1. Tell us who you are, what you do and how you got here.
I’m Christy Van Der Westhuizen, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at MBK Senior Living. I began my senior living career as a director of sales & marketing at the community level in Southern California. For the last five years, I held a regional sales role, supporting senior living communities throughout California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. Prior to the senior living industry, I gained sales, marketing, customer service and hospitality knowledge as an account executive in title insurance; and earlier as an assistant cruise director/social host with Holland America cruise line.
2. What’s the most inspiring interaction you’ve had with a resident?
There are so many, I can’t even count, but my very favorite interaction was with my own Grandma Jean, who lived in a memory care community in the mid-2000s. She’s the reason I entered the senior living industry in the first place. For her birthday, she wanted a cheeseburger, so we took her to a local burger place, and I can’t tell you how big and bright of a smile she had on her face with this simple pleasure! I am lucky enough to have had the foresight to take a picture, with Grandma Jean grinning ear to ear, with a cheeseburger in her hand just loving life! She passed away a few months later and I will always remember that even though she wasn’t the “same” Grandma Jean I had grown up with, she was still “my” Grandma Jean who loved cheeseburgers!
3. What’s the marketing or business challenge that keeps you awake at night?
The biggest business challenge I have currently is finding new ways to motivate and inspire our team to continue their quest for sales excellence and greatness. We have had six consecutive months of company-wide growth and I want to shout from the rooftops about how proud I am of everyone at MBK!
4. So what keeps you coming into work every day…even without a full night’s sleep?
WOW! There are so many reasons I come to work every day, but the main reason is the team that I get to be surrounded by. Jeff Fischer our MBK Senior Living President, Michelle Park our Corporate Director of Marketing, Diana Castaneda our Marketing Specialist, and Shane Ness, Judith Jones, and Robyn Childs, our Regional Directors of Sales — they all have my heart. They are such a great group of people who all have the very same goal. We truly invest in our people at the community level as well, and enjoy rooting them on in each and every one of their successes (even ringing a gong for them)!
5. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you can give newcomers to the field?
Always be open to learning new things. A growth mindset is the best attitude to have. And that means never stop learning!
6. Tell us about the best marketing move/decision you’ve made…besides using Roobrik!
The best decision I’ve made is to work with people who are smarter than me — especially when it comes to the digital aspect of marketing. Listening to their professional advice and then being able to pivot quickly when needed. Our potential residents and families are getting savvier and more educated about senior living, so it’s important to be open to innovation on the digital front.
7. What’s the trend you see coming up in senior living that you think marketers can take advantage of?
The trend I’ve noticed is a “back to basics” focus where the primary goal is to connect with our potential residents, really see, hear, and understand them, and then provide sincere help throughout their journey. You can’t fake sincerity and heart, and potential residents/families will see right through you if you try to.
8. Please give us an 8th question that you’d like our next participant to answer.
If you weren’t in senior living, what would you be doing now?
Check back next month to see who answers all 8 questions. Want to participate in our series? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About MBK Senior Living
Ranked among the Top 50 “Best Workplaces in Aging Services” by Fortune magazine, MBK Senior Living (MSL) owns, operates and develops Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care services senior living communities throughout the Western United States. Based in Irvine, CA, MBK Senior Living is a subsidiary of MBK Real Estate LLC which is supported by the vast financial strength and global resources of its parent company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. For more information, please visit the company’s website at mbkseniorliving.com or on Twitter, and Facebook.