In recent years, there has been a shift in mindset among senior living providers about showing pricing on their websites. In the past, you would rarely find senior living pricing clearly displayed on a community’s website. This was no oversight; it was a conscious choice based on an understanding of most people’s decision-making process.

On one hand, this policy was understandable because, as many professional sales trainers have proclaimed over the years, “Price is only an obstacle in the absence of value.” Therefore, the thought among senior living providers was that if they show pricing online, without first having a chance to show their community’s value (usually via an in-person tour), then they would lose more opportunities to convert a prospect into a new resident than they would if the order were reversed.

In other words, if cost is one of the first things people see, they may not take the time to fully grasp the value. This is often referred to as an “anchoring bias,” where we quickly anchor to the first piece of information as a starting point in our decision-making, and then tend to view any other information we gather through the lens of the first piece of information.

The problem with NOT providing senior living pricing online

There also are potential issues with senior living communities not providing pricing online, however. For instance, in some cases, it may not be a good use of time for the potential resident or the community’s sales staff. Let’s suppose someone comes in and learns all about the community, meets with the sales rep, takes a tour, etc. They may spend hours of their time, as well as the staff’s time, only to find out later that the community is not a good financial fit for them. That’s clearly not helpful or efficient for anyone, and can even create ill-feelings toward the community.

Additionally, in recent years, consumer expectations have changed. Today’s savvy consumer is accustomed to quickly finding what they need online. If they are unable to locate the specific information they seek, it may engender a lack of trust — feeling that the community lacks transparency — or it can cause them to move on to because they simply aren’t yet ready to take the buyer’s journey step of contacting the retirement community. They may fear that if they do reach out, they’ll face sales pressure, and they don’t want that without even knowing if they are in the ballpark financially.

>> Related: What’s the True Cost of Staying in the Home?

Pricing transparency isn’t always easy

Although pricing transparency may seem straightforward, it isn’t always easy to compare senior living pricing on an apples-to-apples basis. This is yet another reason why some retirement communities remain reluctant to provide pricing on their websites.

This particular issue is perhaps even more salient for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or “life plan communities”). CCRCs typically — but not always — provide residents with access to a full continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. The pricing and contract structure of a CCRC are often more complex and nuanced than many other types of retirement communities.

For example, some life plan communities offer a lifecare contract. With a true lifecare contract, the resident pays an entry fee, as well as an ongoing monthly service fee. These fees are typically higher than they would be at a comparable CCRC that does not offer a lifecare contract, or at another non-CCRC retirement community, for that matter.

However, the tradeoff with a lifecare contract is that a CCRC resident’s monthly fee does not go up if they require a higher level of care in the community’s assisted living or healthcare center. Due to the discounted cost of care with a lifecare contract, if a resident ultimately requires care services for an extended period of time, then the total lifetime cost could ultimately be much lower than it would be at a comparable CCRC that does not provide a lifecare contract.

The challenge for the lifecare community, however, is that prospective residents often need to be somewhat educated on the details of this type of contract arrangement before fully understanding the value. If CCRC pricing were listed online, many prospective CCRC residents may quickly dismiss the community as being too expensive before understanding how the contract works.

Additionally, some retirement communities may include more services and amenities in their pricing than one that offers more of a base rate plus an additional cost for extra services. But without fully understanding this, a consumer could easily assume that the first community is overpriced.

These are just a few examples of how comparing senior living communities on price alone isn’t always as easy as it seems, and why some communities are still reluctant to provide pricing on their website.

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Making the case for value vs. cost

The yellow pages used to use the tagline, “Let your fingers do the walking.” Today, with the internet, the answers to just about any question you can think of are just a click away.

With this mindset, it is understandable that today’s senior living prospects what to learn as much as they can about a retirement community online before taking the next step of contacting or visiting the community. To meet this consumer expectation, senior living providers must find the right way to present pricing information while also explaining their community’s value in a way that is easy for prospects to understand.

Furthermore, retirement communities need to provide reliable decision-support tools that make it easier for their prospective residents to understand affordability. MoneyGauge from myLifeSite is an online affordability tool that is used by over 150 CCRCs and other senior living communities to help their prospects get a better handle on their ability to afford a particular community.

If you represent a retirement community and would like to learn more about how MoneyGauge can complement pricing transparency on your website, visit our MoneyGauge overview page and contact us for an online demo.


Image credit: Pexels, Cottonbro studio

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