Mystery shopping a senior living community is the best way to understand the full resident experience that is taking place at the facility, the facilities ability to attract prospective residents, and the employees’ ability to ‘sell’ the facility features and benefits to prospective residents. It is also a great way to collect market analysis information on your competitors’ facilities.

As medical advances allow people to live longer, healthier lives, and as the baby boomer generation ages, the demand for senior living care will continuously increase. And with this increased demand for care comes an increased supply of facilities to choose from. For this reason, it is more important than ever to stand out from your competitors. To this end, the best way to measure where you stand in the marketplace is to evaluate both your communities and your competitors’ communities through in-person mystery shops and collecting competitive market analysis information.

Reach out to us today to learn more about having your senior living facility or your competitors’ facility mystery shopped. We are experts at conducting senior living mystery shops. We work with many senior living clients (including some of the largest in North America), and our network of sophisticated mystery shoppers are highly qualified, detailed, and will fit in as actual prospective residents who are in the market for senior living accommodations for either themselves or for a loved one.

As of 2014, according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), the average cost for assisted living per resident was as follows:

Nationwide Maximum Yearly Cost Average $87,288

Nationwide Median Yearly Cost Average  $43,680

Nationwide Minimum Yearly Cost Average  17,148

Nationwide Maximum Monthly Cost Average $7,274

Nationwide Median Monthly Cost Average  $3640

Nationwide Minimum Monthly Cost Average  1,429

assisted living costs and mystery shopping

Looking at these income and cost figures side by side, we can easily see that the cost of an assisted living community or a senior living community could easily be an extremely important decision for many Americans. The median US household income is $51,939 per year while the average cost of senior living and assisted living median yearly care is $43,680.

When a consumer is researching care communities or facilities for a loved one, or for themselves, what exactly are they researching? Fortunately, A Closer Look has some of that information to provide to you right here on our website. Of course, we all know that the most obvious initial concerns are quality of care and cost of care. How does your community really measure up to the task?

When your staff meets with a potential resident and/or their family, is your staff member sending the right message? Yes, you’ve spent a great deal of time and money insuring that your senior care or assisted living associate will properly show the face of your organization, but are they doing it? When the family and/or potential resident call the community to arrange an appointment with an intake associate, is the associate communicating in a helpful and knowledgable manner?

When the family member and/or the potential senior living resident visit the community, do they consistently see your staff and your assisted living or senior care facility as a place that is clean, with all parts of the facility in good working order, caring and helpful staff, useful rules and regulations and adequate recreational activities? Are you sure? Isn’t it better to be sure through the use of mystery shopping?

Assisted living facilities and senior care communities have high costs because 24 hour quality care in a safe and clean environment is not inexpensive. When your consumers and residents visit your facility, is it clear that there is adequate upkeep and training?

If your facility is one that costs approximately $40,000 per year and three potential residents leave without joining your community or choose to leave your community to go to a different one, then up to $120,000 per year is lost to your company that year. In fact, if your community is a Median Cost Community, $3640.00 per month is lost for each empty room.

$3640.00 per month? This is why you can afford mystery shopping. Truthfully, how can you afford not to use mystery shopping?  If there are problems in your assisted living or senior care community facilities, you need to know exactly what the problems are as soon as possible.

Our mystery shopping campaigns are very specific, and we don’t merely ask “rate this on a scale of 1 to 10” questions.  We ask the right questions, and we require details from our shoppers. “The bathrooms were filthy,” is not an answer that A Closer Look will accept from our shoppers.

Here are examples of acceptable and unacceptable responses to the following requirements:

Assisted Living and Senior Living Mystery Shopping “Please, describe the condition of the 3rd floor restrooms.”

Not acceptable- “The bathrooms were filthy.”

Acceptable- “Overall, the ladies’ restroom on the 3rd floor appeared to be clean and in good working order. However, a replacement tissue roll was needed in one of the two stalls intended for the disabled. In addition, a soap dispenser had leaked pink pearly soap onto the counter top.”

 “Staff of our community are required to invite potential residents and/or their families into the recreational areas and encouraged to speak with current residents. Did your sales associate invite you to do interact with residents? If they did not offer, did you request? How was your request to meet residents handled?”

Not acceptable- “No. They said everyone was probably watching TV right then and didn’t want to be disturbed.”

Acceptable- “No, sales did not invite me to meet any residents.  I asked if I could meet some residents, but I was told that they were all watching a DVR recording of Dancing With the Stars. I asked to visit the recreational TV area anyway. Carly, my sales associate, happily took me to the rec room where I observed for a few minutes. Soon, there was a commercial, and the residents began exchanging commentary on the show. Everyone appeared to be in good spirits and well cared for. There were 3 attendants in the recreational room assisting the 10 residents with various needs.”

You need to know exactly what real customers will really see when they are in your facility.  Mystery shopping makes this possible.

Furthermore, what is your competition doing? What is the intake experience like with your competitors? Is the competitor clearly putting the family and resident at ease from the very first contact? Do the staff members seem more knowledgable at the other senior care community or assisted living community that is 15 miles from yours?

Shop your employees. Shop your facility. Shop your sales team. Shop your grounds keepers. Shop your managers. Don’t forget to shop your competitors. After all, before your consumer signs and agrees to take their loved one to your community, they are probably shopping your competitor. Why wouldn’t you?