Would You Like to Tour?

These are perhaps the five worst words a potential family member should hear.Yet, not only is it promoted throughout healthcare; it is often followed by punishment for those who do not ask callers to tour. For years, in my sales training, I have recommended that the admissions teams eliminate the word “tour” from their vocabulary. Hospital Liaisons and Business Development reps should avoid it at all cost.

To understand the two most compelling reasons why, let’s walk in the shoes of a family member or a potential rehab patient.

Barbara has been told that her father is not doing well and the plans for him to return home have been dashed. She is devastated and now must deal with her Mother, as well. She begins to call the list of centers provided by the hospital social worker. She never dreamed she would have to “tour” a nursing home this morning.

Next, Frank is 74 and planning hip replacement surgery. Not only does he not want to “tour” a rehab center; he doesn’t want to go there at all.

In both cases, being asked to tour your center will result in either a direct “No”, a begrudged visit or a no-show. Why? Think about how you would feel if there was no compelling reason for you to do something you really dreaded.

So, then, how do we get a potential client into our buildings?

First, it is not about the tour. It is about how visiting your center will help Barbara feel better about her dilemma and how meeting the team in your center will help Frank to understand that he will recover more quickly.

Second, it is all about not selling. The initial call is not a time to sell, not you, your staff or your center. It is about careful questioning, expert listening and well-placed recommendations.

Lastly, it might sound something like this:

“Mrs. Chandler, thank you for sharing the challenges you’re facing. I understand this is a difficult time. You told me that your Mother is fearful that your Father will not return home and that you are also concerned about his non-compliance; is that right?”

“Yes, this is all so unexpected.”

“I understand. Mrs. Chandler, May I recommend that you stop in and meet our Director of Therapy? Our therapy team is second to none; together they have almost 25 years of experience. If you have some time tomorrow or Wednesday, we could also meet with our Director of Nursing; she can explain some of the methods that have worked to motivate our guests. How does that sound?”

The person handling the inquiry call must first listen for the caller’s greatest needs, show concern and empathy. Only then can one provide the real benefit of a visit to your center. It is always the reason they will want to “tour”. Mrs. Chandler will come in to meet the people who might get her father home and Frank (who doesn’t want to tour) may agree to stop by to meet the Director and ask those personal questions that are bothering him.

In closing, that inquiry call is a result of all your marketing, sales, events and collateral; it should be treated like gold. Don’t talk, just listen. Don’t sound rushed; slow down. Don’t ask them to tour; tell them why a visit will benefit them