senior living housing

How to Navigate the Roadblocks Facing a Senior Living Housing Manager

Working as a successful senior living housing manager has many challenges and roadblocks from marketing to management. How does one navigate these roadblocks to not only be successful at their job but also to make sure the assisted living community is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible? 

Keep reading for more tips on how to navigate the roadblocks most senior living housing managers face.  

Inspire Collaboration And Harmony Amongst Your Team 

The most important roadblock to overcome is a staff that doesn’t get along or communicates with each other properly. If your staff isn’t working collaboratively and harmoniously together, this is not only obvious, it ruins the efficiency of the home you’re running. 

If your executive directors are trying to accommodate all of the parietes by triangulating the working relationship between the owners, management company and themselves, this could end being counterproductive and not helping anyone. 

A way to remedy this is to understand the responsibilities of the owners but to also understand that it’s important the owners know their role, the on-staff site knows where they stand and so do the managers.

Lack of harmony and communication in a workplace usually comes from when a staff assumes something instead of knowing. Another issue could be that they don’t have a clear grasp of what is and isn’t required or expected of him or her to do as part of their job. 

When you’re managing your senior living staff, it’s your job to tie all these jobs together and keep harmony among these relationships. Of course, this is much easier said than done. Which is why a lot of owners don’t understand how to do this. 

This happens frequently when the project’s progress happens to be moving at a slower pace than anticipated. Or maybe the representatives are at the building every day, usually with good intentions, but often this creates tension and organizational confusion. 

This is why it’s key to constantly check in with your staff and make sure they’re happy and understand what their job entails. 

Understanding Staffing Challenges

It has been more difficult than ever before to hire and retain staff that is qualified.  Executive Director’s salaries are hitting six figures or better (plus incentives) there’s usually fierce competition for them at that level. Line staff, on the other hand, are incredibly hard to recruit and keep. 

This is because of the increased costs and benefits which make it hard to find a balance. If there is a shortage of employees who don’t feel like they are valued, they will go to your competitor for 25 cents more an hour. 

Which is why it’s so crucial to not only hire the right staff at every level but also to make sure your staff continues to feel appreciated and valued. 

Dealing With The Ever Changing Market 

A huge roadblock for any Senior Living or really any housing operator is adjusting to the ever-changing market as well as the marketing of the community. Usually, this can lead to a misunderstanding from any pre-marketing and if there is a need for pre-marketing. 

A lot of developers don’t think you need to start marketing your community any sooner than only a few months before you open. When actually pre-leasing periods are being shortened by a few months as of lately. You need at least a solid six to eight months of marketing before the living facility is open to efficiently get the words out. 

Most owners and sponsors will disagree, thinking the idea of senior living is actually needs to be driven. Meaning if a family has a need to put a loved one in senior living, and you built it they will come. 

But that’s actually not true. This Feild of Dreams mentality is a flawed logic when it comes to marketing your senior living home. 

How to Be Successful When Operating An Existing Senior Living Housing

You might be in a situation where you step in to manage an existing senior living housing facility. This can feel like a huge roadblock, especially when the staff is stuck in their ways. 

When you manage an existing senior living community, you should have a strong understanding of the market, you place in the market as well as the amenities, and services. You also want to have a realistic expectation of what are achievable rates, absorptions, and how much time is needed to stabilize everything. 

A lot of developers believe that absorption should be six to eight months of rent. While a lot of competitive markets are seeing two to four units a month being absorbed. This can lead to a conflict between the operators and the owners. 

It’s important for you to have an accurate and possibly conservative market study that you are constantly updating. Especially in any highly competitive markets, as many operators are offering incentives like discounted rents, waived community fees, rate locks on care and rent fees, as well as other incentives to attract potential residents. 

Usually the rate this is published, and also quoted in a market study, isn’t the rate that is being achieved in the market. Be aware of this as in turn this can give the developer a false expectation of what might happen.  

Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better 

Bigger is never better especially when it comes to senior housing. It’s very challenging to effectively manage and control all aspects of the community like culture engagement if you have portfolios with more than fifteen to twenty properties. 

So this means if you are managing 100 buildings, you would want to break that up into multiple divisions that are somewhat autonomous, so managers’ skills are matched to the proper portfolios they are managing.

This might not always be based on location, but instead specific needs or the life stage of the business, experience, and affinity. Meaning stabilized compared to start-ups, product types, or troubled projects. 

You’ll want these groups to follow the same rules, protocols, policies, procedures, and regulations. But also know the span of control and command will be hard to effectively maintain when you hit more the 20 buildings. 

Managing A Huge Portfolio of Communities

Of course, it is possible to manage a huge portfolio of communities. What you really want to consider is what is the most efficient organizationally. This includes your liability and possible profit to how these can all operate simultaneously. 

It essentially boils down to the span of control and is it more efficient for you financially if the properties were organized differently. While it is possible, senior living really shouldn’t be brand-able on a national scale. 

The best senior living communities tend to be local, with relationship-based and referral-driven business. Of course, a little branding won’t hurt, but it’s also expensive to build and make you a target for liability. 

Typically, admissions to assisted living and memory care homes tend to be made based on referrals, longevity, the community’s reputation, and the relationships with the onsite executive director the staff. Admissions are not brand based on a national level such as a restaurant, hotel or any other service industry. 

Some smaller regional operators may have success with a local or citywide brand. This would make sense if you have six or eight buildings in a metropolitan area. Here there are efficiencies that can be gained from marketing and public awareness of the community. 

Using The Right Technology 

Finally, it feels like technology is reaching a point where we are past the wow factor. Now that we have a better grasp and understanding of modern technology it’s easier to use it to make operations more efficient, promote better data, outcomes, and communication. 

A lot of the software this is being created for the senior living industry is basically adaptations of nursing or multi-family home software. The biggest complaints from vendors tend to be that they are selling and promoting an end to end solutions that are fully integrated or developed before it hits the market. 

Set-up times for these solutions tend to be expensive and ridiculous with possibly five models and only three of them effectively work as they were advertised.

There’s also the life safety side, emergency call, nurse call or other low voltage control systems that seem to be getting better, but nobody is creating an end-to-end solution that’s easy for your line staff to comprehend and operate. 

It seems like it’s improving but at the same time technology will look different in about ten years. Managers and caregivers have enough to do in a day to stop what they’re doing to figure out how to troubleshoot new technology and new software. 

It’s so important that this new technology is easy for your staff to use. If the technology is not easy to control or understand it will become a liability. 

Get Over Those Road Blocks Today

Now that you know how to overcome common roadblocks in your senior living housing, anything is possible. Start making these changes today for a better tomorrow. For more tips and resources on senior living housing check out our blog