By Steve Moran
NIC was fantastic, lots of great networking, conversations and presentations. Connecting with old friends and making new ones. But it was kind of weirdly optimistic . . ..
By their very nature senior living owners, developers and operators are are optimistic folks. They see opportunity everywhere. Go to a senior living operator with a building that was just shaken off its foundation by an earthquake or a community that just had an Ebola outbreak that killed half the resident population and ask them if they are interested in trying to turn it around.
Most will have their interest piqued rather than run away in horror. Mostly though, they would ultimately walk away but they will first try to figure out how to make it work.
There is a general and I believe right belief that we are heading into a time of some frothiness where there are going to be some buildings that will experience a forced change of ownership because they are under performing. There is also a belief that some organizations will go out of business for the same reasons.
This is not so say there is a real fear that we are heading towards any kind of a disaster, but rather that being less than excellent will mean problems.
The weird part is the sense that . . .
“It is those other guys that are in trouble or will be in trouble, but not me.”
“There are markets that are over-developed but not the markets where I am developing or operating.”
“Organizations need to very careful picking sites in overbuilt markets, but my sites have great demographics so my projects will do great.”
There are two other factors that may play into the optimism:
At the last two or three . . . maybe four NIC conferences there has been quite a bit of attention paid to skilled nursing, which is packed full of uncertainty with scary occupancy levels and a high degree of uncertainty with respect to funding.
NIC is in this leadership transition from Bob Kramer to Brian Jurutka, which means a new chapter for NIC, Bob and Brian. I am struggling to write this second point for fear it would sound like I am implying something negative about Bob, because that would be 100% wrong. Rather what I am saying is that new beginnings always are, by their very nature, fun and exciting and carry a strong sense of anticipation . . . a kind of “I can’t wait to see what lies on the other side of the mountain.”
A Maturing Industry
Underlying all of this is a sense that we are an industry that continues to be highly fragmented (many operators with a few communities) but that we are maturing . . . getting more sophisticated.
If this NIC was weirdly optimistic, I am a big part a part of that. I, too, am weirdly optimistic. We have come so far and we are in the early phase of some fantastic new chapters that will be exciting, chapters that will serve residents, family members and teams in even better ways.