By Norene Cashen

Picture this. You just poured your morning cup of java and flipped open your laptop. You get an alert from the senior living aggregator site you recently partnered with, so you check your inbox — only to find a one-star review glaring back at you. Your newest resident’s family member posted a long narrative detailing all the things they wish your community would do better.

Ugh. You’ve barely had a chance to make your to-do list for the day. What are you supposed to do about this? Well, you have a few options. ​​

Let’s Clear This Up 

During a recent interview with Steve Moran about how to optimize your community’s online presence, Denise Graab, director of marketing and the reviews program at (a Foresight partner), and Holly Rehbock, sales director at Caring, stressed one particular point over and over again. You need to respond to your reviews.

As the creator of the company’s Caring Stars program, Denise makes reviews a high priority when educating and supporting senior living communities. She says there are ways to make customer feedback work for you.

Dispelling Myths

Let’s face it. Negative reviews can be triggering, disheartening, and downright confusing. And the myths circulating about how to handle them only make the situation worse.

Here are four dispelled myths that will give you a five-star understanding of negative reviews and, perhaps, a mind shift that results in more move-ins. 

Myth #1:

Negative reviews are nothing more than random opinions about your company. You should try to ignore them, cross your fingers, and hope for a positive one next time.

Reality: One- and two-star reviews are opportunities to have a voice, build your reputation and even learn something about how to improve your business. The reviewer is passing the mic to you. This is your chance to respond, showcase your values, and highlight all the goodness you have to offer. So, speak up and shine on. 

Myth #2:

When you respond to a negative review, you’re only speaking to the person who left the review. 

Reality: “You’re not really speaking to the reviewer in your provider response,” Denise says. You’re speaking to the crowd that’s reading your response. And those responses are just as influential as the review itself.” 

That’s right. Your calm, thoughtful, customer-focused reply can transform a complaint into a conversation that shows thousands of readers who you really are and how much you care. 

Myth #3:

Negative reviews are final statements. You can decide if you want to add an optional reply or not. 

Reality: Reviews are only final statements if you allow them to be. Otherwise, they’re the beginnings of powerful exchanges that can build trust and attract business. You can decide to participate in those conversations about your brand, or you can opt out. But if there’s any truth in the saying “silence is a message,” what does that blank space under a negative review say to your potential customers?

Myth #4:

Reviews are a growing trend, but they won’t make or break my sales success. Right?

Reality: Wrong. Consumers are taking the time to read reviews, both negative and positive, and those reviews are driving decisions. “It dramatically boosts inquiries, tours and move-ins,” Denise says. “Seven to 10 times more move-ins for the communities that have 15 to 16 reviews versus those that have one to two.”

For consumers on, reviews are so crucial that only providers who answer one-star and two-star reviews are eligible for the Caring Stars service excellence award. For Caring Stars 2022, close to 100 senior living communities were finalists who failed to respond to their negative reviews by the deadline — an avoidable disqualification factor.

The Takeaways

Busting these myths can be game-changing, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. There’s much more to learn. That’s why provides a continuous stream of articles and webinars on how to get reviews and how to answer them.

Find out more about how to join the conversation about your company by visiting the partner site. Denise’s team is also available to answer your questions via email or phone: [email protected] or (650) 762-8190.

BONUS: 3 More Ways to Optimize Your Community’s Online Presence

If you thought this was interesting, don’t miss the full interview, where Denise and Holly reveal how to boost leads and move-ins by …

  • Adapting to the modern drive-by (having a great online presence)
  • Building and optimizing your sales presence
  • Increasing your speed-to-lead

Get all the tips here