By Steve Moran

I can’t imagine there is a single operator, regional director, or executive director who does not want higher occupancy, lower turnover, and higher profitability — though I do recognize there are likely a few outliers where the community is full and there is a mile-long wait-list … and they are fully staffed. (I can actually think of a handful of CCRCs where at least one or the other is true.)

And yet, most organizations and most communities are really struggling to hit occupancy. And if I were to ask the leaders why, they would have a list of reasons that more likely than not are “unacceptable.”

Note: As I am writing this article, I am realizing that it will most likely make some readers mad. This is not my intent. The point is to ask you (if you are one who does not like this article) to reframe your reasons.

Consider These Excuses

Please, please, please consider carefully these excuses, because if you are using any of them, things will only get worse.

  1. We are still recovering from COVID. No doubt COVID did serious damage to everyone, but today we have figured out how to live with it. In your marketplace, there have been enough prospects who have moved into some community, just not yours. Your opportunity is to figure out why they didn’t move into your community and fix that.
  2. We don’t have enough staff to care for everyone. Maybe so, but what are you doing to make your community the one that everyone wants to work at, so that it is everyone else but not you that is struggling to find enough staff?
  3. There is too much competition. This is almost true, and even in those markets where someone builds something new that blows it out of the water, there will be competition.
  4. Our building is too old. I confess to hating this excuse. I can show you 40-year-old communities that are woefully in need of a refresh that are completely full. How is this? They create a compelling lifestyle for residents so they and their families want to live there.
  5. We are waiting for the boomer wave. NO, NO, NO! First off, it is still eight to 10 years away. That is a lot of emptiness that you will never get back. Even worse, every day there are more people figuring out more ways to serve older people without them ever moving into senior living.
  6. I am not getting the support I need. I wrote about this here, but FIGURE IT OUT ANYWAY. I promise there are some leaders working in your organization who are still thriving. Figure out what they are doing and copy them. Or better yet, figure out a better way. The single best thing you can do to “stick it to the man” is to be excellent in spite of them. And if it is really that terrible and impossible, then you need to quit and go work someplace else.
  7. Our location makes it impossible to get full. No doubt location can help or hurt you, but I promise you there are things you do that are really inconvenient to do, but because those things are worth it, you make the extra effort. Make your community worth the extra effort. Look at Ikea. They purposefully build in inconvenient places because they know that when people get there, they want to make the most of their trip, and so they buy more stuff.

Have Faith in Yourself

I have faith that you can be a rock-star leader, with exceptional performance, whether you are an executive director or a CEO. You need to have faith in yourself and be willing to not keep doing the same old thing hoping for better results.

Let us know if we can help.