Advocacy – where are the marketers as Adele Ferguson attacks retirement villages again?

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There is a Royal commission into aged care and now Fairfax’s Adele Ferguson is working hard to rope retirement villages into being included.

If you haven’t seen the two articles she has written here are the two links:

Royal commission will finally give the elderly a voice

‘I’m not going to be silent’: plea to rethink care royal commission

Royal commission will finally give the elderly a voice

‘I’m not going to be silent’: plea to rethink care royal commission

Here is my question marketers. Where are you?

It is 15 months since Adele Ferguson first gave a blistering analysis of the retirement village sector in her Four Corners program and follow-up Fairfax newspaper articles.

Since then no operator and no sector representative has presented a strategy that we have seen to balance the story.

The Retirement Living Council has been working on a communication strategy since last September – call that 13 months. We understand it was supposed to start three weeks ago with TV but who knows?

(Will the campaign now look like a cynical big business knee-jerk response to the Royal Commission)?

Why is this a marketing problem? We marketers are supposed to be strategists that identify our customers’ needs and satisfies them, creating value for the benefit of our customers and our employers.

We are also supposed to be people who understand communication and we have a responsibility to our leadership to provide proactive advice. This often means having direct conversations with CEOs who more often will not come from a finance background – a different set of skills.

The cost of failure to act can be massive.

For 75% of the sector Fairfax killed village sales by around 30% in FY18.

Each unit that did not sell, based on an average value of say $400,000 with a 30% DMF, means the operator did not get $120,000 in net income.

10 vacancies equals $1.2 million. Some of the majors had 200+ vacancies at the end of FY18. You do the maths. And more vacancies means lower sales rates as potential residents asked why.

It also means a departing resident or their family is waiting for their cash, or worse is a prisoner because they can’t move to residential aged care in the manner they wish.

You also have a responsibility to your residents to give them your view of events to balance against what they read from the likes of Adele Ferguson. They will be unsettled and their families will be unsettled.

For our part we are investing in educating the Australian consumer with our paid advertising across national talkback radio, investing over $1 million. More about this in the next issue of The Shift.

Meanwhile let’s be proactive and proud of what the retirement village sector delivers our residents and also support them in these confusing times. The message out.