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SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH MASTERPIECE LIVING’S DR. DAVID GOBBLE

Masterpiece Living’s Dr. David Gobble took time during last month’s Greystone Management Symposium to share about healthy aging, new discoveries and the future of active senior living. Greystone has partnered with and utilized Masterpiece Living as part of its management services at a number of continuing care retirement communities. Current Greystone team members were involved in the early development of Masterpiece Living nearly 15 years ago.

View the interview with Dr. Gobble in the video player below.

Read more from Greystone’s Management Symposium. 

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Expert on Senior Marketing Speaks at Sales Adventure

David Weigelt, co-founder of Immersion Active, spoke to attendees at the 2013 Greystone Sales Adventure, held last month in Dallas, Texas. Immersion Active is a digital marketing agency that focuses specifically on consumers 50 and older. We’ve pulled out five abridged excerpts from David’s hour-long presentation and shared them below.

David on boomers and their online activity: 
Certainly if you’re sitting in this room, you know the power of the 50-plus consumer. Boomers and seniors make up the largest and fastest growing constituency online. Some of you may not be aware that boomers, once referred to as the television generation, now spend more time online than many of you. There’s a variety of reasons for that, including tablets, but the ultimate measure of engagement that I’m pretty sure most of you won’t be familiar with is that boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis. And this is data since the economic downturn. This all sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? And it begs the question: Why wouldn’t we want to market online? And it begs the question: If this is the case, why aren’t more companies, brands and communities like yours realizing great success in their online marketing efforts?

David on differentiating your product: 
Over time the marketing industry has ultimately gotten to the point where it seems like your job is to brainwash people, to hypnotize them into this sea of sameness. And, by the way, I saw this in the senior living space. No reflection on any organization here, but there was a lot of sameness in the marketing materials. That was a little disturbing to me, but this isn’t just your industry — this is across the board. And ultimately we’ve gotten to a point where any sort of commercial communication is seen as spam — especially by boomers. The reality is that boomers, more so than any generation before or after them, will go out of their way to avoid your advertising. Everybody in this room has a challenge on their hands.

David on meeting consumers’ needs: 
The brand that can show its prospects that it meets as many of their needs as possible wins. The example I like to give here is Southwest Airlines. At the end of the day, it’s a crazy industry. It’s actually a horrible business. Little known fact: The aviation industry, if you put all the companies together, has never made a dime. But Southwest, if you look at single companies, is one that stands out as consistently profitable. Whatever you think of them, know they’re doing something right. What they got from Herb Kelleher on an intuitive level is this whole needs-based approach. What you might notice when you look at their communication touchpoints, they understand how their brand needs a purpose. They understand how their brand needs relation. They understand how their brand needs energy and satisfies energy requirements. And for this reason, the fact that it’s more than getting people from point A to point B, they’re able to put these Trailways buses in the sky and charge us money and make a nice profit.

David on best practices for engaging seniors: 
With technology, we can now image the brain, and science has found out something very interesting: When we go through the first half of life to the second half of life, we go from being left or right brain thinkers to being whole brain thinkers. What this means for us as marketers and salespeople is that it’s even more important that we are engaging prospects on an emotional level first. A lot of marketers think you want bullet points and to get right to the facts — we disagree with that. There are several ways you can do this. Market oversized photos. Use your headlines and copy to trigger the senses. This will trigger a physiological response and get their attention. In the old days of direct mail, they said you had 3 to 5 seconds before someone either threw it in the trash or opened it. With the web and older consumers, you have less than a second. So this is really important stuff.

David on social media: 
I really love social networking, but we need to be really careful not chase the shiny object. Pinterest is a good example; just the latest example, though. Several years ago I spoke at an annual convention, and I remember getting on stage and saying, “If MySpace was a country, it would be the fifth largest country.” And a year later, I was on stage having to explain that MySpace is kind of gone now, but now it’s Facebook: “If Facebook was a country, it’d be the third largest country.” Pinterest is the new one. It’s very popular with female boomers, leading-edge boomers, especially on tablets. There are a whole lot of reasons to love Pinterest, and there are a whole lot of cool things you can do. But we need to be careful, even if we’re disciplined with posting on the major social media sites, because we’re never going to be able to keep up with all of them. And so, once again, I would suggest we just take a step back and look at the numbers and understand the reality and make sure we’re weaving those in appropriately. My biggest point here would be: Don’t forget the email. Now is the time to get serious about email. There are tools available that make it possible for you to really leverage email. And just because you don’t like unsolicited email doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective depending on how you go about it.

See photos from Sales Adventure.

Read an excerpt from David’s book by clicking the image below.

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WORKER APPRECIATION AT THE TERRACES AT BONITA SPRINGS

On April 24, SantaFe Senior Living held a Worker Appreciation Lunch at The Terraces at Bonita Springs, an in-development continuing care retirement community in Bonita Springs, Fla. SantaFe Senior Living President Troy Hart, The Terraces Executive Director Ross Dickmann and Lend Lease Project Executive Jeff Robertson all spoke to the more than 400 workers on hand and thanked them for the high-quality work being done on the project. Greystone is serving as the senior living development consultant on The Terraces at Bonita Springs.

See photos from Worker Appreciation Day in the gallery below. See exterior and interior shots of the community toward the end of the gallery. Learn more about The Terraces at Bonita Springs.

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SALES ADVENTURE SUCCESS: MORE THAN 130 PARTICIPATE

Marketing teams representing more than 30 continuing care retirement communities gathered last month for the 32nd Annual Greystone Sales Adventure, held in Dallas, Texas. Sales Adventure includes general sessions, breakout meetings and an awards dinner and celebration. This year’s sessions addressed online engagement, refreshing presentations, health services marketing, best practices, industry updates and more.

See photos of the 32nd Annual Greystone Sales Adventure in the gallery below. Check back soon for more content from Sales Adventure sessions.

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LATE SUMMER PHASE III COMPLETION AT EDGEWOOD SUMMIT

Edgewood Summit remains on track for an August completion to its new health center. This Phase III development will add 18 memory support units and 20 skilled nursing beds to the senior living community, located in Charleston, W.Va. The addition is now weatherproofed, and crews are installing interior drywall.

Edgewood Summit’s Phases I and II include a total of 127 independent living and 40 assisted living units. The addition of new memory support units and skilled nursing beds will complete Edgewood Summit’s continuum of care.

See photos of recent construction in the gallery below. Compare these photos to our Phase III construction update from February.

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GREYSTONE INSIGHTS: THE SEARCH FOR SENIOR LIVING LAND

The tract is perfectly sized and undeveloped, inside the city limits and adjacent to a beautiful neighborhood. The market is ripe with age- and income-qualified senior households. The configuration allows for short walking distances for residents, and the parcel can easily accommodate multiple future phases. The competition is older and passive. The seller is community-minded and likes what you propose.

Environmental and drainage issues are absent. Utilities are affordable and accessible. Zoning is preferential. Gently rolling topography makes for an interesting though not overly challenging development. Nearby services include all the “desirables”: grocery stores, places of worship, nice homes, and quality primary health care.

When it comes to senior living development, this would make a magnificent home for a quality CCRC — if only it were a reality. Unfortunately, in the real world the perfect plot of land rarely exists, if ever. The key is finding the best possible site. Just where does one begin?

Land is still cheap, right? 

Everyone remembers September 2008: the bursting of the housing bubble, the freezing of capital markets, the sharp decline in new development. At that time, nearly five years ago, standing pat seemed like a good strategy. “Why risk anything,” was the mantra in this uncertain economic environment.

Senior living wasn’t the only sector hit hard by the Great Recession — multi-family housing, office parks, strip centers, residential subdivisions, new homes and resale homes all suffered mightily. In fact, statistics show that senior housing as a category of real estate was actually one of the better performers during this time.

Cities also took a blow. In 2007, many were stiff-necked when it came to zoning changes. Today, those same cities are more welcoming, receptive and flexible than ever. They are willing to work with developers on denser and more intense projects, collaborating to encourage new construction and create tax revenue and jobs.
The result: Competition for prime sites is up.

End users, senior living and otherwise, are moving off the sidelines and starting to bid up land values. This is especially true for infill locations, which lenders and investors see as having a greater chance for success, thus making them more desirable. All of this increased activity has started to reset land values toward pre-Great Recession levels. Prices and competition will most likely continue to rise.

The Site Selection Process 

The path to a perfect site begins with the definition of parameters. Where is your market? Who is your competition? What sites are available? These questions and others drive the process.

A market analysis is the initial step. A dot density demographic map can demonstrate the depth of a market’s age- and income-qualified households, as well as geographic concentrations of those senior households. The level of competition must also be determined. Who else offers similar services? How do they offer them? What is the cost? This market analysis should also address local services, traffic patterns, entitlement processes and development climate. The result of this first step is a defined “search box” that narrows geographically the area for site identification.
The second step is the identification of sites that meet the search criteria. Information must be gathered from real estate databases and listing services. Additionally, local commercial brokers can provide knowledge of both on- and off-market sites. These brokers provide insight into the local market and its unique set of conditions. Aerial map analysis can be used to further uncover sites. These off-market sites may be vacant or occupied by an underperforming asset. “It’s time to pick up the phone and go fishing,” says a land broker familiar with the CCRC site-search world.

Think of the third step like a funnel: All sites identified within the search box go into the large end of the funnel; a number of filters are then applied to these sites, narrowing down the selection to a few at the small end of the funnel. These select few deserve more stringent analysis and more thorough consideration. Some of the filters applied include: location analysis, asking price, transaction terms, zoning, marketing window/adjacencies, proximity to services, size and shape, access, utility availability/capacity, drainage, topography and environmental issues.

While it would be ideal if one site that fit every parameter magically popped out of our search funnel, the more likely scenario is that two or three sites will meet about 80 percent of the criteria and require more vetting. This is where the art and science of site selection converges with market dynamics.

Making the Offer 

Once the initial sites are analyzed, letters of intent (LOI) are prepared for the final one or two candidates. It’s always best to claim negotiating strength by letting the seller know there are alternatives. The nonbinding LOI will state the basic business terms for the acquisition of the preferred site. But how much should you offer? Of course, buyers in any industry are seeking value, and the nonprofit CCRC industry is no different. Determining an appropriate offer price isn’t always an exact exercise, though. Knowing what you can afford to pay and “market value” is an important piece of the puzzle.

In many markets, a distinct lack of timely comparable properties creates challenges in developing a price. Frequently, available comparable properties are outdated or incomplete. The improving economy and development environment may also lead to volatility of land prices in some markets. Further creating confusion, some properties are marketed on a price-per-square-foot basis, while others are price-per-door. This differentiation often varies by seller, density and zoning climate of municipality. Small, infill sites can experience larger price-per-foot swings than sprawling, suburban sites. Another factor to consider when comparing sites in varying municipalities is how those municipalities calculate the density of health care units. A general rule of thumb is four health care units equal one independent living unit. Be sure to check land density regulations for the proposed site chosen.

Feasibility 

Once the parties have agreed to the price and terms stated in the LOI, negotiation of a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) is next. This phase usually includes the introduction of attorneys into the process. A healthy due diligence and feasibility period is included as part of the PSA. These activities, to be conducted at the expense of the buyer, are necessary to confirm if the site is physically and economically suitable for a CCRC. Some of the more critical steps in this “look-see” period include: environmental assessment, geotechnical (soils) studies, traffic studies, zoning/land use evaluation, engineering studies, flood plain analyses and the verification of utility capacity. If any of these fail to meet the buyer criteria, the PSA can be withdrawn and typically the buyer recovers 100 percent of all monies tendered. If the site requires rezoning, the purchaser must analyze the best approach and ensure that the entitlements necessary to allow the planned project are reasonably obtainable. Often the seller must be the zoning change petitioner, so the closing has not yet taken place. This cooperation is written into the PSA.

Decision Time 

While a buyer may start by searching for the perfect site, they often encounter many suitable sites. The search process should end with the purchase of the best available site — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Inaction and holding out for perfection may lead to missed opportunities. In today’s market, the ability to move quickly makes all the difference.

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PHASE V: GROWTH CONTINUES AT REDSTONE VILLAGE

Just months after opening its fourth phase, progress continues on Phase V at Redstone Village, a continuing care retirement community in Huntsville, Ala. Redstone is improving its senior living options with an expansion of its skilled nursing community and the renovation of its skilled nursing dining room. This expansion should be complete in August and the renovation complete by the end of the year.

Fite Building Company, the project’s general contractor, has achieved significant construction on the expansion and is currently installing drywall. See photos of construction in the gallery below. See a gallery of Redstone’s completed Phase IV expansion.

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WORK CONTINUES ON REDEVELOPMENT AT LOS ALTOS

New photos show progress at The Terraces at Los Altos, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) sponsored by American Baptist Homes of the West. The Terraces provides quality senior living on its 6.3-acre campus in Los Altos, Calif. Once the $71 million redevelopment project is complete, the community will include 105 independent living units, 30 assisted living units, 16 memory support suites and 30 skilled nursing beds.

Catch a glimpse of construction at The Terraces at Los Altos in the gallery below.See renderings of what the community will look like upon completion.