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Competitive Analysis and Mystery Shopping: Keys to Sharpening Your Strategy and Boosting Your Appeal in the Marketplace

by | Apr 9, 2014 | Marketing & Branding

In today’s fast changing and increasingly competitive senior living marketplace, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Staying on top of your market has never been more important or more challenging. And these days, if your competitors have an edge, it is increasingly difficult to close the gap since word of mouth is now both instantaneous and viral thanks to the use of social media – especially among adult children who are always seeking to do their best for mom and dad.

In assessing your market position, there are several key questions to consider:

  • What do competitors do better than we do?
  • What do their customers like about them?
  • Are their services, amenities and policies more desirable and user friendly than ours?
  • In what areas do we perform better? And why?
  • How are we viewed by the adult children who are shopping for their parents?
  • Is our staff performing at a level that wins customers and boosts our brand reputation? Are they using proven best-practice sales techniques when interacting with prospective customers?
  • Are we armed with the information we need to be strategic and proactive, or are we usually reacting to our competitors and playing a game of “catch up?”

Information Is Power!

It is said that, “applied knowledge is power!” As a leader, do you know all you should know to achieve and sustain success? An in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, as well as your own, is an essential ingredient for optimizing your own brand’s performance and reputation in the marketplace.

As key elements in the strategic planning and business development process, independently conducted competitive analysis and mystery shopping services provide you with the market intelligence you need to:

  • Mitigate competitive threats 
  • Implement counter-measures 
  • Identify opportunities to use competitor shortcomings to your advantage
  • Respond to unfulfilled needs in the marketplace
  • Strengthen your own operational and marketing processes 

Leading senior living growth experts such as SageAge Strategies excel in this line of work and are highly adept at uncovering valuable information that becomes an essential part of your organizational planning and business strategy. Frequently, this work is done in conjunction with a demand analysis, census-enhancement strategy, sales and marketing assessment and sales training.  

Competitive Analysis Services

Competitive intelligence is a vital component of the environmental assessments conducted by leading organizations to update and sharpen their strategic plans. A thorough competitive analysis provides a comprehensive blueprint of the market landscape and also identifies your competitive position therein. Importantly, it also enables you to identify opportunities for advantage and growth.

Competitive analysis involves more than simply identifying your competitors and gathering data. It is a formal, dynamic process that assesses your competitors’ capabilities, strategies, activities, behaviors and customers to support and improve your decision making. Whether you are a single community or multi-campus provider, competitive analysis services provide you with essential information for planning, marketing, pricing, advertising, training, facility expansion, service enhancements, fund development and other basic business activities.

Mystery Shopping Services

Mystery shopping provides you with valuable, objectively derived assessments of the services offered by competitors and/or those of your own community. Mystery shopping produces critical insights for your sales and marketing strategy including price options, floor plans, services and amenities, the physical environment, culture, community tours and presentations, the use of collateral materials, database management and post-inquiry strategy.

Mystery shoppers who are knowledgeable in the nuances of the senior living industry report on each aspect of their experience including the quality of the initial telephone interaction, the interpersonal skills of staff, the information they provide (or fail to provide), level of knowledge, sales discovery techniques and follow-up activities. They also evaluate those intangible human factors that can affect your ability to attract new residents and retain the residents you have. Both on-site and desktop/telephone mystery shopping services are typically available that enable you to:

  • Obtain in-depth analysis and commentary on competitors and/or your own community based on live interactions that provide valuable human feedback in addition to quantitative data
  • Evaluate your competition and/or yourself to gain an edge in the marketplace
  • Identify opportunities for improvement (OFIs) in sales, marketing, customer service and other processes
  • Optimize each resident’s and family member’s experience with your community
  • Demonstrate to potential residents, current residents and their loved ones that you’re truly interested in their complete satisfaction
  • Reward employees who perform with excellence to boost staff retention and reinforce your culture of quality
  • Identify employees who require coaching, retraining or further action

Strategic Analysis Achieves Results and Pays Dividends

Senior living marketing specialists such as SageAge Strategies, which operates exclusively in the senior living space, typically provide a variety of services designed to support strategic growth. SageAge is a recognized leader in this field and in the first three months of the New Year has already completed nearly 15 projects for client-partners seeking professional demand analysis, competitive assessment and mystery shopping services.

Recently, SageAge was engaged to conduct a comprehensive market evaluation for a struggling Connecticut CCRC. The effort consisted of a demand analysis, pricing assessment, competitive analysis and a sales and marketing assessment to create a new strategic direction for the organization. The results of this effort were transformational and during a two-day planning retreat with their board of directors, the community’s Executive Director stated, “Our partnership with SageAge Strategies has had an immediate impact on our success.”

Implications for Senior Living Communities

Understanding the competitive dynamics, customer preferences and service potential within your market is crucial to making correct business decisions and optimally allocating your precious resources. Whether you’re considering the expansion of your community or creating a new service line, effective competitive analysis and mystery shopping provide you with a timely and accurate picture of your chosen market’s challenges and opportunities. This enables you to make evidence-based decisions on both your present and future direction.

If you are a senior living provider considering the need for assistance in accurately assessing your competitive marketplace, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and award-winning experience required to succeed. Our experienced team of operations and marketing research professionals take the guesswork out of high stakes strategic decisions and help you create an accurate assessment of your market, your own positioning and opportunities to improve your standing. We ensure that your plans are based on the evidence of the most current and accurate market data available – not on gut feeling.

For more information, contact us at 570-601-1720.

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