Alex Ahlstrom
I am in love with travel, culture and finance around the world. After working in international real estate finance around Asia and America, I want to share some of my experiences.

How I Achieved Success in the Assisted Living Industry

Within two months time, I was able to break the sales records set by the previous owner, a medical doctor with an MBA, at a 48-bed assisted living facility outside of San Diego. I was able to bring a fresh set of eyes to an industry that was extremely not used to change. 

Alex Ahlstrom with members of the previous and current ownership of Gate Manor/Solaris Assisted Living Facilities

When I took over as the administrator of the Solaris/Gate Manor Assisted Living Facility, I needed to find someone to help sell bed places in the facility. The person needed to have the knowledge of a nurse, but also have the ambition of a seasoned salesperson. I placed an ad online and received over 30 applications. None of the applicants had the job of assisted living facility salesperson. After sorting through the applications a second time, I saw that one of the applicants had filled all of the beds in a new facility in just over a month. I set up an interview time with her for the following week. 

The outside area of the Gate Manor Facility

We talked about her previous experience in selling beds and she said that she and the staff that she worked with were told by the owner of her previous facility that if they did not fill the beds that they would not have money for their wages. With her back against the wall, she was able to fill out all of the remaining beds in the facility. Our previous owner was actually paying referral fees to people for customers, the lady I was interviewing did all of her sales without any referral fees. I could see that she was clearly the person for the job. 

Next, an issue was that the goals of the salesperson and the assisted living facility were not aligned. The industry standard was to pay 1/2 month of rent to the salesperson for commission of the sale. The problem with this practice is that the salesperson brings in anyone that he/she can find, without paying attention to the health and quality of the resident. It is always better to have healthier residents. From a management standpoint, healthier residents require less critical care. They also provide a better atmosphere for the residents and the facility. Also, there is less turnover on residents. So, I incentivized a vesting schedule that would pay a part of the sales commission over the course of the stay of each resident brought in by a salesperson. 

Healthier Residents are Preferable

I had to gain the trust of the residents’ adult children, who were paying for the residents, as well as the staff at the facility. I did this by meeting the families at events as well as creating facebook profiles for some of the residents, so that they could see photos from their loved ones that were oftentimes placed online, but not sent by mail to the facility. Also, our staff was entirely from the Philippines. So, I went to some of their local events and made sure to sing karaoke with them. 

The Assisted Living Industry is defined by a core value or love and caring

During my time as an administrator of the facility, I became so much more grateful for my life. And, this time really reignited my passion for service and learning. 

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