NASMM 2018 State of the Association Address

On Tuesday,February 27, 2018, Mary Kay Buysse delivered the 2018 State of the Association address at the NASMM 2018 Annual Conference & Expo at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you all for coming to the NASMM 2018 Annual Conference & Expo in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL!

Two weeks ago, NASMM 2018 and the Florida sunshine seemed like it would never get here. And now it’s almost over…we’ve relished re-connecting with our longtime NASMM friends and meeting many new members who have also chosen to make NASMM their professional home. We’re thrilled to be with each of you. We hope you enjoyed our time together this week. It flew by, didn’t it? More than 70 of you attended the powerful Pre-Conference workshop from the co-owners of Maryland-based, Let’s Move, Kim McMahon and Allison Pihl. Wow – that day-long session was so enlightening and informative that you could have gone home on Saturday night and felt you learned enough. Precisely written written and carefully executed Policies and Procedures won’t light up your Instagram account, but they are the lifeblood of a well-run company. Thank you, Kim and Allison!

We experienced a wide array of education – our innovative Speed Networking session that, 

admittedly, caused you a little anxiety at first – as well as a Master Class on following up! Judy Garmaise pulls no punches, and I can assure you she practices what she preaches. She’s the easiest outside speaker to deal with many years because she actually follows up – a lot!

And we were treated to not one (1), but two (2!)  Ask the Senior Move Manager sessions! And everyone knows how terribly shy Barry is! Just kidding – we’re so thrilled Barry will remain close to NASMM even while he is soaking up the sun in retirement after selling Arranging It All last December. As you all know, Barry’s dedication to NASMM and its mission has helped to grow this organization in countless ways. He is truly NASMM’s Ambassador of …well, just about everything! Thank you, Barry!

Every year, when we come together at the NASMM annual conference, I leave awed and humbled by the essential work you all do every day. Never more than this year, however.

Six weeks ago, just a week or so after joyfully celebrating my parents’ 67th wedding anniversary, everything changed. In early January, my 87-year old Mom and 94-year old Dad found themselves in the emergency rooms of two different hospitals for two completely different reasons.

My Mom and Dad had downsized 20 years ago into a cozy ranch house within walking distance of 4 of their 5 children. They’ve remained happy, content and relatively healthy in that home – until now. We visited and went out with them all of the time. They saw one of their children at least once a day. Amazing by any standard, right?

But what we didn’t really “see” was that my Mom’s heart condition was worsening or that my Dad’s confusion and memory loss were accelerating. My Mom was struggling to care for my increasingly confused Dad, and it was taking a huge toll on her. I have a Master’s degree in Gerontology and even I didn’t want to acknowledge my own parents were in dire need of help!

Our Mom cherishes her privacy, and she and my Dad repeatedly rejected our offers of help – time after time. They sheltered themselves and their beloved home from our well-meaning, loving interference. Like so many devoted adult children, we honored their privacy, their right to self-determine, and their resolute desire to remain in their home together – even when we recognized “home” was no longer their safe haven.

Fast forward six (6) exhausting and heartbreaking weeks later and my parents are living in a picturesque and top-rated CCRC – continuing care retirement community – about two miles from their former home and from all of our homes as well. My Mom now resides in a lovely assisted living apartment furnished with some key pieces from their former living room. My Dad lives on a separate floor in a Memory Care room with furniture from their former den. They’re both adjusting – a little bit every day – and there are good days and bad. The silver lining is they are together under the same roof, even if it’s on two different floors. My Mom visits my Dad in Memory Care 3-4 times each day, though he questions why they can’t live together as they had for 67 years.

We haven’t hired a Senior Move Manager – yet – because my Mom wants the house to remain untouched for the time being. My Mom, you see, harbors a wisp of hope that she and my Dad can return home after a period of time that seemingly will satisfy my siblings and me. But we know – and a small part of her also understands – that we will need to deal with the house – their home – quite soon.

My sister and I alternate picking up the mail every day and check on the house. Once inside, I feel like I’m strolling through a life museum. The Waterford collection still stands at attention in the lighted curio cabinet. The post-it note with all of our cell phone numbers is taped on the wallpapered wall next to the landline phone. The closets and drawers are brimming with clothes, shoes, towels, brooms, and bed linens our parents no longer need.

And what will we do with all of this stuff? We’ll hire a Senior Move Manager to help us, of course.

What these last few months have communicated to me – up close and so very personally – is that Senior Move Managers – YOU – are simply amazing people – that you choose to walk into the homes of fragile and often sickly older adults, families in crisis, people on the edge, and into circumstances that require a cocktail of compassion, clear-thinking and problem-solving. It’s not a job for everyone, and it probably chooses you as much as you choose it.

Jennifer’s Mom passed away 5 years ago, and she hired a Senior Move Manager to move her Dad from Indy to a Detroit suburb to be closer to Jennifer and her family. Sadly, her Dad passed away a year after the move. Jennifer tells everyone how a Senior Move Manager made a challenging personal time for her into an experience she will not soon forget. Senior Move Management, we believe, is both an art and a science.

And we’re not alone. So many NASMM members are experiencing what we’ve gone through. Just last week on the listserv, a NASMM member in upstate New York reached out to all of us about her own emotional journey downsizing her mother. And you replied as you always do – with understanding, wisdom and kindness. Love that listserv!

Please know that Jennifer and I – that NASMM – supports you every day in every way we can.

The story of helping older adults downsize and move from a home full of memories and mementos is a compelling one, and it touches virtually everyone in some way. As a result, we’ve enjoyed another terrific year of wonderful press for NASMM and Senior Move Management.

Market Watch, Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old, Realtor Magazine, Wall Street Junior,, Forbes, Yahoo.com, Next Avenue, Ask Annie, WGN, CNBC, Observer.com, CBC.ca, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, NYC Women, Boston Globe, NBC news and the Cleveland Plain Dealer have all featured or highlighted NASMM over the course of this last year.

And did you know…The New York Times article “Aging Parents with Lots of Stuff and Children Who Don’t Want It” was the “#1 most viewed” article on the New York Times website for 3 days in the third week of August!

We absolutely love this exposure via editorial content because it’s free and far-reaching. But we also know you need to spend money to make money. That’s why we decided to develop a professionally produced video for the NASMM website home page. We contacted a company called The Digital Bard in Maryland last May and, in late August, we published the completed video on the NASMM website. In the interest of time and cost, we invited some of our local Maryland Senior Move Managers to star in the video with a client or two as well. We’re truly pleased with the final result.

Let’s take a quick look. 

Our website is our greatest marketing tool. We are constantly tweaking our site to make it even better. Our monthly Google Analytic reports indicate it’s working.

Here are some interesting stats from Google Analytics about the nasmm.org website.

  • In the last 12 months, we hosted 99,000 unique visitors across 145,000 sessions.
  • Most people visit our site between 10am until 4pm Central time.
  • Our most visited page after the home page is the Find a Senior Move Manager page.
  • Our third most visited page is our complimentary Guide to Rightsizing and Relocation.
  • 56% of our website visitors are clicking on our website from a desktop, 30% from a phone and 14% from a tablet.
  • And 93% of our visitors are from the United States, and 5% are from Canada.
  • The amount of time a visitor spends on our site during each visit averages almost 4 minutes.
  • About 65% of our visitors are female, and 35% male.

Let’s talk about social media. Since we last met, NASMM reached over 560,000 unique visitors on Facebook. Social Media is a valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal. Creating content is time-consuming; curating content is not. Visit NASMM’s page, and like and share our content. It’s a win-win for you and NASMM.

During the last 12 months, NASMM has welcomed 126 new members! Exciting growth for our organization! Do we lose members too? Sure we do, as some members retire or encounter their own life transitions. And, honestly, Senior Move Management isn’t for everyone – which is why the Cornerstone Course program is required for all new members. These four courses are chock-full of information to introduce new members to the many concerns, issues, and considerations a Senior Move Management must deal with on a daily basis. It’s best to learn as early as possible that you’re not a good fit for this daunting, but rewarding work. A key aspect of association membership, after all, is that each individual – owner, Team Leader, coordinator, office manager, and more – represents all of us!

We are absolutely delighted with the progress of both the SMM-C certification and NASMM A+ Accreditation programs.

Fifty (50) companies now hold NASMM’s highest credential, NASMM A+ Accreditation, and there are a dozen companies currently in the process of submitting their applications.

They are the best of the best.

The owners of NASMM’s accredited companies have spent countless hours developing and implementing best practices in client services and Senior Move Management operations.

They have put their companies through a rigorous peer-review process and we honor them for their achievement!

Seventy-five (75) individuals participated in NASMM’s pre-conference intensive this past Saturday. This session focused on developing policies and procedures that align with the NASMM A+ Accreditation Standards, we anticipate many of these companies have A+ Accreditation as their goal!

Two years ago, NASMM launched this industry’s only professional certification based on both knowledge and experience.

To date, 103 NASMM members have obtained this distinction and over 60 more are in process.!

Can you believe NASMM members completed nearly 700 Cornerstone Courses since last year’s conference in Indy?

Last year, we announced the introduction of the NASMM@Home Specialist Certificate. It’s currently in the final stages of development and will consist of five (5) modules:

  1. The Aging in Place Assessment    
  2. Universal Design
  3. Aging in Place Technology
  4. Home Modifications
  5. Putting It All Together, which will address:
  • Legal, operational and insurance considerations
  • Marketing plan and resources
  • Measuring success

While we understand many other age-in-place programs already exist, this certificate program will stand alone as the only age-in-place curriculum endorsed by NASMM and specifically designed for the Senior Move Manager. We’re thrilled to offer yet another opportunity for you to exceed your client’s expectations!  It will launch very soon – in mid Spring!

Another wish of ours – for quite some time – will finally be fulfilled this spring as well. We are placing the entire FrontDoor training online, which today is a bulky 250-page manual. This initiative is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but we are absolutely committed to making our highly-regarded training more accessible than ever. Additionally, we will be able to make updates and additions in real-time when FrontDoor goes online.

Last fall, NASMM was approached by Erickson Senior Living about handling their client’s long distance in-bound moves.

Erickson is one of the most prestigious providers of senior living. Currently there are 19 communities in 11 states with many more on the way. Erickson currently serves 24,000 seniors. With their rapid growth, Erickson communities attract residents from all over the country.

Erickson’s initial plan was to use a third-party broker who would contract with NASMM members and (of course) take a percentage of your fees. NASMM immediately shut that conversation down and orchestrated a partnership where all referrals for long distance moves now come directly to NASMM. Since the program’s launch in early December, NASMM has already handled 24 moves. Erickson demands “white-glove” service for their clients and prefers to use NASMM A+ or SMM~C Certified Move managers to handle their clients moves. Just one more reason to pursue these important designations!

Last year, NASMM launched our National Client Satisfaction Survey to help NASMM tell the story of Senior Move Management with hard data:

  • 94% of respondents indicated they were able to make their move sooner, because they used a Senior Move Manager
  • 100% of respondents indicated their stress was reduced due to the support they received from their Senior Move Manager
  • 97% of respondents felt in control of their move because of the guidance provided by the Senior Move Manager
  • 97% of respondents felt The Senior Move Management services received provide good value for the price.
  • 100% of respondents indicated they would recommend Senior Move Management Services to others.

The survey validates what we all know! We encourage you to incorporate this tool into your own client satisfaction process. All members can access the NASMM National Satisfaction Survey in the Marketing Tools section of “MyNASMM.”

In closing, the theme of the NASMM 2018 conference is Big Ideas – Bright Future! We hope – after spending this week together – you received more than a few big ideas to bring home to your businesses – from the 30+ education sessions to networking non-stop with your fellow Senior Move Managers.

And that second part – the “bright future part” – well that’s simply a fact. More than ever, older adults and Baby Boomers are discovering Senior Move Management through word of mouth, Facebook, Google, your local marketing efforts, major media stories and more. They’re learning the many ways all of you offer hope to long distance families, older adults without families, and busy families. Senior Move Management is a service industry, but we offer hope – hope for a positive, uplifting way to move forward in later life. So when we say “bright future,” we mean yours and your clients!

Thank you again for being here, and we look forward to a fantastic year ahead!

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