Amy Hutchins (06:58):
It's a little bit of differentiation and it's interesting because we're very Midwest focused. If we look at a lot of maybe what some organizations on the West Coast or East Coast are doing, I would say they're a bit more edgy in their approach and dialogue, the public awareness is probably a little greater out west. Whenever you have a healthcare component tied to a community, a piece of your business, I think it automatically just gets that nursing home edge. And when we think of our business, we are 100% focused on health and wellbeing. We don't even necessarily like to categorize ourselves in the senior living market. We like to say the health and wellbeing market.
It's finding a way to change that narrative while also making sure that people get the fact that yes, you can come and get healthcare with us, but that's not what leads us and drives us. It's about helping you live a longer, healthier, more joyful life. And I think when we start to talk about a more joyful life, that's not what people think about right now if they're entering in a senior living community, that's not only focused on that active adult.
Jen Spencer (08:10):
Yeah. I mean, what you're describing sounds like a retreat experience, sounds like vacation, resort. Going to a place in Arizona, we have Miraval, these experiences where that could use that same language around health and wellness. What an interesting differentiator and coming from, I have some experience working in nonprofit and you're always asking yourself, "If we didn't exist tomorrow, who would suffer?" And clearly you're filling a really important need, in your region and in the space.
You're newer to this industry, but if you think about your team, your responsibility that you have in the organization, as there are different shifts, as there are changes in this space, how do you prepare yourself for that? How do you prepare your team? I think about the challenges that so many of our clients faced during the pandemic, that we're still dealing with. And that was, I mean unexpected, very new, no playbook for something like that. But I think a lot of learning happened along the way. I just would love to hear a little bit more about as things happen, as things shift in the industry, how do you shift alongside?
Amy Hutchins (09:47):
The team, I wasn't here yet, I wasn't with WesleyLife when the pandemic first hit and I kind of came in, well, let's say I came in, in spring of 2021. You felt like things were a little bit more manageable and then there was a resurgence, so I've really only heard stories. And certainly at that time, it was all hands on deck from more of that operations perspective. The communications that were going out were more focused on our residents and for our team members than necessarily us being out prospecting. People couldn't come tour a community. We were trying to find ways to do this virtually and keep business moving forward, while at the same time, the health and safety of our residents and team members were the number one priority. Now though, so challenge, I would like to say WesleyLife very much overcame that. It breaks my heart because I hear of other organizations and communities that didn't make it through.
They weren't able to overcome some of those terrible unexpected challenges that happen. Wesley, from what I am seeing is just continued to grow stronger, which is quite amazing. We had my gosh, we had 1, 2, 3 communities actually being built, being developed. We had somewhere close to $100,000,000 in development occurring when the pandemic hit and all of those communities are now open and filling, so that's amazing. I think the team here has also looked at those challenges as some of our biggest opportunities as well. The senior living, I say that in air quotes, but the senior living industry, gosh, I don't want to say took the biggest hit early on because so many markets took a big hit, but man, we took a hit and it was from a perception perspective as well. The last place I want to be is in one of these air quotes, nursing homes, that's where everyone's dying.
And when you're inside, the perspective is this is actually where we're able to keep everyone a lot more safe because we can be hands on. We now, that challenge was the perception around what we offer and folks not wanting to live in a community such as WesleyLife's or an organization like ours. Now we're in a unique position to say, "Okay, what a better time to change that narrative than now, because we are in the news and we are being talked about, so let's leverage that. Let's take that challenge, turn it into an opportunity and really help guide and educate people on what it means to be a part of an organization like ours." The other challenge too, that no one could predict a year ago was the staffing shortage, shortage of team members. It's almost, I even heard some say that the aftermath of COVID has almost been more challenging than when we were living in the thick of it, because now we're seeing that the way we currently do business, may not ever go back to the way that it was.
We have to think about how we're servicing our customers and what we're promising them, because it doesn't look the same as it did three years ago, which again, just ties into, is it new markets? Is it new service lines that we have to offer? The other thing that I think is a lovely opportunity is because that perception's changed a little bit, people want to age at home and we have those at home services and we're putting a lot more emphasis now through inbound on what we mean when we talk about WesleyLife at home, because we offer at home services. But what more can we do in that space? Because you're not going to convince someone to leave their home, if they're married [inaudible 00:13:37]. If they want to age in place and age at home, we want to be able to again, meet them where they are and find ways to be able to help guide them through that.
Jen Spencer (13:46):
I think it's for folks who aren't really familiar with this space, even hiring and retaining talent was a challenge pre pandemic. I know we've had clients where we've used inbound marketing to continue to recruit and build talent pipeline for them, because we have an aging population. And so it's the numbers, the numbers are just there. But I love that you are in a position where you can lean into how the market is shifting. If people say, "Yeah, I want to be at home." Maybe they were more open to living in a different kind of a community. But now they're like, "No, you know what? I feel safer at home. I'm more comfortable. I've invested in my home more." And it's definitely a benefit for you as an organization to be able to continue to provide the kind of care that you provide, regardless of where that person is.
Amy Hutchins (14:56):
Also, timing was such that, the beginning of this year, I always have to stop, what year are we? 2022. The beginning of this year, we really dove into some brand work as well and really digging into our foundation and the things that we've landed on as a part of those workshops and a part of those exercises. I don't know that we would've landed on pre pandemic. We've shaped, it took months, but we're shaping our new vision to become the most dynamic and inclusive champion to revolutionize the experience of aging. We're not talking about transforming, we're talking about something, we need a revolution in the way that this system works. There's a lot of positives that came out of some of these challenges, at least in terms of how we're thinking differently and where we want to go in the future.
Jen Spencer (15:43):
That's really exciting. Do you find that there are others in the space that are championing a similar message? Do you feel you're kind of on an island and you're trying to plant the flag? Are you first to market with this kind of concept or this point of view?
Amy Hutchins (16:08):
We need more of us. So there are absolutely other organizations and other individuals and other even educational entities that are behind this sort of look at this revolution and really advancing the experience of aging. But more few and far in between then the masses. In that sense, yes, I feel like we're becoming part of a more niche group that doesn't just talk about it, but now wants to actually do something about it.
Jen Spencer (16:41):
Let's say I could write you, I could give you a blank check that could be used on marketing, so any number, whatever it is. Big dreamer kind of moment and you can launch any kind of marketing campaign that you would like. Do you know how you would spend that cash?
Amy Hutchins (17:00):
Any sort of marketing campaign? Well, it would be, I think when you think as bold as what we are attempting to do and revolutionize, it's not a one channel thing. We need to get out there in so many different ways and it is continuing on with some of our brand work. It is making sure that our brand is fully integrated into our culture. And we're really fusing those two. We all know team member experience or employee experience is what drives our customer experience, so really capitalizing on that and figuring out how we truly take our brand and our mission and our vision and all these wonderful brand foundational components and really operationalize that in our culture and then outward.
We want our team to live and breathe what it is that we're outside talking to our prospects and sales about. And I do think inbound plays such a critical role. If we're talking about changing the narrative on a more massive scale, I don't know how we would do something like that without inbound being a part of that and helping again, change that narrative shift, what people are searching for. Shift how people view, what it is that we're doing.
Jen Spencer (18:17):
Yeah. I see almost a convergence of, well, it's why we call intelligent inbound, but it's inbound marketing plus public relations. And I think about PR being internal and external and to your point, it doesn't matter what you say on the outside, but it's from the inside and the work that's being done inside that inside out effect is so much more powerful. And well also can destroy whatever else I know presenting externally, if the whole team is not aligned, if you don't really share that same vision, that same culture.
Amy Hutchins (18:54):
So that's really where my focus has been and I think the part that I'll think about as I'm going to bed at night is how do we and this is where some of our partners like SmartBug and ThatTeam can help us better understand if we're changing the narrative, how are we doing that online as well? How are we able to still be effective and still garner the traffic that we need and the leads that we need, if we're not necessarily speaking the same language that folks are out there searching for and looking for?
Jen Spencer (19:27):
I remember, so my last company that I was at before SmartBug, software company, totally different space, but we had a very bold kind of idea, vision, wanted to be a disruptor in our space. Our founders were against using certain terminology, very similar, because we don't want to be associated with this. But where we struggled from a search engine optimization perspective was, well, shoot, the people who we would be selling our thing too. This is what they're searching for. So having to get really creative with having to also... Sorry, I should say educate internally, "You're going to see these words on our website, but you're going to see them as we don't call it this, and this is why we don't call it this, we call it that." We have to actually explain that to Google search algorithms and to human beings and we can't just say this blanketed, "No, we're just not going to use these words," because that's what people, to your point they're actually searching for.
Amy Hutchins (20:34):
And that's how we felt about senior living. If you go to our website, you're going to see a lot of talk about senior living and what it is and what it is not, even though we talk about ourselves as a health and wellbeing organization.
Jen Spencer (20:46):
So are there certain keywords that you're tracking? Thinking big picture, taking steps back to say, we have this goal of eventually, we're at a point where people are finding us by way of searching these new keywords that we're teaching them what these words actually mean. Are you tracking anything really long term like that?
Amy Hutchins (21:13):
We haven't yet, but that's part of what I think, I shouldn't say I think, that I know we need to engage the team, the SmartBug team with. They've done a great job, our partners have done a great job. We just went through and reevaluated all of our search terms, so we understand where we're at now, what's performing, what's not, but that's the next phase. That's the, if we had all the money in the world, how are we changing the way that we are identifying those key terms to shape them more into what it is that we're looking to do.
Search is not my area of expertise and it's so important to have a partner who has that area of expertise. And to me, I just find it fascinating. And that is something that I'm excited. We haven't even shared out with our partners yet what our new vision is, which is what I just had just shared with you. But we haven't even shared that out with a lot of our creative partnership. So to me, this is just going to... 2023 is going to be fun, to roll up our sleeves and figure out how do we now get this in? How do we now get this in market?
Jen Spencer (22:15):
Awesome. There are so many connections between what you're sharing and the software space. And I know we've got a lot of listeners who are in software, so they might be thinking, "Oh, why does this apply to me?" It really does. Because anybody out there who's a category creator or aims to be a category creator, this is category creation. And your goal is that, people will be looking for, shopping for, searching for something that they haven't even defined yet. You're defining it for them now. They don't know yet that it's something that they're going to want.
Amy Hutchins (22:50):
Agree. And we hear that a lot too is, you don't know what you don't need. And part of our industry and the challenge we face is people wait until there's a need. And that need is often, you've traveled too far down the path. If you can engage in this whole concept of health and wellbeing through an organization like Wesley, then that need, that moment in time when you feel that need, that could be so much further off in your future than you actually realize. How do we start to change the narrative and perception there that, when you engage with an organization like Wesley and everything that we're focused on around creating these joyful experiences around the experience of aging, you could live a longer, healthier, happier life. And that's a big promise to make, so a lot of what we're doing is working on those proof points to back some of these burn components up as well. The reasons to believe, the reasons people should believe in us, when we say what we say.
Jen Spencer (23:56):
Now, if we get more into more granular with revenue and looking at marketing and sales and performance. When you look at a metric, you look at metrics every morning, you look at a dashboard. What do you have on that dashboard? What are the things that you want to see on a daily basis, that are giving you insight into how healthy your sales and marketing function is?
Amy Hutchins (24:26):
Yeah. If we're talking marketing specifically, I feel that I'm sure other organizations are in the same space, there's multiple dashboards that we're looking at every day. If we're talking marketing specifically, I want to understand what leads are coming in, what those driving sources are, how many of those leads are working their way through the sales funnel. So for us, it's really about getting people in to see our spaces. When we're talking about the bricks and mortar component specifically, who's coming in to see our space or experience our services? What's driving their desire to learn more? What is their tour experience like and then ultimately, what's our lead to move in conversion netting out to be? Our CRM dashboard that we use, it's called Welcome Home and it integrates with HubSpot, so it's been a great marriage in that regard.
Right now our dashboard, I'm even glancing at it, we want to understand, it calls on our occupancy, which is how many of our apartments and town homes are full, if we're just talking about the independent and assisted living side now. I can easily see how many new inquiries have come in. One of the things that we're paying attention to on the sales side is speed to lead, so how quickly is our sales team following up with the new prospects coming in. We have a sales funnel conversion graph right on our dashboard, which for us, we're monitoring percent of inquiries to tour and we have a goal of 50% there, so we want 50% of our inquiries ultimately resulting in a tour. The percent of inquiries to actual move in and then our percent of tours to move in. So is that conversion rate higher than those that are not coming in and touring, and it is.
But on the flip side, we also want to understand what's potentially lagging, what we're lagging behind in. So we're also looking at prospects that come in that don't have a next activity logged, including those that have not been contacted at all. So we're really looking at performance, but then also the non- performance side of it, I guess. We could say if we could talk about that and then it was really nice to be able to marry up our CRM with HubSpot, we've really increased the number of prospects that are coming into the website than where we were before we redid our website and started using inbound, so now our sales directors are getting that simultaneously and they can understand what the referral source is in that regard. It's been beautiful.
Jen Spencer (26:55):
That's great. That's wonderful. For the individuals that you serve in their own homes, is that sales motion very different?
Amy Hutchins (27:10):
Yes, it is and we don't right now. We have struggled finding one CRM that allows us to capture and track everything on that, at-home side, so right now we have our team internally putting together some dashboards for us so that we can understand... In that space, it's more about where referrals are coming in from, but it's very clinical driven most of the time and we have four or five different systems that, that data is pulling from right now, so that is our next priority. We just got this new CRM up on the independent and assisted living side and now we're turning it over to the health side of things now, the healthcare side.
Jen Spencer (27:50):
And that part of your business, the only thing that really would be capping you is the availability of talent-
Amy Hutchins (27:59):
Jen Spencer (27:59):
As opposed to... Right?
Amy Hutchins (28:01):
Its without walls, it has nothing to do with our physical locations. We can serve people in their home, at their home, wherever that might be. So you're right, that's exactly right.
Jen Spencer (28:09):
Yeah. And it's amazing once you have your motion for inbound marketing for lead generation, how easy that is to just pivot it a little bit and convert it and use some of the same approaches. And now you can implement an inbound recruiting function as well, because what separates you from a competitor from a different choice, has to resonate with the team that would be working with you and working with those patients, working with those residents.
Amy Hutchins (28:46):
And the team. And then just the big thing, there's not many that can say they can serve people wherever they call home, whether that's in a bricks and mortar community or in their own home. And that includes, we also, we've had some fun with this from an inbound perspective too, is we also operate our region's Meals on Wheels program. When we talk about our at home services, we are delivering hot, healthy meals to people in their own home. And we're providing that health check that no one else can do. We like to say, we save lives and we need to share that story a little bit more because we hear them all the time. If our volunteer drivers hadn't shown up to deliver this meal to this person on this particular day, they slipped and fell and they could have been there for days without anybody being there to check on them. Yeah, it's a massive effort that we have underway at Wesley, which makes marketing a challenge too.
Jen Spencer (29:44):
That's a great partnership actually, you think about for emerging in the nonprofit space. And as a nonprofit, you have a board?
Amy Hutchins (29:44):
Jen Spencer (29:56):
Do you have a board of trustees?
Amy Hutchins (29:57):
Jen Spencer (29:59):
The dashboard, the data that you were just walking me through of what you look at. How much of that gets bubbled up to the board, at that level? What are the metrics that they're looking for?
Amy Hutchins (30:10):
It's a little more sporadic with our board. A lot of times we're spending a lot of effort looking at financials. A lot of our time looking at financials, looking at operations, but we have very recently now engaged the board with our brand discussions. And that has been so wonderful and so fascinating to sit back, share what it is that we're doing and get their input, so every step of the way, even when we've talked about revolutionizing the experience of aging, we've had hours of discussions with our board around, what does that mean to revolutionize the experience of aging? And are we on board to do that?
When we first began our inbound efforts, we did present to the board, an overview of what that was and why we wanted to advance that and everybody was on board. If you can go through, we talked about the difference too, between vanity metrics versus these sales qualified leads that we're getting in, so we had a lot of positive feedback about that and just the permission to go, go do it. If that's what you think is best, or board is super collaborative, then let's have at it.
Jen Spencer (31:18):
Amy Hutchins (31:19):
Jen Spencer (31:19):
That's great. Well, I have one more question for you.
Amy Hutchins (31:25):
Jen Spencer (31:25):
And it's just, what do you think is the most important thing? What is most important right now for revenue leaders in the aging wellness space, senior, I'm trying not to say senior care?
Amy Hutchins (31:40):
I know, it's hard not to.
Jen Spencer (31:41):
Right. When I say health and wellness, I don't want that to be confused with Peloton.
Amy Hutchins (31:48):
No, exactly, yeah.
Jen Spencer (31:51):
But what do you thinks most important for revenue leaders like yourself in this space?
Amy Hutchins (31:55):
I think in our space right now, it's be the change, it's fuel the revolution, help us. I would say don't be the one whose door shuts because you're not looking to the future and understanding that change needs to happen. And we're into this wonderful beautiful position to make that change happen. And if you're not in our market, learn more about aging and creating the experience that you want to create. We like to say, "Aging is not something that happens to you, but it's something that happens by you, so you are the designer and driver of your future."
Jen Spencer (32:34):
Wonderful. Amy, thank you so much for joining me today. If anyone listening's inspired, I think there are a lot of inspirational topics and I could probably keep you an hour or more to dig into some stuff. But if anyone wants to learn more about you or the work that you're doing at WesleyLife, where should they go?
Amy Hutchins (32:55):
You can go to WesleyLife.org.
Jen Spencer (32:57):
All right. Perfect. Wesleylife.org folks, nonprofit organization. Thanks so much for listening.
Amy Hutchins (33:04):
Thank you for having me.
Jen Spencer (33:06):
Absolutely. Please everyone, join us next week for another episode of the Intelligent Inbound Podcast, you'll meet another high performing business leader just like Amy. And if you learn something today, please pay it forward by rating and reviewing us on your podcast listening platform of choice. Make it a great day everyone.