Last Sunday evening I published the first part of this two part series titled Redemption or getting their claws more deeply embedded? – A Place for Mom launches a new consumer review site it was based exploration of the website and a discussion with a press representative for  I went into the discussion with a high degree of cynicism which I am sure comes through in the article. By the end of the interview, I was asking questions she couldn’t answer.   This spawned a second interview, with Eric Seifert, the president of   I asked my hard questions and yours from the comments on the first article.   Here you go:  

Fair or Unfair – Senior Communities

The first, and ultimately most important question for senior housing providers is whether or not it provides a fair playing field for A Place for Mom (APFM) partners and non-partners.  To my surprise,  it is essentially a level playing field.  The site has about 137,500 senior communities listed and about 20,000 are APMF partners.  Whether you are an APFM partner or not you can claim your communities listing.  Once you have claimed your page and been verified (24-48 hours)  you can do the following:

  • Rewrite your description
  • Add photos
  • Respond to comments
  • Your residents and their families can post reviews

Note there are some restriction, which you can see on the Terms of Service (TOC) page, but those restrictions apply to both member and non-member communities. Claiming your community is something you should do immediately.  The one slight advantage that APFM members have is that member communities with consumer reviews came out of the gate with reviews and star ratings.  The default (well actually only) ranking algorithm in a given market area is that the more ratings your community has, the higher they fall on the list.  This means if you want to get to the top, you need to figure out how to get people to say nice things about you on the site.  

Fair, Unfair and Useful – Consumers and the World

The second question is whether or not the site really provides useful and useable information for consumers.   Perhaps most important to the integrity is whether or not all reviews will be posted, even the really terrible one.  My initial exploration of the site demonstrated that most sites had 4 & 5 stars with a sprinkling of 3’s.  Even the threes for the most part had positive comments. I was provided links to 2 communities with less than 3 stars which you can find at the bottom of the article.  That being said, I am still suspicious that not all the negative ratings made it to the launch, which honestly might be the fair thing to do so that communities don’t start in a hole they need to dig out of. All comments are moderated, to ensure that the comments comply with the TOC this is to make sure the reviews aren’t peppered with negative unfair ratings from competitors and disgruntled employees among other things.  

Business Model

Right now it is essentially a money losing proposition because the playing field is so level.  They will have to figure out a way to at least break even and they are still working on what that will look like.  Possibilities include banner advertising and premium listings both of which seem reasonable.  

A Work in Process

The reason I did not publish this article earlier is that I had trouble getting a few things to work right.  The site is still very much a work in progress and you will see changes to make it work better.  Here are a couple of helpful hints: 1.  Before you can claim your building you will need to create an account.  Sounds straightforward, but today it is not quite.  It is possible to register (or semi-register) with just your email.  In order to be fully registered the site needs to have your email address plus your first and last name otherwise it won’t allow you to claim your listing. 2.  If your community is not listed, go to the support page (button in the bottom right of every page) and send them an email with the name of your community and your contact information, you should hear back in 24-48 hours.   My initial impression is very positive.  They had all the right answers.  It would be helpful to the reader community to tell us about how well it works for you as you claim your community and work with the site.  If you are going to be at the ALFA national convention in Charlotte you might want to come to our breakout session on managing your on-line reputation.  

Links to Low Rated Communities

With a low overall star rating With a low individual comment   Steve Moran