Owning and managing a senior living community comes with its own set of challenges, and one critical aspect is maintaining occupancy. A thriving community not only ensures financial stability but also fosters a positive environment for residents and staff alike. In this blog, we will discuss 12 Oaks’ approach to turnaround a community to hit occupancy goals with three key strategies: renovate, refresh, and revive.
First Step Towards Improving Occupancy Goals
Before diving into the transformation process, it’s essential to assess the current state of the community. Analyzing occupancy rates and identifying areas for improvement are the first steps towards creating a successful plan of action. Understanding the reasons behind low census and potential challenges provides valuable insights for the next steps. Paul Wang, VP of Asset Management, explains that he partners with our Regional Vice Presidents and Regional Facilities Manager to really understand the near term needs and long term needs and goals of a community. Once identifying the needs and goals of each community, 12 Oaks develops a plan and proposals to present to ownership groups that may drive occupancy, rate, and ultimately value to the community and for ownership. 12 Oaks’ Regional Vice Presidents, VP of Asset Management, and Solutions Consultants are a major part of identifying these opportunities for growth.
Renovate: From Fresh Paint to Long-Term CapEx Investments
Renovations play a pivotal role in improving occupancy goals. Identifying these short-term and long-term goals is crucial for strategic planning. Immediate needs such as a new air conditioning unit or a new roof must be addressed promptly to ensure resident comfort and safety. The first impression that the building makes from a design and safety perspective can vastly improve how prospective residents and loved ones view the community’s potential. When they visit the community, they’re evaluating the building, and therefore, the community as a whole, while walking through the front door. Burnt out light bulbs, cobwebs, chipped paint, doors not aligned with door frames, and unkempt grass are simple fixes that get overlooked, but the lack of attention hurts the overall chances of a move-in based on the first impressions.
Lucas McCurdy, senior living general contractor and founder of The Bridge Group Construction, describes the power of renovation: “You only get one chance to make a first impression at your community which is why it’s so important to make updates if your ‘look’ is outdated. Updating with a renovation will help you in your efforts to raise lease-up rates and attract a great staff and stop losing prospects. The turn around at Wyndham Court of Plano is a great example of what can be done! All new finishes and a complete reimagine of outdated spaces have given it an award winning look for all to enjoy.”
Long-term goals could involve expanding the community by converting existing units to memory care apartments or adding new units to accommodate more residents. Our RVPs may study demographics and perform a demand study to see what the market demographic needs. Does the community need more two bedroom assisted living apartments or more one bedroom memory care options? The solution could be as direct as shifting marketing efforts towards a different demographic and renovating the community to accommodate those needs.
Refresh: How First Impressions Affect Occupancy
Refreshing a community involves training the community team members to build meaningful relationships and instilling the knowledge they are ambassadors of the community. 12 Oaks recognizes this and has developed a comprehensive “First Impressions” training (FIT) program that encompasses all staff members, from concierge to care staff, housekeepers to maintenance personnel. Deployed through 12 Oaks’ Solutions Team, the training emphasizes the importance of empathetic and compassionate interactions with prospective residents and their families. From answering the phone with sensitivity, to engaging in thoughtful conversations with residents, the focus is on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. These positive first impressions are not only crucial for initial move-ins, but also for generating word-of-mouth referrals, a powerful marketing tool in the senior living industry.
The Solutions Consultants play a crucial role in this transformation by instigating a paradigm shift in the executive and marketing directors’ mindset. Eilleen Aldridge, Vice President of Solutions, explains that instead of solely focusing on closing sales, they encourage a deeper understanding of the character and compassion that the community can offer to its residents. This shift in perspective ensures that the staff is genuinely invested in the well-being of the residents and goes beyond the typical sales pitch to form authentic connections.
One exemplary case study of how the Solutions team has successfully revitalized a community is seen in their work with WoodCreek Bend Memory Care in Katy, Texas. Rather than seeking quick fixes, the team took a deliberate approach, investing time and effort into building a cohesive and motivated team. The team’s growth was facilitated by incorporating the Symphony of Life program, Sherpa (rebranded as Aline), and FIT training. Through consistent training and support, the community experienced remarkable growth. In April, occupancy was 16.7%, by September it grew to 39.6%, and in January occupancy had reached 66.7%. This success showcases 12 Oaks’ dedication to understanding the power of habits and the significance of character and competency in fostering growth and transformation within their senior living communities.
Revive: Strategize Operational Goals
Reviving a community requires comprehensive strategies for budgeting, operations, and overall management. Analyzing the financial health of the community and implementing efficient operational practices can contribute to its revival. By optimizing expenditures the community can create a budget that allows for strategic investments in marketing, facility upgrades, and resident engagement initiatives to attract and retain residents. 12 Oaks’ RVPs evaluate and improve the day-to-day processes to ensure smooth and seamless operations. Our Solutions Consultants streamline administrative tasks, optimizing workflows, and implement technology solutions that can reduce operational inefficiencies, freeing up staff to focus on providing exceptional care and personalized services to residents.
Moreover, regular staff training and development programs can enhance the skill sets of employees, leading to better service delivery and increased resident satisfaction. A well-organized and efficient operation fosters a positive reputation, attracting potential residents and positively impacting lease-up rates.
Renovating, refreshing, and reviving communities are vital steps to achieve and surpass occupancy goals. By focusing on short-term needs, long-term growth, training, and operational efficiency, communities can create a thriving and welcoming environment that attracts new residents and retains existing ones. Allowing the transformation to unfold leads to a brighter and more prosperous future. Every small change can make a significant difference in creating a community that residents are proud to call home.
Contact 12 Oaks today to begin the process towards increasing occupancy goals to create a thriving community.