By Steve Moran

I was invited to deliver the closing keynote at the Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association annual conference in November. It was their first time gathering since the pandemic, and they are in a tremendous rebuilding process with amazing leadership.   

When I have time, I love to visit senior living communities that are doing something unusual. The day after the conference, I spent the morning with Koy Butler, the president of House of Three, who has a remarkable senior living organization. 

The Obvious Story (the nonobvious story is below, and more remarkable than the obvious)

He figured out that in the state of Arkansas, you are allowed to provide care to up to three individuals without needing a license. He started with one home and currently owns eight homes that each care for three residents. At this point you’re thinking … “This is nuts; he can’t make any money.” 

You’re right, but you are wrong. Much of this is pinned on one big question: What kind of life do you want to build for yourself? Another way of looking at it is this: “How much money do you really need to be happy?”

The Way It Works

This is not possible to do in many states for a variety of reasons, but I offer you this story as stimulation to ask yourself, are there things that are possible that you can’t really imagine right now, that would give you the financial results and lifestyle you want?

  • It is only private pay, charging around $7,000 per month.
  • They offer a residential alternative to private pay skilled nursing and assisted living. 
  • It is not for everyone.
  • He staffs it 24/7 using a “fireman’s schedule”: two-and-a-half days on equals a full-time paycheck 
  • There is always at least one person on duty, but back-up is readily available 24/7.  
  • They can do just about anything that is within the scope of the license of the person performing specific care duties. 

Most importantly, these residents are living in a home, something similar to what they grew up in and what they experienced for 40, 50, 60 years of their adult lives. This is something traditional big box senior living can never provide.  

It is also not for everyone. 


Koy’s business is still growing, and he does not have a real sense of what his “right size” is yet. 

No matter what that right size is, it will likely never amount to the total number of beds in a single large community. 

He is not the only one. There are other operators that don’t have much status in the current world of senior living that most of us inhabit. You will never see them on stages or in articles. They have just a few goals:

  1. Creating a great living experience in their local marketplace for a few older people
  2. Creating a great working experience where people love coming to work every day
  3. Making enough money to live the life experience that makes them happy

They have figured out that more money, more personal wealth, and more status do not automatically mean more happiness, but that they do automatically mean more headache and worry. 

Maybe the question we each need to ask is this: What does a good life really look like?