If there’s one thing that consistently divides the senior living industry, it’s discounting.
The practice has been described as “brand-destroying” by Brandywine President and CEO Brenda Bacon and accused of sending consumers the wrong message by various marketing companies, but some providers, like Capital Senior Living (NYSE: CSU), have also put it to use during periods of lower-than-ideal occupancy.
As it turns out, though, offering discounts to new residents isn’t all that common.
That’s according to the 2018 State of Senior Care Sales and Marketing report, which was prepared by Virginia-based web design and inbound marketing agency Whittington Consulting.
For the report, Whittington Consulting surveyed senior care marketing and sales professionals who have attended the SMASH Conference, which is an annual sales and marketing conference for senior care. Almost 70% of survey respondents said they do not offer any type of discount in their organizations or communities, and just over half of respondents said they don’t offer any kind of incentive.
The survey respondents who did say they offered a discount only offered an average discount of 5%.
By comparison, at the end of 2016, new assisted living residents were paying a rate that was 10.7% lower than what communities were originally asking, on average, according to data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). And as of June 2017, the average assisted living initial rate was 8.8% less than the average assisted living asking rate, NIC found.
Discounting, however, isn’t really necessary, especially if senior living communities are marketing themselves effectively, the report suggests.
“With the right positioning and marketing/sales processes, potential residents will be more likely to understand the value of your community,” the report says. “And, when that’s the case, discounts become less necessary.”
There are a variety of ways for providers to communicate the value of their buildings to potential residents. For instance, most senior care marketing and sales professionals—88%—intend to increase their digital marketing spend in 2018, the survey found. Additionally, approximately 80% of the individuals surveyed prioritize using a website as a way to generate leads.
These figures suggest many senior living communities view their website as an important consumer-facing tool. Relatedly, some communities who responded to the survey reported putting in effort to make their websites look appealing and up-to-date.
Roughly 42% of respondents said their most recent website redesign had occurred within the past 12 months, but 34% said it had been approximately two years since their last website redesign.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson