PRESENTING THE BASICS
For those who may be new to the senior living industry, let’s talk about some basics in representing a Life Plan Residency Contract. Up until this moment, a prospect has probably been involved in a living situation within the realm of real estate. They have either owned property or rented. Prospects walk in the door with a familiarity and comfort level with the concept of real estate, and it is often hard for them to shift to a model in which they have no or limited proprietary rights. So how do we explain the large entry fee when they will NOT be owning the property?
The language you use and your explanation of the Life Plan concept are crucial to a prospect’s understanding – and potential acceptance - of the Life Plan model.Prospects often visit us with the misconception that they are “buying in” to our residences. The best way to engage them is to dispel all thoughts or references that relate to real estate. Instead of “buying in,” a new resident is making an investment into their future security. The emphasis should be placed on the priority access to quality healthcare that a plan provides regardless of the “what-ifs” that life throws your way. Openly discuss the relationship of a Life Plan Community to long term care insurance, particularly if your plan offers reduced monthly fees in the future. If you have refundable fees, be sure to clarify to the prospect the lesser amount that will be retained by the community; the small percentage the community retains versus the refundable amount. Use investment terms like “return on investment” and discuss the values earned such as the peace of mind for the future.
Also, consider the use of the term agreement rather than contract. The term contract connotes a formalized, legal agreement which can be a turn- off to many.
EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT
For those guests who are new to the concept, take the time to explain the level of assurances a Life Plan Community offers. Discuss the access to health care and your community’s history of serving people who have exhausted their assets. Once again, equate the agreement to long term care insurance. A resident is not buying a home; rather, they are investing in an insurance (or should I say assurance) plan for their future. Directly ask the question: how much is your or your children’s peace of mind worth to you?
With the permission of the leadership of my community, I often explain the Entry Fee as the money used for possible support in long term care should the need arise; whereas, the monthly fee is more operationally based. Using this explanation assists in revealing why a monthly fee increases considerably for the next level of care when additional staff hours are required by medically-trained personnel. It also serves as an explanation for the retention of Entry Fees while a resident moves through the level of cares. Even after they have vacated their Independent Living home, the assurance of the Life Plan continues with them.
EQUIP PROSPECTS WITH KNOWLEDGE
After guests are equipped with the basic understanding of the concept, it is time to point out the highlights of your particular contract type(s). Each contract has different advantages, particularly considering the different health, financial, and long term care coverage of each individual. Stay tuned for a separate discussion of each contract and their values and benefits.
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About the Author
Patty Scotten is a consultant with Retirement DYNAMICS® and serves as their marketing manager. Patty has over twenty five years’ experience in the senior living industry and has led several communities in preselling expansions or increasing occupancy levels. She graduated from Elon University and holds a Masters Degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patty is licensed as both an assisted living and nursing home administrator.