By Steve Moran
Your first response to the question “what problem do you fix?” is likely to be something like …
“What are you talking about? We don’t fix problems.”
“We are about lifestyle, not problems.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
But think about it: In reality every single thing that is sold — product or service — is to solve some kind of problem. Even going to a movie or a concert is about solving the problem of boredom or lack of stimulation or lack of joy.
What Senior Living Solves
My friend David Smith says, “No one calls a divorce attorney, a brain surgeon, or a senior living community unless they have a problem they need to solve.” David talks about this in the context of taking every inquiry seriously, which is 100% right, but it should also inform how we market senior living … how we tell our story.
Senior living solves at least five problems:
- Physical safety. As people age, the world becomes a lot more scary and dangerous, balance becomes more of a challenge, and falls are massively more risky. Not only that, but simply having someone to respond if there is a problem is no longer a trivial thing.
- Boredom. We solve the problem of sitting around, watching TV, and eating snacks. Given our increasing longevity, this is not a great way to live out the “golden years.”
- Loneliness. It is well established by research that loneliness is as dangerous as smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day for older people. We solve this problem better than anyone.
- Family fear. We know that often — nearly always, when it comes to assisted living and memory care — it is families who are doing the looking. By the time they get to this reality, the fear factor is huge. It is fear for their loved ones, it is the emotional stress on adult children and others, it is often the stress on the spouse who does not need care.
- The hassles of owning a home. This is a big one for independent living residents. They get tired of the hassles of yard care, maintenance, and even fixing meals.
Not Talking About It
I am convinced that if we were more aggressive about talking about the problems we solve, we would see more move-ins. I get why we don’t, because it all seems a bit negative, focused on the decline that every single older person experiences. By not talking about the problems, we send the message that we don’t really understand what our customers, what our prospects, need and want.