Many assisted living facilities rely on referral services to generate new business. These services, also known as placement agencies, direct families to the care providers they need.
There are many options available, and it can be challenging for people who search for the best accommodations for their loved one. That’s why consumers often turn to referral services to find what they need. While this may sound simple enough, it isn’t always the best solution for the client or your business. Understanding the challenges potential clients face when searching for you can help you find ways to make your facility more accessible without the middleman.
The Real Cost Behind Assisted Living Referral Services
Senior living referral services are typically free to use for consumers. It’s a different story for business owners. Most facilities end up paying as much as 12.5% of the annual revenue brought in by each referred client. Acquisition costs make this an unattractive form of lead generation from a financial standpoint.
Referral services have been publicly criticized in recent years. A Place for Mom is one of the most recognizable examples, fielding requests from around 50,000 families monthly. Some families and industry experts have pointed to the business model as in need of regulation due to the financially driven focus of the recommendations referral services provide.
A Place for Mom, and services like it, contract with assist living facilities. If you have a contract with them, then they will send referrals your way. If you don’t, then they won’t include you as an option. The client often doesn’t realize that this decision relies heavily on whether you have opted in and agreed to pay for the referral. Quality of care and client needs are often not considered.
The Seattle Times completed an investigation in 2010 that found that some referral services placed seniors in facilities that had a documented history of substandard care practices.
A combination of public concern and high cost should make most business owners think twice before agreeing to a referral service contract. Organic, alternative methods are available that could save you thousands of dollars each year and keep your facility busy.
Relying Less on Third-Party Placement Referrals
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 47.8 million people age 65 and older living in the country as of July 2015. That was an increase of 1.6 million from the previous year. The elderly population is expected to continue to climb with projections of 98.2 million by 2060. That includes nearly 20 million people who will be age 85 and older.
The demand for assisted living facilities and related services isn’t going to decrease in the coming years. Families need options now more than ever. That also means that, if you know how to use your marketing resources, you should be able to reach clients without going through a third-party referral service.
It starts with an SEO-optimized website and marketing plan. Your facility must be searchable if consumers are going to find you without a referral.
You can use the same digital marketing strategies that sites like A Place for Mom rely on to generate traffic. Once your pages are optimized, you can:
- Harness the Power of Social Media – Social media is a valuable tool that can build a business. You need regular posts that engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. This is also a good way to establish your business as an authority in the industry. When families trust your brand, they will be more likely to get in touch when their loved one needs care.
- Ensure Maximum Visibility – Are you sure that you can be found everywhere on the web? You must be certain that your business profiles are visible and up to date. Fill out all the information you can and add photos and more if possible. This brings life to your profile and entices visitors to see what you have to offer their loved ones.
- Manage Your Online Reputation – Your online reputation can help or hurt your ability to generate leads. Find out what people are saying about your business online. This can provide valuable feedback and gives you the opportunity to respond and continue building trust and goodwill with your audience.
- Refine Approach for Local SEO – General SEO is good, but you need more than that. Local SEO hones your efforts down to a specific geographic area. Many of your clients will likely come from your community. Reach out to the people who are most likely to use your facility by incorporating location-based keywords in your marketing strategy.
How to Get Started with SEO Optimization and Marketing
Getting started can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t taken any steps to begin marketing your business online. This process can be time-consuming and requires an understanding of internet marketing strategies.
The number of people searching for an assisted living facility is growing. Right now is the best time to take advantage of the trend and start generating fresh leads for your business. Contact Senior Care Websites today to discuss your needs. We can assess your facility’s website and create a strategy that will allow you to move away from expensive referral services and keep more of your profits.