Sales and Marketing Panel: A Discussion with PointClickCare – Senior Housing News

This article is brought to you by PointClickCare. The article is based on an interview that took place during a virtual panel discussion with Murry Mercier, Industry Market Leader for Senior Living with PointClickCare; Lynne Katzmann, founder, CEO, and president of Juniper Communities; and Brenda Connelly, COO of The Springs Living. The panel took place virtually on January 20, 2022. This is an excerpt from the session, which has been edited for length and clarity.

SHN: This session is Confronting the Staffing Crisis in Senior Living. Before we begin, I want to say thank you to our thought leadership sponsors, Sherpa, Conversion Logix, and PointClickCare, and to our awareness sponsors,, Vector, and Gemini Advanced Marketing Solutions.

I’m joined by Murry Mercier, from PointClickCare. More than 26,000 skilled nursing facilities, senior living communities, and home health agencies rely on PointClickCare every day to build innovative solutions that transform the way care is delivered. As the industry has become more complex, PointClickCare has continued to eliminate data silos and boundaries between care settings to connect stakeholders to the meaningful insights that help them make better decisions for their businesses, residents, and patients.

Also with us is Brenda Connelly, of The Springs Living. Brenda began her career in skilled nursing where she ascended from being a CNA into management and leadership roles. She has been with The Springs Living since 2010, holding various positions, including Chief Quality Officer, and she became COO in August 2020. McMinnville, Oregon-based The Springs, operates 20 senior living communities across Oregon, Montana, and Washington.

We’re joined by Lynne Katzmann, of Juniper Communities. Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Juniper operates a portfolio of 28 communities across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Texas. Juniper has been lauded for its innovative approach to senior living, including its Connect for Life approach to integrated care, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations, driving down costs while achieving quality outcomes for residents. In 2020, Lynne was inducted into the American Seniors Housing Association’s Senior Living Hall of Fame.

We’ve got a big topic to tackle today and lots to talk about. I’m sure that everyone who is tuned into this session is well aware of the intense workforce challenges facing senior living today. I’ve heard in our reporting from many industry veterans that recruitment and retention is harder today than it’s ever been in the last 30 years. Lynne, I want to start with you, and just to see if you agree with that assessment of the workforce situation. Are current labor challenges the toughest you’ve seen in your career?

Lynne Katzmann: It’s right up there. The last couple of years have brought many unexpected challenges to us, and the labor situation is both created by the pandemic and the challenges we face there and exacerbated, I believe, by that. The pandemic has made it worse than it has been in a very long time. A lot of people were either afraid of being sick, or became sick, or became tired. We’re seeing a lot of early retirement of people who might normally under other circumstances have stayed in the workforce for a longer period of time.

Our consumer is changing. What that means is that we need people with a different set of skills, which creates a different kind of challenge. People have to be really good change managers right now, particularly on the leadership side. We need to not only handle change. We need to be able to lead change, not just follow directions. That’s hard for a lot of people who come from a very regulated industry. That’s concern number two.

I would say technology is advancing and accelerating during these last two years or more. I think that’s very exciting. I think those three things coming together in the midst of challenges none of us have faced in our lifetime have created a very challenging situation.

SHN: Got it. Brenda, same question to you, have you ever seen labor challenges greater than they are today?

Brenda Connelly: Well, I would certainly agree with Lynne’s statements. There’s no question that it’s right up there, if not the most difficult time in my career. I think the interesting thing about it is it truly isn’t just affecting health care, it’s not just affecting senior living, it impacts the entire world. We have all gone to a restaurant or a retail store and saw the signs, “We’re short-staffed. Please be kind to those who show up.”

Ultimately, I think it’s changed the way we even communicate internally within our residents in bringing them along on the journey with us. The struggles that we’re facing in addition to finding and retaining good talent and making sure that residents, along with their families, we’re all a part of this together, and they’ve really embraced that as a part of our comprehensive strategy. It takes thinking differently, and I agree with Lynne’s statements around being change agents, as well as determining who’s our target audience for these various positions in our communities.

SHN: All right. Lynne, I want to go back to you for this next question. This panel is part of the Sales and Marketing Summit. I want to bring it to sales. You’ve mentioned that you’ve learned that recruitment is a sales function. I’m wondering if you can explain what you mean by that.

Katzmann: Sure. Early in the pandemic, people were getting COVID, our associates were getting COVID, and they were out, and suddenly we realized we needed more people, and we had to recruit. We recruited Murry onto our team at one of our buildings, or he willingly joined us and was an incredible support. We had salespeople but we weren’t bringing in new residents at that point in time. We were shut down to new admissions. We had these salespeople and we needed to recruit.

We created a recruitment workforce group, or a workgroup for recruitment, I should say. It was our accounting team and our sales team because those were people who weren’t on the front lines, that had skills. What we learned though was fascinating, that salespeople really could recruit. Why were they good at what they did? Because they knew how to tell our story, they knew how to talk about our culture, and about what we did, and the purpose that we bring to people’s lives. More importantly, they understood the importance of speed to lead and consistent follow-up.

What we learned is that the first one to call someone back or respond via text, or in some fashion, tended to get that person’s attention, and consistently following up, doing what you say you’re going to do made a huge difference. Both of those are key parts of our sales process. We’ve learned that really recruitment is about sales, and some of the best recruiters are salespeople.

SHN: Great. Brenda, I think The Springs has also rolled up recruiting under sales and marketing. Is that right, and can you describe that?

Connelly: We did. Just like what Juniper did, we saw very early on the similarities between sales and recruiting. We formally added a recruiter to our home office work team to help support the communities, but as a new strategy, we actually rolled that recruiter up underneath our sales and marketing director. The reason for that is because the similarities and parallels between those two workflows, prospects, bringing them in as new residents, and then candidates, attracting candidates and bringing them in as new employees, that journey is very similar. Additionally, it’s a fast process, it’s something that requires intense relationship building, and who better than our sales team to be able to build those relationships on the front end.

Through this process, we recognized early that data is king. Do we truly know how many positions we are trying to recruit for? We called that our staff vacancy rate, and that is very similar to community occupancy rates, or census, or however you want to look at it. Who’s our target audience for our recruitment? Qualified lead generation for candidates, same as what we do on the prospect side. How many candidates do we need to fill open roles, knowing that not every candidate that applies to us is going to be a good fit? How many do we need? What’s that ratio in order to fill the vacant positions we have? If we don’t have enough leads, we need to do something different.

Then what is our inquiry to interview ratio? We know that if we can get folks to the table and have that interview, we can really share who we are as an organization. That has to be high. With all the ghosting out there of people who will apply and then not show up, we had to make sure that we had a high number of leads. Then our interview to hire ratios. As Lynne was talking about with the speediness of this, we may have within 24 hours or less to get back to a sales lead on the resident side, we want it as quickly as possible. We’re finding that we have to get back to candidates within an hour, or they may have five other interviews set up and they’re not interested. You have to be very, very quick.

We engaged our sales teams in the communities to join us, and they were excited to do that because they know how important the resident experience is, and they recognize that there’s a direct correlation by having the highest quality team members there. We were pleased with the results. Brand-new ads, digital campaigns, all driven by our sales and marketing team to bring in, increased our job site traffic up to 50%. We’re really seeing the success of that with the decline in staff vacancy rates in our buildings.

SHN: Murray, I’m curious from your interactions with PCC clients, what can you share about how providers are approaching recruitment and retention in this environment? If you can add to what we’ve heard from Lynne and Brenda?

Murry Mercier: Sure. I’ll just mention that Lynne didn’t have to do anything to sell me on coming into the community. Not to be selfish, but really, I knew what it was to be in the community, and I knew what I was going to get out of it. I only knew that because I’ve been in and around the industry for 20 years. The reality is that that isn’t the case for most of the general population. They don’t understand what they’re going to get out of participating in such a community and how intrinsically valuable that can be to them.

To answer your question, really anything and everything possible, but it really comes down to selling your community as a great place to live in, work in, interact with. That is all about the people. It’s a literal land grab for staff. As far as the technology conversation goes, I see providers really holding themselves accountable to providing staff the information and tools that they need to do the job, and right now do the job on the fly.

It was a blind spot for me. I think of myself as a forward-thinking person in this industry, but I never really thought about the prospective staff’s interaction with my community, from the time they thought I might want to get a job in this industry. What is their experience when they come to my landing page and search for a job? What is their experience when they call and come in for an interview? Then they sign on for the job, and then they go through their onboarding process, which traditionally was a three-week process where it was very long and drawn out. We had to teach you all this stuff because we couldn’t hand you a tool that gave you the information that you needed to do the job.

I really appreciate that folks are now focused on how I facilitate the majority of my staff. 85% of our staff are direct-care staff in our industry. How can I facilitate a better experience for them? I also see organizations listening more than ever to employees’ feedback around the tools and technology that’s in place, which introduces a whole new challenge related to making good global decisions about technology. I appreciate that the conversation is happening, and we’ll deal with those new challenges as they come.

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity. To watch the full discussion on video, please visit:

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