seniorDECISION Senior Housing and Senior Care News Update

Provider Descriptions Now Available on seniorDECISION.com
August 12th 2010

seniorDECISION is proud to announce the addition of business descriptions to the individual provider pages in the directory. Adding a description to your provider listing benefits your business greatly as it will differentiate you from other senior housing and care providers. Descriptions can also be used to highlight other services that your business provides. Carefully crafting a description which emphasizes the uniqueness and specialties of your senior housing and care provider can make all the difference. And, adding a description is FREE and takes less than 5 minutes! Update your provider listing information by accessing the form found here.
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Senior Age Group Booming
The Baby-Boomers are not babies anymore. Every year, the 65 to 74 age group continues to grow. In a Fort Worth Business Press article by author Aleshia Wolf entitled "Senior housing market prime for development," using calculations from Integra the United States population is predicted to grow by 1 percent from 2010 to 2020; for the 65 to 74 age group, 4.2 percent in the same 10-year time frame. With the increased number of senior citizens due to the large number of baby-boomers growing older, the search for senior housing and care providers will increase as well.

The Internet is a VERY powerful tool. For many organizations in the senior living industry it is providing upwards of 60% of an organization's leads, and is quickly becoming the key way to generate real customers. With paid listings starting at only $249/year, seniorDECISION can help you attract the growing number of senior citizens and generate great leads as a result.

Another great benefit of a paid listing is that seniorDECISION will provide you with a Report Card Marketing Assessment which is a thorough analysis of your provider's Internet presence. With this assessment, you will receive expert advice from a proven Internet Marketing company, Polar Design, on the strengths and weaknesses of your provider's website.

To purchase a paid listing and receive your FREE Report Card Marketing Assessment, select one of our many packages found here and then fill out a provider submission form by going here.

Benefits of Listing on seniorDECISION

  • seniorDECISION attracts thousands of visitors around USA seeking senior housing and care providers
  • We attract a high quality clientele due to the inclusion of provider ratings on the site
  • Effective cost per lead for paid advertising is a fraction of other lead generation opportunities
  • Receive a FREE Report Card Marketing Assessment of your provider's website
  • Link to your website from your listing drives traffic to your site and improves your search engine ranking in Google


Introducing the seniorDECISION Blog

seniorDECISION’s blog shares the latest news, research and thoughts on senior care and housing with our consumers and providers alike. Our mission is to help as many people as possible make decisions about home health, retirement living, assisted living, and nursing home options.

We hope that you contribute to this blog by commenting on something that got your attention – whether it made you ask a question or otherwise excited you!

Want to Stand Out From All the Others? Update Your seniorDECISION Senior Housing Facility or Senior Care Provider Description!

Or, Purchase a Paid Listing and Get Leads Today!



Fear of Change Keeping Seniors from a Better Quality of Life
June 29th 2010

When one thinks of experts in dealing with change, who does one think of first? What about people who have dealt with retirement, aging, health issues, and even the comings and goings of family and friends? Yes, those recognized as senior citizens in society are experts in change.

In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau there are two key changes that seniors have to deal with. First, seniors have to deal with the stress and changes of moving residences an average of 11.7 times throughout their lives. Second, the life expectancy in the United States has grown to 77.7 years from 61.7 years in 1935. With this additional 16 years comes that many more years of change to plan for and embrace. Fortunately for the seniors struggling to make these difficult choices and changes, with the help of seniorDECISION (www.seniordecision.com), seniors and families can browse through ratings and reviews of senior housing choices, and read reviews from other seniors who have had to make the adjustment to a new lifestyle in senior living communities.

In an article by Greg Hadley, a resident of a retirement community, he reflected that: “There is seldom a satisfactory outcome when new living arrangements become a requirement instead of a choice."

Yet, in a survey of seniors mostly aged 72 to 83, when asked about the reasons for not making a move at this point in life, the number one answer was “fear of change.” This was expressed in various ways such as:
• Going to strange surroundings
• Familiar to less familiar
• New setting
• Leaving current neighborhood
• Loss of neighbors/secure with current friends and neighbors
• Emotional separation from home
• Fear of unknown

Here are three steps for helping seniors work through this time of change.

First, listen without an agenda. If one can identify if the fear of change is emotional in nature (for example, concerns about connecting socially)or logistical in nature (for example, concerns about getting items packed and sorting through what to leave behind), then step two is more achievable.

Second, help the seniors prioritize their fears. If one starts to address the first fear that is expressed, it may not be the most important issue to the senior. Instead, once a fear is brought up, ask “are there any other issues you are considering?” and ask for the senior’s help in verifying what problem is most important.

Finally, validate the fears as reasonable given the circumstances surrounding the decision to change and ask them to reflect on other changes in life that started out with concern and turned into positive outcomes (getting married, having children, a new job, a new house, etc.). Pulling in a history of successful change will provide confidence to the current situation.

Progress in life is not easy, but working through change is possible, especially when working with experts in change such as the senior citizens of the nation.



Customer Acquisition versus Retention in the CCRC Industry
May 21st 2010

“We have to fill our apartments!” “We need to have more clients purchase our services today!”

Our focus in today’s market is primarily geared towards acquiring new clients rather than retaining existing clients. When a Sales and Marketing budget is established, organizations in the Assisted Living, Home Support, and Continuing Care Retirement Community likely dedicate zero direct dollars to current customer retention beyond normal operating expenses. This should change immediately!

According to consumer acquisition research, it takes on average five times the cost to acquire a customer than it does to retain a customer.

For example, when I was in charge of a portfolio of 16 senior living communities, the calculated average cost for a new lead was $200 and for a move-in $2000, with the average cost of move-in for our continuing care retirement communities running closer to $10,000 per move-in. And what was the cost of retaining a current resident? This was never directly calculated.

A 2% increase in customer retention has the same impact as a 10% cost cutting effort.

In general, according to an American Society of Quality study, companies lost customers:
• 68% of the time because the customer was turned away by an attitude of indifference by the service provider
• 14% customer dissatisfied with the product or service
• 9% customer lured away by a competitor
• 3% customer moves away
• 1% customer dies

In our industry, the last reason may be more prevalent, but the importance of retaining a customer for as long as possible remains critically important.
According to NIC, 4th Quarter occupancy for Independent Living rates fell to 88.2% from 89.8% in the previous year. The average monthly per apartment fee in the 4th quarter was $2659.

Assuming a 100 apartment complex, the annual vacancy loss calculation relative to the 88.2% occupancy is valued over $376,000. Just having one apartment fully occupied versus not is nearly $32,000 for the year. If one applies a 30% operating margin, for a single apartment, this equates to $9600 in lost operating margin for every apartment that lies vacant for a year. This then becomes the amount one could hypothetically spend before losing money on an effort to retain an existing client. However, providers today typically do not allocate any direct funds for retention.

Some practical steps to retaining a customer include:
1) Gauging the satisfaction of the customer with a key focus on the answer to: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most willing, how willing are you to recommend this Community to friends and family?” Those providing a score of 5 are true positive advocates for your business. Those in the 3-4 range are appreciative, but not likely to promote. Anyone below a 3 should be viewed as a threat to your business.
2) Asking customers, “what is one thing we can do tomorrow to increase your satisfaction with our service?” The answers here should give you a handful of practical steps that can be assessed, prioritized, and implemented to further engage with existing customers.
3) Don’t wait until the annual survey. Too many organizations rely solely on annual satisfaction survey information to garner consumer feedback. By the time the survey is rolled out, collected, and the findings presented, much time has passed. Instead, weekly feedback should be acquired through surveys following key meals, activities, and more. This helps improve operations and subsequently helps retain residents daily.

Often the best leads and ultimately new customers come from current customers. The more engaged the current customer feels, the more likely they are to provide a referral. In one case, I have seen referral leads be literally 10 times more likely to become a customer than a general lead.

For assisted living, NIC reported 4th Quarter occupancy fell to 88.2% from 88.9% in the previous year. The average monthly apartment fee in the 4th quarter was $3536. Assuming the same margins of 30%, an operator has even more financial leeway to create an environment that focuses on retention as well as acquisition.

In the world of home health aides, the average hourly rate in the United States is $21. Assuming an 8-hour a day customer commitment, this equates to $168 a day, or $1176 a week. The same approach applies. Take the margin available, encourage current customer feedback, and do what is suggested within reason to secure a longer-term client.

By refocusing on retention, not just acquisition, providers will find and create greater loyalty among current customers that will translate beautifully into additional sustained revenues and profits over time.



Today is the Best Time to Move to a CCRC
April 23rd 2010

Home ownership for those over 55 in the U.S. averages over 80%. Ownership for this age cohort is over 10% better than the general American public. For those thinking about a move to a continuing care retirement community, a community that provides independent living options as well as higher care related options, today is the best time to commit to a move because: a) You get to make the Choice versus having the choice made for you b) You share the risk and reap the economies of scales c) With the economy, CCRC providers are presenting more and more value to the end consumer d) home buyer tax credits must be secured with a signed contract by May 1, 2010 with execution of the contract taking place by July 1, 2010, and this means a buyer could be leaving $8000 behind if they are a first time buyer or $6500 behind in tax credits if they have previously bought a home.

You get to make the choice. Making a decision before you have to gives you more control of your circumstances, and places fewer burdens on those around you to choose a lifestyle on your behalf. If you cannot answer the following question in the positive, it is time to make a change: “Six months from now will I be better off living where I am living versus making a move?” And in answering this question remember the market can just as easily go down as it can go up, so the conclusion should be based on circumstances more within your control. An added bonus is that once you make a choice and you move to take advantage of your new lifestyle, you have time while you are still relatively healthy and active to meet people and develop what will likely in the future become an important support base to help you through potentially more difficult times ahead.

You share the risk and reap the rewards of economies of scale. Today, if your roof needs repair, you pay for it. If the cost of heating or cooling your home goes up, you are responsible to pay 100% of the increase. Living in a community setting, you benefit from sharing any cost increases amongst all residents. You also gain from a community’s ability to purchase products at a less expensive rate based on volume. Ultimately, this should allow you to budget more appropriately for your own monthly expenses, knowing that many of the items that use to be treated as variable costs previously in your life (house maintenance for example), have become fixed and known costs paid for by the community itself.

Communities are offering more value than ever before. As the economy has changed, those focused on people 55 and better on a new lifestyle have had to adapt as well. With consumers having less in the way of net worth, they still want and expect to receive great value for their dollar. Communities are now more focused than ever on bundling lifestyle experiences for a resident. In addition, providers have become increasingly more flexible with offers to: pay for moving expenses; add additional amenities to an apartment; waive traditional fees, and in some cases freeze or cut back on an entrance deposit or monthly fee. Taking advantage now of a move could result in thousands in savings.

Valuable tax credits need to be acted upon today. According to an April press release from the U.S. Treasury Department, nearly 1.8 million new home buyers have taken advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit. In addition, pending home sales rose in February, 2010 by over 17% relative to same time 2009, potentially signaling a second surge of home sales in response to the home buyer tax credit, according to the National Association of Realtors. Contracts that are created prior to May 1, 2010, and executed on before July 1, 2010 are eligible for the first time home buyer tax credit of up to $8,000 or up to $6500 for an existing home owner who wants to purchase a new home. Unlike towards the end of last year when the first time home buyer tax credit program was extended by Congress, everyone seems to realize that no new extension is forthcoming even though as one associate finance professor from Georgetown University, James Angel put it, "The doctor is pulling off the life support system hoping that the patient's heart beats on its own.”

The $8000 tax credit represents in places like San Jose, California, 1.6% of the average asking price for a home, to a high in Detroit, Michigan of 7.3%. In markets like Phoenix, Arizona it represents a 4.7% value relative to asking price, and in Baltimore, Maryland, it would cover an average real estate broker’s commission fee at 3.2% of the asking price for a home. In the full article, you can see a list by major metropolitan cities of the impact receiving the $8000 credit has relative to the asking price in the city as of April 2010.



Why "Tea and Toast" May Aid Seniors' Health
March 7th 2010

Green tea has known health benefits for people of all ages. High in anti-oxidants, low amount of caffeine, and possessing a chemical known as "catechin polyphenols", the tea has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, control headaches, assist in maintaining energy level, weight control, and even help with depression.

A recent study of elderly Japanese that compared their symptoms of depression with green tea consumption showed that those individuals that consumed more green tea (over 3 cups a day) tended to have less depression.

The physical, mental and social changes brought about by aging are significant, to say the least. Seniors living at home, or providers caring for them may consider healthy, natural green tea as a possible remedy to changes in well being, physical, mental or emotional.

As a side note, one seniorDECISION partner regularly imbibes green tea for his own benefits and has been encouraging his mother to do so as well!

Sources:

1. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2. Green tea consumption is associated with depressive symptoms in the elderly, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition



Internet Marketing Matters to Senior Housing and Care
November 4th 2009

Did you know that over 12 million individuals in the US choose a lifestyle within a senior living setting or involving home health services each year?.

How do these individuals choose a senior living option?

As it happens, as many as 10 million searches are conducted monthly in Google alone for terms like "senior housing" or "nursing home" - this is your target market in action, actively researching senior living and home health options.

However, over 90% of senior housing web sites and Internet Marketing programs fail to attract and convert these consumers by falling short in a number of key criteria that are known to determine success.

To help senior housing providers understand this market and how to master it, seniorDECISION partnered with Polar Design, an interactive marketing agency specializing in senior housing and senior care provider marketing. Our jointly developed report is the first of several periodic Internet Marketing reports.

If you are a provider, you can obtain a FREE copy!

Simply add your company to the seniorDECISION directory or upgrade your existing listig to at least a FREE seniorACTIVE account. Sign Up by clicking here and choosing one of the FREE options, or a paid package with additional marketing benefits.

Then contact us to request your free copy (providers with existing listings may also use this form to obtain the report).

As a reward for for taking this simple, first step in improving your Internet Marketing, we will send you this thirteen page report describing the market and identifying steps you can take today to improve your Internet Marketing.



Our First Newsletter – Marketing Tips for Senior Care Provid
September 22nd 2009

Read about achieving success online by reading our latest newsletter on
our Facebook page.


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SeniorDECISION signs twenty new facilities!
August 11th 2009

We are proud to announce the addition of twenty west coast US facilities to our select group of SeniorACTIVE members – we encourage you to read, review and consider them for your local senior care!

Click here to start searching.



Searching Smart : Radio Interview with Rob Liebreich, SeniorDECISION Co-Founder
June 5th 2009

Jackstreet interviews Robert Liebriech, multi-year veteran of the senior care and housing, about how senior housing consumers are selecting facilities today. The thirty minute radio interview covers factors that consumers consider in senior housing, assisted living, and nursing home selection, as well as how they research and select today.

Listen to the interview



AARP Bulletin on Senior Decision
January 1st 2009

The AARP covered SeniorDECISION in its monthly newsletter and web site.

Click here to read more.



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