The title says it all.

This is Part 2 in our series about how senior communities can best work in partnership with online referral agencies. You can read Part 1, which identifies Best Practices, at the following link: The 10 Best Lead Generation Practices You Need to Follow.

In a recent webinar arranged and hosted by, a Senior Housing Forum partner, panelists, who have worked for both online referral agencies and senior living companies, shared their unique perspective. They answered a number of questions frequently asked by senior living community partners.

Senior Living Referral Agency Webinar Panel

[Unless otherwise noted, answers are a compilation of comments from all the panelists.]
Question:  How do you financially qualify leads before you send them to communities?

Answer:  Our partners sometimes complain that a lead is not qualified, even though we do our best to ferret out those that do not have the means for senior living. Below are some facts that help explain why a community might get an unqualified lead:

  • Families don’t always tell us their true finances. Sometimes an adult child doesn’t really know their parents’ situation, and sometimes the family thinks they’ll get a “deal” if they don’t give out their maximum budget.

  • The referral partner doesn’t always have accurate information. For example, one-third of senior communities contracted with have not updated their rates on their listing for over a year.

  • When a family or senior gives their budget, they usually don’t include the value of their home; they typically look only at their monthly income.

  • 75% of leads that move in paid higher rates than they said they could afford.

Question:  How do advisors select the communities to which they refer?

Answer:  We try to establish the best match in terms of prices, available finances, type of care needed, and geographic area desired. Advisors are paid the same, regardless of monthly rent, so there’s no incentive for them to send families to more expensive communities unless those are the “best fit” for the family.

Question:  How many communities do you refer to?

Answer:   It took us a while to figure out the best number. Three to four communities are too few. Believe it or not, at least one of the communities won’t call the prospect back. Eight to 12 communities are too many; the families were overwhelmed. They’d shut down and would go somewhere else. We found 5 to 6 is more ideal. Advisors check back with prospects and refer more communities if nothing worked out. ~ Anne Kempsell, formerly with Senior, which is now called

We refer to 4 or 5 communities and then check back to see how prospects liked the communities, and add more if they ask us to. Thirty percent of prospects tour 4 or more communities; just 17% tour only one community. But, if a family can only afford 2 communities in their desired area, that’s all we refer. ~ Megan Fletcher, Director of Client Services for

Question:  Are there senior living policies or practices that inhibit partnerships with online referral agencies?

Answer:  Some communities have a policy of rejecting leads if a family is already in their database. But they might be losing move-ins. We found that 90% of those rejected leads moved in someplace else, to a competitor community that accepted the lead from the referral partner. At Bright Oaks, we now accept prospects even if they’ve visited before. For whatever reason, the family didn’t make a decision the first time around. ~ Anne Kempsell

Additionally, some companies won’t pay a commission or bonus if the lead came from a referral agency; or they bonus less for these leads. This disincentives the salesperson. We found this doesn’t save money in the long run. Our hope is that senior living partners would treat leads from referral agencies the same as they treat a walk in.

Do you have other questions for online referral agencies?


Have you updated your rates with recently?  If not, please do so here: Caring – Rate Update