Over 3,900 partner communities from 128 organizations participated in the eighth annual “Secret Shop” with A Place for Mom (APFM).
We administer the Secret Shop in order to provide actionable industry insights for our partners, and unique data to help improve sales effectiveness and increase move-in conversion rates. For all partners, we provide overall Secret Shop trends and insights, and for participating partners, we also provide their specific organization results.
Just as it has in the years before, the data reveals keys to conversion success:
- Collaboration with Advisors
The Secret Shop measures the speed and persistence of response to each fictitious lead sent to the participating partners and engagement efforts with the Advisor. We calculate speed of response based on the time from lead release until initial contact by the community. We calculate persistence by the number of contact attempts made within the 3-day Secret Shop. Similarly, we calculate outreach attempts to the Advisor to measure collaboration efforts.
Recently, we have seen an increase in inquiring families who wish to communicate by text and email, instead of voice-to-voice. So this year, we expanded the value of our Secret Shop to measure both the methods of outreach to families and how sales professionals engage with families based on the family’s preferred communication format.
Speed of Outreach to a Lead
The first key to success in connecting with an inquiring family is the speed of the sales professional reaching out to them – sometimes called speed to lead. The most successful communities contact the family immediately.
Our data confirms that the speed in which a community initially reaches out is crucial.
- Communities who respond to our leads within the first 30 minutes have a historical Win Rate that is 10.0% higher than those of communities that respond within 24 hours.
- Communities who follow-up within the first 2 hours have a historical Win Rate that is 4.7% higher than those of communities that respond within 24 hours.
When a family is searching for senior living, it’s often because they are concerned about their loved one and would like to find a community that is capable, professional and responsive. A quick response is one of the greatest indicators that your community will be attentive to their loved one.
Best Practices to Respond Quickly
Communities with the fastest response rate have several things in common:
- They include multiple people to the referral alerts
When multiple people at the community receive the referral alerts, it ensures that the family will receive a response on the weekends, evenings, or when the sales professional is unavailable. Like many of our successful partners say, we’re all sales professionals.
Quick tip: You can add additional referral alert recipients through Partner Central – simply log in, go to Community Profile, then Personnel.
- They have an established process for responding to referrals
The most successful communities have processes in place so their teams understand who is responsible to reach out to referred families quickly and persistently.
- They set goals and benchmarks for response times
Setting goals and benchmarks as a team help build an environment for success and ensure everyone is working together to reach a common goal. Often partners will set a goal that is faster than their desired result, in order to keep their teams focused on connecting quickly with families – whether that’s within 15 minutes or 4 minutes.
- They have integrated their CRM
When partners sign up for Partner Web Services, a free service through APFM, they typically see a 10-15% increase in Win Rates partially because the lead is automatically entered into their CRM which empowers the team to reach out quickly, saving the time of manually entering the lead information.
Persistence in attempting to contact the lead
Another important key to increasing sales effectiveness and move-in conversion is persistence in reaching out to the family. Communities who make multiple attempts to contact families have a higher share of APFM referred move-ins than communities who reach out only once.
The results showed communities who make 1-2 attempts to reach a family have lower historical conversion rates than those who attempted 3 or 4 times. Only a small portion of communities attempt to reach families more than 3 times.
Those communities who reach out 4-5 times within the first 3 days see an increase in their Win Rate of up to 29.5%. In addition, for families who prefer to communicate by email, we identified that communities who reach out 4 or more times increased their win rate up to 28.9%
Quick Tip: Our most successful partners know that today’s families are busy, and they utilize a number of contact methods and outreach attempts to connect with a family quickly – they stagger their differing approaches throughout the first few days, whether a voice-to-voice call, text message or email.
With the expansion of the 2018 Secret Shop to include two fictitious leads, we were able to identify a significant opportunity for sales professionals working with families. In analyzing the overall Secret Shop results from all 3900+ participating communities, we identified that less than half of communities made multiple attempts to connect with families who prefer email communication than they did with families who utilize voice-to-voice calls as well as email. Sales professionals have an opportunity to increase their persistence of outreach to inquiring families, no matter how the family wants to communicate.
Keep in mind that other communities will also be reaching out during this time – on average A Place for Mom refers a family to 4.4 communities following the Advisor’s initial consultation. The speed, warmth, and genuine sincerity of your response to the family are keys to your success and will help you stand out from the competition.
Don’t be concerned if the family doesn’t respond or call you back right away. This can be an overwhelming process, and the most successful communities make it a point to let families know that they are there for them. Be sure to make a great first impression with a warm, customize voicemail with a call to action.
Collaborating with the Referring Advisors
The other key to success we have found through the Secret Shop is collaborating with the referring Advisor. Communities who reached out twice to their APFM Advisor have historical Win Rates that are 30.0% higher than those who never attempted to contact their Advisor over the 3 day period. And communities who attempted to contact the referring Advisor once have historical 11.2% higher win rates than those who do not.
APFM Advisors follow up with a family throughout their senior living search to provide additional support, resources and encouragement to help them to make a decision. Our top-performing partners hey work together in helping families come to a decision on senior living, strategizing together on individual families to support them in their journey. Many of our partners share that if they haven’t uncovered a particular concern or objection from a family, that the family will likely share that concern with their APFM Advisor. Having a collaborative relationship with your local Advisors opens the door to help more families together.
Methods of Outreach to Families
Today’s senior living consumers are changing in their communication preferences, and we want to support you, our partners, to be more successful in connecting with these families. Many of you have read the White Paper we published earlier this year, Connecting with Families in the Digital Age, as well as our recent Partner Blog article, Digital Communication Best Practices and How to Get Started.
In the 2018 Secret Shop, we also measured the method of sales professionals’ outreach to referred families. We found that communities who responded first by text message historically achieve 100.1% increase in Win Rate over communities that did not respond to the Shop lead. Granted, there were not many communities who utilized text as their first attempt, but those who did achieve a high level of success with APFM-referred families.
We have found families to be responsive and engaged, as well as appreciative of the opportunity to communicate a number of ways, depending on their busy lives. Anecdotally, we’ve experienced many interactions with inquiring families where they are in the middle of a work meeting or family function and are unable to pick up a call, but are quick to respond by text. They might confirm a tour with a community, ask a clarifying question about a partner’s services, or any number of steps along the senior living search journey.
To view the full report, click here.
Each year, the Secret Shop provides interesting and impactful trends, and we are pleased to conduct the Secret Shop for the benefit of our partners and to compare performance with their national cohort. At A Place for Mom, we see ourselves truly as your partner – referring families to you, expanding the visibility of senior living for families prior to their search, and providing impactful industry and consumer insights.