By Steve Moran

With rare exception, A Place for Mom is the vendor to hate above all vendors. They don’t bring more consumers into the marketplace and instead are a slow-flowing, clogged up conduit that costs operators and ultimately consumers tens of millions of dollars each year. They also create an uneven playing field for operators and confusion for consumers.

Last week, the Senate Special Committee on Aging launched an investigation of APFM because of accusations that they are in effect steering consumers to senior living communities that have documented severe safety and regulatory problems. All in the name of making a profit.

All appearances are that APFM leadership only cares about profits. The few conversations I have had with APFM staff at trade shows have done nothing to change my impressions, with one mid-level leader telling me she had no idea that anyone in senior living was unhappy with them.

Is It Fixable?

The big question I have been pondering is whether or not APFM is fixable. Could they change the way they do business that would allow them to maintain or improve profitability and at the same time become the hero of the industry?

I think so …

Some Big Ideas

The details are still pretty fuzzy, but conceptually, here are some possible big ideas:

  • The fees they charge should be big enough to keep them going but not so big as to crush operators. The fee schedule for small homes is terribly punishing. Perhaps they could create a system where, if a resident moves out in 30 days, nothing is owed, and if they move out in the first 90 or 120 days, the fee is reduced by 50%.
  • They could offer an alternative fee schedule that would be a monthly fee rather than commissions for move-ins. This would take some serious thought so that those paying on a subscription basis were not discriminated against.
  • They need to do more to qualify prospects. Right now they ask a bunch of questions that people may or may not answer and then pass that info on to the communities for further follow-up. Community salespeople end up dialing for dollars over and over again, with the prospects simply ignoring those calls, wasting vast amounts of time, energy, and enthusiasm.
  • They need to look at how they can substantially support local salespeople to help them be more successful closing more sales and work smarter not harder.
  • They need to do something for people who do not have private pay resources. Refer them out; have a directory of communities and resources for those who don’t have sufficient assets.

I would love to hear your ideas that go beyond “I hope they go out of business.”