Making Your First Impression Count: How to Make the Most of Initial Inquiries


Jan 23, 2013 | Programming & Outreach

As the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” In today’s increasingly challenging and competitive senior living profession, these are important words that all providers should heed and be effectively trained on. Your success as a community may very well depend on it.

Today, most inquiries are conducted by the female adult children of senior adults—the de facto household healthcare managers. They are looking for value, but they are also looking for emotional reinforcement in a difficult phase of life often characterized by feelings of guilt and self doubt. Beyond the services and economic considerations, adult children are seeking reassurance in the form of communities that display real caring, empathy, rapport and interest in their loved one, i.e. ones they feel are deserving of their trust.

To the caller inquiring about your facility, you become your community’s tangible brand—and all it represents. Are you building a strong rapport and connecting most effectively with the caller? Are you asking the right questions and using the right tone? Are you dominating the conversation, or are you encouraging the caller to discuss their needs and those of their loved one? Are you addressing the needs—both informational and emotional—that are most important to the caller?

The checklist below provides questions to consider based on current “best practices” that offer the best chance of a successful result—for you and your customer.

Relationship Building/Connecting:

  • Do you initiate the conversation by using an open-ended question starter, e.g. “tell me about your situation?”; “tell me a little about you and your loved one?”; “how can I be helpful to you”?
  • Do you actually use the caller’s name and their loved one’s name during the conversation?
  • Would the caller consider you to be courteous, informed and enthusiastic?
  • Do you convey a sincere sense of empathy?
  • Would the caller feel you cared about them and their loved one?
  • Would the caller consider you to be effective in building a good personal rapport? Did you make them feel welcome and comfortable?

Identification of Needs/Assessment:

  • Do you let the prospect do most of the talking? Do you apply the 80/20 rule during the assessment process? (Caller should have done 80% of the talking and counselor 20%)
  • Do you ask appropriate questions of the caller (adult child) versus just asking about the loved one? Do you get the caller’s story and what’s important to them?
  • Do you ask appropriate questions to determine the prospective resident’s needs and wants? Do you get their full story?
  • Do you use reflective listening to be sure you understood the caller’s unique situation?
  • Do you interpret back to the caller what you believe is most important to them and their loved one?

Information Sharing/Features and Benefits:

  • Do you ‘feature dump’ what your community has to offer or do you connect specific features and benefits together to help the caller understand how you can meet their needs?
  • Do you relate specific features and benefits to both the caller and their loved one, thereby connecting with both of their needs?
  • Do you use heartfelt words like “give you peace of mind”, “help you feel less stressed”, “be comfortable knowing”, etc.? (words that help them understand what your community has to offer in relation to their needs)

Handling Objections/Concerns:

  • When a caller offers an objection or concern, do you find out if this is their only concern or if they have any others? Be sure to ask if there are other concerns you can address for them.
  • Do you refine the objection or concern using open ended questions in order to clearly understand what the objection/concern is?
  • Do you resolve objections/concerns with facts and do you ask the caller if your answer effectively addresses their concerns?


  • Do you build an effective relationship throughout the inquiry process so that the caller feels the next step question is a natural step?
  • Do you attempt to schedule a tour for the adult child and or their loved one?
  • Do you offer any other type of “close”, e.g. to call back to ensure the information package was received and to see if they have any further questions?

These simple hints and reminders can help you to improve your sales, strengthen your brand and bolster your overall marketing strategy.

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