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The Industry Should Never Complain About Referral Fees Until They Fix This

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By Steve Moran

The Senior Housing Forum On Tour Series is back for 2017. It will look a bit different than what I did in the past in that it will include some phone shopping and some true mystery shopping. Because we have some new readers, here are the rules I will operate under:

  1. The goal of this series is to be a learning exercise; a way to view senior living as a consumer might see it.

  2. If the visit is lousy or even just ordinary, I will never name the community or company. In fact, I will go out of the way to mask the identity of the building and company.

  3. If I have a relationship with the organization, I will privately communicate with that organization about the community and what happened, simply so they can use it as a specific teaching lesson.

  4. If the visit is wonderful, I will name names and celebrate the goodness.

  5. My goal is one visit or call and one article a week.

On Tour Week One

I have written with more detail about the aftermath of my mother's stroke, but a couple of weeks ago I found myself thinking I was going to have to put her in assisted living for, at least, some respite care. It seemed like it would be better if she got that care closer to home where her husband was recovering from bypass surgery.  

I hit the web and started making some phone calls.   

What I Wanted to Know

In trying to figure this all out I really had two things I wanted to know:

  1. Did they have room for her?

  2. How much would it cost?

It turns out if you want to answer those questions about a hotel, Airbnb, airline, cruise ship or train all you have to do is go to the internet. Not a chance with senior living.

My Call

I made my very first call around 9:00 AM and it went something like this:

Front Desk:  “Happy Hollow Senior Living.”

Me: “I would like to talk to sales.”

Front Desk:  “Please hold while I transfer you.” (I am thinking this is a good start.)

Sales Office:  “This is Misty SalesPerson. I do want to help you but I am in a meeting or helping another resident, so please leave a message.” (While not ideal, there are going to be times when no one is available and there does need to be some kind of voice mail. But the message continued . . .) “I won’t check messages until toward the end of the day. If I have time, I will call you back then, otherwise I will call you in the morning.”

I was dismayed, baffled, puzzled, frustrated. I needed information then and there. I did not need or want a “I will, maybe get back to you this evening, but likely it won’t be til morning.”

It was crazy making.

Until The Industry Gets This Right . . .

Until the industry gets this right, how can we possibly complain about refferal fees paid to Senior Housing Forum Partner Caring.com or APFM. One of their big appeals is that when a consumer calls that consumer is guaranteed to be able to talk to a real live person in 4 rings or less.

We can do better than this. We must do better than this.

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