Developing Leads to Older Consumers
by Louis Tenanbaum, CAPS, Independent Living Specialist and member of the ASID Aging-in-Place Council
Assuming you have done your market research and have identified a potential market in your community for aging in place design, your next step is to make contact with consumers who are in need of your services. If you are new to this type of design, you may need to go outside your usual network to find these clients. Developing a relationship with the Aging Network in your community is a good place to start.
Cultivating new lead sources among the senior provider community can increase your lead sources and client base. Every community in the country has an Area Agency on Aging. These agencies are mandated by the Older Americans Act and administered locally. They operate differently in each community, and some are called by different names. The range and quality of services vary widely. In the best cases, the agencies facilitate networking meetings and publish helpful pamphlets, guides and resource directories in addition to coordinating client services to older residents. You can find out about the AAA in your area by calling your county government office.
Senior providers in many communities have well developed networks. This is not just networking; this is The Network. Senior service providers have recognized their network for years. Taking part in provider communities is an important type of network marketing.
This can be a valuable source of leads, but be cautious. Senior providers are wary of unscrupulous providers who prey on senior clients. If you are beginning to attend senior network events to sell home modifications be extra careful. There are two reasons. There is a long history of home improvement scams on older homeowners. In addition, many senior network providers are not yet familiar with the mechanism and value of home modifications. No one likes a loud and pushy new kid on the block. Bide your time. Let these folks get to know you. If you are worthy, they will begin to trust you and take an interest in what you do, how they can help you, and how you can help their clients.
Following is a list of continuum partners who may be active in your community or network, have an interest in seniors and may be valuable lead sources.
Rehab professionals, OTs, PTs, rehab engineer professionals
Directors, managers and sales and marketing folks from:
- Assisted living
- Group homes
- Nursing homes
- Continuing care communities
- Volunteer visitors groups
- The receptionist or nurse at the doctor’s office
- Home health agencies
- Nursing and Home Health aides
- Home (HME) and Durable Medical (DME) Equipment Suppliers
- Geriatric care managers
- Transport systems and companies, transportation services, including paratransit
- Volunteer drivers / Meals on Wheels
- Chore services
- Daily help and minder services
- Bill-paying services
- Real estate agents
- Insurers and long term care insurers
- Reverse mortgage lenders and financial planners
- Elder law attorneys and trust officers
- Non-profit associations/affinity/support groups/local AARP chapter
- Alzheimer’s, etc.
- Pastoral services
- Human Resources departments
A word of caution: Cultivating the senior network is worthwhile. It is a very tight and ethical community. Hard work, diligence and patience are required to establish trust. Losing their good favor is much easier. It only takes one bad report to dig a hole out of which it may be impossible to climb.
Once you establish your best lead sources court those leads for more referrals. It is important to ask for the leads. Without asking your “partners” may not know that you are looking for leads. They may assume that you have all the work you want or can handle.
Cultivating leads may mean gifts, holiday and birthday cards, or lunches. Let your lead sources know you are interested in them. Ask sources about their problems and difficulties and help them fill gaps. You may find that filling a need they have costs you little or nothing and makes a strong impression and a network partner for life. Better yet filling their needs may be an additional source of work or revenue for you.
Louis Tenenbaum is an independent living specialist. To find out more about his work, visit aginginplaceguide.blogspot.com/ or www.louistenenbaum.com.