By Steve Moran
I have been thinking about this tough problem since way before COVID-19, but it is a more real problem today. There are, right now, nearly a dozen different initiatives being implemented or planned to improve the image of senior living. And I applaud them all. I believe every little thing we do makes it better for the industry. And more importantly better for older people who would benefit from senior living.
Yet . . .
I am not sure it is really moving the needle.
What We Need is Star Power
Look at what Michael Jordan has done for the Nike Brand, Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein Jeans, Oprah Winfry for Weight Watchers, and William Shatner for Priceline. There are hundreds of additional examples. Imagine for a moment that we could get someone like Jane Fonda or Clint Eastwood to take up the cause of senior living in the public eye and what it would do for our image.
(I want to give credit to Colin Milner for helping me to think more about this idea and put it in print)
Finding The Right Person
I would start with rocker’s age 60 plus. There are a few reasons for this. First, there are a lot more people to pick from. According to the website Ultimate Classic Rock there 276 rockers over age 60. The second reason is that the rocker does not necessarily need to be famous in their own right as long as their band was.
Second I would look for someone who has a personal connection with senior living, a mom, dad, aunt, or uncle that is either living in or working in senior living.
Imagine though . . .
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith standing up and saying, “My mom is rocking out in Brookdale Senior Living.” (I just made that up.)
Or Mick Jagger saying, “I am already looking forward to forming a new band with residents when I move into Atria Senior Living.” (I made that up too.)
From “No One Wants It” to “Cooler than Apple Watches”
You are thinking impossible, ridiculous, too expensive. How would that ever work? I would argue that doing a serious multi-year campaign like this would create billions of dollars in increased, stable, long-term capital value for the owners and investors in senior living. It would cost pennies on the dollar, actually more likely fractions of pennies on the dollar.
I don’t see, particularly right now, operators or trade associations being able to do this. They are fighting too many tactical fires right now, with many operators rightfully worried about just staying in business because of pandemic costs.
REITs Private Equity Firms
There are billions of dollars invested in senior living portfolios right now. Investors are heading toward taking some serious hits in terms of cash flow and capital valuation. This could be the easiest and least expensive way to turn this thing around.
The Silver Lining
The silver lining of this is that we might actually need to take a second look at what living in senior living is really like. We might need to explore how to make it cool enough, hip enough for an older rocker to endorse what we do . . . to create the kind of senior living community that you and I want to live in.