5 emerging trends that can make every senior living company buckets of additional bottom-line cash!

By Steve Moran

I always struggle with how to describe my role in the senior living space. I am a writer, thinker and public speaker. What I do best is ask a lot of questions, read a lot of stuff, talk to a lot of people, think about that stuff, what it means to our industry, then write and talk about it.

Maybe it makes me a futurist. It seems sort of arrogant, but it also has kind of a nice ring to it. Here is the definition I found at the professional futurist organization website (who even knew there was such a thing?).

“A professional futurist is a person who studies the future in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes. It is not the goal of a futurist to predict what will happen in the future. The futurist uses foresight to describe what could happen in the future and, in some cases, what should happen in the future.”

As a futurist, here is my take on 5 emerging trends that can make every senior living company buckets of additional bottom-line cash and leave you with more satisfied residents, staff and families. Each of these will get their own article . . . and, in a couple of cases, more than one article in the coming weeks. Here they are:

  1. A Focus on Purpose for Residents –  This is a topic I have written about probably more than any other. While I have yet to see a community or company that commits their whole company to this and only this, it is getting a lot better. And, in fact . . . there is at least one company that is getting very close to this . . . and when they are ready we will tell their story.

    Fresh Buckets of Cash: Increased lengths of stay, active residents requiring less staff assistance.

  1. Improved Operational Efficiencies – This is a new area of thinking for me, but I have been reading about how Trader Joe’s as opposed to Walmart; or Costco as opposed to Sam’s provide very similar  products to similar customers, except that because Trader Joe’s and Costco approach the operations very differently, they are much more profitable.

    After thinking about this, it is baffling to me that no one in the industry is asking if there are better ways to do what we do, that will actually provide better service, no worse service.

    Fresh Buckets of Cash: Happier residents, more referrals, less staff turnover, less overtime.

  2. Overstaffing and Living Wages – This goes hand-in-hand with #2. Right now most line staff are living at or below the poverty line. Many are receiving food stamps, subsidized medical care and subsidized housing in spite of working a full-time job. It is pretty easy to argue that is the way the system is, but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe there are ways to staff with built-in slack and higher wages that will actually end up making you more money.

    I am not going to argue this as a cost cutting measure, in fact it will likely cost you more money, but if you spent an extra $100,000 per year on staffing and it gained you $300,000 in additional revenue would that be a good or bad thing?

    Fresh Buckets of Cash:
    Higher occupancy, lower turnover, lower overtime costs.

  3. Improved Marketing Analytics and Automation – I pay a lot of attention to online publishers and marketing folks outside the senior living industry and we are so far behind in what we can do, it makes me laugh. Just one single example . . . It is possible to have a tool installed on your website, that will let you know in real time that your prospect is back on your site. It will tell you who that prospect is, what they are looking at, and how much time they spent looking at what information.

    It does not give you that information 100% of the time, and it takes a level of sophistication but it is not rocket science. Along this line, Senior Housing Forum Partner SoftVu is bringing similar capability to prospect nurturing.

    It is a bit creepy, but we as a market segment may be about the only ones not taking advantage of this technology.

    Fresh Buckets of Cash:
     More converted leads, the ability to figure out which parts of your website no one cares about and which parts everyone cares about.

  1. Small Homes – I will be honest that I don’t exactly know what this means, but it is clear to me there is a tiny but growing marketplace for small home assisted living. These are 4-15 resident “homes” that look and feel very much like the home residents came from. They are expensive, $6,000 per month and up, but they provide intense levels of care, often during the day one caregiver for two residents.  

    They don’t have big full-blown activities program, but none of the residents did, the day before they moved into assisted living. They are not for everyone and will likely end up being as much complementary as competitive to enterprise senior living.

    Fresh Buckets of Cash:  Imagine franchising an approach like this or perhaps building a wing or a separate building on your campus that took this approach. I am thinking with a bit more luxury, getting rates of $8,000 to $10,000 per month is very doable.