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How Investing in Online Reputation Can Drive Move-ins – Senior Housing News

A senior living organization’s reputation precedes it, especially if that reputation is online.
It is.
The internet is filled with information on your communities, and prospective residents and their families are making buy decisions every day based on what that information says about an organization. Google searches in particular bring prospects tons of information that collectively creates each community’s reputation.
One technology company is helping senior living marketers use that reputation to drive greater visibility and engagement.
The Redwood City, California-based Reputation fuses all online elements to give senior housing operators a single Reputation Score, which acts as a key performance indicator (KPI) for senior living brands. The score is created by measuring several factors that Google weighs in its search algorithm, including:
Here is a look at how online reputation, driven by Reputation, can fuel more move-ins and senior living success — and why this type of online reputation management can yield a massive increase in conversions compared to a brand simply engaging with customers through its website.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Cedarhurst owns and operates 53 communities in nine states with six communities currently under construction. It came to Reputation in 2018 to improve its digital footprint and the reputation that comes along with it.
“I think for us, specifically in early 2020, there was a whole additional layer of anxiety and fear of senior living,” says Kelly Reed, chief revenue officer of Cedarhurst’s parent company The Dover Companies. “The uneducated adult child consumer doesn’t know the difference between a skilled nursing facility, rehab or senior housing, and lumps this all together into ‘a nursing home.’ Giving a lens of transparency was vital in continuing to have move-ins.”
Since then, Cedarhurst has gotten creative to increase transparency and improve the consumer experience, with two innovative policies since October 2020. One such effort is called “Pair to Prepare,” where adult children can move into a Cedarhurst community with their loved one for five days.
This helps adult children ease the parent’s transition, and also allows them to experience community living, putting them at ease regarding the quality of care and service.
The other major policy is “The Cedarhurst Promise,” which promises a refund if a resident chooses to move out within their first 60 days due to dissatisfaction.
“That’s very important to our organization: We don’t want revenue from families we have not satisfied,” Reed says. “The Cedarhurst Promise layers on that transparency that we want to give the adult child. And this transparency begins online.”
Tangible, consumer-centric policies such as “Pair to Prepare” and “Cedarhurst Promise” are the low-tech, high-touch ways in which Cedarhurst delivers on its brand. But the consumer journey for senior care begins much earlier: online.
A 2014 study from Software Advice showed that a stunning 82% of people evaluating assisted living facilities used online reviews to guide their decisions — and that was seven years ago.
Reviews, of course, are one of the major components of the Reputation Score, which becomes an influential KPI for consumers. This is where Reputation’s understanding of Google and search engine optimization (SEO) comes through.
“Not only does a healthy volume of recent reviews add credibility with those searching for care, it also helps you rank higher in local searches, as a 4.5 average star rating from 60 recent reviews will tend to rank higher than a 5-star rating from two old reviews,” explains Annie Haarmann, Reputation’s head of strategy and consulting, health care and life sciences.
As Reed learned, these reviews, along with surveys, are central to the online investigation that adult children are now doing for their parents. She and the team at Cedarhurst viewed the pandemic as an opportunity to adjust to the shift of buying patterns among these online searchers.
“The adult children have become that much more educated and focused on looking into survey results and star ratings,” she says. “These consumers are doing deep research and trust the feedback of residents and family members who hold us accountable.”
As Cedarhurst introduced more of its online reputation-boosting initiatives, its consumer reviews increased in volume and improved in feedback. These high-touch strategies directly addressed the needs and wants of the adult children and the prospect; as such, resident and family satisfaction increased, which was reflected in Cedarhurst’s online reviews.
Cedarhurst is also investing in an internal feedback program to help improve retention during a time when employee burnout is high for the industry. This feedback-success cycle creates yet another boost to their reviews — and another boost to consumer satisfaction.
A perfect Reputation Score is 1,000. Best of Class for the senior living industry is around 933. Last month, Cedarhurst boosted its score above 800, putting it in rare company. They did so by using Reputation to identify areas where they could optimize online visibility, increase reviews and improve sentiment.
“Google is now the starting point for consumers seeking care for their loved ones, and increasingly, these consumers convert from right in the Google results, on what is known as the Google Knowledge Panel,” Haarmann says. “In an overall analysis of our clients, we found that these results, known as Google My Business listings, are driving up to ten times more conversions than a brand’s own website.”
For Cedarhurst, Reputation Score is a key indicator of success. And as Cedarhurst’s Reputation Score has increased over the past 24 months, so have move-ins.
“I can tell you that we are having a strong month,” Reed says.
The return on investment for reputation management can be much better than the ROI for traditional senior living tactics such as third party referral sites. Haarmann notes that typical fees for senior living referral sites is around one month’s rent, or roughly $4,000. That price converts just one family, most of whom will still inspect a provider’s online ratings and reviews.
“On the other hand, if you invest in reputation management, you establish a permanent, credible presence for your locations at a far lower cost to convert,” Haarmann says. “In fact, most of our senior living clients find that their annual investment in reputation management for a senior living community can be less than half of what they would invest in just one referral per year.”
Adds Reed: “I can’t understand how an organization wouldn’t have their reputation be part of their top strategy in today’s environment. If it’s not positive online, that inquiry does not happen.”
This article is sponsored by Reputation. To learn more about how you can boost your online reputation with prospective buyers, visit Reputation.com.

When not covering senior news, Jack Silverstein is a sports historian and staff writer for SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron, making regular guest spots on WGN and 670-AM, The Score. His work has appeared in Chicago Tribune, RedEye Chicago, ChicagoNow, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Chicago Magazine, and others.
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