we have achieved an extraordinary pricing structure for all operators.

To obtain a prospectus, click here

For enquiries, contact anna.archibald@thedcmgroup.com.au or 02 9555 9576.

Timing: the research of todays’ customer is in the field now and the first results will be available by the end of this month (July).

Categories
Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

The new look “Village Networks” … For ALL Village professionals!

This week the DCM Institute team launched a new look “Village Network”. We are staging QLD, NSW, VIC (pictured above) and WA forums, plus we welcome the ACT as a new addition as well.

150 village professionals are sharing the many innovations, the huge amount of goodwill and learnings that have occurred during COVID.

These Village Network meetings serve as an opportunity for Village professionals to come together to share knowledge, experiences, stories, insights and the latest news in the retirement living profession. 

We discussed:

  • COVID challenges
  • Initiatives and solutions implemented
  • Opening up community centres
  • Annual meetings
  • Business planning for the next 12 months

Whether you are a sales person, assistant, in marketing or development I am confident you will enjoy the conversation. The Village Networks are open to any Village professional regardless of whether you are in the DCMI Village Management Professional Development program or not. 

We bring together village professionals within your own state and it is our intention to hold these meetings on a quarterly basis or as often as the group would like.

During the pandemic, they will be held online via Zoom so that you are able to attend without leaving your village.

There have been stories of strong community spirit, like:

  • Walking groups
  • Balcony serenade – musicians engaged to play in the courtyard
  • Driveway events – dress up, Anzac Day, Mothers’ Day
  • Odds & Evens happy hours
  • Operators assisting residents
  • Shopping services
  • Visiting grocers
  • Toilet paper provisions
  • Visiting doctors/chemists
  • Implementing technology to support communication
  • Uniting NSW 7,000 calls to residents checking in
  • In-house TV stations
  • Parcel delivery/post office drops
  • ‘Iso’ bingo
  • Collation of a diary with input from all residents to be a record of their COVID experience
  • Puzzle books / regional newsletter / strong support share ideas between VMS
  • Dress their streets/ driveway bingo / scavenger hunts
  • Donated toilet rolls – prizes for games
  • History of a resident’s life
  • Craft basics
  • New groups formed as skills/experience of residents shared and interests discovered
  • Driveway drinks
  • Innovative fundraisers
  • Virtual book club
  • iOS trivia

Join our next Village Network meeting here

Keep your eyes open on our Village Networks page for the next round of Village Network meetings to be held later this year.

If you would like to register for the future meetings please fill out the form on our new webpage and we will be sure to include you in the next round of meetings.

If you were fortunate enough to attend one of this month’s Village Network meetings, thank you for your participation! 

Categories
Covid-19 Things to watch

Restrictions easing, but confusion for residents and village managers as opinions differ….

Since the Prime Minister announced the easing of the pandemic restrictions I have been contacted by a significant number of operators and managers to discuss the ‘right thing to do’ in opening up community centres and village facilities.

The whole the sector is taking a fairly cautious approach as they navigate these waters. 

Each state has slightly different phases of restriction easing; some states provide guidance for Retirement Village operators and other states don’t. Some resident communities are cautious and while others are not, it has been a minefield for operators to navigate.

Overwhelming many managers regardless of their approach are being met with challenges from individuals in their communities who do not agree with their approach.

In broad ranging discussions with operators around the country it does seem the best way to move forward is in consultation with Resident Committees. Here are some topics that may help guide your discussions and decisions moving forward.

Consideration should be given to:

  • the current information on health.gov.au older persons advice
     
  • Relevant state based Retirement Village Fact sheets, where applicable
  • Access the COVID Safe Plan requirements for your state
     
  • Understand how the sqm rule requirements will work in communal areas
     
  • Identify how physical distancing requirements will be signposted and monitored
     
  • How record keeping of access to community areas will be managed
     
  • How these requirements be met in the event the manager is not present on site to monitor
     
  • Understand how the cleaning protocol and hygiene requirements will be managed
     
  • Identify the likely extra cost of any decisions i.e. additional staff to monitor, clean or manage the activities. Additional costs for cleaning products, sanitiser, signage and other resources/tools required.

Importantly agree on a plan should there be an outbreak in the future in the local community or your immediate village community.

Categories
Key things to help you everyday

DCMI provides hands on support and resources to Village Managers with the introduction of our new Industry Links page

See here.

Unanimously feedback received from Village Managers across the country has been a desire to have a ONE STOP SHOP to seek support and resources relevant to their roles.

In a revamp of the new DCM Institute website the COVID 19 resource page has been bolstered with the introduction of a new Industry Links page enabling Village professional access to quick links in relation to:

  • Resident support
  • Legislation and regulation
  • Industry resources
  • Work health and safety
  • Trusted Industry Partners

Along with the existing COVID -19 page, these resource pages provide a great place to seek information in a quick and timely manner.

As does the Industry News section of the new website. It allows busy village professionals to search for past items of interest that may have appeared as topics in past Village Manager newsletter.

Categories
Covid-19

Watch: global deaths from COVID-19 overtake all other causes of death in 2020

This may be the best visualisation of the impact of the coronavirus that we have seen.

Check it out here.

As you can see, it traces the global causes of deaths including COVID-19 from January to May this year using data from the Global Burden of Disease study, Worldometers populations and the Johns Hopkins COVID repository.

In January, COVID sits at the bottom of the table with deaths from malaria (well ahead of the other causes), homicide and Parkinson’s Disease, drowning and meningitis topping the list.

But in early February, coronavirus overtakes natural disaster and begins to quickly rise, overtaking terrorism in mid-March and influenzas by 1 April.

COVID finally claims top spot above malaria on 25 April – finishing with just over 345,000 at the end of May, around 90,000 deaths in front of malaria with just under 257,000.

It’s incredible to watch – not least for the reminder that there are many other dangers out there including the flu and Parkinson’s Disease.