Review Rockstars: The Vantage at Cityview
Independent Living in Fort Worth, TX
About Review Rockstars: In this brand new series for our senior living and care partners, SeniorAdvisor.com highlights providers who are trailblazers when it comes to online reviews and reputation management – our Review Rockstars. We’ll be interviewing directors to share their tips and tricks on making your business stand out online.
The Vantage at Cityview, a Leisure Care retirement community in Fort Worth, TX, celebrated 10 years this month. With 202 independent living units, they’ve been able to maintain nearly 100% occupancy over the last year, thanks to their unique services (all-day dining and daily wellness checks) and apartment features (full washer/dryer and kitchen, balcony or patio), and, of course… their great online reviews!
A SeniorAdvisor 2013 Excellence Award recipient and one of the top-rated independent living communities in Fort Worth, TX, The Vantage at Cityview often receives reviews from happy families like the one below:
We talked with Molley Lepard, Sales Manager of The Vantage at Cityview, to find out her secrets to managing online reviews and marketing her community. Here’s what she had to say…
How have online reviews helped with your marketing?
Lepard always asks new inquiries how they learned about The Vantage at Cityview, so she knows where their marketing dollars are being spent. Oftentimes, people respond with “I looked you up on the internet.” Lepard says typically they used Google as their search engine, and they see the community’s star rating and reviews right there. She also notes customers regularly find the community through an online review site: “We saw your reviews on SeniorAdvisor.com, and it was all positive.”
The Vantage at Cityview was also a recipient of the SeniorAdvisor 2014 Excellence Award. “It’s nice to have that tagline,” Lepard says, and she’s made sure her potential customers are aware of the exclusive distinction by including the award badge in her email signature. When you get a lead from a referral agency, Lepard says, you have to imagine that they are being bombarded with mail from you and all your competitiors, so you have to find a way to make it stand out. Lepard makes her mailers stand out by placing the glossy sticker right by the return address on the envelope!
What are your strategies for getting positive online reviews?
Lepard employs a multi-faceted approach to generating positive online reviews, including email and postcards. With SeniorAdvisor.com’s free, postage-paid postcards, she fills out the community name and address before handing them out to make it even easier for the family to write and send in their review. If you’re interested in ordering some free review postcards for your senior care business, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and desired quantity.
Molley also regularly emails all her residents and their family members to review The Vantage at Cityview on SeniorAdvisor.com and Google+ using her YGL database of customers (YGL is a customer relationship management system designed specifically for the senior care industry). She says the only problem with emailing people about Google+ is that they have to have a gmail account in order to write a review, so it’s easier to get more reviews on SeniorAdvisor.com.
“It’s certainly really nice to see [positive online reviews], and to hear from people calling in that they were impressed with what others had to say,” Lepard says. “We can’t make that up.” She says the reviews offer a third-party seal of approval, especially when the resident or family member includes their name. “They could come in and ask the resident who wrote it. They’re not shy about how much they love it here!”
Do you have any advice for other senior living marketers?
“First and foremost, you have to know your competition.”
Lepard says reading about your competitors’ offerings or checking out their websites isn’t enough – you need to be visiting their buildings in person and getting to know the marketing directors, sales team and administrators. She also recommends attending industry networking functions – you may not get any leads, but you will gain some valuable competitive insights by meeting your competitors and learning about their challenges and successes.
By really knowing your competition, Lepard says, you’re prepared when a prospect comes in, and you can confidently tell them exactly what you have, that your competitors don’t. You don’t need to mention your competition by name (and of course, you should never speak negatively about them), but you can honestly and persuasively tell your customers, “Here is what we offer, and the competition does not. So let me tell you more about these great features…”
It’s crucial to know what makes your community stand out, Lepard advises, and you also need to truly listen to what your prospects are saying. By listening, you can figure out what matters to them, and then find a way to combine your community’s unique features with their needs in your sales pitch.
Lepard also stresses the value of doing what’s ultimately right for the customer. As an industry focused on care, your ultimate goal should be to help the customer find the best place. Unfortunately, this might not always be your community. However, by referring them to a nearby competitior (and calling that competitor in advance so they know who to thank for the referral), you earn positive sales karma for your community by building a positive relationship with your competitors (who can return the favor by sending you a future family), and giving the family a positive impression of your community, so when the time comes for their relative to move, or one of their friends asks for recommendations, your community is top of mind.