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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

229: Evan Friedkin

Reaching leads the way they want to be reached. Evan Friedkin, Head of Business Development at Roobrik, discusses the importance of being transparent and providing quality, targeted information for future residents and families.

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Lucas 

Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast. This senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We’re here in Dallas, Texas on a great day of more thought leadership. We’ve got a great friend on today. We want to welcome Evan Friedkin. He is the head of business development at Roobrik. Welcome to show.

Evan Friedkin

Thanks for having me. I have been a long-time listener and big fan of what you guys are doing. So thank you.

Lucas

Thank you. You know what? We’ve joked because we actually just met, but we’ve spent like the last month together. And so we’ve gotten to catch up rather quickly and it’s amazing that you’ve made it this far, in our lives because, I don’t know the the, the jury’s still out on you.

Evan Friedkin

No, I completely agree. It’s surprising. Yeah. I mean, I’ve been in the industry for going on three years and we’ve known each other for two weeks. The jury’s equally as out for you guys.

Lucas 01:30

I know he gives it back that’s for sure. That’s for sure. No, all joking aside. It’s been fun to get to know you and also get to know where your head’s at as far as content related around data and the buying process and how all of that phases in and out for older adults, it’s a very complicated decision. It’s an emotional decision. And candidly, it’s a challenging decision that operators are struggling to meet. Roobrik is well you can describe it in just a minute, but you guys are, you have a system that is able to mine some of this data in a very unique way. Once you let our listeners know the nuts and bolts of how that works.

Evan Friedkin 02:13

Yeah. So the data is a byproduct. We spend all our time thinking about the science behind decision-making. And when you think about the decision to move to any type of senior living community, it’s a wonder anybody makes that decision. I mean, anytime you think of a highly complex, highly emotional, usually medical decision,it’s stressful. It is so stressful that somebody will, it it’s a wonder that people don’t just shut down. And I think they do. I think there is a whole group of people that don’t know where to start. They know the communities down the street, so that’s usually where they turn to get the information that they need to help them make a good decision. But what they come across is when they go to that community, they’re not finding the resources that they ultimately need to help them move forward in their decision-making process.

Evan Friedkin 03:07

And so a lot of it comes back to like you were saying, content marketing, how do we make sure that we’re getting the right information in front of this audience to help them become empowered and educated around where are they? What are they looking for? What’s important to them. And then ultimately give them the roadmap that they can follow to take that next step. And so I don’t want them to ever go to Google. Google is not a good place to find this information. It’s scary. You get the WebMD effect that we were joking about a little earlier, where you, you think you get a growth on your hand and immediately you go to Google and you get a WebMD, next thing you know, you’ve got cancer and you have to amputate it. That’s kind of crippling. Then you factor in an entire deterioration as you get older and it becomes, it becomes really, really hard.

Evan Friendkin 03:57

And so we figured, well, what if we could ask a series of questions designed in a way to educate along the way, and then based on how they answer those questions, we give ’em the option to talk to the community. And we give them a report that says, “hey, listen, based on what you told us, you can satisfy your needs with any of these options.” And instead of them going to Google and getting sucked down that rabbit hole, the solutions are presented to them. And then they can take that information and do with it with what they want. And along the way we get on the back end a lot of great data because we know who they are, what are they concerned about? What are they looking for? What’s important to them, what are their barriers to their decision? All of that kind of stuff. So that’s what, that’s what we’re doing

Josh 04:39

Well. So let me get this straight, Evan. You’re saying you recommend quite a bit of discovery questions before that family member or that person maybe doing this research ever gets to the community to have a tour or a phone call or an email before we capture other data. Maybe we’re learning more about them. They’re learning more about us, is that what you’re getting at?

Even Friendkin 05:19

Pretty muc, And I think, I think the best way that anybody learns is by being asked questions. You look at really any selling system out there, it is not. let me go tell you about what I do. That is that is not the way to convince anybody of anything. The second you start sounding salesy, or even if you don’t intend to sound salesy, it creates this sometimes conscious, but most of the time subconscious barrier, where I am no longer going to listen to what they have to say. Because they don’t care about me. They don’t want to take the time to know where I am today, relate to me. And then now they’re already telling me what solutions are right? How do you do that? So instead, how do we help them, how do we help ourselves learn more about them before we start showing them solutions? And that’s really what I think any sales process should be.

Lucas 05:57

Well, and specifically on this sales process, you, you cannot approach each older adult. Like they are ready to move in this week. It’s an emotional decision. And I think that’s this big missing piece here is, right. What phase are they in? Are they in a discovery phase? Which kind of funnel or pipeline is appropriate for this person to meet them at where they are right now?

Evan Friedkin 06:23

Exactly. And  I don’t think it’s linear. It is not linear. It is some people will enter that decision to start moving down that path. But something may happen whether by your doing the provider or the marketing team, not in a bad way, but something may happen internally or externally that causes that person to delay and step out of that journey and the wait. And so as a marketing team at a provider, you need to make sure that everything you’re doing is another on-ramp to get back onto that journey where they left off. Usually what’s happening is the ability to understand that journey is very, very complicated. Because you do lose track of them. You don’t know where they are. And so you just need to make sure that there, there are as many on-ramps on that highway as you can have, and you want to make it really easy for them to get back on and pick up where they left off.

Josh 07:19

So one of the ways that you’re suggesting if I’m understanding doing that correctly is learning a little bit more on the front end about that person that potentially could be a consumer and giving them a lot more information about you. Aare you saying that once you learn that, that is where the content piece really kicks in to them begin to educate them where they are or you actually educating them through the question process?

Evan Friedkin 07:50

We are educating through the question process. So with every question we ask, there are on the, on the right side of our assessments or our tools, there are things to think about things that why does this matter? Why are we asking this? So that way they’re not like, “why are they asking whether or not I’m still driving?” They’re self-educating a little bit at a time in a way that is not community-specific. It is not about the community. It’s really about them and why the fact that they may be driving or they’re concerned about it is important in this decision. Because again, it comes back to illuminating the path ahead. You, you really have to eliminate any hesitation or questions or uncertainty about what lies next.

Josh 08:36

Well, so it’s it’s hard to I guess compare our industry of providing services, providing care to a lot of other verticals, like buying a car or shopping for whatever we shop for as consumers. But I think there are some parallels. And if you look at probably just even us, this sample, this small sample of how we make decisions for almost everything, it’s at our fingertips. We’re educating ourselves. And at the literally a couple of touches of our thumbs on our smartphones, we can find out almost anything that we want to know about any product or service we’re potentially going to buy from consumer reviews about that from people that have used that product or service, to even the price point, knowing exactly what it’s going to cost bottom line. But then when we get to having to make one of the most, if not the most difficult decision of our lives, it’s a complete mystery. And the most we can get is like a vague brochure, you know, in most places that we go. So why is that?

Lucas

And every website looks exactly the same,

Josh

Right?

Evan Friedkin

There’s a lot of happy old people on those, on those websites. Yeah.

Josh 09:55

Well, well you’re the data you’re kind of the data junkie, the data king. I mean, for our listeners that may be out there that might be thinking, “ah, I just need to be able to get to that consumer the fastest, I just need their email. I need their phone. I just need to get that. I just need to be able to call ’em up.” What would you say to that based on the data that you’ve been seeing?

Evan 10:38

Yeah that’s a great question. And the first thing I’m going to say is no, that that approach is 100% necessary. Have those contact forms make it really easy for people to get in touch with you? Because some people are not like us. They’d rather not do their own research. They’d rather just talk to your community directly. So yeah, that contact form keep doing it. Don’t don’t get rid of it. That’s important. That’s where majority of the leads are going to come from and that’s fine. But what about those other people that really wanna do those research and, think about it like Carvan, a few years ago, the idea of buying a car and never talking to a salesperson, that’s blasphemy. But why can Carvana do it? But this industry can’t. They are publishing the prices. There’s no negotiating with them, it is what it it is. 

Evan Friedkin 11:26

You can find out everything you need to know right there within the app. Now I’m not saying that this industry should get rid of the human touch because I mean that is what makes this industry great is the fact that as soon as somebody steps into that community, they realize that this is not what I thought. It is so different. It is a family and that, that cannot go away. The thing that needs to be automated. And the thing that needs to really be mastered is how do I make that step across the threshold from the website to the community, as easy as possible? And so it comes back to be transparent. Be transparent about everything. Because like you said, there are going to be those people that don’t want to talk to somebody and that’s fine. It comes back to, like you said, reaching people where they are in the way that they want to be talked to.

Evan Friedkin 12:17

And who are we to say how to talk to them? That’s up to them. That transparency’s really important. And I’m going to go as far as saying pricing. Put starting at rates. Why, why would you not put that there . I’ve talked to providers about this a lot. We have a lot of clients that are putting, starting at rates and I ask “why don’t you do it?” And I hear, “oh, we don’t want our competitors to know what we cost.” Your competitors know what you cost it. You talk about it at conferences and it’s not a surprise. I think what it comes down to is we don’t want those prospects who are on our site to self-select out because they think they can’t afford it. And I don’t think that, that there will be some that do that, but I think what’s going to ultimately happen is the audience that you’re now talking to and that are now open to hearing your message because they now are demystified.

Evan Friedkin 13:12

They now know what it costs, roughly. There’s going to be more of those than there are going to be the ones that have self-selected out and, and trust me, your sales teams are going to thank you because now it is not talking to people, “oh, they’re not financially qualified.” There will be some of that, but I think you’re going to get more quality leads. The more transparent you become. Virtual tours, COVID kicked that into, over in, into hyper drive. Now everybody’s putting they’re digitizing what it’s like to live at a community that probably wouldn’t have happened before March of 2020. That would’ve been scary, but then they had no choice. And so year, I think be transparent, let people know, let them get their questions answered. Don’t gate it. We got a little bit of data to back up kind of my claim on the finance side where we did a survey for the folks that went through our assessment and at the end, and this was just to the people who said, “no, I don’t want to talk to somebody yet.”

 

Evan Friedkin 14:09

So they still decided that they were not ready to have the conversation we asked. Why not? It’s a simple question that we’re not trying to sway them. We’re not trying to do anything with it. We’re just, “hey, why didn’t you want to talk to somebody,  81% said it was because they didn’t know what it cost. That’s not a small number. That is a massive amount of people that if we were just a little bit more transparent, they might have talked to you. They might have got more people. And so I, I think that’s a huge eye opener. 

Josh 14:40

I’m kind of you know, in my mind thinking about some of the challenges, or maybe some of the things that our industry wants to be able to do and that’s to be able to attract someone, a resident and their family to our communities before it’s a crisis. I mean, how much have we seen our industry change over the last several years to where man, it feels like every call you get everybody’s in a crisis, there’s just been a fall. And you, you think, and we see this often where it’s like, man, you see these folks that could have benefited probably avoided maybe that fall or, avoided the malnutrition or whatever it was that got them to the point they were, if they got the care sooner. And I have to believe that if we could educate and inform a little earlier on when maybe they were just in the search process.

Josh 15:35

And they’re just trying to get information. If we made that a little bit easier, maybe we would make that decision a little easier for them to come in a little earlier. So I got a question for you. Do you have any data or feeling of what is the percentage of people that you think we’re missing out on as an industry Because they’re not really me ready in their mind to make a decision right now. And they’re not, they’re not gonna call or they’re not wanting anybody to maybe call them right now, but they’re just wanting to get information. Is there any feeling of, of what group exists out there that might be missed opportunity?

Evan 16:34

It is not a small number. It is a lot. Back in December senior housing news released an article and it was titled Rampant Consumer Confusion I think it’s Creates an Opportunity in Senior Housing. And there was a survey that was done that asks just to the general population about what their opinion was of the aging services sector. Fourty-five percent said they had a positive view, which is great. That’s amazing. Keep up the good work there. I think it was like 20 some percent…nope, but the real number I really wanna hone in on is 35% have no opinion. That is a massive amount of people that have zero opinion about what this entire industry does. And so even if we’re able to just sway 5% of that audience makes a huge difference.

Evan Friedkin 17:05

One of and to get to your point of, what is that audience that we are missing out on? From the beginning from day one, when Roobrik was launched, our mission was we truly believe people will choose senior living and choose it sooner if they’re given the right resources. And if we give them the right resources, they will choose to talk to the community at a much higher rate. And so not even affecting the traffic that is on these provider’s websites, we’re noticing just by adding the ability to get their questions answered. It increases their lead volume by 20% to 40%. These were people that were not filling out contact forms. Those were people that were trying to find the information but didn’t. Do you know what happens when they don’t find the information they’re looking for? They go to Google. And I don’t ever want to, I don’t want anybody I care about to Google something like this. 

Evan Friedkin 17:57

Where they end up is third party referral agencies, because they do not care what information is put out there. They will answer whatever question that person wants to see. And people accidentally opt into their marketing funnel. And we were joking earlier where as soon as I opt in it’s “how do I opt out?  I get so many phone calls. We’ve all been in that position where you thought you were doing something. And next thing you know, you’re getting 40 or 50 phone calls. And it is really stressful. Couldn’t imagine having to deal with that on top of,  “what do I do with mom?” 

Lucas 18:34

Well, and not only that you’ve essentially lost a potential prospect potential resident, and then to get them back, you’ve got to pay for it.

Evan Friedkin 18:47

Yeah. That’s a different beast. Yeah. Well it’s, it’s also creating this, it’s creating this perpetual cycle that everyone complains that the industry is not looked at fondly. And it’s because where they end up, they get bombarded. And they, in the prospect’s mind, they think those third party aggregators are the community. And then all of a sudden they’re like, “I’m getting all these calls. This is a horrible experience.” And now you just moved somebody who might have been in that UNS unsure category to the negative view. And that’s not good. We have too much of an uphill battle that we can, we can’t have that happening. Now I’m not saying all third party aggregators are not great. I’m saying it is is necessary, but they really need to do the work. Really understand that prospect, make sure that that customer journey for them isseamless. It’s how they want to be moving forward. And I think that’ll start to change over time as they start being able to kind of navigate through that.

Josh 19:56

Well, this is really interesting. So we’ve touched on a lot of things, building transparency that builds trust. We know, but also potentially reaching a completely untapped group that we have not even touched that knows really nothing, but they’re probably in the age income bracket where, they’re either needing care themselves or they’re making a decision very soon, if not now for a loved one. And so what a way to influence. I can only imagine right now there’s probably some of our listeners, we got a very diverse audience in the senior housing industry, but some of the decision-makers that are now in their mind thinking and trying to evaluate their communication methods and how their content is reaching or not reaching the audience. Practical, just bullet point takeaways, what can an operator that wants to kind of dive in and evaluate, what do I need to be doing better? How do I do that? As far as communicating to the potential consumer that I’m not reaching?

Evan Friedkin 21:05

Yeah. I think something that I haven’t seen a whole lot is, yeah, there is that hidden audience on, I call it hidden audience that are on your websites that may actually be qualified. What if you put a a feedback survey,  there’s a lot of live chat. What if there’s a feedback survey that somebody who didn’t opt in or didn’t fill out a contact form or it’ on your site could give you a rating of how helpful was my website? And then give them an option to tell you what they wish they saw. Don’t be scared to solicit that feedback. Nobody’s perfect. I’ve never seen a perfect website on any industry. The only way you can move towards perfection is by soliciting that feedback, not just from the people that are doing what you wanted them to do when they landed on your site, the best way to enhance it is by what about those people who are not doing that?

Evan Friedkin 21:58

You need to figure out why. You also can’t go in with blinders on and assume that all of your audience looks like the people that are filling out contact forms. They’re in a different head space than the ones who are those anonymous browsers. So lean into the content. Go write blogs about everything. Do it from the perspective of the older adult themselves. Do it from the perspective of the family members. Do it for people looking for a grandparent, do it for people that are and think of all of the tangential topics that might be going through their mind. Maybe it’s not even related to senior living. Maybe it is  driving. Are they worried about them driving? Do something about, “how do we talk to mom about… hey, maybe, maybe it’s time that you stop driving and you don’t even talk about your community.

Evan Friedkin 22:47

Really just think about any topic that could be going through, Not, I’m not going to say your prospect, but through this audience’s mind well before they start considering senior living. And if you are able to provide resources up until that time comes. You can start to get people earlier, as opposed to having them go, “oh, I’ll deal with that later,” because later is when mom felt falls and breaks a hit. Now you got somebody who needs a higher level of acuity and they’re probably not going to stay as long. And  so we need to listen. I think as an industry, we need, we need to listen to the people who aren’t talking or who you not giving the opportunity to talk.

Josh

Wow, this is great information for no matter what type of community you have. Actually, I think it’s great information, no matter what kind of product or service you’re providing. I thought we were just going to get a data conversation. This is bonus. We’re getting content strategy, man. Thank you so much. 

Lucas 

Content, sales and marketing. I mean, it’s, it’s a perfect collision of leveraging tech and innovation to help build a deeper connection with the audience you’re trying to reach so that you can have those meaningful conversations and develop the relationship that that is actually meaningful to bring them into the community, which will provide the support and love and care that they really need. It’s a perfect conversation, Evan from Roobirk. Thanks for spending time with us today. 

 

Evan Friedkin

Appreciate you having me. 

 

Lucas

And for our listeners, you can go to BTGvoice.com. Make sure you connect with us on social. We’ll put all of this in the show notes. We’d love to get your feedback. Let’s continue the conversation there. And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

 

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229: Evan Friedkin