Q: My community is 20 years old. Should I be concerned about remaining competitive?

A: Being competitive in the near future could be a challenge. The senior living industry has grown significantly over the past 40 years. That represents at least two generations of seniors and their adult children, many identified as decision-influencers for their parents when it comes to retirement living.

The psychographics of today’s seniors and their adult children has changed. Senior living and healthcare designs have experienced changes and innovations.

Here is your future challenge. Consider a new “state-of-the-art” senior living project that might locate within three to five miles of your mature community. For many potential residents (and their adult children), their perception of today’s state-of-the-art might include granite countertops, stainless steel kitchen appliances, new flooring, modern lighting devices, new plumbing fixtures and sophisticated, in-unit, high-technology internet innovations. That’s just a sample of the living unit enhancements.

The cosmetics and functions of public/common spaces also are changing, including lighting, carpeting and innovative wall treatments. Bistros are being added to expand the choices of multiple dining venues.

Some owner-operators are investing at least $20,000 to $30,000 in many of their independent living units for comprehensive, market-responsive upgrades. Many also are investing in common/public area cosmetic and functional improvements creating a strong first impression for prospects and enhancing resident satisfaction.

Sustaining the competitiveness of older communities can represent a significant investment. Properly executed, however, the cost-benefit can be very favorable. When integrated with a comprehensive operations analysis and responsible unit price adjustments, many owner-operators are executing this strategy in a successful, financially responsible manner.

Jim Moore is president of Moore Diversified Services, a national senior housing and healthcare consulting firm based in Fort Worth, TX, that has been serving clients for 46 years. He has authored five books about senior living and healthcare, including Assisted Living Strategies for Changing Markets and Independent Living and CCRCs.  He can be reached at (817) 731-4266 or [email protected].