Many assisted living and continuing care communities rely on customer satisfaction surveys for feedback.
While these certainly offer constructive information, their value can be supplemented with marketing research tools that have far wider implications and can often assist with senior housing marketing.
A technique we are finding opens the door to a wealth of information is the use of informational focus groups. In addition, we recommend the use of focus groups in The Ehlers Group’s community assessments.
Rather than the formal focus group setting requiring a two-way mirror and a focus group environment, a conference room or private dining room will be very practical with refreshments. A group of no more than 8-10 participants is perfect.
Informational focus groups with a group of adult daughters can provide feedback that is invaluable. It’s important to have a skilled facilitator lead the discussion rather than an employee of the community or parent company. This guarantees that:
- People can be assured that no one’s job is in jeopardy if they share names
- People are more comfortable talking to an outsider who is unbiased
- People are impressed that an outsider was brought in to facilitate the discussion
A community executive director and sales team can select the adult daughters to bring together. We find it’s easier to gather adult daughters for participation. Not to discriminate against sons but the daughters more often are involved with their mother’s and mother-in-law’s day-to-day situations.
It’s important to have a list of discussion questions prepared in advance to determine what you want to learn from the focus group discussion. Posing specific questions can get the ball rolling.
We have recently learned the vital role of the daughter in the decision to select a senior living community. Often, they either initiated the research or the parent turned to the child to sift through their list of community. The daughter could narrow down the communities their parent would like sometimes touring alone before bringing their parents to see a community.
One daughter said, “I knew the moment I walked in, this was the place for my mother.”
In various geographic markets we also learned how valuable was the use of the internet for research versus print advertising. Several daughters explained they no longer read a daily newspaper.
Certainly every family and individual is different but the focus groups show trends.
An ancillary benefit of the informational focus group is bringing together residents’ daughters who may not have met each other before. In a recent group we facilitated people met the daughters of their mothers’ friends and learned they were neighbors. This was a gesture of goodwill we had not anticipated but certainly beneficial well worth the investment of the focus group.