When the Very First Question is “How Much Does it Cost?”

When the Very First Question is “How Much Does it Cost?”

How do you respond when the first question someone asks is: “How much is a one bedroom or two bedroom apartment?”  Do you share the pricing immediately?  If so, how is that working out for you?  Is your retirement community building full using this method?

How many of you ask the prospect a few questions first?  What do you ask?  Do you find out if they have looked at any other continuing care retirement communities for example?   Or, do you ask if they are looking for a loved one, if you are an assisted living community?  What else do you ask?

Do any of you build value for your senior living community, before giving out the price?  Do you believe it’s a disservice to give out the price, before they can compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges?  How many of you feel that you are exactly like your competition and a one bedroom at your community is the same as a competitor down the road?

Many senior living sales people fear the angry hang up, if they don’t answer the pricing question immediately.  Yet, if you answer the pricing question right away, the immediate response can be, “Oh, that costs way too much.”  Then you get the hang up…  True sales people and closers work on building a relationship with the customer, practice great listening skills, create value for what they can offer and differentiate themselves from their competitors.  Let’s hear – what works for you and how full you are…who is first?

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 piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/


  1. Great starter topic Diane! I LOVE that question because it gives me an opportunity to reply with “How much is what?”. Obviously I heard their request and although they might repeat themselves again thinking I didn’t hear them the first time it’s really a great way to uncover exactly what it is that best suits them…even if they think they know already. My extended answer to the question is “In order for me to better answer your question I need to get a better idea of your circumstances, needs, etc.” There are many ways to engage the prospect but by simply throwing out a number you’re doing a disservice to your community, yourself, and worst of all, the person on the other end of the line.

    • Steve, outstanding comment and I love your opening question to their question.

  2. I would not share pricing information immediately. I would effort to learn why pricing is of ultimate importance and attempt to inform the consumer of the benefits of our retirement community. I would try to establish a relationship with the caller and offer an opportunity to come visit the facility to learn more about the benefits which can be provided. Should the caller hang up, I don’t consider it a loss to me; it’s a loss to them.

    • Right on Ken!

  3. This is a good discussion topic Diane. For me, I find that answering the question on price up front is okay as long as you are giving them value for their dollar in the answer as well. Many people are looking for “affordable housing” and or medicaid housing. If you do not share the cost before giving a tour you are doing a disservice to yourself as well as the inquirer (who may get excited about moving their parent to your community only to be disappointed when they find they cant).
    With a telephone inquiry I do ask them a few questions along with answering the pricing question. I let them know that I am very familiar with the options in my area and would be happy to point them in a different direction if I can’t meet their needs. Then it becomes a benefit to them to give me more information. Often times people are completely unaware of what the income threshold for medicaid is and just asume that they can qualify when they “spend down” their savings regardless of what their monthly income is. Letting them know you are an expert in the area gives you the opportunity to find out what the monthly income of the individual is, if they would qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, if they have long term care insurance, etc. Then you can decide if they are likely to be able to afford your community and proceed from there.
    Of course there is sticker shock when you quote a rate for an apartment without letting them know what is included in the rent. As a salesperson you have to be able to read people and understand what is the best approach with each type of personality you are dealing with and change your approach to meet their needs.
    On a a side note, I recently purchased your book and am enjoying it. I’m finding it to be a good refresher for what I already know as well as giving me other ideas to incorporate.

    • Thanks Laura, enjoy the book and I hope it helps increase your occupancy!

  4. Diane, with the communities that I represent, it’s not too often that a high-quality prospect asks this question right away. In my experience the best prospects have some idea of the cost because they’ve either researched comparable communities or their friends live there. With that said, obviously, it’s always best to build value before discussing costs to provide context. If there’s a sense that doing this will frustrate the caller, I’m okay jumping right into it. Cutting to the chase isn’t always bad; it can lead to discovery of a good fit (or not) right away.

    Great topic. Thanks for bringing it up!

    • Thanks for joining the conversation Adam! Congrats on your new position!

  5. In retirement communities, seniors have the misconception that this is where they are to die in their final days, most sales reps do not make the families feel comfortable to where their loved ones are going to live. I make the family and senior residents feel that this is where they are going to LIVE and ENJOY the rest of their lives. At this point, the price becomes void…..