Senior Living’s Greatest Competition
When most people think of the greatest competition for a seniors housing community, they think of the impressive new development being constructed down the street or a community nearby undergoing a large renovation project. However, this is inaccurate. The greatest competition for any seniors housing community is a residents’ own home. Seniors housing is still one of the only products where most of the end-users still don’t want to use the product, but are asked and suggested to use it by family and friends.
So, how do we change the negative image within the industry? How do we make seniors housing a preferred destination? The first part is changing the terminology. I cringe when I hear someone say A-L-F, or ALF. Facility, is the ugly F-word within the industry. When I think of a ‘facility,’ I think of long hallways with white paint, fluorescent lighting, and hospital beds. If you’ve toured a seniors housing community built within the past two to three decades, you know this is an inaccurate image. Replacing the word ‘facility’ with ‘community’ or ‘residence,’ is the first part in enhancing the image and overall brand of seniors housing.
Next, is implementing thoughtful programming that creates a new and upgraded lifestyle for the resident. Unfortunately, studies show that residents still spend the majority of their time within their unit. This is no different than the residents’ own home, except for a much smaller living space. To make seniors housing a preferred destination, we must provide something their home cannot provide. This includes new connections and enhanced socialization and activities. New lifestyle programming now includes cooking classes, fitness classes, yoga, wine tasting, dancing lessons, and educational courses. We need to think beyond bingo and bridge.
Overall, the industry has made great strides over the past few decades in enhancing the seniors housing image. However, there is still so much more we can do. With improved technology, a potential senior resident can now safely live in their home longer than ever before. To make seniors housing a preferred destination, we must first change the brand terminology, and then create a lifestyle upgrade that will be shared with family and friends. Positive word-of-mouth advertising is still the most powerful marketing tool a seniors housing community can implement.
Scott McCorvie leverages 20 years of senior living real estate investment, development, and operations experience to help improve a rapidly changing and growing market.