Focusing on resident care without focusing on occupancy will quickly lead to no residents left to care for!

By Kent Mulkey

Years ago, while serving as a regional director for a national assisted living provider, I was talking with an executive director about the flagging occupancy of 55% at the community she managed. I will never forget her telling comment, “You corporate people seem to only worry about occupancy. I just want to take care of the residents.” I gently reminded her that she was quickly running out of residents to care for. Within a few weeks she was looking for residents, elsewhere.

No Easy Task

For most, building and maintaining high occupancy is no easy task. Guiding seniors through the decision process can sometimes feel like trudging through mud. Many markets are overbuilt and very competitive. Some providers are finding that the romantic days of “If we build it they will come” have faded away into the cornfield. 

There are arguments across the spectrum on how many new leads you need in order to build and sustain success (Success = 95%+ occupancy). For the sake of this article I will simply say that you likely need more leads and for sure you may need to do a much, much better job engaging and guiding the ones you have.

Sustained Success

See if any of these principles drive you forward toward greater and sustained success:

  • If you work at a community with say, 100 units, 100 units is what you are entrusted with. Serving 75 residents and calling it good doesn’t cut it. 
  • Have you experienced the satisfaction of working to fill a community to 100% with an active waitlist? It’s just about the coolest thing you can experience professionally.
  • High occupancy increases the credibility of the community and makes it that much more attractive to seniors and their families. (Cialdini calls it the Principle of Scarcity).
  • The financial performance, which of course is tied to occupancy, pays huge dividends for the investors and lenders. I once worked for a company where the personal credit line of the sole owner was invested to start the company. My job was to make him money. He had it coming. After all, he paid my salary.
  • What I love most about what I do is being able to employ close to 200 people because of the senior community I manage. We create jobs for people!
  • And the best for last, we serve people. Great people, older adults who need our care and support.

If you are an Executive Director or Sales Director, your primary job is to work on the business, meaning to always be developing new business. Most of the rest of your staff is to work in the business, ensuring that residents are well cared for, active and kept safe.

The primary question you need to be asking yourself is:

 “What do I need to be doing (or learning, growing, changing) today in order to create the kind of success we want to see tomorrow?” 

As I have often said, don’t be disappointed with the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.

Get to it. You will satisfy a ton of people, including yourself.