Who Answers the Phone at your Senior Living Community on Saturday?

Here are my results after calling 12 retirement communities in the Mid-West on a Saturday morning at 10:00 AM Central time:  The scores were one A+, two B’s, five C’s, one D and three F’s…

I asked everyone the same question, “I am looking for a place for my mom – she lives in your town – how many places are there to choose from and how do you rate?”  This was apparently a tough question for many…ratings were graded higher if they answered the telephone, could be clearly understood, answered the questions and asked for my name and telephone number before the conversation ended.

Only four people asked for my phone number, so those unique individuals were awarded a C+ or above for their heroic efforts.  Two assisted living communities went straight into voice mail, so they received automatic F’s.  The A+ person was an executive director (E.D.) working on a Saturday.  The E.D. was outstanding answering all my questions and asked for my name and phone number.

Three communities had workers that mumbled when they answered the telephone (I literally had no idea what they said and had to clarify if I had called the correct number – which of course I had).   One of the “mumblers” sounded like a 4 year old answering the phone.  I had to clarify three times that they were indeed an assisted living community and then they said no one was available to answer my questions.  They never asked for my phone number and I eventually hung up giving them a F- as a score.

The B- score asked for my phone number three times and inquired when I would be in town to visit.  But when I asked them how they rated for a third time, they talked about the activities or their medical services (without answering the rating question).

A C- answered the phone with an award winning description.   Then they said their boss would be in on Monday to answer more of my questions and never asked for my phone number.

One of the “mumblers” transferred me to the sweetest gal who gave the most sincere and heartfelt description of the community.  The nice gal kept going and started giving too much information that I never asked about like the price, rooms were available and the nurse would need to do an assessment first.  Overall the community was given a C- because of the heartfelt description.

As you can see, there was a wide variety of scores but overall, the majority of these staff were not trained on how to answer the phone correctly and to ALWAYS request someone’s name and phone number.  This same challenge can happen when the Monday thru Friday receptionist takes a break during the week.  Could this be why your occupancy is down?  There is a simple solution – training!

You may want to check out who is answering the phone at your community on a Saturday…

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  If your curiosity is peaked to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) or have her put on a sales retreat for your organization – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/


  1. Diane, very nice article and well done on the research. It is interesting calling AL homes and apartments after hours and track the responses. I have done that for many years as we do virtual phone systems for these communities. I just completed two systems last week that route calls to the senior administrator’s cell phone after hours so she can take calls for placement.

  2. I felt it was my job as Marketing Director to make sure this was being handed so I would often “cold call” on weekends to see what was being said/handled and how and where to correct the situation. One of the biggest problems is that the volume of staff in this capacity changes often and it is hard to keep on top of but a must to remain successful!

    • As a former receptionist, having key information about the facility is an asset. Having an inquiry form to just take pertinent contact information. All in all, the phone really needs to be answered within 3 rings. If potential residents can’t get hold of you the first time, they move on to the next facility.

  3. As a Senior Move Manager, I always start my day at the front desk of a property. One receptionist at a property didn’t greet me or others as we entered, was lethargic and basically didn’t seem to care that she was the 1st face people see upon entering the property. It so stood out to me that I mentioned it to one of the marketing people at the property and eventually that person was either let go…or moved to a different position.

  4. This article highlights just how important it is to have Everyone working at the Assisted Living Facilities, know how to be professional at all times. Many people will call after hours, week-ends, and holidays and they need to know that their concerns will be addressed. Calling an A.L.F., and having the call go straight to voice mail would be terrifying for a family member who trusted their loved one in your care.


  1. 6 Simple Steps to Senior Living Sales Management ExcellenceSenior Living Smart - […] 2012, senior housing expert Diane Masson conducted a small experiment. She called 12 retirement communities on a Saturday morning…
  2. 6 Simple Steps to Senior Living Sales Management Excellence - […] 2012, senior housing expert Diane Masson conducted a small experiment. She called 12 retirement communities on a Saturday morning and…