Marketing for an assisted living/elder care/senior care business?

25 replies
I have a friend who just opened an assisted living facility here in Minnesota, without giving much regard as to how she was going to get clients. Like alot of new business owners, she believed "build it and they will come". Since that has proven not to be the case, I told her I would help point her in the right direction. Help point ME in the right direction.

How would you find new clients if you were an assisted living facility?

Any input is appreciated, I don't claim to be an expert in this sector of marketing. Thanks
#assisted #business #care #care or senior #living or elder #marketing
  • Profile picture of the author David Miller
    I find this a bit hard to believe. A true assisted living facility is an enormous undertaking. Aside from the expense of the brick and mortar itself, there is state and local licensing, nursing and medical staff, adequate associations with local hospitals, hospice associations, religious considerations, dining facilities. The dining facilities are an undertaking in its own right, and I've barely scratched the surface of what else is involved.

    Any assisted living facility capable of accomplishing what the states and local parameters call for is something that requires millions of dollars in capital equipment and cash. In order to get the required capital for this, the investors would insist on a complete and detailed business plan outlining each and every facet including advertising and marketing, medicare and medicaid considerations as well. Oh, did I mention the insurance liability of this kind of facility.

    I find it beyond hard to believe that this is underway in any manner without a marketing plan and budget already in place.
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    • Profile picture of the author nrg2011
      I don't think they didn't do proper planning, they just underestimated how saturated that market is, and how hard it is to get new clients.

      They shelled out a bunch ($450k) for a nice house that is ready for such use. They also hired a house manager, they just have no clients, and money going out each week.

      I think they were turned down by the bank for their biz, so they privately funded themselves...

      I see this alot, people get overzealous about their product and think the world will come running to them, when in fact marketing is a huge undertaking and expense.
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      • Profile picture of the author David Miller
        Clearly this is an example of more dollars than sense.
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        • Profile picture of the author nrg2011
          Not saying you are wrong, David Miller. I just hope I am able to point them in the right direction. There are a few articles on here for elder care, which have proved useful....
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      • Profile picture of the author honitel
        Originally Posted by nrg2011 View Post

        I don't think they didn't do proper planning, they just underestimated how saturated that market is, and how hard it is to get new clients.

        They shelled out a bunch ($450k) for a nice house that is ready for such use. They also hired a house manager, they just have no clients, and money going out each week.

        I think they were turned down by the bank for their biz, so they privately funded themselves...

        I see this alot, people get overzealous about their product and think the world will come running to them, when in fact marketing is a huge undertaking and expense.
        I would agree with you nrg2011, underestimating the market will be probably a little wrong move. Knowing your clients must be put in a place well.
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  • Profile picture of the author patey88
    Originally Posted by nrg2011 View Post

    How would you find new clients if you were an assisted living facility?
    A small facility in a house in a neighborhood will be very convenient for nearby baby-boomers who need to find care for their parents. For example when one of my in-law's parents required more care than they could give him at home all day, he moved to a care home just a few streets away.

    Your friend might start by asking to speak to the social workers at the nearest hospitals, who will constantly be helping patients' families find a place for patients who are ready to leave the hospital but can't be cared for at home. Get on the social worker's list.

    Also, do web searches for the competition and see where they are advertising themselves. There are probably directory websites.

    And press releases might also help. I hired an in-home caregiver once by looking up a news article I'd once read that mentioned 3 local companies and talked about how they started their businesses. I called one of those companies.

    A lot of business can come from the state's Medicaid program, so she should certainly get listed/certified by them as well. In fact there could well be more Medicaid residents than any other kind.
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    • Profile picture of the author TimD
      Terrific response Patey. We get so tied up in online responses, I sometimes need to be reminded that networking and direct response are sometimes better answers.
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      • Profile picture of the author moose88
        realistically the only people that are going to know about this in detail are other care homes.

        i know this sounds mad, but why not give one a call and ask them straight up.

        maybe not one in your city, but another one. Maybe theres a forum online that is specifically for care home owners?

        other then that, a local ranking website is a MUST
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  • Profile picture of the author Digital Traffic
    I would do a PPC campaign and build and rank a web site for search terms associated with assisted living facilities in Minnesota, or their local city within Minnesota.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    Have her call the local paper. They are always looking for article ideas, especially on new businesses. It's free
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  • Profile picture of the author debml
    It sounds like this may be a residential care facility rather than an assisted living facility.

    Generally, the best type of patient for this type of facility is someone who doesn't need constant care from a nurse, but rather, unskilled care that is available at all times. In terms of value proposition, comparing this time of facility to a nursing home is very easy to do and is compelling. Families are generally involved in decisions like these, and the more the facility can feel like "home," the easier it is for the family.

    The annual audits performed by the state are a great source of information regarding why a residential care facility could be better for your loved one than a nursing home. Obviously, not all nursing homes are bad - but some of the items the state reviews clearly indicate recurrent problems. I'm in a different state, so the items that my state reviews may be slightly different than yours, but I would imagine there are a lot of similarities. Here, they look at the percentage of patients who have lost more than 10% of their body weight in the past year, percentage of patients who are actually receiving the special diet proscribed by their physician, are patients actually being given the medication they are supposed to have... and the list goes on.

    Also highlighting patient to care ratios - would you rather have mom in a facility where there is 1 nurse per 17 patients, or in a facility that has 6-8 patients (or whatever they are licensed for)?

    I have a few clients in this business, and for the most part, they get their patients from referrals.

    In terms of finding centers of influence, do they accept long term care insurance? Agents who are highly specialized in this market could be a good source of referrals. If your state has a partnership plan, agent certification is usually required, and instructors for these classes can be a source for identifying the power-hitters in this insurance niche. Ideally, you would want an agent who sells at least 100 long term care policies/year and has been doing it for a while.

    Another potential source for centers of influence is home health care nurses. Agencies are often reluctant to make specific recommendations - often nurses will. A home health care nurse will often see 40 - 60 patients per week, and has a pulse on the patients situation and family members abilities to provide the level of care needed by the patient.

    You may also be able to find some informal networking groups related to this topic. Even nursing home administrators may be able to help. Often times, a patient doesn't yet need the level of care provided by a nursing home, but needs more care than family members can provide.

    Adult Day Care Facilities could be another source for you. These are like childcare, but for an adult who cannot be left on their own and lives with family members who have to work during the day.

    It may go by a different name in your state, but here, the state's department of aging website provides links to a lot of different services available for people with limited mobility provided by state programs, as well as community based programs. Community based programs may be another area to find centers of influence.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Mailing lists.

    Targeted mailing lists.

    Learn about this word: demographics.

    Here in the US (unlike Canada), you are able to find all sorts of information about people. You can pull a list of almost any variables you can think of: people who are about to have twins, love hockey, live on the west side of the street and dislike lollipops.

    Here's a critical question for your market:

    Who makes the decision on putting the "patient" into the facility?

    ...is it dear old Grandpa himself, finally deciding to pack in the idea of keeping house?

    ...or is it his son and daughter-in-law, now 40 - 50 years old and making decisions on behalf of dear old Dad?
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  • Profile picture of the author linkmetro
    If they have any money left for marketing suggest a local paper ad with some recommendation. Also join local BNI Meetings, CofC, BBB, local church, go and hospitals be advocate, join all area business trade show... Set up a small website...print marketing materials and hand deliver to area homes...Hold an open house, but advertise it well before!

    Joe
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    OK so find areas with that demographic who have enough income to pay for your solution. Direct mail.

    So then what else. Let's think... Who gets into the homes of 40-50 year-old decision makers? Physically gets in there, has a conversation with the homeowners, and is viewed with some trust?

    Time to find someone to partner up with. Someone who has a little credibility in the healthcare area. Gonna have to think a bit on this one. See, carpet cleaners get inside, but would you really listen to your carpet cleaner if they mentioned assisted living? And dropped off a pamphlet? Maybe if they had their own parent in there. Start thinking. Who has credibility and can do your marketing for you? Why bust down all those doors on your own if you don't have to.
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    • Profile picture of the author goterps95
      I've consulting to 3 of the top 5 assisted living companies and written a couple of books on senior care. It's a very LOCAL business. Many families enter AL in a big of a panic, so they don't spend a ton of time online doing research. They do some, but they rely heavily on parishes, discharge planners, social workers and referrals from other senior care provides like attorneys and financial planners.

      You'll need to develop those relations no matter what you do.

      Next - the sales and marketing team have to do something memorable, because every community feature-dumps on the families and it becomes a blur. You'll need to put together some education materials about how to choose the best assisted living REGARDLESS of whether they choose your friends. Families like this because they know the sales rep are trying to get their 4-6K per month for 2 years. We've partnered with some ALs and double conversion rates but using paperback books and providing them during tours.

      There is a lot of online opps too, must mostly in local search and or link building from reading blogs and commenting. You can buy some links, but the probability they NEED assisted living when they get the email is poor. Direct mail works in some fashion, but again, it's a needle in a haystack.

      We interviewed hundreds of elder care marketers about how they market their business. It's free and may be useful to you. Check it out here and feel free to PM f you have a question. I don't have 15 posts yet, so I can't post a link, but you can go to
      smartbugmedia dot com -> Resources -> elder care marketing industry report.


      Hope this helps.

      It's a hugely profitable business if you do it right.

      Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    Originally Posted by nrg2011 View Post

    I have a friend who just opened an assisted living facility here in Minnesota, without giving much regard as to how she was going to get clients. Like alot of new business owners, she believed "build it and they will come". Since that has proven not to be the case, I told her I would help point her in the right direction. Help point ME in the right direction.

    How would you find new clients if you were an assisted living facility?

    Any input is appreciated, I don't claim to be an expert in this sector of marketing. Thanks
    I worked for an assisted living community for a bit and these are the 2 primary way they always got new clients.

    1) Events hosted at the center. Contests, competitions, games, bingo, raffles, whatever they could do, they would saturate the local community with flyers, and advertise the events.

    2) Cold calling. This was done by 2 people, about 10 hours a day total. They had a list of local eldery around the nieghborhood. We would literally just call and start conversations with the old folks. "How has your day been", "is there anything we can get/do for you?".

    People would actually sometimes say yes they could use help with something. We would send someone out to them a favor, this created a VERY powerful reputation and credibility for the place I worked at.

    I only worked at one senior home, but this is how they got the majority of their new clients.
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    • Profile picture of the author wesb
      Definitely follow both kaniganj & RedShifted advice. Also, someone on this thread mentioned ads in the paper. I would try an open house and invite the press or have some type of fundraising event held at the facility, with press releases etc...
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      • Profile picture of the author goldog
        I love the idea of a "can we do you a favor or run an errand" call. I've seen also seen "come by for lunch on us" used to introduce prospects to this type of facility. The value per client in this business has got to be huge.

        Hope this helps nrg2011. It has helped me. Thanks for the thread. I have a "Home Care" prospect who I know needs clients. I am working on a pitch now. I may even offer to run some errands.
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  • Profile picture of the author BarbaraP
    Just saw this thread on WF search results. After almost 2 years of fighting horrible impact of elder exploitation with our late aunt, our advice is be very careful when cold calling seniors and offering errand running and other "favors." Families are becoming more suspicious of such out of the blue contacts as they should be.
    And you/your clients should take care not to be falsely accused by a memory-deficient senior of anything improper. The ideas on this thread for marketing are excellent for this niche, especially the publication idea. Churches have senior-centered activities and welcome presentations. Many libraries host programs for seniors - show how to use library to research assisted living facilities and know whether reviews are paid or legit. This content can be used in many ways. As for the people who have a house for clients, market in niche target - not general ads.
    Create free PR opportunities with local paper. Photos, YouTube video from current residents (get photo/video release permit signed by clients 1st). Maybe cross-promo share cost of EDDM across several biz might be good idea. Family lawyer that does Wills/estate planning? Salon for seniors? Rehab facilities?
    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Joni D
    As a mom to a special needs adult I know there are waiting lists for "group homes" and like assisted living, someone is hired to supervise, feed, laundry etc. and if you are interested I know someone in MN who has just finished setting this up.
    Just message me if you are interested in speaking with her. I do know that I can get lists of group home coordinators from my daughters' social worker with the state, she could get on that list through the coordinator and fill up quickly for your area or she could get on that list.
    There is also a meeting that is held a couple times a year and parents looking for a group home for their adult handicapped children hook up to find and tour homes, your friend could easily meet people at these meetings and hand out her card or be apart of the service coordinator that finds residents for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author sandalwood
    Originally Posted by nrg2011 View Post

    I have a friend who just opened an assisted living facility here in Minnesota, without giving much regard as to how she was going to get clients. Like alot of new business owners, she believed "build it and they will come". Since that has proven not to be the case, I told her I would help point her in the right direction. Help point ME in the right direction.

    How would you find new clients if you were an assisted living facility?

    Any input is appreciated, I don't claim to be an expert in this sector of marketing. Thanks
    nrg2011,

    You've received great advice. The book goterps95 mentioned is at:

    Elder Care Marketing Report - Senior Care Marketing Report - SmartBug Media

    Download it and read it. Make sure your friend gets a copy too. Great advice from a guy in the field. I am not an affiliate and the above is the same site, but linked, as the one referenced above.

    I hope you took notes from each of the posts.

    Tom
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Every now and again, I attend networking meetings hosted by/through? the local CPA society. About half the people are accountants (they work with all kind of business owners and some of them specialize in wealthy people (definition of wealthy varies, from $250k network to 7million or more).

      The interesting part is that there are some accountants, some wealth advisers, some insurance agents, some people whose companies fund businesses, some attorneys. One of the attorney specializes in old people, as in, he says he's good at dealing with old people.

      In addition to this kind of networking, I'd attend networking events thrown by doctors, dentists. Audiologists, eye doctors, doctors that deal with bone problems, dementia, etc... If you're going with doctors, you may also go with nurses.

      I think attorneys, accountants, doctors and dentist often hear about how difficult dealing with mom or dad's become and, should they recommend you, it carries a lot of weight. I mean, they're already trusted.

      One of the people I'm after is a wealth adviser. He gets his clients through referrals... other clients or accountants... He occasionally recommends insurance, doctors and other people who take care of health needs. But rarely, very rarely... if his recommendations don't work out, he stands to lose too much, he says.

      But like it was said before, it's easier to get in if you're lead in by someone they already trusts.
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      • Profile picture of the author Sue Comms
        Hi there- I would hope by now your friend has got to grips with this, but if not, then this is my field. I regularly give free care marketing advice for senior care at Care Marketing Advice. It is aimed more at the UK market, but having worked with US companies in the past, I'm sure some of it should be relevant!
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        • Profile picture of the author midasman09
          Banned
          One of the "Video guys" here has a recent WSO offering a Great Video, with Voiceover. Either Dave Cisnero's, Mark Helton or Nick Mann.

          Get the video and Brand it with Logo and contact info. Use a Title like, "Toledo Elder Care" or "Toledo Assisted Living".

          Get one of the many WSOs on "How To Rank Videos with Keywords".

          Upload the Video to a YT Channel with the same Keywords. (Use a Thumbnail with picture of an elder in a wheelchair and an attendant pushing it. Consumers are drawn to pictures)

          Mark Helton has a great course called Video Vanquisher.

          Then....when video ranks on 1st page for the Keyword, Leads will come in!

          You could also use CallFire to monitor the calls.

          Don Alm

          When video
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  • Profile picture of the author bsummers
    Yellow pages and online marketing. People turn to these medium when looking for these services.
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