For most senior housing communities, marketing is an ongoing process, even when occupancy levels are high. Since turnover requires that there is a pipeline, so to speak, of prospects who are in the market, it’s important to know why they consider your community but don’t eventually move in. There may be many different reasons ranging from another community was more to their liking to a decision not to move at all. And what might have made another community more appealing? This can be such things as having friends who already live there, the services and amenities were more to their liking, or something as practical as affordability. A negative might be that your location was just a bit too far from friends and relatives. But the only way to know what drove their decision is to ask. We have found that prospects, meaning someone who has actually visited your community, may be reluctant to answer these questions when a person in your marketing department asks them directly. Lost Prospect surveys conducted by an independent organization are likely to result in franker answers which provide you with potential actionable items that can enhance your marketability.
By definition, the Baby Boomers (Boomers) are those born between 1946 and 1964, which means the youngest Boomer will turn 57 while the oldest will turn 75 (easy to remember, just reverse the numbers). This is a generation that contributed to trends such as both members of a married couple being in the workforce and working longer. There are more people age 65 who are still employed than any time since 2000. But to what extent is this trend a result of not only a desire to continue working, but a need as well? According to TransAmerica’s Center for Retirement Studies, Boomers have an average of $152,000 saved for retirement, not nearly enough for the years in which they will be retired, increasing the dependence on their Social Security benefits. Factors that have contributed to retirement income include the great recession of 2007-2008, and much more recently, the variability of the stock market’s performance and impact of Covid 19. But let’s examine the very concepts of retirement and being prepared. Not everyone actually is planning to withdraw from the working life at the traditional age of 65. Being “prepared” typically refers to financial circumstances when we think of “retirement”. However, one could argue that being prepared also includes finding ways to continue to make a contribution to the world around them without being financially compensated. I began thinking about this blog from the perspective of “financial preparedness”, but in pursuing the idea it may have evolved into something more interesting.
On one of my morning walks along the Toms River I ran into a friend; one I often see when I am out getting my exercise. We stopped to chat, and he told me that he is moving to an active adult community, not far away. When I asked him why, here are some of the reasons he mentioned. First, he said that getting up and down steps was becoming more difficult for him. His current home requires that he use stairs just to get into his kitchen each day. He also pointed out that he lives alone and that as he ages, he wants to live somewhere that affords him the opportunity to make new friends who live just a few steps away. These struck me as affirmative reasons to make this move…ways in which he can improve the quality of his life both physically and socially. So, when I came back to the office (which, by the way, is in my home and looks out over the Toms River), I opened this month’s issue of Senior Housing Business and Matt Valley’s Editor’s Letter, right inside the front page, was titled” Active Adult Remains Investment Darling”, and mentioned that 34 percent of investors cite active adult as the biggest investment opportunity. So it appears that life quality and investment quality are merging in the Active Adult segment of the market.
This phrase may be overused but what does it really mean, if anything? For the last two years and more we have been battered by the Covid 19 pandemic going from one version to a second and now a third which supposedly is less virulent than the first two. So, what have been the impacts on the senior housing industry? Zoom no longer only refers to a speed, it has become a standard way of communicating that is enhanced by our ability to “see” one another. Virtual has virtually been redefined as another way of staying in touch. While in-person conferences have been resumed, I have no doubt that their attendance has been diminished by concerns about travel and being in settings with large numbers of people. The “new normal” is a lonelier place than what we were used to. Thanks to the vaccines we all feel safer on an individual level but it doesn’t mean we will be gathering in large numbers again in the near future. But now we have time to renew old friendships and wonderful things can come of that. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And I send my best to all of you.
As an industry we continue to rediscover how to conduct business during the ongoing pandemic. We offer a variety of services that may meet the current needs of your community including-
- Competitor Updates – conduct telephone conversations and website reviews with existing competitors and prepare an updated profile of each with an emphasis on what has changed (such as fees, expansion, repositioning)- we could also identify/survey any new competitors that have opened since our original report
- Demographic Updates – provide an updated demographic profile of your target market based on current and projected data – and compare it to our previous analysis of demographics
- Market Area Definition – obtain current information on resident origin and compare this to how we defined their MA previously to see if there have been any significant shifts. If we also do the Comp Updates that might shed some light on why the MA has shifted (assuming it has)
At the Spiezle architectural firm’s recent Aging Forward Executive Roundtable conference, Steve Lindsey, CEO of Garden Spot Village, gave an inspiring presentation on being supportive of the staff’s best efforts. He referred to the concept he delineated as Coaching and he structured it in a way that was reflective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The bottom of the triangle was Task focused and included basic competence and security and performance and related both of those to the supervisory roles. But the majority of the triangle was all about coaching and was focused on development of the team members. Starting with Relationships, it moved up through Contribution, Grown & Development, Best Self and Legacy which was at the top of the triangle. This structure, which is employed by Garden Spot, is designed to support each employee’s efforts and abilities to make a difference in in each other’s lives and performance as well as the lives of all of the residents. It is a paradigm-shifting structure that establishes a format that enhances the ability to “discover the BEST Version of YOURSELF and fulfill a LIFE OF PURPOSE. Just imagine what implementing this approach would contribute to the lives of employees and residents of senior housing communities.
One of the downsides for the aging population is the loss of a spouse, other relatives and friends. This has accelerated as a result of Covid 19. Loneliness is known to be a threat to your health. According to an article published by the CDC “social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death and… may rival those of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity”. Loneliness results in several other increased risks including heart attacks, strokes and depression. Of course, in this year of Covid, socialization has been severely restricted. It appears that with the help of the vaccines, we are beginning to emerge from the “lockdown” mentality and behaviors.
The benefits of socialization include reconnecting with friends and family members. Carefully engaging in small group activities and returning to things such as enjoying a meal at a restaurant with friends improve the quality of life for all of us. So, let’s be careful and joyous as we recreate what was known as a normal life.