Most of us have experienced leaving a room with a purpose in mind only to arrive in the new room empty-minded; we blame distraction, fatigue, age, ADHD or all of the above. Recent research from the University of Notre Dame proves that walking through a doorway tends to make people forget. It's normal and somewhere between widespread and universal. It's even true with "virtual tours." It's the doorway that matters, not the door, so the old trick of removing doors in model units may make rooms look bigger, but it won't help recall. Most of the time, this is a minor aggravation and sooner or later we remember the reason and complete our missions, but what if the business at hand consists mostly of entering, leaving and entering more rooms?
I'm thinking of the process of taking a prospective retirement community resident around to see the amenities and residences. Staff tends to think of every doorway as a chance to show some community advantage, but what if every doorway is one more opportunity to forget?
As often is the case, research can tell us that a problem is real, but it is much less helpful in telling us how to manage the problem. I'm not a psychologist or sales person, I haven't tested these suggestions in the real world and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so my suggestions may be way off. My best advice is to try your own coping strategies to see what works.
- Find out what is important to your prospects and don't show them anything else.
- Minimize the number of residences you show each prospect; the fewer doors, the fewer memory leaks.
- Intake interview. When you enter the room, remind them why you're there – "You were interested in seeing the view from this side."
- Exit interview. When you have left the room, ask "Would that kitchen give you space to do the baking you said you love to do?"
- Vive la différence. People probably remember a furnished and occupied residence better than a vacant one.
- Person-centered. Make opportunities to discuss the space in terms of how it will help the prospects achieve their own goals – "Would this patio make it easy to walk your Shih Tzu?"
What May Not Work Well
- Would it help to stand in the hallway and look into the chapel instead of admiring the stained glass up close?
- Would it be better to alternate residences and amenities?
- Do names help? Is a floor plan more memorable as The Pomegranate or as an "E suite?"
- Would pictures help as reminders? What if you asked "would you like me to snap a picture of the view from this living room?"
As in all interactions that you have with prospects, families and guests, plan ahead with an individual approach for each one. Next week, we will explore our conversations during discovery and how we might encourage our prospects to share more. Stay tuned.
...Whenever God opens a door, he closes a memory...
Thanks to Jeff House for his contribution to the RD Blog.
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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.