2020 was one hell of a year, thanks largely to COVID-19. The good news is the sector responded in a way we should all be very proud of.
We hope the festive season was kind to your community, your team and yourself. And to our colleagues and communities impacted by the COVID outbreaks that were in lockdown over this period, please know our thoughts were with you.
Encouragingly though, interest in retirement living remains high.
A number of Village Professionals have reached out to us to ask ‘how is the market going’ for retirement village sales.
We asked our colleague Carmella Rowsthorne at villages.com.au what is happening and she delivered the above graph for the 13 months from September last year to September 2020.
It shows that last year in September just under 3,800 people searched for a retirement village each day on villages.com.au.
This September, the same number of people are searching.
Numbers are actually up
But here is the thing. Victoria accounts for 35% of the Australian population and they have been in severe lockdown since July. They have not been able to even think of looking at villages let alone sell their homes. It was basically illegal.
So when you add this into the mix, you have to say the average number of people looking seriously at a village option has gone up in 2020.
The only changes have been multiple crises. Fires, drought and now COVID.
The family home is no longer as safe as it was last year.
Have you been receiving a higher level of enquiry? If not, perhaps you are not listing your village on villages.com.au. With 1.2M visits a year it is the No.1 village search destination.
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, villages.com.au.
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.