By Steve Moran
I am going to confess this is going to be a bit of a stretch and would likely only be possible to achieve by the biggest players in senior living: LCS, Brookdale, Holiday, 5 Star, Sunrise, Atria, and more.
The Amazon Way
As Amazon grew their online marketplace, where sellers as well as buyers could do business in a self-serve fashion they came to realize that:
“You would have to build a machine that would have to be self-service, and sellers would have to come to Amazon instead of the other way around.” – Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone
To provide some context, in this setting the customers they were trying to reach were sellers who had products that could be sold on the Amazon Marketplace. The challenge was, and is, that the marketplace of possible customers was too large to chase with a sales team. Those potential customers had a vast array of products, features, needs, and even ways of doing business.
They determined that they needed to build “a machine”, a kind of self-serve automat that would attract their customers (sellers). It would then allow those customers to figure out how, in an intelligent way, to do business with Amazon that would serve the retail customer, the seller, and Amazon.
There were lots of hiccups along the way, but ultimately they made it happen, which is a big part of the monumental success and power that Amazon enjoys.
Automated Senior Living – Automated Figuring Out Old Age
I have not talked to a single person who has been a consumer of senior living who has not found the experience to be unpleasant. I think it might be worse than shopping for a new car, something carmakers are actually working to make better.
And many of those conversations are with people who are in the industry, so they start with some ammunition.
- It is hard to figure out what is needed.
- It is hard to figure out what it costs.
- Often there is great variability from month to month because of service charges.
- It is hard to evaluate programing.
- It is hard to understand what makes one community better than another.
What If . . .
Brookdale, or Atria, or even a consortium of senior living organizations created a one-stop-shop where people could figure out what was best for their needs, whether it be senior living or something else. It might even be nothing today or nothing ever. It would help people to live their best lives and the best lives for their older parents and loved ones based on their needs and not the sellers’ needs (senior living).
What I love about the Amazon story and Jeff Bezos’s leadership style is that he is and they are slavishly devoted to meeting their customers’ needs at a great price with great conveniences. And that if they disappoint the customer they will fix it, pretty much no matter what the cost. Even if the customer is wrong.
This mindset, even without a “growing older” machine, would make senior living a vastly different experience for operators, team members, and consumers.