It’s an old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Usually it takes about four seconds for people to form an impression – whether it’s about a place, a person, a service or product. In senior living, first impressions can make or break your chances to land a prospect. Maybe a receptionist put a prospect on hold a little too long. Or perhaps a prospect had a difficult time locating your community or finding a parking space once they arrived.
As a sales counselor you might think that these factors are beyond your control, (can you really help it if the GPS gave the wrong directions?). In reality, you are the Master of First Impressions and it is incumbent upon you and other members of the sales team to be mindful of the importance of first impressions. Areas you should focus on include:
Signage – is the signage clear and positioned well to be seen from all angles?
Parking Lot – is there parking specifically designated for marketing office visitors?
Landscaping – does the landscaping have year-round appeal?
Entryway/Lobby – is the entrance easy to find and free of obstacles? Is the lobby warm and inviting? Are visitors welcomed warmly and sincerely?
Public Restrooms – are the restrooms clean, odor-free and modern?
Hallways – are the hallways well-lit, is artwork appropriate, and is the carpeting in good shape?
Models – are model units cleaned frequently? Is the décor in keeping with your target audience’s taste?
Why are first impressions important?
A first impression sets the tone for the rest of the visit – usually within the first four to five seconds. A first impression affects how people make instant judgments about the quality of life they might experience at your community. It’s difficult to overcome a bad first impression once it is formed. Think of the tone and positioning you deliberately set with your brochure or web site. Does the customer’s first impression align with the expectations you’ve set?
Three ways to approach an understanding of perceptions of your community are:
Mystery shop – A mystery shop of your community will readily reveal weaknesses in your product or sales approach. Mystery shops should be done in person, on the phone and over the internet to get the complete picture of how your community stacks up.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis – A SWOT is a more deliberative approach to evaluating strengths and weaknesses and usually involves the marketing team along with management and department heads to get everyone’s input.
Focus Groups – Focus groups of your newer residents can be useful in understanding their first impressions and why they selected your community over another.
Solutions Advisors understands the importance of first impressions and has compiled a First Impressions Assessment Tool to help you conduct your own in-house audit.