Increased competition is a challenge for providers in all segments of the LTC industry. The growth in competition requires that providers communicate their unique capabilities to separate themselves in the minds of referral sources, prospective residents and families making care decisions. In short, you must understand and then communicate your competitive advantages.
Competitive advantages are measurable and specific features of your services that enable you to meet the needs of your residents, families and referral sources more effectively than your competition. Through my work with providers, I have identified four types of competitive advantages that they commonly have to offer:
1. Philosophical: Features that demonstrates an approach that your organization takes to providing services and care that are superior to competitors. The litmus test for a philosophical competitive advantage is that it’s a feature you discuss with a customer no matter what their needs are. Examples include: low staff turnover, notable resident-to-staff ratios, and other staff related competencies.
2. Feature uniqueness: What features you have that your competitors don’t, which many—but not all—of your customers will take advantage of. Examples include: transportation to doctor’s appointments, “Main Street” facility design, private rooms.
3. Patient specific: These are unique features that meet very specific needs of customers better than your competition. Examples include: transportation for dialysis, secure neighborhoods for Alzheimer’s, dysphagia therapies.
4. Quality proof: Third party evidence, documentation or awards that demonstrate your quality of care and services as superior to your competition. Examples include: American Health Care Association Quality Awards, zero-deficiency state surveys, high scores on internal resident/client satisfaction surveys.
Once you’ve identified your competitive advantages, integrate them into your sales and marketing strategies. Here are a couple of ways to leverage them:
A. Develop and communicate competitive advantages as a critical strategy. This permeates all aspects of a sales and marketing plan. Once identified, competitive advantages are incorporated into advertising, PR, tours, in-services with referrals sources, brochures and other marketing tactics.
B. Use competitive advantages to overcome competitive weaknesses. Your older buildings, higher prices or other objections that would lead a customer to a competitor can be balanced by effectively highlighting your strengths.
Competitive advantages are critical marketing tools for increasing qualified referrals. They also improve your ability to convert those referrals into admissions!