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Such a Crazy Idea It Might Actually Work

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By Steve Moran

I am having more fun than a person ought to reading Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue Ocean, for those who have yet to read the book, encourages brainstorming beyond the bounds of conventional thinking. For me, personally, it is stirring all kinds of crazy creative ideas about how to grow Senior Housing Forum as a business and more importantly to you, how senior living organizations can grow their business. This means at least two things:

  1. Ways to increase occupancy beyond your wildest expectations.

  2. New products or services that will not just help you beat the competition, but actually expand the size of the market.

Some Things We Know

Here are some things we know about our industry (and some tangential industries):

  1. Most people don’t want to move into senior living.

  2. Many people -- perhaps most -- move into senior living because they are “forced to” by family members and/or circumstances.

  3. Most people are shocked by how expensive senior living is.

  4. On average, residents live in senior living just 22 months.

  5. Long-term care insurance is a great idea but has failed to live up to its promise because -- by the time most people have started thinking about long-term care insurance -- it is frightfully expensive.

  6. The thinking behind long-term care insurance is to reduce the cost of long-term care to zero or close to zero.

  7. The funeral industry has figured out that it is possible to get people to think about their end of life earlier but allowing people to pay a few dollars per month or year and have the ability for family members to do the funeral they want without much of a financial burden.

  8. Almost every senior has the financial capacity to pay something.

My Crazy Cool Idea

Okay, here it goes. Maybe you are already getting the idea.

I think creating a prepaid senior living account could be a powerful way to create an evergreen prospect pipeline for your senior living organization. The idea would be that anyone could start a prepaid account at any age. The money would be allocated to a specific community or a specific organization. This could be a killer idea for Brookdale due to their national footprint. (This kind of thinking is why they should hire me as a consultant or put me on their board!)

Prospects could do this with a few dollars or a lot, depending on their financial capacity. The incentive to invest would look like this:

  1. The more they save, the lower their costs would be.

  2. They would get some kind of matching dollars from the company for every payment, maybe 20%. It would have to be vested over some time period, like a 401K. It would earn interest and grow.

  3. They would have the right to take out their principal if they did not move into your community, but they would not get the 20%.

  4. They might get a guaranteed pricing discount.

  5. They could be offered some immediate-use perks, like a meal at the community once a month or access to the fitness room or participation in activities.

What It Would Do

It would do so many cool things:

  1. It would tie them to your community or organization

  2. It would make senior living affordable to a new group of elders

  3. It would get people familiar with your community earlier

So . . . what do you think? 

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