Ep. 9 Sales and Marketing Excellence at 12 Oaks

Mar 4, 2024 | Podcast

Aaron Catoe, Senior Vice President of Operations, and David Ensor, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, join Greg Puklicz, President of 12 Oaks Senior Living, to delve into their approach to sales and marketing. Aaron and David address how connection, mindset, and care impact their outcomes.

Listen Now

Learn more about 12 Oaks Senior Living.

Subscribe to The Roots Podcast on YouTube.

You are listening to The Roots Podcast by 12 Oaks, with host Greg Pulitz, where we’ll be joined by industry leaders to discuss and highlight the character competency and care that is required to successfully manage senior living portfolios.

Greg (00:15):

Welcome to a new episode of The Roots podcast, brought to you by 12 Oak Senior Living. And today I’d like to welcome first a Roots podcast veteran, Aaron Catoe.

Aaron (00:28):

Thank You, Greg. Appreciate it.

Greg (00:30):

Participant in the most highly watched Roots podcast ever. Congratulations on that.

Aaron (00:36):

That’s right.

Greg (00:39):

Congratulations on that.

Aaron (00:39):

That’s very encouraging.

Greg (00:39):

Travels and our rookie. I see you brought with you today. David Ensor.

David (00:45):

This is the most exciting moment of my life right now. Well,

Greg (00:50):

Awesome. We’re really glad to have you. It’s exciting for us too. Have you on board here at 12 Oaks Senior living and, bringing in your sales and marketing knowledge. So today’s topic is just that. Sales and marketing in senior housing. What makes 12 Oaks unique in terms of, uh, sales and marketing?

David (01:13):

You know, senior living is one of the most, I don’t think there is a more personal business. And by focusing on the person and starting there and then working backwards, I think that’s really from my experience, uh, what sets us apart here.

Aaron (01:27):

Yeah. And on focus on the person, I’m gonna expand on that up. You know, there’s a focus, obviously traditionally with the prospect from the leasing counselor, but also unique to 12 Oaks is that from 12 Oaks as an organization, there’s a focus on the leasing staff and their wellbeing and their understanding and their abilities and their skillset, so on and so forth. Do I can provide examples of how later should you wish.

Greg (01:56):

I mean, there’s a lot to unpack there, so to speak. So maybe what elements do you feel require that focus

David (02:06):

You can’t lose sight of where, you know, we deal with families, we deal with people, we deal with moms and dads. You can’t lose sight of where they’re at when they come to us. Um, and taking that, the personal side and connecting first with the human being that you’re talking to and meeting them where they’re at before going into, you know, we’ve got a bus and we’ve got food and we’ve got this and we’ve got all, all these other, it’s, you have to connect with the person first. And I think that’s where it, where it starts. And you know, to your point, not just with the leads, but everybody in the, in the process, yes.

Aaron (02:44):

Somehow, as if that relaying of a bus and three squares a day is gonna reverse 40 years of home and memories that people have been in and all of a sudden just click and say, oh, wow. I guess I didn’t realize how nice her bus was. I can give up my home and emotion and all the memories

David (03:04):

Or dealing with a daughter who, you know, just found her mom on the floor who didn’t know how long her mom’s been there, mom didn’t know what day it was. You know, they’re calling in trying to get help and first thing you hear is, we got bingo on Thursday, you guys, maybe you can bring mom to that. Right. Just really understanding that, wow, that’s hard. How are you? Yeah. And, and connecting with the person first.

Aaron (03:26):

That’s good. I want to tag on that because something David and I have been on calls together with is that, that comment earlier of focusing on the leasing person as well is one of the trainings we do is we teach about emotion. And that in this world, uh, that emotion, emotion’s a signal and the vast majority of people listen to those signals of what to do. Like, for example, an emotion of jealousy may be a signal that something’s missing joy, something is fulfilled. Anger, something is out of alignment. Now, when we’re dealing in the selling process of connecting and untangling, there’s usually an emotion of fear. Now it may be called anxiety or even a lower level of apprehension or some nervousness, but that’s a signal to that prospect or that family member. And most people, when they feel fear, they withdraw to safety. And so when there’s a fear or an anxiety about moving into a congregate setting, the natural response is, I want to withdraw and move away from the fear and forward the safety of the status quo of where I am. And so in this focus with a leasing counselor that we’re speaking to, it’s an ability to recognize that, to attune with it and lean into it or lean into what may be perceived as negative and help the prospect untangle that fear so that it can be metabolized and processed through so that an advancement may occur.

Greg (05:00):

The emphasis is really on the person on the establishing trust and establishing the relationships. So relational selling, I suppose.

Aaron (05:11):

A hundred percent correct.

Greg (05:12):

Yeah. So are there certain steps that, uh, the, sales counselor needs to go through to establish that connection, to establish that relationship?

David (05:24):

Kind of the, the most basic is, in my mind, slow down and take time and be present and not, not feel like, you know, for so long as a, you know, I’ve been a career salesperson, everything is so metrically driven, which is metrics are important, but, yeah. Making sure that sales, whoever it is, even the ed, whoever at that community that is connecting with that person feels confident and comfortable to slow down and be in the moment with them. If, if that doesn’t happen first, then nothing else after can happen.

Aaron (06:04):

Yeah, yeah. Like the logical process of a move and understanding those dynamics seem to be blocked until that emotional connection occurs. And to answer your question specifically of what needs to occur, first it is establishing a trust between the leasing counselor and the prospect or the influencer. And to do that, there’s some specific steps. And while we won’t go over all five, you know, a quick example is I walk into the dentist’s office and I’m really hurting, and the dentist understands, Hey, that sounds like it’s very painful. I know they understand. And then second, he expresses his intent of, listen, I’d like to get you out of pain. So I have understanding and intent. So trust is being built and then becomes, then comes the ability with it. Now if he says, all right, let’s do some surgery and get you out of pain, and he pulls out his phone and looks up on YouTube of how to do a tooth extraction, you know, I’ve lost some trust in their ability as a dentist and how they can help me. So it’s the same with a leasing counselor as we’re understanding, excuse me, establishing an understanding through a skill called attunement, our intent of what we’re gonna do, and then the ability to speak logically and, uh, coherently about what steps need to be done.

Greg (07:29):

Mom’s fouled on the floor doesn’t know what day it is, and there’s an urgent need for placement, right? An urgent need and a realization. The family has a realization they need to place mom in a secure, uh, and safe environment. Um, and maybe they visit one of our communities, they go and they visit two or three other communities as the other communities are giving them pricing and packages. And we are not, we’re stuck on connection. How then do we compete?

Aaron (08:06):

It’s like two wings of a plane to have this plane lift off what you’re speaking about of the actual placement, but there’s a whole other problem that needs to be identified. And that problem is that daughter, that family member wants the pain to stop. Like this is something I’m, that’s unknown and that has to be addressed. So there’s almost an urgency in placement and in the pain stopping both need to be solved in order for the advancement to occur. And so if we just did one, it would be stuck and it would be, would be a disadvantage to another senior housing community. But if you’re doing both, you move that disadvantage into an actual advantage ’cause you understand the real issues at hand.

Greg (08:50):

How does establishing that relationship create that advantage over a competitor maybe with a better special price this month?

Aaron (08:58):

They may, they may have a better special price and they may have a bigger apartment and they may have a nicer bus, they may have all of those things, but those things are not the primary of why a decision is made. The care is why the decision is made and the stopping of the pain is why the decisions made. So the advantage is that trust is built and people really do business with people they trust. And while that bus and that apartment size is nice, you know, this trust is what permits the decision to move forward with this, with this facility, so to speak.

David (09:37):

Well, the other side of it is we’re not, we are not renting an apartment. Right. What we’re selling is not an apartment and care, it’s a lifestyle for their most treasured family members. So without that connection, without that, you know, I, I had the thought as you were talking of, you know, when it comes time for me to interview babysitters, I’m not gonna go with the one that has just a degree and the lowest price. Right? It’s, that relationship matters, especially with what we do, because that’s where mom or dad or both are gonna be living, right? It’s not a short term rehab. They’re not checking into a hospital, they’re not getting a tooth extracted, it’s their home. So without that connection, there could be a, a situation where, you know, a competitor has a lower price and that’s what’s important. Okay. But more often than not, if you’re looking for a place where you’re gonna put your mom, you’re gonna put her where you trust and where you have that relationship and where that’s that emotional connection comes from.

Aaron (10:45):

So you’re saying this isn’t just a transactional, right? This is a transformational kind of decision. Not just something that’s, I purchased this and I get this in return.

David (10:54):

A hundred pecent. Right.

Greg (10:55):

So let’s shift our conversation a little bit to marketing. Alright. How we market these communities. 12 Oak Senior Living is recently undergone a significant, uh, amount of growth. We’re 39 communities now ranging from communities out with Sweetwater in Pampa, Texas to, uh, you know, more affluent, uh, suburban locations in the Houston area, Dallas, we’re in Tucson. So all these communities, some are bigger, some are smaller, some have $1,800 price points, some have $6,000 price points. You know, how does one size fit all? How do you, you know, take our marketing programs and standardize them and you know, roll them out to all these communities?

David (11:41):

The way that message comes across and, and the, um, flexibility of how we go about doing that, I think is really what sets us apart. So for example, a community in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and the surrounding area in Muskogee, Oklahoma is very different than North Dallas or Dallas. Um, and you have to be flexible enough to adjust your strategies to the market you’re in. Um, so I think one size fits all as far as what we provide, but then you have to get creative and have the flexibility to adjust to the market you’re in.

Aaron (12:24):

Yeah. David seems to be speaking to a great concept and it’s an, an open loop concept and a closed loop concept and, closed loop, like in the accounting world a lot A leads to B to C to D, and if there’s a mess up, you just go back up the line or through the circle and you fix it. And human behavior in this open loop, it’s has all sorts of dynamics of A to B. And it may be B one, B two come back to B, then it may go to E because it’s so, uh, diverse in behavior. And so what you’re saying with each property is it’s not just a closed loop system. What may make work at one from A to B to C may be a whole different dynamic because of an external factor over here that’s injected into the format.

David (13:15):

For example, you have a community in an affluent area that is doing a great job renting, you know, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, but no one wants to rent a studio because they can afford a one bedroom or two bedroom apartment. You could either keep kind of doing the same thing and hoping it’s gonna change, or you get creative and think about in this area, how, how do we reach a clientele that could benefit from a, from a studio apartment, um, that kind of adjustment that you have to make on the fly.

Greg (13:46):

So is that your guys’ approach here? I mean, would you say it’s more a bespoke approach to marketing?

David (13:52):

I mean, a hundred percent I think so. Yeah.

Greg (13:54):

Obviously, you know, the two points of emphasis within the senior housing industry these days are number one census, number two labor. Let’s talk about census building census. One of the biggest challenges, you know, 12 Oaks is gonna face in 2024 is continuing to build on the success we already had in 2023. How do we keep moving the needle on census?

Aaron (14:21):

Four key components. And we’re really analyzing those and it’d be like the property, uh, lead generation or traffic, the staff skillset and ability and even the processes within the property itself. And those four components each analyze we find what may be falling, where there may be leaks, so to speak, that we would need to repair in that, uh, format that can keep us on track with the same trajectories we’ve had earlier this year and into this year.

David (14:54):

Reducing the noise. Uh, I think especially at a community level, as you grow an occupancy, you come across different challenges that you weren’t having before. Right? Um, success can not all can at times lead to a bit of a fallback after, you know, like you think of a, think of a football player, they have a great year, then the next year not as good. Um, I think that comes down to noise and focus and helping the teams do all the things we’ve been talking about, right? Not losing focus of the person in front of them, not losing focus of, you know, once you’ve made that connection following the process, us not losing focus on staying nimble when it comes to our marketing strategies and different things like that. You know, keeping your laser focus while trying to reduce that external noise.

Aaron (15:49):

These are the things that must be done and all the others popular, but it can be noise. It’s not a vital and you want to use your energy for the vitals that keep things

David (15:58):

What you like to say, important versus urgent, right? And remaining focused on that thing that got you there. And I feel like as leaders, all of us, our job is to help kind of keep stave off the noise as much as we can so that the people that are doing all the hard work, uh, can focus on what they need to do.

Greg (16:17):

Well awesome. I’ve enjoyed our conversation delving a little bit more into the minds that drive sales and marketing at, 12 Oaks Senior Living. So great.

David (16:28):

Thanks for having us.

Greg (16:29):

Thank you, David. And thank you for listening to The Roots podcast, brought to you by 12 Oaks Senior Living.

Speaker 1 (16:37):

We hope you enjoy this episode of The Roots Podcast by 12 Oaks. Get connected with us on social media and at twelveoaks.com.