Q. How can I ensure that my community is properly positioned for the future?
A: Senior living is going through another evolution, and it will involve new living arrangements and service delivery systems, innovative designs, health and wellness initiatives and more use of technology.
Although senior living is still going through another year of recovery, the future outlook for the industry generally is favorable. Demographic growth is strong, occupancies have been increasing and construction of new communities has remained relatively low due to the high cost of construction and challenged lending environment.
Owner/operators, many with aging physical plants, now are taking an opportunity to reflect on their existing communities, overall operations, services and pricing, to assess whether renovation or repositioning is needed to ensure future success.
Residents in all living arrangements are older and frailer, and the lines between the living arrangements are becoming more blurred than ever. Operators are being challenged with the task of optimizing resident satisfaction while dealing with increased resident needs in a blurred and overlapping continuum.
Some senior living communities are considering adding an active adult product to expand the independent living end of their continuum and attract the younger, healthier and more independent baby boomer generation. Communities without room for expansion are looking at renovating and upgrading their physical facilities or modifying their existing mix of living arrangements. Many are considering alternative service delivery systems or unbundling or adding additional services to offer more flexibility and choice. And all are evaluating pricing to assess whether an opportunity exists for increased pricing or potential new additional revenue sources. In some cases, communities are striving to be the affordable price point leader in the market.
Many operators are going to find themselves in the situation of having to establish a relationship with and serve the next new generation of older adult consumers while continuing to serve their existing previous-generation residents. Accomplishing this goal will be easier said than done, but it will be necessary for future growth and success. Having a good handle on market positioning is going to be essential for marketing and communication purposes in the future, especially as new, competitive products start to enter the market again.
Lynne Moore is president of MDS Research Company Inc., a national senior living and healthcare consulting firm based in Fort Worth, TX, that has been serving clients for more than 50 years. MDS is a two-generation company – she is following in Jim Moore’s footsteps. Ms. Moore is responsible for all MDS market research-related projects involving all aspects of senior housing and healthcare. Lynne Moore can be reached at (817) 731-4266 or [email protected].
The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living guest column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.
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