Every salesperson is on the lookout for new referral sources. It is often difficult to obtain more business from existing accounts. Their own client and
by Louis Feuer MA, MSW

Every salesperson is on the lookout for new referral sources. It
is often difficult to obtain more business from existing accounts.
Their own client and customer base may have remained the same, and
they, too, may be feeling the pains of competition. So, where
should you look next? What area is growing?

One suggestion is better understanding the needs of those in
assisted living facilities and mapping out a plan to reach out to

There are approximately 33,000 assisted living facilities
operating in the U.S. today. The number of residents living in a
facility can range from several to hundreds, with the most common
size being between 25 and 150 individuals.

These are facilities dedicated to helping seniors who need
assistance with the activities of daily living yet desire to remain
as independent as possible. Some facilities provide more care than
others and often, for additional fees, they provide a long list of
additional services, from delivering medication to doing the
resident's laundry.

It's estimated that 1 million Americans currently live in
assisted living facilities. Assisted living residents can be young
or old, affluent or low-income, frail or disabled. According to an
AARP research study, a typical resident is a widowed or single
woman about 85 years old. Residents may suffer from memory
disorders, or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other

Assisted living may be appropriate for anyone who can no longer
manage living on their own but doesn't require medical care. You
may be looking at everything from a small home that has been
converted to care for a few residents with special needs to a large
10-story building housing hundreds of residents in a hotel-like

Several years ago in an HHS research study, ALF administrators
estimated about 24 percent of their residents received help with
three or more ADLs such as bathing, dressing, and locomotion. They
estimated that about one-third of the residents had moderate to
severe cognitive impairment.

AARP has estimated that the average rate in assisted living
ranges from $2,100 to $2,900 a month. Keep in mind there are also
residences charging more than $5,000 a month. They may also have
special programs for Alzheimer's patients, transportation to the
local mall and a long list of exciting activities and programs.

AARP also noted that most residents pay out of their own
pockets. While few people have private insurance coverage, in very
limited cases public subsidies are available. However, they have
stringent eligibility criteria, generally do not cover the full
cost of staying in assisted living and may provide funding only for
a limited number of eligible applicants.

Where to begin your selling plan for reaching assisted living

  • Begin by making a list by area of all the facilities in your
    You may want to contact the state licensing
    division, which will provide a list of facilities. Note that in
    some areas of the country, assisted living facilities may be
    referred to as adult congregate living, personal care homes,
    domiciliary, residential care facilities or residential housing.
    You may not find anyone using the term “assisted
    living” in your area.

    Remember also that these programs may be located in a
    neighborhood just like yours, or even a small home up the street.
    Their size does not dictate the care they provide. You may be
    surprised at the number of facilities in your area that you were
    never aware of.

  • Make a list of the products you sell that would be of
    interest to their residents.
    Do you have products that make
    life easier? Mobility and bath safety items are always of

  • Visit with the social worker, nursing administrator, rehab
    director or administrator of the facility
    regarding doing a
    product in-service program, sponsoring a family education program
    on a Sunday or inviting professional staff to learn about the
    products and services you offer.

  • Consider your retail pricing. Many of these residents and
    their families will pay cash for their purchases, as they do for
    their rent.

Make sure that, each week, you call on one or two of these
facilities in your hometown.

Louis Feuer is president of Dynamic Seminars & Consulting
Inc. and the founder and director of the DSC Teleconference Series,
a teleconference training program. He can be reached at www.DynamicSeminars.com or by phone at