I have personally been on over 10,000 Residential Care Home tours with families and can honestly say; I have seen it all. However, these are the eleven biggest mistakes residential care home owners make when showing their home. These are all examples from my 27 years of working with families and 15 years of personally touring with them.
Mistake #1: Showing The Open Room Immediately
Too many tours begin with, “Let me show you the room.” Residential Care Home owners need to remember that families are not buying the room or how pretty the house is. They are basing their decision on you and your staff. They are asking themselves if you can really care for their loved one and if they could see their mother living in your home.
Mistake #2: Their Caregivers Disappear During The Showing
Families want to feel accepted when they enter your home. Too many caregivers disappear during tours. If they don’t disappear, they don’t speak or make eye contact with the visiting family member. Families are judging your caregivers, and if they disappear physically or emotionally during a tour, you better believe that families will feel that communication with their residents is also very limited.
Mistake #3: Showing A Hospitalized Resident’s Room
This is a fatal mistake with families. Many families have reported this behavior shows a complete lack of respect for the resident who is in the hospital. We all understand why it’s done. The senior is not expected to come back to the home. However, it makes families wonder about your ability to care for their loved one.
Mistake #4: Showing A Room With A Hospice Patient Sleeping In It.
I’m afraid that’s not right, I have personally canceled placement contracts in the past with homes that have done this. Telling a family that this resident will die soon, and the room will be available deserves no excuse.
Mistake #5: Signs Plastered All Over The House
I know that Frank needs to be reminded where his room is, but owners should take all signs down during a tour. Signs that say “Stay Out” or “Don’t Enter” leaves a bad taste in a family’s mouth.
Mistake #6: Not Acknowledging Residents During A Tour
Homeowners need to understand that when a family is touring, they are entering the “residents’ home.” It would be pretty rude for someone to visit the private home of your family and not say a word to you. Residents need to be part of the tour process.
Mistake #7: Telling A Family Why You Have Openings
Most homeowners are proud when their beds are full. Many stay full most of the time. However, when they are not full, I believe owners panic and feel like they have to justify why they aren’t. I remembered one tour specifically a few years ago. I was showing a ten-bed home, which is usually always full. However, she had three openings that day. The homeowner quickly told my family that the reason she had openings was that in the last two weeks, three of her residents died of the flu. My family left that home so quickly, their feet left skid marks on the kitchen floor.
Mistake #8: Looking At The Placement Agent When Pricing Is Discussed
You, not the placement agent, comes up with the fees that are paid by the family. When families ask how much the room is, too many homeowners look at the agent and then give a price. This absolutely kills any trust between the family and you. Tell the family the price confidently without looking to get the agent’s approval.
Mistake #9: Letting The Placement Agent Give The Tour
As the President of the National Placement and Referral Alliance (www.NPRAlliance.org) I am astonished by how many agents tell me that they conduct the tour instead of the homeowner. This is so wrong on so many levels. You should take charge of all your tours; no one else should be doing the tour for you. It would be best if you used this time to gain trust with the family. Remember, we are not in the hospitality business; we are in the business of care.
Mistake #10: Not Being There For The Tour
This one is a killer. Most families want and need to meet the owner in order to make a decision. No one can sell your home like you. I always asked homeowners why they would want a caregiver or manager to show the home when there is no benefit to them personally. Think about it, that means one more person to take care of, more work. I have seen more families say no to a home because the owner was not there to show them the room—this is a huge loss of opportunity.
Mistake #11: Not Sharing The History of Your Home
Families want to know why you are in business. There has to be a story behind it. Find your story, find your “why” and share it proudly.
Giving a tour is the most crucial aspect of marketing. Thousands of owners have personally called me asking for more referrals. My response is always the same. It doesn’t matter if I send you 100 families if you can only close 3 of them. Placement agents would rather show your home five times and walk away with 3 or 4 closings. It isn’t about how many people tour your home; it’s about closing them.
New science and technologies are being used by some providers to make their tours almost guaranteed to close. Studies in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the science of scent marketing is being used by Majestic Residences to increase closing rates to over 90%. They have had meetings with hundreds of placement agents from across the country to get their feedback on “show-stopping” techniques they have seen during tours. They are committed to the Majestic Residences model and plan on recommending many of their homes to become part of the brand. Applications are now being accepted to partner with Majestic Residences.