Avoiding the adult family home marketing mistakes that can cost you thousands in vacancies and referral fees…


In 2005 I made a fatal, but common, marketing mistake

Are you making this adult family home marketing mistake, too? And if so, how can you avoid it?

What I did right

When I first started in the adult family home business, back in 1990, I did something that served me well for many years: I built effective relationships with many medical professionals all over King County. Those connections helped my adult family home business thrive for many years.

But at some points, those sources stopped calling me… things had changed.

Depending on how long you’ve been around, you may remember that between 2000 to 2005, a massive wave of senior placement services flooded the market place, and this this continues to be true today.

And the vast majority of them focus their marketing efforts on medical professionals, discharge planners and assisted living facilities.

As a result the vast majority of long-term care professionals no longer called providers. They worked almost exclusively with senior placement services.

That meant my ONE source of business had dried up.

But I ignored the signs… I told myself…

  • I’m currently full so there’s no need for me to market…
  • I’ll start marketing when I have openings
  • My residents are fine and stable, they could be here for years…
  • I’m listed on [major placement service websites], and THEY are marketing me...
  • I work with a few referral agencies, and THEY are marketing me...
  • Therefore whenever I have an opening, they’ll filled me up.

Unfortunately, none of these things made any difference when it came down to it. I realized I was NOT marketing my business at all, far from it. I was waiting for and expecting others to market it for me, and that was a grave mistake.

And THAT way of thinking turned out to be a REAL MISTAKE…

All my marketing eggs were in one basket, so to speak. So when I lost 7 residents in one year it was a rude awakening… I couldn’t keep up to fill my beds, and it became instantly obvious that my one source of leads was not only failing me but had become completely inadequate.

I struggled 2 years to recover, at a HUGE financial cost of $22,300 in referral fees. I questioned if my business would survive. And at that time, referral fees were 50%. In today's market it would cost me double that. I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot better ways spending $20 to $40,000!

Never mind the stress, insecurity, and countless 12-hour days it took to find balance again.

I asked myself, “how can I attract a more steady stream of leads?” and “How can I not end up in such a stressful and precarious situation in the future?”

The NEW Reality

Working directly with medical professionals has become very difficult, at least in metropolitan areas. The vast majority of discharges go directly to senior placement services any entirely bypass you, the adult family home provider. Very few social workers and the discharge planners will work directly with care providers.

YET, many providers continue to pursue medical professionals even though it’s not fruitful.

Very High Competition

Discharges coming from acute care only account for 10 to 20% of referrals at most. And the competition for those dischargers is very high… if you hang out in rehab centers or nursing homes long enough you will undoubtedly see one or more placement service rep. handing out business cards and flyers !

Because of current discharge policies and practices the chances of creating reliable flow of leads just when you need it is very slim at best.

What that means is that for you to get those residents and a piece of that action, meaning residents who need to be discharged in the very near term, just when you have an opening, will require that you part with large amounts of your hard-earned money in the form of very expensive referral placement fees.

The NEW Way…

In my marketing quest over the last 13 years, I’ve discovered much better ways to create a steady flow of calls and keep my beds filled with great private pay clients at a much, much lower cost.

Here are just a couple things I’ve learned along the way;

The best TIME to market is when your beds are full. There are many, many reasons for this including the fact that doing so creates scarcity and exclusivity for your service in the eyes of your prospects – basically, it creates a greater desire for them to want to be with you.

Build relationships directly with consumers allows you to bypass middleman and invest those savings in better ways.

Consumers in the community need your help and want quality advice they can trust. They can get to know you, like you and trust you so that when time comes they’ll want to work with you first.

So the Challenge Becomes, How Do You...

  • Find these prospects?
  • Get in front of them?
  • What do you say to them? and
  • How do you build relationships you become the go-to provider when they need it?

That’s what you’ll learn in the Adult Family Home Marketing Roadmap workshop

Attract leads from several sources, impress them, build relationships with them and become their trusted adviser so that you can more easily convert them into eager buyers without being pushy or salesy whenever the timing is right.

Joseph Spada
Joseph Spada

Owner of Spada Care Homes; Geriatric nurse; DSHS instructor, AFH Administrator Training; Speaker; Author; AFH Consultant.

    1 Response to "Are You Making This Adult Family Home Marketing Mistake?"

    • Simon Halpert

      I have 2 small Adult Homes in Long Island & I have a few vacancies: please contact me if I can use ur sevvices thanks

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