C’mon Man … Show Some Respect!

Over the past decade, I’ve had success in building occupancy[i] with a focus on activities to demonstrate a superior senior lifestyle. It is encouraging to see more operators utilizing activities to convey LIFESTYLE CHOICE in their ads, but “C’mon Man”, we need to show more respect for our customers than is displayed in this direct mail piece:

“… we offer a lifestyle that allows you to focus on the fun things in life. You never have to worry about what to do today because there’s always something going on to keep you engaged. Join us today for one of our activities and stay for lunch. It’s on the house!

 

5 Things “NOT to Like” with this Marketing Technique

 

  1. This independent living ad targets prospective residents, and/or their families, who are ready to turn lifestyle management over to the facility. This “needs-based” approach has contributed to higher average-aged residents, older residents at move-in and shorter lengths of stay.   It has also led some experts to question whether the recent building boom in senior housing will create a supply that outpaces demand[ii], even with the influx of baby boomers into the “senior” classification.
    • We must promote independence with dignity and respect to meet the positive aging demands of newer, higher-functioning generations and attract adequate numbers of potential residents.

 

  1. This ad is synonymous with the “cruise ship on land” marketing concept that assumes “old folks” will be happy toCruise Ship on Land just sail off into the sunset and be happy as long as they get plenty of food and have something to entertain them between meals. Unfortunately, this is good intentions masking a form of benign ageism as identified by the MacArthur Foundation Study.[iii]
    • The dated “rest home” mentality was based on this principle that older adults no longer contribute to society and must be “cared for” in sheltered facilities at their end of life.

 

  1. Current and prospective residents have been responsible adults for most of their lives and don’t want to just have “fun” all day.   They lived an active and productive lifestyle BEFORE deciding to move into a senior living community and most desire to retain as much normalcy in their lives as possible.
  • Progressive Retirement Lifestyles (“PRL”) draws its scientific basis from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.   In order to continue satisfying the higher level needs – e.g. EGO – of older people, our senior living 3b Activitiescommunities must provide mental and physical challenges for their residents with a diverse array of activities. The “3 B’s”[iv] – Birthday, Bible and Bingo – simply won’t cut it anymore!
  • Our programs respect and foster the desires of many residents to continue “contributing” in some way – by helping others within the community, by volunteering and/or by providing service to others “less fortunate”.

 

  1. “Worry” is a natural part of living and most mature adults don’t want to be treated as though they can’t “act” or “think” for themselves. They don’t expect to just “sit back” and be treated like children with every minute of their day planned for them.
    • The PRL concept has proven successful by offering multiple daily lifestyle options, while allowing the residents to make their own independent choices.

 

  1. The only specific “activity” highlighted in the flyer was a “Chef Showcase: Waffle Bar”, which is more “demonstration cooking” than a true resident activity.
    • At best, this is a passive event with residents and other spectators being entertained by the Chef.   Although entertainment is an important ingredient, PRL emphasizes interactive lifestyles with active participation by the residents in activity programs.
    • Unless the “waffle bar” is available every week, there is a risk that current residents will complain that the activity is just a marketing ploy and NOT a lifestyle feature.
    • PRL is a combined operations and marketing approach that enhances operations first and THEN invites prospects to participate in on-going programs.

The PRL program was developed to adapt to the evolving market and promote additional demand by respecting the prior life achievements and recognizing the on-going capabilities of newer generations of seniors. PRL creates positive differentiation from the competition by providing and marketing a more robust lifestyle with a greater quality, quantity and variety of stimulating age-appropriate activities than was frequently the case in the past.

I am Art Carr, the creator of the unique Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program and welcome your comments. PLEASE POST YOUR OPINION about whether you agree or disagree with these observations and share this article with those who might appreciate it.

Please contact me at 615-414-5217 or via email at art@progressiveretirement.com to learn more about the exciting Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program and its potential to enhance operations and serve as the foundation for improved occupancy.

THANKS!

[i] This approach enabled me to build a regional census 6 points higher than the national average and lead the fill-up of several new buildings, as well as stimulating turnarounds of other under-performing communities.

[ii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-senior-housing-raises-concerns-supply-will-outpace-demand-from-baby-boomers-1439285401

[iii] See “Successful Aging” by John Rowe, M.D. and Robert Kahn, Ph.D, published by Masterpiece Alliance Foundation, Inc., 1998

[iv] With a thank you to Sara Elizabeth Hamm who first “coined” this phrase.

5 P’s of Leadership Success

COMING SOON

Recruiting a Core Group of PEOPLE to guide an enterprise from a small to mid-size company. An in-depth analysis of the CHARACTERISTICS of successful Core Group members that takes former Stanford professor Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” to the next level.
In the meantime, here are five other “P” words that contribute to leadership success:
PROFESSIONALISM: This is an intangible that people often use when describing my strengths and has definitely contributed to my past achievements. Certainly, certifications (e.g. CPA status) help, but the real key is in the attitude and controlled approach to business, including the ability to handle adversity.
PROFICIENCY: One of the “5 P’s” is PERFORMANCE and underlying the organization’s ability to achieve its objectives is the proficiency – skill sets – of its employees. A GREAT LEADER finds multiple and innovative ways to recognize and reward those skills and contributions.
PROGRESS: Every organization must either Progress or slip backwards as its competitors move ahead. I strongly encourage “Finding a Reason to Celebrate” since winning is contagious and the best way to insure continued success is by recognizing small achievements and then building on them.
PRIORITIZATION: Successful leaders learn to Prioritize their personal involvement to avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae and recognize that their focus will have a direct bearing on the achievement of corporate objectives. A key to boosting occupancy in a recent assignment was the establishment of a weekly conference call for an organization with significant census challenges that had monthly worker’s compensation calls, but no routine focus and accountability for census growth. In another situation, I learned that the nursing home staff stayed up all night before a visit by the President to make sure that all handof their vinyl floors were “spit-shined” because they knew he was a fanatic about shiny floors. Some might debate the importance of this “standard”, but the fact remains that the staff responds to whatever is emphasized by the leader – be it cost control, sales & marketing or physical plant. I also use the 5-finger concept to remind people that it’s a good idea to limit the objectives we want line managers to focus on every day to no more than five.
PERSPECTIVE: My observations are based on the “real world” and not an ivory-towered classroom. GREAT LEADERS seldom adopt any business model in toto because each industry and organization has their own key factors and nuances. Success comes from relating the information in this and other management and leadership articles to your unique situation (Relational Learning). Use what is applicable to your circumstances and then utilize your business instincts to modify the rest.

GOOD LUCK!

Progressive Retirement Lifestyles

INTRODUCTION

The “5 P’s of Leadership Success” have been established as the culmination of my personal analysis and management experiences in combination with research of a number of published texts regarding business culture, management styles and corporate success. Although developed in the senior living / healthcare industry, these winning Principles can be applied to most businesses.

Career Reflections:  Over the course of my career, I have made significant contributions to the success of a variety of different organizations in various stages of their development while fulfilling multiple and diverse roles. New start-ups, emerging enterprises, mid-size companies, and complex industry leaders have all benefited from my skills in developing business strategy, fostering growth and leading turnarounds. I’ve achieved major successes with executive level responsibilities in operational leadership, financial management, sales & marketing coordination, and corporate administration & support.  I’ve worked closely with entrepreneurs, professional business managers and Boards of Directors…

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5 P’s of Leadership Success

INTRODUCTION

The “5 P’s of Leadership Success” have been established as the culmination of my personal analysis and management experiences in combination with research of a number of published texts regarding business culture, management styles and corporate success. Although developed in the senior living / healthcare industry, these winning Principles can be applied to most businesses.

Career Reflections:  Over the course of my career, I have made significant contributions to the success of a variety of different organizations in various stages of their development while fulfilling multiple and diverse roles. New start-ups, emerging enterprises, mid-size companies, and complex industry leaders have all benefited from my skills in developing business strategy, fostering growth and leading turnarounds. I’ve achieved major successes with executive level responsibilities in operational leadership, financial management, sales & marketing coordination, and corporate administration & support.  I’ve worked closely with entrepreneurs, professional business managers and Boards of Directors of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  These positions close to the action have enabled me to analyze and observe what works and what needs improvement.

Star Symbol:  There are several reasons why I include a star in my branding initiatives.  First, a “star” is generally recognized by our society as someone who has achieved success in their specialty. In my Progressive operational Philosophy, each customer (resident in a senior living community) is provided star treatment as part of the customer/resident centric culture. Employees are recognized for their superior contributions with the Presentation of “Shining Star” awards.

I’ve found “five” to be a significant number with the 5 points of the star representing the major Points of a particular Program or Philosophy. That we were given 5 fingers on each hand and 5 toes on each foot goes beyond mere coincidence.  Five concepts are the limit of what most of us can remember and focus on at any given time.  In addition, successful leaders need 5 key people who believe in their concepts and Principles and can be trusted implicitly to support initiatives, implement changes and consistently Perform.

Finally, the star’s radiance showcases the underlying values and qualitative objectives of a given concept such as my Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program.

PEOPLE. A successful leader must surround her/himself with exceptional people.  Although certain basic and technical skills are needed, these individuals don’t all need to be Superman!  More important is a true Passion for what they are doing that leads to Pride in their work.  We all “get down” at times, but it’s very helpful if your 5 key people have a generally Positive attitude and outlook on life.  This helps give them the Perseverance to maintain focus on the company’s objectives as they face challenges and engage in Problem-solving.

PROCESS. Why do some highly skilled groups of people fall far short of expectations while others over-achieve?  Systematic leadership creates the road to success through an organized approach to management that insures that good people make consistently good decisions. Careful Planning and structuring is required to reach the best balance of empowering managers to make all the decisions they can, while providing adequate controls to prevent them from making a poor choice in a critical and irreversible situation.  Principles, Protocols, Policies and Procedures with adequate employee Preparation and training establish consistency and Predictability that are critical to building a brand that meets customer expectations.

PRODUCT. This should lead to an identifiable Product that can be marketed and sold at a specified price.  It is important that customers, as well as your own employees, understand exactly what you Promise to Provide to them → be it a specific service(s) or a tangible widget.  There is a growing trend in today’s high-tech world to shift this responsibility to the customer, saying “Tell me what you need and want and we’ll find a way to get it for you.”  Although this is often touted as a customer-centric approach, I’ve found more success by defining the basic and optional Programs and services.  The potential customer understands what is offered and finds it easier to evaluate differing options and make an informed buying decision.  For senior living, I brand my unique package of superior resident services as the Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program, providing clear differentiation from competitors.

PERSONALITY.  Every senior living community develops a unique Personality that drives its brand Perception and sales effort.  Prospective residents perceive the building’s atmosphere, staff behavior and the character and attitudes of in-house managers and sales people. Successful leaders balance this local influence with a consistent corporate branding message.  Unique building designs and standardized operating Practices with controlled marketing Promotions, advertising and Publicity[i] accomplish this.

PERFORMANCE. Every entity, whether designated as for-profit or not-for-profit, must generate revenues that exceed its operating costs. But, sustained success requires consistent achievement of multiple quantitative and qualitative metrics beyond just “making a Profit”. These may be external, industry specific comparisons (e.g. “on-time” Performance for airlines) or internal goals such as the Pursuit of Perfection in quality standards.  Finally, performance has to be measured against the Promises made to customers:  Did the company deliver everything it promised in its marketing?

Success is a complex process comprised of multiple factors, as indicated by the various capitalized “P” words in this introduction.  A leader must balance each of the 5 major categories to achieve long term success.

I welcome your comments and suggestions and encourage you to share your own leadership experience in utilizing these principles.

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[i] For a detailed discussion, read “McDonald’s – Behind the Arches” by John F. Love to learn how McDonald’s accomplished this for the fast-food industry, Bantam Books, 1986.