Lynne Moore headshot
Lynne Moore

Have you recently mystery-shopped the senior housing communities in your market area? You should. You may have more competition than you think.

Having a detailed understanding of the other senior housing communities in your market area always has been important in the sales and marketing process, but it may be more critical than ever as such communities continue to struggle to regain occupancy.

Our recent mystery shop in a busy metropolitan area indicated that tours were occurring at communities, and many are aggressively competing for the same customer in terms age and affordability profiles. This means that operators must communicate clearly what they do (or don’t) offer and how they differ from the other senior living communities in the area.

The lines between the living arrangements in senior housing have been blurring and are becoming grayer. Independent living communities, without licensed assisted living, tell prospective residents and their families that older adults can receive assisted living services from home health agencies in their apartments without moving to assisted living. Assisted living communities often position their base level of care (without personal care assistance) as independent living with the ability to age-in-place and access services when needed. And, of course, there is the continuum of care that offers all of living arrangements within the same community.

None of this information is new to those of us in the industry. But many senior living consumers and their adult children do not have the same understanding and perceptions regarding the nuances and operating differences between the various living arrangements, and many may not understand what they actually need. As a result, everything can be perceived to be competition, and selecting the right option can be confusing and challenging for them.

Savvy marketing personnel are working hard to communicate a unique market position for their communities in a way that clearly communicates the benefits of what they have to offer and how their operating philosophy is different and better than other communities. Mystery shopping the competition will provide the information and ammunition needed to develop your strategy and fine tune your sales and marketing program. You can be sure your competitors are doing the same.

Lynne Moore is president of MDS Research Co., a national senior living and healthcare consulting firm based in Fort Worth, TX, that has been serving clients for 48 years. MDS is a two-generation company; Lynne Moore is following in Jim Moore’s footsteps. She 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].

This column appeared as “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers” in the October 2022 print issue of McKnight’s Senior Living magazine.

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.

Have a column idea? See our submission guidelines here.