In recent years, A Place for Mom (APFM) CEO Larry Kutscher has led the organization through a “transformation.” That transformation, still ongoing, has resulted in a marketing and technology “machine” that Kutscher believes will help propel the industry into its next chapter.
“We’re very focused on driving conversion and helping educate communities on how they can get more out of the leads we send them,” Kutscher told Senior Housing News. “We’ve turned on this machine … we have doubled our sales team, we have a larger advisory team.”
In particular, Kutscher said the New York City-based company has an ever-growing slate of tools that is helping operating partners convert leads into move-ins.
“We are doing more and more family move-ins every year at this point,” he said. “And we’re doing it in different ways by working with communities in new and powerful ways that I think are making a difference.”
Home care is another huge focus for APFM in 2023, with plans to triple the size of the company’s home-based services network in the coming years.
A Place for Mom’s growth and evolution comes as the landscape for senior living referrals heats up, with new companies entering the market.
Under Kutscher’s leadership since coming aboard in 2019, APFM has kept up a steady pace of reinvestment and growth.
Helping to fuel those efforts was $175 million in growth equity funding the company secured in early 2022 from investors including Insight Partners, General Atlantic and Silver Lake.
APFM management had been making efforts to upsize the company’s workforce in the years prior. Today, the company’s workforce stands at about 1,100, including a sales force that is now about twice as big as it was two years ago.
Even so, “we’re not as focused on growing the team as we are about having a team be successful,” Kutscher added.
This year, APFM is slated to spend more than $40 million advertising its brand in 2023, an increase of 22% compared with 2022; and more than $100 million in marketing spend growth, an increase in the “low teens” compared with last year.
The company’s marketing spend included the placement of advertising targeting senior living decisionmakers, including adult children who are “skeptics” and people who are overwhelmed and need help from “advisors.” He also pointed out that APFM is among the brands spending money on advertising when some others have cut back, and that the company’s positive messaging is helping to boost the industry’s image in the eyes of consumers.
“It’s focused on helping families that need help making decisions but who may not realize that they can get help,” Kutscher said.
Also underpinning the APFM business model is a slate of technology, including proprietary customer relationship management systems, that Kutscher and the company’s other leaders have rebuilt over the last three or so years.
“That has allowed us to change the way we’re screening families and talking to families, and change the type of questions we ask — when we ask them, and most importantly, how we stay in touch with them,” he added.
The company is also using technology to model demand and help determine where to refer leads. APFM has launched a predictive model that helps pair up prospects with communities that better fit their budget, location and care needs.
“We’re able to now, much more accurately, predict where that family is going to be interested, and therefore help the adviser make a better referral,” Kutscher said. “And we’re collecting more information, both about the family and the community; and getting them to be more up to date and more accurate. So the model gets better and better, and we think this is a really a huge win for the industry.”
Those efforts have paid off in terms of getting more awareness out about senior living, Kutscher said. He estimated that in 2023 the company is sending as much as 40% more leads to senior living partners.
“We have the leading marketing engine in the industry — in lots of ways, I think it powers the industry,” Kutscher said.
Some senior living operators have in the past complained that large national referral partners have focused too much on lead volume, a move that in effect overwhelms sales teams with largely non-targeted leads.
With a larger advisory, sales and marketing team behind it, Kutscher said APFM is focusing on helping its senior living partners turn more of those leads into move-ins.
“We’re now using all those capabilities, those tools and the people to really make a difference in the market,” Kutscher told Senior Housing News.
Last year, APFM increased its total revenue by north of 20%. And with the big pieces in place this year, the referral company is aiming for another big year of revenue growth in 2023.
“It’s the marketing to attract families to work with us, it’s the increase in training of our advisors, it’s directly working with communities to help them convert more leads, it’s the technology and the information,” Kutscher said “All that, plus the investment we’re making, is leading us to increase our revenue.”
The company’s efforts are exemplified in the results of senior living operators like Pegasus Senior Living, which was named a top senior living provider in APFM’s Best of Senior Living 2023 awards along with seven of its communities.
Operators like Dallas-based Pegasus — along with other larger APFM partners such as AlerisLife’s Five Star Senior Living brand and Enlivant — are successful in bringing prospective residents through the door in part because they “work every lead” that APFM sends them, Kutscher said. Engagement is another tool that top-performing APFM partners wield effectively.
But perhaps more crucially to the process, Kutscher said companies like Pegasus work closely with the referral partners advisors and customer success managers.
Companies like these “have regular meetings to go over the leads we sent them, and help us understand where our advisors can make a difference,” Kutscher said.
He added that there is a “wide difference” in conversion rates among the different senior living partners APFM works with. That is why a big focus of the company’s staff remains working with senior living communities on the ground.
“We work very closely to figure out how we make the folks who are converting at low rates become average, and the average ones to become great,” Kutscher said. “And we’ve had a lot of success with that.”
As he surveys the senior living landscape, Kutscher sees an industry between the crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and its next growth phase. He is heartened that demand seems to be high for senior living in 2023 — but he also believes that senior living companies haven’t always done enough to capture those opportunities and think about getting a return on their investments.
“Understanding the economics of their city, how to drive profitability and thinking about marketing to increase occupancy … I worry that the industry doesn’t focus or understand that well enough,” Kutscher said.
He added: “So many communities will have one salesperson, because that’s what they’ve had historically. Well, if you can fill more rooms and help more families if you had two, why not do that if the economics pay off?”
But he also sees companies like APFM as an important broker in that process, and believes that its success will boost the fortunes of its operating partners.
“Sometimes you get pushback about the role of referral agencies in the industry in general — I’m not talking about A Place for Mom, but overall, referral companies,” he said. “And I always want to emphasize the value that we’re bringing, and the difference that A Place for Mom makes in the industry.”
A Place for Mom is the leading online platform connecting families searching for senior care with a team of experienced local advisors providing insight-driven, personalized solutions. As the nation’s leading senior advisory service, A Place for Mom’s mission is to enable caregivers to make the best senior living decisions. With hundreds of senior living experts nationwide, A Place for Mom helps hundreds of thousands of families every year navigate the complexities of finding the right senior living solution for their loved ones across home care, independent living, memory care, assisted living, and more. A Place for Mom’s service is provided at no cost to families because it is paid for by the senior living communities and care providers in its network. For more information, please visit aplaceformom.com.
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