SeniorAdvisor.com, while having the power of A Place for Mom behind them, is a bit like Senior Housing Forum in that we are both constantly forging new territory, figuring out how to do things better. For Senior Housing Forum it is all about creating better content, driving traffic and helping to support our blog partners’ great products and services. For SeniorAdvisor.com, they are all about giving the consumer (prospective residents and their families) useful information that can help site visitors find the right fit senior living option. In October they embarked on a new experiment designed to create more value for prospects.
At A Place for Mom (APFM) the old way of doing things was for an advisor to work with the prospective resident or, more frequently, their family to identify their specific needs and desires. With that information the APFM advisor would send, via email, snail mail or fax, a list of about 3-5 senior communities for them to visit. In October of 2013 they piloted a new approach. In 15% of the country they added a star rating and, more recently, reviews for each referred community. This experiment has recently been expanded to 50% of the country.
While the experiment is still in its early stages, here is what they are finding:
- Communities that have high ratings - These communities are getting more tours and have a higher conversion rate. The lesson here is huge: people trust consumer ratings more than they trust anyone else except family and friends. In the case of APFM it validates that the referrals made by APFM advisors are legitimate.
- Communities that have low ratings – The results are not a surprise. The communities with low ratings are seeing fewer tours and their conversion rate is lower. This is, in effect, a double whammy and further demonstrates the power of reviews. The big takeaway is that, if you have poor reviews you need to do something about it. Don’t just assume that no one reads them and, thus, it doesn’t matter. It very well could mean that there are people who are just plain looking someplace else and you will never know.
- Communities with no reviews and no ratings - This was the big surprise. The communities with no reviews and, therefore, no rating had tour rates very similar to those communities with low scores. As you might expect, when they did get tours their conversion rates were better than for those with low reviews.
- The big take away here is that putting some real effort into generating consumer reviews can mean additional filled units.
In case you are saying, “Doesn’t apply to me : I am not an APFM partner,” I would argue that this is a dangerous assumption. It is close to impossible to determine who didn’t come visit you, or rather who went to visit someone else because they did have great consumer reviews. If you have bad reviews or even no reviews, this should be scary. If you have great reviews, you should be ecstatic. Finally, whether you are an APFM partner or not, you can still manage your reviews at SeniorAdvisor.com for free. Perhaps the single best way to take advantage of the consumer review process is to have a printout of your great consumer reviews from SeniorAdvisor.com (or other review sites) to give to every prospect who walks through the door. Maybe an even cooler idea would be to have a video display in your lobby that includes your positive reviews. If you would like to take a look at what the customers are seeing click the download button below (a 1 page pdf) [ddownload id=5606] Steve Moran
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