By MaryLee Herrmann

Recently, Foresight’s own Leigh Ann Hubbard led a fantastic discussion with a panel of senior living experts. The topic? Why does pricing transparency scare you?

You’re Still Here?

Perhaps you didn’t go directly to the video because the thought of putting your pricing on your site really does scare you. Will putting your prices online for all to see tank your business?

Let’s find out.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways.

1. You look kinda suspicious.

Alex Jones, your pricing pundit, (from Further’s Pricing Assistant, a Foresight partner and sponsor of this episode of Marketing Monday), kicks things off explaining why pricing transparency is on the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Historically, sales has often been approached in a way that allows the salesperson to paint the picture for the customer, to build value before bringing up price. However, that was in a time when you could go knocking door-to-door and people would actually open their door to you, maybe even invite you in for coffee. Nowadays, you’ve just driven onto their street, and already they’ve received an alert to their phones from their Ring device notifying them that there is someone approaching. This is their sign to run for cover.

Consumer habits change, and with so many industries putting their prices on their sites, if senior housing doesn’t do the same, it can actually look like they are hiding something. As Alex said …

Especially with Amazon and the advent of price transparency in other industries, there comes an expectation that there is transparency in what we do. And so, when you’re not sharing pricing, or you appear to be hiding pricing, it may also kind of hit the consumer a different way: “Why are you hiding this when others are sharing this?”

2. Value comes first. 

Should every community have every price listed? The panel’s general consensus was to post a “starting at.” James Lee, CEO and co-founder of Bella Groves, also explained a downside to posting prices:

Pricing transparency on your website is a good idea for companies that have a really solid understanding of their value. But I think [when] any old Joe Schmo starts an assisted living and they put their price up, I do think that could confuse the market. But I think if you are really in tune with your value proposition, then yeah, pricing transparency helps.

(Watch the video at 8:12 to learn what James means by “confuse the market.”)

3. Knowing value helps build trust.

Sharing pricing upfront impacts your salespeople. It requires them to understand the community’s values and benefits — factors that have gone into creating your rates. Lisa Detweiler, vice president of sales and marketing at Senior Services of America, sees this as an opportunity:

From a coaching perspective for my team, we absolutely need to know our value, and I would expect that anyone on the team needs to be able to speak to that, because we know that our consumer is doing … so much research before they even pick up the phone to call us, or drive by. And so I think that’s just one more tool in the toolbox, as far as having that pricing out there in front of people. And then we get the opportunity to speak to the value of what it is that we do, and be a resource and educate families on how this game works, if you will.

And Kris DeChene, director of talent and business development at ShopTalk20/20, took this a step further:

From a customer’s perspective, I think that when you’re talking to a salesperson that does have confidence and has been given those tools and knows how to use them and knows what their value proposition is, it builds trust automatically, and I think that is what the cornerstone of all of this free transparency is really about, is building trust.

4. Transparency qualifies leads.

When Leigh Ann asked Julie Podewitz, CEO and founder of Grow Your Occupancy, for her take on what to do about the fact that online pricing can prevent salespeople from having the opportunity to sell the value first, Julie pointed out how transparency can actually be self-qualifying:

People will rule themselves out if $5,000 a month or $8,000 or $10,000 a month, whatever it is, is absolutely out of range. Like, “My father has $3,000 income; there’s no way we can do $6,000.” But if [the person can afford it], and that’s generally what is going to cost, I’m still in the game. So if I’m still in the game, from a salesperson’s perspective, that person’s coming into the funnel even slightly more qualified from a financial standpoint.

Digital World

Alex and the rest of the group discussed how having your prices online requires you to strengthen your digital game, so be ready to take notes if you could use some of these experts’ #1 tips on how to enhance your online presence.

These are just a few of my fave takeaways from this fruitful discussion, so check out the interview for even more insights.

And reach out to Alex to see how the Pricing Assistant can help you develop the best rates for your community — and enable you to make a confident decision regarding transparency.