Software implementation made easy!

By Susan Saldibar

When John Wright, CFO for Justus Rental Properties, Inc. (JRPI), began his search for new software to accommodate their growing senior care communities, the former software executive had one absolute sticking point: a smooth implementation. Did he get it?

We thought our readers might want to know. John graciously sat down with us to talk about Justus senior living and the implementation of RealPage’s, a Senior Housing Forum Partner and Senior Living property management software that is helping support their expanding data management infrastructure.

Justus Companies have built over 30,000 homes and apartments throughout Indiana, Tennessee and Florida. A fourth-generation, family-owned business founded in 1910, they continue to break new ground, both in senior housing and in the technology supporting them.

From Crestwood to Woodland Terrace

Back in the early 1960s, urged on by aging residents who loved their Justus homes but, as John tells it, “didn’t want to mow the lawn anymore,” Justus created Crestwood Village Senior Living  Communities. They’ve come a long way. “We now offer a continuum ranging from active senior and independent living with support services to licensed assisted living with a wide range of ancillary services including home health, onsite clinic, wellness program and outpatient therapy. Residents can age in place with the right amount of care at the right time to meet their changing needs,” he added.

Their latest move has been the introduction of their next generation of senior housing, Woodland Terrace of Carmel, currently under construction in Carmel, Indiana. This 185-room campus will offer a combination of high-end independent living, assisted living and memory care services with a focus on the arts, wellness and hospitality.

Wanted: Software to Support a New Generation of Senior Housing

Back when planning for the new community began, Justus was still using a 15-year-old software platform. “Basically, we outgrew our old system,” says John. “We needed something that offered more than just the basic accounting elements. We needed to cover the entire process; from determining the needs of a particular prospective resident to what kind of service plan works best for them.”

John had heard about RealPage’s great reputation, especially relating to implementation. “As a software veteran, that got my attention.”

Other deciding factors were the flexibility of the RealPage solution and the health of the company itself. “RealPage is thriving with people who are truly passionate about what they do. For anyone deploying a new software solution, the ability for the company to innovate, upgrade and keep pace with changing demands is critical,” says John.

Several software check points played a key role in evaluating RealPage, including:

  1. Documentation management: “We needed automation that would help us keep up with HIPAA compliance, as well as local regulations which differ from state to state,” says John. Justus offers up to six levels of care, depending on each individual’s needs. “Being able to match a detailed questionnaire to the right care plan is a major benefit,” says John.
  2. Controlling expenses: “RealPage allows the importing of resident census data so that we always have the right blend and number of staff across all service areas,” says John. “This will be a real money saver.”
  3. Local control: Providing Justus executive directors and business managers with the capability to run their businesses directly from each leasing office. “This was one of the key drivers in our search for new software,” says John.

Software is Only as Strong as Its Implementation.

“You only want to implement once,” says John. “So you need people with a strong command of their product, who know how to get it right the first time. The people at RealPage are about the best at it I’ve seen.”

Consistent follow up, weekly phone calls and ad hoc calls and meetings helped plan for possible challenges. “They never ditched a call,” says John. “If there was a problem, it got fixed. That’s what keeps loyal customers,” he adds.

The Early Returns are in…and Looking Good.

Most of the Justus properties are now up and running RealPage’s Senior Living community management software. “The ease of data consolidation and the intuitiveness of the platform is great,” says John. “It’s all Microsoft-centric; with drop down menus, and a familiar interface. If you have a pulse, you can figure it out.”

Justus is also looking at RealPage’s YieldStar® revenue management platform, which will allow them to manage their vacancies based on conditions of local markets. “It will help us answer the question, ‘What are competitors doing? What is inventory of vacant units?’”, says John.  “When you have a prospective resident sitting in front of you, that’s the best time to get them to sign a lease. We’re hoping down the road that YieldStar can help with that,” he added.

Software is a Utility. And that’s a Good Thing.

John is glad to see the industry moving forward from the old days of shrink wrapped software. “Software is a service,” he notes. “It is a utility, like gas or electric. You pay a monthly fee, but you know that will always be up to date and accessible anywhere, over the web. The days of installing patches and upgrades are long gone.”

An Implementation Ahead of Schedule?

By all accounts, it looks like Justus is poised to hit or possibly exceed their January 1, 2016 RealPage implementation goal. Then it’s on to continued expansion, with the launch of the new Carmel community in 2017. John has promised to contribute to a Part 2 to this story and we can’t wait.

John’s willingness to share his experience and story is refreshing. It prompted us to ask him why. “Sharing our experiences makes us a stronger industry,” he says.  “After all, we may one day be checking in to one of these communities!”