How to get more by offering less.

Bet I get some nasty comments on this one!

This is #2 in a 5-part series that started with 4 Keys to Having Employees Who Love to Come to Work Every Day.

Number 1 is Offer Less.

Conventional Thinking

Conventional thinking says that as Boomer age they are not going to want their parents’ or grandparents’ senior living, which is likely right. If this were a math equation the solution would be that what Boomers want is more choices . . . but perhaps this is simply wrong.

Think about it this way:

  • When you eat out, you may occasionally pick a new restaurant for variety’s sake, but I bet you have a handful of favorites you keep coming back to . . . in fact it may be a single favorite.

  • You likely buy groceries, and clothing, and books, and toiletries and . . . well the list is endless, at a the same store over and over again.

  • At home you likely have no more than maybe a dozen different dinners you eat over and over again and probably only 2 or 3 are favorites.   

  • For breakfast, it is likely pretty much the same thing every single day . . . likely even the same boring cereal day after day.

  • You even probably really like only one or two flavors of ice cream.

Seniors today and the seniors of tomorrow are the same. They like the same things. It turns out that we really mostly like the same things over and over again with just occasional variety to spice things up.

Limited Options Are Good

The book Good Jobs Strategy talks about how Costco sells about 1,000 less products than Sam’s Club, and Trader Joe’s has several thousand fewer products than a typical grocery store. In a sort of paradoxical thinking they do this so that they can serve their customers better. Because mostly it means fewer choices for a given product type rather than few real choices. These retailers then do two things:

  1. They have done the research to figure out which products in a given product category are best for their customers and stock only those products.

  2. They take the time to educate their customers on why the things they picked are the best for the customers.

Limiting Senior Living Options

We have this tendency in senior living to believe that more options are better. An example:

We build pools because they appeal to prospects and family members, but are they really being used by enough people enough time to justify the cost? Maybe we should make a point of not offering pools and talk about why and how there are better ways for elders there to get exercise and that by eliminating pools it means you can provide higher staffing level.

Or maybe you only serve breakfast in the main dining room on weekends, because lots of residents would really rather have a bowl of cereal and orange juice in their own room and by serving breakfast only on special occasions it would really be special rather than ordinary.  

It is likely there are dozens of areas where you as a senior living provider could limit choices, and explain how it benefits residents This might allow you to pay team members more, provide more of the services that are really important and maybe even make you more money.