Highlights from the Caring.com “Ask Me Anything: Family Advisor Edition” webinar.

By Katie Roper, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Caring.com

A common question we get here at Caring.com – the largest online resource for people providing care for a senior loved one and a Senior Housing Forum partner – is, “What do your advisors really do?” Since our senior living partners don’t see our Family Advisors at their communities, they sometimes wonder what family advisors do to help them close business. They also have questions about how our Family Advisors represent the details and nuances of their communities to families.

So last month, to help build a stronger partnership between our advisors and our housing partners, Caring.com hosted an open Q & A webinar. Our goal: to de-mystify the work our advisors do in taking 50,000 monthly inquiries down to 8,500 tours and 1,000 move-ins each month for our partners.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of some of the questions that came up at our webinar, “Ask Me Anything: Family Advisor Edition.”

Q: How many communities do you refer each family to?

There’s no set answer to this, said Family Advisor Robbie Shelton. It depends on the care needs and financial resources of the family, and also on their specific situation. Some want only one or two options; others want to know about every community in the area. We refer consumers to four communities on average – and in our recent survey, 34% of people searching online for senior care said they had toured four or more communities during their evaluation process.

Q: Do you visit the communities?

Caring Advisors do not cover a specific geographic area; rather, they work nationally, said Bill Hofing, a Family Advisor recently promoted to manager. We match families to communities based on profile information the communities provide, guided by our sophisticated algorithms that capture distance, care level, and feedback from other clients we’ve referred to that community. Many times, families have several different areas where they might seek care (nearer to a son or to a daughter, for example) and they appreciate being able to compare options in both locations.

Q: How do you qualify for finances?

We do our best to identify all sources of funding, and match to communities that would be a good fit, said Ryan Schilling, Caring’s Vice President of Customer Care, speaking about our philosophy on financial qualification. This is a challenging area for us, because often the callers don’t really know their loved one’s financial details, or are unwilling to share them in depth with an Internet call center. Also, many times community partners forget to notify us when they raise their rates! If we get it wrong, please use the “Feedback” button in your email lead notices to let us know.

Q: How long do you spend on the phone with families?

Robbie said she averages 20 minutes, although of course some calls are longer or shorter depending on the caller’s desires and availability. Robbie’s response is typical for our Family Advisor team: Caring’s overall average call time is 20 minutes. We don’t have quotas or penalties on call times though — we’re more interested in doing a thorough job of discovery on the family’s needs, financial qualification, and preferences.

Q: Do you place limits on follow-up? Sometimes the notes say: “Please email him your rates and floor plans,” but our sales process doesn’t allow us to do this.

All Caring advisors are trained to present “call-ready” referrals to our partners, said Ryan, and any family we send you is expecting a call. Having said that, keep in mind that these are “Internet people,” and most prefer to get information by email. Many are also very busy working and caregiving, and it’s hard to reach them via phone. You are always welcome to call them, but we do want to share their stated desires and preferences with you, if they tell us what they are.

Q: Do you follow up with families? How do you communicate this with communities?

Bill explained that we do follow up, both pre- and post-tour, and if we find out good information, we send it on to our partners via an “Update” email. However, we don’t send partners an update if we just call the consumer and leave a message.

While many CRM systems allow us to auto-populate referrals, few allow for “Update” messages. You’ll need to check your email to find those.

Q: What can I supply your advisors so they can do a good job presenting our community?

You should work with your client services contact to make sure that our profile database has great, accurate information about your community, its offerings, its activities, and its care. Can you assist with insulin injections? Do you take pets? Are you running a special this month? Let client services know, and they’ll spread the word with the advisor team.