Have you been thinking about consumer review websites for your community, but didn’t know where to start? This is a basic guide to get you started.

Blair Carey of RetirementHomes.com is my “go to” person for all things related to how senior housing communities can maximize their on-line presence.  In early May, Blair and I teamed up to present two sessions on how to manage your on-line reputation at the Annual ALFA convention in Charlotte.

I am grateful that Blair and his team did much of the heavy lifting.

Here is what he discovered:

Trust: In taking a look at how people evaluate information about products or purchases they are contemplating, the most trustworthy of all sources is friends and to some degree, friends of friends. This is particularly true when it comes to major life altering decisions such as moving into a senior housing community. The second highest trust factor comes in the form of consumer reviews.  The very short lessen here is that if you have the great social currency of a bunch of consumer reviews like this one  for Snug Habor on Nelson Bay you have a huge amount of renewable social capital that will help you fill and keep your community full. Profitability Professor Michael Luca from the Harvard Business School completed a study the impact that Yelp Reviews had on the revenues of Washington State restaurants entitled Reviews, Reputation and Revenue: The Case for Yelp.com.  Looking at Yelp.com ratings and reviews, Professor Luca’s study revealed that, for independent (ie. Non-chain) restaurants, each additional Yelp star represented a 5-9% increase in revenue.  It’s likely that for senior housing the revenue correlation is less clear, but from a profitability standpoint it could be much better. Here are the major review sites you need to pay attention to:

  1. Google Local (Google+) –  In terms of reviews, Google Local is not at this point in time to most active review site, but it is the most important because Google has their search algorithms set to always show Google local results on the first page.
  2. Yelp –  Yelp is primarily known for restaurant and profession services but has a little of everything.   You will find many senior housing listings on Yelp and it has the advantage of being the most well-known and the place people will look.
  3. Caring.com –  Caring is probably the oldest and maybe the biggest of all of the senior housing review sites. 
  4. SeniorAdvisor.com –  SeniorAdvisor.com is the new kid on the block but they came out of the gate with 17,000 reviews, that were brought over from the “A Place for Mom” website. They will be a serious contender in the marketplace.
  5. Retirementhomes.com –  Retirementhomes.com has reviews on each of its listings in the “Review it” tab, and reviews will have a greater prominence in its new site design.

 Making It All Work At a high level here is where to start:

  1. Take a look at all the review sites, starting with the ones listed above.  If you have good reviews, ask your residents to write more.  If you have some bad reviews, ask your residents to write good reviews.
  2. If you have no reviews ask your residents or family members to write some.
  3. In trying to figure out which sites are most important for your community, examine what  your competitors are doing.
  4. If you have some bad reviews . . . Attempt to create a dialog with the person who has posted it and see if they will change it or remove it and then . . .  Get your residents, families staff members and vendors to write good reviews.
  5. Don’t fake reviews, they are apparent to even the most novice internet user.
  6. Check your reviews as all sites at least monthly.  – Consider signing on for a service that monitors review sites.

 If you would like to receive a copy of our ALFA presentation, email your name, company and email address to:  [email protected]   Steve Moran If you like this story it would be a great honor to me if you would subscribe to our email list.

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