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Senior Living Marketers — Are You Asking the 5 Whys?

You’ve heard people talk about treating the symptom, but not the cause. It’s not just a medical thing. We see it all the time in work scenarios – even senior living. We get frustrated with an outcome or a process; someone tries to fix it; in the long run, nothing much changes. Sound familiar?

Years ago, Toyota put a system in place to help them solve problems and promote innovation. It’s commonly called “The 5 Whys.” Simply put, you state the problem then ask “Why?” five times to get to the root cause of it. Because once you get to the root of a problem, you can take steps to correct it.

The example they use is of a welding robot that stopped in the middle of its operation:

  1. “Why did the robot stop?” The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.
  1. “Why is the circuit overloaded?” There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.
  1. “Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?” The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.
  1. “Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?” The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.
  1. “Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?” Because there is no filter on the pump.

Put a filter on the pump – ta-da! The robot keeps working, the assembly line keeps moving, cars keep getting made, and Toyota keeps making money.

It bears repeating: Once you get to the root of a problem, you can take steps to correct it.

The 5 Whys can be applied to any number of problems that you might have when it comes to senior living sales and marketing.

  • Are you seeing lower sales ratios? Finding the root cause could lead to producing a new prospect tool or sales process.
  • Do events get sufficient sales follow-up? Identifying the real issue could lead to better training or producing a better email follow-up strategy.
  • Do your direct mail dates tend to get delayed? Your answers could lead to a better approval process or a more effective development timeline.

If you’re facing a persistent problem, take some time to root out its cause with the 5 Whys. You may discover a simple, filter-like problem, or you could uncover a deeper issue you didn’t realize was related. Either way, you’ll have a starting place for making improvements.

Don’t do it alone – ask the people involved in each step. Write out the questions and the answers, so you can clearly see the path from problem to cause. Then get input on the solution from the people involved in the process.

It can take a little time and a little practice, but asking ‘Why, Why, Why, Why, Why?’ helps you overcome challenges and makes it possible to improve everything you do.

Give it try and let us know how it goes.

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