Senior Living Consulting
Our senior living consulting clients include continuing care retirement communities (CCRC’s), active adult communities, independent living communities, senior rental properties, assisted living, skilled nursing care facilities, as well as Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities. We work with our clients to understand the market forces transforming the senior living industry.
Our work has provided our clients with critical market analysis, as well as the marketing and development services they need to effectively compete in this complex industry. Our clients include organizations operating single and multi-site communities.
Senior Living Consulting Success Stories:
Challenge: The CEO and senior executives of one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organizations needed information for making critical decisions and prioritizing the master-planning efforts for 12 of their campuses which were located throughout the United States. They also needed objective insight and recommendations on how to resolve critical issues at several distressed properties.
JCS Solution: We conducted a comprehensive market evaluation to assess the current market position of each location, conducted a detailed competitor analysis, as well as a detailed demographic assessment of the market potential for the various service levels to be offered. We provided additional consultation to management as they worked through many of the issues and recommendations for change identified during our research.
Results: The CEO of this widely regarded industry leader has described our consulting work as “vital” to their strategic planning efforts. They have subsequently invested well over $200 million to implement our recommendations.
Challenge: The Board of Directors of a 20-year old, nationally accredited continuing care retirement community in Ohio needed to understand the reasons why a recent $20 million expansion of the independent living portion of their 150-acre campus was not filling. This CCRC was one of the premier senior housing providers in their major metropolitan market.
JCS Solution: We performed a strategic market analysis to provide critical insight into the changing competitive environment and an assessment of how well they were positioned to compete effectively within this changing marketplace. We reviewed their pricing strategies, area real estate market conditions and the changing economics of area retirees. Our engagement also included the facilitation of a strategic planning retreat involving the organization’s board and senior management, as well as the completion of a comprehensive marketing audit to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing staff and to review their operational focus and promotional tactics.
Results: Several of our key recommendations resulted in a complete turnaround of this organization within less than 6 months. The board chair has referred to our consulting work as being “extraordinary.” We have subsequently been retained by this client for multiple additional senior living consulting engagements.
Challenge: A troubled 42-acre Illinois-based lifecare retirement community was acquired by an experienced senior housing operator. The more than 360 independent living units of the campus had never enjoyed full occupancy in its 15-year history. Campus marketing staff blamed the occupancy issues on financial challenges the campus had experienced nearly a decade earlier. Management needed to turn the situation around and wanted to know what the real reasons were for the inability of the campus to fill. To complicate matters, management had recently acquired 30 acres of property adjacent to the campus for development of town home units.
JCS Solution: Our extensive research determined that the previous financial difficulties were only a problem in the mind of the campus marketing staff. We found the units were not filling due to the undesirability of the unit size in comparison to newer competitive options available. We also found the highly bundled and extensive service package made the independent living units less appealing to a healthier and more active senior. We uncovered that the true market area draw of the unit sales were from a much narrower market area than anyone realized. Our analysis of the market penetration required to fill the units from within the highly competitive marketplace found that it would be impossible to fill the campus units unless more effective marketing efforts were employed to attract residents from a slightly broader geographic area. Our review determined this was possible and reasonable. We provided the client with detailed recommendations and opportunities that could be implemented to expand their market area and we had individual coaching sessions with the marketing director to help her increase her understanding of how to truly capitalize on these opportunities. We also conducted a market opportunity analysis for the proposed town home units and made recommendations regarding pricing, unit sizing and amenities.
Results: Our recommended changes to the service package made the campus more appealing and aggressive renovations and combining of smaller units to make larger units made the campus much more competitive within their local market. The marketing efforts of the campus were redesigned based on our recommendations. The independent living units and the new 30-acre town home development were effectively marketed and have filled.
Challenge: A client was developing a 27-acre continuing care retirement community in Colorado. The independent living component of this CCRC was already in pre-sale. Restrictions imposed by the State of Colorado on the development of nursing home beds created an urgent need for management to re-evaluate their development sequence and consider if the skilled nursing and assisted living components of the project should be developed sooner than they had planned.
JCS Solution: We interviewed local health care and human services professionals to identify market needs for specific levels of care, referral patterns, competition strengths and weaknesses, market expansion plans, as well as critical success factors for the proposed development. We obtained and reviewed historical state nursing home use rates as compiled by the State of Colorado to determine significant trends. We analyzed area demographic data to identify target markets to be served, expected changes in market potential for assisted living and skilled nursing home beds, as well as a review of the opportunities for sub-acute and Alzheimer’s care services.
Results: Our detailed market information we obtained for them allowed management to make their decisions regarding the staging of the campus development. Today the campus is a well-established provider offering a full continuum of care.
Challenge: A 75-year old long-term care provider affiliated with a fraternal organization had focused on providing skilled nursing and board and care services. The 80-acre campus was undergoing a major expansion and renovation to begin offering a full continuum of care. The development was not only resizing the mix of current services on the campus, but was adding a number of new service options. These new options included development of a transitional care unit, a dementia unit, assisted living apartments, cluster homes, a clinic and a town center. The new services and units were coming on-line at the same time and the organization was stressed because of the turmoil of construction, as well as the stress of trying to define the services that were outside their traditional care model. Staff was extremely inexperienced in marketing and promotional efforts because they had historically been able to rely on referrals from the fraternal organization with which they were affiliated.
JCS Solution: We worked with staff to prioritize the critical issues. We refined the new services to be offered, provided a detailed analysis of market opportunities, developed the concept introduction strategies and coordinated staff activities to implement the plan. We determined the specific actions to be undertaken to build a base of support for the project expansion from the client’s primary referral sources, local health care community, and to build stronger relationships with the surrounding neighborhood. We developed an integrated marketing plan that focused resources (staff, time, and money) and coordinated the opening. We ensured that the plans were consistent with the organization’s overall master plan, mission and strategic vision. We developed strategies to preserve and maintain its core affinity-based target market while expanding its local customer base.
Results: Our client achieved accelerated market acceptance of all their new services and attained their business goals well ahead of schedule. We were subsequently retained to develop a marketing plan to help them recruit more than 70 new employees to service this major expansion. Today, this campus houses approximately 450 residents in independent living, assisted living, as well as board and care and 24-hour skilled nursing areas.
Challenge: The owners of a Michigan-based existing 82-unit assisted living facility were in pre-sales to add 185 independent living units on its 30-acre campus to eventually create a full continuing care retirement community. Initial pre-sales of the new units of this CCRC had used a significantly lower price structure than what was now being presented to the market. Resistance to the new prices was strong and only 2 units had been sold since the price increase. Management needed to determine why pre-sales were stalled. They also needed a study to submit to the State to obtain technical approval for the independent living development to allow this portion of the project to move forward.
JCS Solution: Despite having a positive reputation, our research determined the local community still viewed the campus as being “assisted living.” This was due in part to a blurred understanding in the community of what independent living actually meant because competitive independent living facilities within the market area were actually functioning more like assisted living. We also learned campus marketing staff had been ineffective in communicating with prospects about the lifestyle and amenities that would be enjoyed in the independent living component of their campus or in how it would differ from what the market expected. We reviewed the various promotional options used by marketing staff and suggested that the budget be redeployed from television advertising to efforts that had a better ability to generate qualified leads. Our competitive review also uncovered significant challenges created by the campus’ bundled pricing option in comparison to what successful local independent living operators were selling in this market. We recommended that the units be developed in a two-phase process to minimize the market risk for the project.
Results: The State of Michigan approved the project and the new independent living units were constructed. The marketing director was replaced, a more effective marketing effort focusing on independent living was successfully implemented and a more competitive pricing structure was developed.
Challenge: A Colorado-based developer was considering developing an active adult housing development in New Mexico. They needed information to assist them in their master planning process and to determine if their revenue projections were realistic given the reality of the local market.
JCS Solution: We researched the availability of other competitive alternatives to meet the housing needs of age 55+ empty nesters. We provided our client with insight into the size of units to be offered and analyzed the market potential for the development considering various price points. We obtained information about this New Mexico community’s reputation as a destination retirement community for seniors from across the nation. We provided numerous recommendations on how to develop a campus that would appeal to this market segment.
Results: The client was able to assess the viability of their initial development plan and reassessed their projected profitability in light of the new market information we obtained for them.