Welcome to Bridge the Gap with hosts Josh Crisp and Lucas McCurdy. A podcast dedicated to inform, educate and influence the future of housing and services for seniors. Bridge the Gap aims to help shape the culture of the senior living industry by being an advocate and a positive voice of influence which drives quality outcomes for our aging population.
Bridge The Gap

Sales, Marketing and Affordability with Asset Manager Sherrie Bebell of CPA

BTG Ambassador Sherrie Bebell shares about the value added for operators when there is oversight in all aspects of operations.


Community leaders ask a lot of questions because we're so intimately involved and understand our communities.

Sherrie Bebell

Guest on This Episode

Sherrie Bebell

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Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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We know the financial impact is a high priority to our prospective residents and their family members.

Quick Overview of the Podcast

There is value in asset managers providing sales and marketing support to local communities. BTG Ambassador Sherrie Bebell, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Columbia Pacific Advisors, shares about the value added for operators when there is oversight in all aspects of operations.

This episode was recorded at the NIC Spring Conference.

Produced by Solinity Marketing.

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Welcome to season seven of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, NIC MAP Vision, ProCare HR, Sage, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.

Lucas 00:52:

Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, this senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas here at the NIC Conference in Dallas, Texas with a really awesome friend and guest, BTG Ambassador, Sherrie Bebell. Welcome to the program.

Sherrie 01:05:

Thank you.

Lucas 01:07:

Yes. Excited. We are so excited to be here. You are one of the most fun people to talk to, mainly because you're so passionate about the industry and people know you specifically from your sales and marketing genius at CPA. Right? A great private equity firm, with a lot of communities, and a great reputation. You've worked there for a long time and it's going to be fun to dive in on some sales and marketing topics. And then also some really big news about a financial product and service that you're gonna be rolling out to the industry that some people know about. But you're gonna roll it out to our audience. So let's start with the sales and marketing piece. What are some of the biggest challenges operators are facing, the ones that you're working with today from a sales and marketing perspective?

Sherrie 01:55:

NIC has been amazing. Lots of people, a lot of great connections. So happy to be here. From a sales and marketing standpoint, what I'm seeing, I gotta take it back down to the foundation, to the community level, because that's really where my heart lives, right? First and foremost, that's where all the outcomes actually come from. From a high level down, as owner investors, the expectations are really high. We have big numbers that we have to meet to return investment on everything that we provide to our communities. So our expectations are high for our operators, which means that the expectations at the community level are very high. I am the first one to say that the excuse bucket is empty. I hate to say that. Yes. but COVID is behind us. We have to increase occupancy and revenue. So I take it down to that ground level, where the execution really happens, and anything we can do at any level of our stakeholders to help resource our onsite community sales leaders, right?

Sherrie 03:03:

Because the expectations are high. Where our industry used to be, you gotta get at least four move-ins a month. We're no longer at that, right? Because the average move-outs are at five. You can't consider four move-ins to be a win. So increasing those move-ins means that there's more pressure and more responsibilities, but what are we doing to give them back some time, right? So that they can meet those numbers. I come out every year with all of my operators, I try to have a focus, something that I can add value to and give them to either a resource or just to be a cheerleader. This year I was a little overzealous in my focus areas with all of our operators. So number one is pivot to profit. It can't wait too long to make decisions that need to make changes to affect the outcomes, right?

Sherrie 03:55:

We can't look at a quarterly report in the rearview mirror. We need to be on top of our data. We need to be on top of our metrics and understand it. So adding value and providing our operators with even data that either they don't have access to or another perspective on that data so that they can funnel it down so it makes sense at the community level. So pivoting to profit is a big tag word for me this year. The second is your network is your net worth. We all love to come to these conferences make new friends and get together with our old friends, but the expectations at the community level are the exact same. We need them out doing external business development. So again, what can we do to relieve them of some of the burden that's happening in the community so they can get out of the building? Because we want them to make new press, right? We want the non-paid referrals. So bringing down that cost for move-in is a focus in trying to get them outta the building. And then the third focus, again, overzealous and, but I brought to my focus of this year is to get those move-ins early in the month. So I don't know if you're Grey’s Anatomy fans, but Dr. McDreamy-

Lucas 5:10:

Josh I know is a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan.

Josh 05:10:

Yes. For all the reasons you might imagine.

Sherrie 05:15:

Dr. Mcdreamy in the sitcom or the drama series.

Josh 05:19:

I'm there, Dr. Mcdreamy all the way. You have me.

Sherrie 05:20:

I think I need to come up with my s maybe McSherry, I don't know. I’ve got to come up with something for Sassy. I don't know. That definitely would add some level to it, but Dr. Mcdreamy would start out any of his operations with, it's a good day to save a life, and I want to bring it forward. It's a good day to have a move in not allowing all of those move-ins that come in at the end of the month. Every single move-out. Almost all of them happen at the beginning of the month. I think a free year move-in until the end of the month, you're eroding a DC, even if you net gain during that month, you're still eroding the A DC. So helping to get that philosophy into the communities, right? The supporting it, talking about it every day with the standup clues to move again, how can we help them move in maybe setting the stage where that's, so what's happening throughout the month.

Sherrie 06:07:

Those are three big focus areas I go back to. How do we give them back more time? Two and a half years ago I created a program to assist the communities that CPA owns coming through the pandemic, the pent-up demand that was coming at us, turnover in the sales roles, and the burdens and the responsibilities that were piling up on all of our sales leaders. I was trying to think of what can I do from the ownership level that gives our communities a resource during the sales process, but we don't get in their way. That was a big ask. That was, how do you do that? But what I kept coming back to was one of the hardest parts in the sales process at the community is number one, top right? How much time can you really spend with a prospect before you have to move on to the next one?

Sherrie 06:56:

And all of these things that are going through your head and the tours and the phone calls, how do I give them back some more time, but be a part of that sales process? The hardest conversation, in my opinion and in my experience has always been the financial impact, right? So you get a lot of financial objections in the sales process. You get a lot of leads that get stuck in the funnel. Sales leaders can't figure out what is the next logical step that I can move them onto that gets them excited or gives them something that moves them through that funnel, right? We all know that probably one of the absolute highest search terms is how much does it cost? How many phone calls come to the front desk? And the first question is, how much does it cost to live there? So we know the financial impact is a high priority to our prospective residents and their family members.

Sherrie 07:43:

So I thought, okay, if I can hold together all of the financial resources that we have available in our space that quite honestly has been pragmatic, right? It's, if you know about this resource, your company might give this resource to you. That's their financial tool. You get a piece of collateral. You don't really get trained on what it is and how it works or how to get a lead referred over to them. Salespeople weren't using those resources because they didn't know how to answer the questions that families would ask, or they were fearful of not being able to answer those questions. So if I pull all of these together and I create a group of sales specialists who are rock stars in and of themselves, and we focus on just being subject matter experts of all of those resources, if I can deliver this service to the communities that we own, we work in tandem with the sales leaders at the, at the community level.

Sherrie 08:40:

And when they identify a prospect who might need to just have a deeper conversation about how is this gonna affect me financially or how do I afford to pay for this? There's a myriad of different reasons why communities refer to us. So if we get that referral and redo a deep discovery, I will tell you, in addition to community sales leaders not being comfortable with that conversation, the prospects working with the onsite sales vendors, they're in the warm and puffy with them for so long that if the financial questions are asked, they're, they keep everything very close to their chest versus being referred over to a financial specialist. They know they're coming to us to have those conversations, right? They don't pull back. They ask a lot of questions because we're so intimately involved and understand our communities, and we're a troop partner. We know what their rates are, we know what their community fees are.

Sherrie 09:35:

We tell them to not give a discount. Don't throw out an incentive until you've connected that family with us, because we want to help you get your full rate. We want you to get your community fee. We work not only with them on a financial discovery but understand sometimes it's just a matter of having that conversation and then it starts to make sense for them. And in a lot of other cases, they need a resource to be able to look forward to lit fair. So I'm not the resource, I am the conduit to understand their situation, identify what is the most appropriate resource for resources, and then we chaperoned them to that resource and stayed with them through the entire process. The old tool was, here's a flyer. I hope you find a solution and I hope we come back to me taking hope out of the equation.

Sherrie 10:22:

It was you rolled out to CPA-owned assets and was, it has been incredibly successful while I rolled it out to a pilot group because it became so successful, that we started adding on more and more of the CPA-owned assets. And those operators, they might manage five communities for CPA, but then they've got another 35, 40 communities that are in their portfolio. They started coming to me. They're like, what you're doing over here, I want as an enterprise solution for my company. This is incredible. Look what you're doing to help these communities. Furthermore, the customer service and how happy these customers or these residents are coming through your process and feeling like they have found what they needed to make that informed decision. I want it for my entire company, what started out as a tool for me to help my communities do better. 

Sherrie 11:16:

I had to come up with a business plan and a means of how I put this together for non-owned CPA assets. And so I've done that for the last year, a little bit over a year where I've now taken on all of our current operator communities, very proud to say that with investment, have now pulled it to a standalone visit. So I am here, I want to help. If you know me and you know me, I am a giver, right? My feet hit the ground every single day to identify pathways to achieve things. And that's not an achievement for me. It is for everybody that comes into my life and every community that I support. So I am over the moon excited to be able to give this to more and to help more seniors so they don't fall through the crowds.

Josh 12:02:


Sherrie 12:03:

Wow so much talking.

Lucas 12:04:

Yeah. Whoa. Amazing. You didn't even take a breath. That was incredible. Well,

Sherrie 12:10:

You did say I'm passionate. I mean, yes. Should have started it out with that comment.

Josh 12:15:

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Lucas 12:31:

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Josh 12:54:

That’s right. Well, that's evident. And what a great success story. We couldn't be more excited. And Lucas, I mean, that is what we're here to literally share these kinds of stories. And I'm so glad that you guys are doing this now outside of just your communities because this is something that can help the entire industry. And that is so exciting for us at Bridge The Gap to be able to have just a small impact to give you a megaphone, to be able to communicate that. I had heard some buzz about this, but this is the first time I've actually sat down and heard it directly from you. So that's super exciting. I do want to ask you, because I think what you touched on is really a key ingredient too, of giving these leaders in the communities, whatever their titles are time back. And I could see that this aspect is one huge ingredient of a value add. Are there other practical things that you have seen like that, generally speaking for most communities is like a simple way where you can add back value to your leadership at the community and maybe find a way to give them back some time in their day.

Sherrie 13:57:

There's a lot of resources coming at us, right? There are a lot of tech pieces that are able to plug and play. One that I'm super excited about right now and can't wait for some of our operators to roll out is from August Health. And that's the move-in paperwork that's automated. An executive director is supposed to sit down and go through that contract. I mean a hundred pages, right? Of information. Like I keep flipping through. I'm super excited that August Health is coming in with it. The move-in paperwork automation. I can't wait to see that actually devoid is in use. Again, I go back to what can you relieve them of time for. So how do you create that culture? Because by the time you create that culture, everybody understands how they can contribute. Sometimes it is just a smile.

Sherrie 14:42:

Wearing your uniform in a name tab, maybe you're introducing yourself Inlet sales process. That's how our caregivers give back. But how can our other directors also be a part of that to relieve that sales leader of some of the time in the sales process so they can either get out with or do their external business development? It goes back to the basics. Some of it is some of the tech pieces that are coming to us. BI tools like understanding the whole business are giving back to give back time to the executive director. The executive director now has time to give back to the sales director. The sales director can get out of the building. So I feel like it's a multi-discipline approach and giving the resources and the tools at many different levels.

Josh 15:26:

Lucas, I'm just sitting here thinking, how lucky are we? You look at our ambassador cohort that just came on this year, folks like Sherry, we just had Austin on high-level thought leaders in the industry out spreading the word. And this is, I just kind of pinched myself. Seven years ago, this is our seventh year all started around NIC and the events and conferences. The vision at the time and it's amazing to see that so many professionals now, the things that we've talked about in theory are actually carrying these things out. Implementing programs not only for their little silo but to share that with the industry. And that's what we've been saying to our fans, our listeners all along, is like, if you're not in the senior living industry or if you're in your community and you don't have time to get out of your community, that our hope is that the resources of folks like you sharing on this program elevates the entire industry. And what an exciting time it is to be in senior living.

Lucas 16:30:

It is. And this has been a fun conversation. You know what? I can't wait to have you back on, maybe back in the fall to give us an update on the track and the progress of what you've been able to do, especially with this financial piece. I think it's going to be a really interesting topic. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. Thank

Sherrie 16:47:

Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for choosing me to be an ambassador. I promise you, I will represent you well.

Josh 16:54:

We know that.

Sherrie 16:55:

And this industry.

Lucas 16:56:

We believe you. Very passionate so much. And so for our BTG listeners out there, if you want to connect with Sherry, we encourage you to do that. We'll put all of that in the show notes, in the links, go to btgvoice.com, connect with us there on this content, and more. And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge The Gap.


Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.

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