One of my biggest frustrations with senior living is the amount of sameness that exists from company to company and community to community.
By Steve Moran
One of my biggest frustrations with senior living is the amount of sameness that exists from company to company and community to community. This means that when consumers go shopping for a senior living product they mostly use two criteria, price and location.
This ends up being a kind of race to the bottom since once your community is built you end up mostly competing on price. There is one upside though . . . if you have a smoking hot salesperson they will make sure you beat the market.
Better — much better — is when you compete on program. This of course means that you are in effect saying to either a large or small group of prospects, “We are not the right solution for you.” It is emotionally painful to make a deliberate decision to say to a subset of providers, “We are not really that interested in your business.” Yet, as counterintuitive as it seems, it is frequently the best way to dominate the marketplace.
Highlands Senior Living
A few weeks ago I spent some time talking with Tim Buchanan, the CEO of Legends Senior Living, about a new “product” they have rolled out to meet the needs of assisted living residents who require or prefer to have a higher level of service.
The first Highlands is located on the Legend at Rivendell campus in Oklahoma City. The goal is to create a boutique concierge level of service that includes:
Higher staffing levels
Around the clock nursing
A personal Steward for the Highlands residents. This is someone who can help with scheduling appointments, arranging for things like dinner and entertainment outside the community, and even provide assistance with pet care
They also are provided anytime room service
This supersized level of service is available on a campus that has a more typical senior living offering. This is a great way to do a couple of things. The first is to experiment with new ideas while keeping the risk at a manageable level. The second is that it makes it possible to provide multiple programmatic offerings on the same campus that will be attractive to subgroups of seniors.
In some sense the industry is already doing this by offering various levels of care and by level-based and interest-based neighborhoods in memory care.
I do though imagine some day we will see senior living communities that focus on a broad segment of the marketplace, such as an arts focused community — with neighborhoods for musicians, painters, photographers and sculptors.
The evolution continues . . .