Pitch, Engage, Innovate, Succeed.

Mistakes to Avoid When Making Your Pitch

The theme for this blog involves general business pitching advice and some details to address pitching for a residential assisted living business specifically.

Much of the content has broad appeal, but since my experience is investing in residential assisted living, we’re going to stick to what I know.

Residential assisted living owners explicitly need to pitch to:

  • Banks for capital
  • Potential partners and investors
  • Likely residents and their families about the quality of the home and service they provide
  • Future staff hires or contracted help

Eight Common Elevator Pitch Blunders and How to Fix Them

Elevator pitches are opportunities for engagement. This engagement is meaningful but brief.

It is not a meeting but rather a casual encounter, even if planned by the pitch giver.

The real purpose of an elevator speech is to be ready to introduce your business or idea to investors at any time.

It could be a chance encounter or an impromptu occurrence. Whichever it is is irrelevant. Elevator pitches should be clean, crisp, and compelling.

Elevator pitches have one goal to achieve – a future meeting – no business deal concludes at this point.

These pitches are effective at getting an entrepreneur in the door of a potential investor.

Owners of assisted living homes need compelling elevator pitches. Having one, or possibly two, depending upon the investor, separates assisted living homeowners from another.

The pitch must be carefully crafted and spoken with ease. Smooth elevator pitches convey confidence.

Investors regard the entrepreneur differently.

They will see the entrepreneur as prepared, focused, and committed. Any entrepreneur that has an effective elevator pitch will gain traction in the marketplace among investors quickly.

However, the converse is equally valid.

Entrepreneurs with ineffective elevator pitches gain a reputation, too. Investors steer clear of them. They are known to be unprepared, risky, and haphazard entrepreneurs who want a quick dollar.

Investors Want A Return On Their Investment

They want to know should they place valuable resources in the hands of any particular entrepreneur, that the return on those resources will have been worth the risk.

While they are willing to wait, investors are not willing to lose.

Creating an effective elevator pitch comes from an entrepreneur who has done the work. The elevator pitch is nothing more than the catchy highlights from a well-constructed and studied business plan.

The organization of the pitch communicates to investors the seriousness of the entrepreneur.

An urgency occurs within the investor, which results in a meeting to discuss things further. Elevator pitches are not whimsical and require practice. Entrepreneurs should:

  • Know the audience.
  • Know the time.
  • Know the place.
  • Know how to get results.

If one seeks to build and establish a viable assisted living home, research is necessary. When the time is right, the above criteria are helpful to make the pitch.

However, the entrepreneur should be cautious of the common blunders in elevator pitching, which tends to happen more in hallways and restaurants than elevators.

Nonetheless, the most common missteps are listed below. Take note and craft a pitch that is absent from these mishaps.

Eight Steps to Crafting A Perfecting Pitch

  1. Insist on leading with the story of the company
    Remember what you are doing and where you are doing it. Elevator speeches are not formal meetings – they are happenstance occurrences, whether on purpose or not. These are informal in nature. And, what if the investor has never met the entrepreneur? An elongated historical sketch will not suffice. Therefore, do not tell the story of what inspired you to start the assisted living home. Simple, easy-to-remember facts are sufficient.
    Once you secure a formal meeting, then you will provide the inspiring story that led to your mission to build, renovate, staff, and operate a state-of-the-art assisted living home.
  2. Mishaps with Marketing
    Marketing is not sales. It’s the brainchild of every sales message. It sorts out what is good and what is not so good. It discovers “trigger” words that associate one’s mind with a product or service. Connect with potential investors through marketing research. Skip all of the cute words and get to the point – the right moment with the right words. Find out:
  • The words investors need to hear about piquing interest.
  • The challenges facing investors at present.
  • Where investors have lost money with no hopes of redeeming it.
  • What causes the investors to be most passionate.

Marketing means doing your homework. Assisted living homeowners need to know the answers to these challenges. Can this home fulfill more than one need?

  1. The Punchline
    Do not start the pitch with “I am Joe Blow, and I want to….” Boring. Dull. Who cares? Take the bull by the horns, as they say in Texas. Hook the investor with the problem facing America or your local community. Be specific, be simple, be quick. Do not incorporate:
  • Uncommon lengthy words to make yourself appear intelligent.
  • Industry-specific lingo that only assisted living home professionals know.
  • Dull white paper with a message written in essay format.

Instead, talk swiftly, directly, and confidently. Get to the point. Your opening can be something like:
“Good afternoon. Millions of Baby Boomers are entering their golden years, and housing for seniors is quickly becoming a challenge. Initial steps are in place to address this problem in our community. Right now, I am in the infancy of renovating our community’s first assisted living home and open to investors.”

  1. Face the Competition, State the Differentiating Points
    Ignoring competition is a huge misstep. Investors are wary of entrepreneurs who disregard the impact of competition in the market on their business – this is hubris, resulting in revenue loss. Acknowledge the competition and the scope of the market. Is there room for another? Is there room for a better option? Continue your elevator speech with:
    “While assisted living homes exist, there are none that are not for the physically disabled. Our home will be for independent living, where seniors can come and go as they wish and still glean the benefits of communal living. No one is alone.”
  2. Focus on the solution and Highlight the Team
    Share how your assisted living home will solve the problem. What is the unique niche about your home that is absent in other homes? Is there a deficit of homes in the community? Is Alzheimer’s disease ravaging the community and your home or homes can help alleviate the burden on families? Make sure to solve the problem.
    Savvy investors invest in people, even more than a great product. Great people do extraordinary things now and later. Investors look for this. Make sure to share who has joined the cause with you to date. Do not name drop. Share titles and roles. Let the investor know you are serious, and others see the benefit in your mission. The third section of your pitch could say:
    “Independent living is a requirement for Baby Boomers. Many do not want to live with adult children but desire to be nearby. With our home situated in the center of town, seniors and their families can find easy ways to connect. Our team consists of a nursing manager, medical director, and a social worker, who have found the location desirable for multiple reasons from healthcare, emergency care, and community development.”
  3. Try to talk fast and extend the time available
    This pitch is the elevator. How long do you typically ride on an elevator? Do not make the pitch a 5-minute interaction when you only have an elevator ride – this is a common mistake. Many entrepreneurs attempt to put too much information in the elevator pitch, resulting in entrepreneurs trailing potential investors. Prepare for 30 seconds. Limit your elevator pitch message to about 150 to 225 words in 30 to 60 seconds. Do not speak slowly, but do not run away with the words either. Practice makes perfect. Practice until you’ve got a pitch that rolls off your tongue with ease in 30 seconds or so.
  4. Neglect to ask for any specific next step
    No investor is signing a contract with an entrepreneur whom they do not know in 30 seconds. That is not the aim of the pitch. The goal is to get another meeting. As a new or expanding assisted living homeowner, you’ll need time to convey the concept altogether. Therefore, do not expect to “seal the deal” – this is merely the beginning of the process.
  5. Come unprepared with no written documents
    Empty hands leave empty. Do not encounter an investor and not have a high-quality marketing piece to go with them. This marketing piece should be vibrant but not glaring. Professional in appearance and creativity, the marketing piece offers the following:
  • Business Name
  • Entrepreneurs Name and Contact Information
  • Executive Summary paragraph (a long one is appropriate but not a page)
  • Value Proposition
  • Mission and Vision Statement
  • Three solid and concise bullets about the investment opportunity
  • Timeframe for the project
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures.

This marketing piece is for the investor upon departure. The entrepreneur may ask for a business card or contact information from the investor. However, most investors will accept your marketing piece, and when you make a good impression, that piece will find its way into their briefcase.

What Happens After You Pitch Your Business

So, as a budding assisted living homeowner, you have made the pitch, given a marketing piece, and received a business card.

Before the close of the business day, send a gracious email. Do not be lengthy.

Thank the investor for his time, and if he shared where he was going, possibly grant some well-wishes about that. The key is to keep it short.

Your email template will have or should have all the vital information about your business contained in it.

Give 24 hours, maybe 36 hours, and if you have not heard from the investor, which more than likely you will not have, call. If you speak with ancillary staff, build rapport.

Let the administrator know what you are doing. Speak with him or her as if they were the investor.

Be concise. Give your elevator pitch. Then, ask about a meeting.

More than likely, the administrator will confirm with the investor before granting you a date. If you still have no answer in another 24 to 36 hours, pay a visit. Do not stop first thing in the morning. Also, do not visit right before lunch.

People tend to be hungry and irritable. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon are great hours for rapport building.

Just say, “I was in the neighborhood and thought I might pop in to visit. We’ve spoken on the phone but never met. I hope this is okay.”

When you establish a rapport, it will solidify it.

The administrator will either get you a meeting or will give you specifics about the investor. Either way, the information is invaluable.

Remember, giving an elevator pitch is the beginning of a process. Think of it like dating. Not many will marry after the first date.

Do not rush the process of establishing a connection with investors – this is best for both parties.

At some point, things will work out, and the relationship between entrepreneur and investor will blossom.


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