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The Curse of Choice in Senior Housing and Care Industry

by admin on February 23rd, 2011

Americans like choice.  Regardless of the product or service, choice is one factor that we tend to thrive on be it selecting a restaurant to eat at, a car to drive, or clothes to wear on any given day.

For the senior housing and care industry, choice can be a curse.  With occupancies in senior housing running roughly 87% according to NIC, for an average 100 apartment location, 13 apartments are available.  Some in the industry want to show consumers all their options.  However, this can be detrimental to achieving the ultimate outcome.

One study that reviewed something as simple as consumers purchasing jam showed that when consumers were given a more limited number of choices, in this case 6 flavors to choose from versus another test group who had 24 flavors to choose from, consumers with less choices were 10 times more likely to make a purchase.

Some time back, A Place For Mom founder Pamela Temple shared information based on an on-line survey they conducted of consumers that were searching for a housing option. One key take-away was that consumers visited on average 5 providers before making a choice.

As the scenario plays out, a consumer who visits 5 providers, if they are shown 4 apartments at each location, now deals with 20 different options to sort through and figure out.  This can make decision making overwhelming, and some consumers opt not to make a decision at all.

Optional Close, Our Hero!

When a consumer visits you, please avoid the curse of choice and instead turn to the hero of the story, Optional Close (Wait, keep reading, please do not be afraid of a sales term.  It is harmless and very helpful).

In the world of optional closing, you learn how to channel the energy and desire of the consumer while still providing them a sense of control within the process.

As you book the appointment on the phone, instead of saying: “What time next week works well for you?” this is similar to a limp handshake, shift to “It would be great to visit with you either Monday morning or Wednesday morning, which works best for you?”

Once you agreed upon a day, now it is:  “Does 9:30 am or 11 am work best for you?”  See, early on, you are setting up an environment where the consumer will trust that you will always give them an option and they will retain perceived control of the situation.

When they arrive at your location:  “Would you like some fresh brewed coffee or fresh squeezed orange juice?”

As you sit down to learn about their true desires so you can prioritize your approach, you avoid:  “Great, we have 10 different apartments available and through a quick tour we can see them all.”  Instead, strive for:  “Based on what you have told me, we have two apartments that sound ideal for your specific circumstances, and it would be a pleasure to show them to you assuming your schedule allows.”

Throughout each of these, an option with only two choices is given in an effort to direct the attention of the consumer.  Just like consumers buying jam, when they have fewer flavors to choose from, they buy more.  This approach works and really helps to slay the curse of choice in senior housing and care.

Use it in good health!

Looking for a good choice of senior care and housing provider, please visit, and see what consumers are saying about a place of interest.  Are you a provider?  Please make sure your information is correct in this free consumer database of over 79,000 providers throughout the United States.

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