Areas of Concentrated Examination
As mentioned in the preceding blog, only an extremely low price will move a misfit product, so it is imperative that you consider multiple disciplines during design. Whether you are contemplating upgrades to existing homes, or construction of new floorplans and product types for expansion or development of a greenfield, the same topics require study from different perspectives, or standpoints. These topics include:
- Finishes, from materials to colors to style
- Creating a unique selling proposition
Let’s conduct a sample review using each of these areas from the standpoint of competitiveness.
STANDPOINT: External Competition
Will this product be competitive with other offerings in your primary market?
Size: Are the sizes of your residences competitive with other communities in the area? If competitors offer more “right-sized” homes for the demographic, you may consider how to adjust your own plans in order to be more appealing to clientele. For numerous older communities, the once-popular studio now has the appeal of a ham sandwich at a vegetarian convention. Consider re-purposing such residences as storage areas and guest rooms, or combining them with an adjacent apartment to create larger accommodations. Should you consider renovation, or is land available to create a larger home to adjust to the changing desires of the market place?
Configuration: Are your homes configured to compete against local competitors? Whatever the competition offers, you must meet or exceed that baseline. You may find others offering open floor plans, walk-in closets, dens, en suite washer/dryers, or other intriguing physical amenities. Are you able to re-configure current space to accommodate the latest trends and desires? If space is not available for a walk-in closet, consider a planned closet system such as California closets.
Finishes: Again, observe the competition. Take note of the homes prospects or their adult children currently reside in to ascertain their preferred finishes. Removing a few walls and replacing countertops, back splashes and floor coverings are quick ways to freshen up a tired-looking accommodation.
Sustainability: Do you have adequate capital to elevate each new home opened by attrition to the same finish level each time it is vacated? Are you installing finishes that your environmental services team can maintain in the time available? Does the product have longevity – will it endure over time?
Innovation: Is your design fresh, or is it a lava lamp? In other words, is it so trendy that it will date your product, creating a short shelf life? Also, what will you do if your competition innovates simply by introducing a line your community does not offer, such as apartments, cottages, attached housing, duplexes, villas or other emerging multi-family arrangements?
Unique Selling Proposition: Be careful that you are not just playing catch-up only to arrive at today’s standards that will be outdated by next year. Consider what is being offered now but consider the emerging trends that will make your homes look innovative and new. By doing so, you often create an opportunity for a unique selling proposition. If your product is new and innovative, it can distinguish itself from the other senior living options in the area.
The above exercise should be conducted for each perspective below.
- Resident Personas: Does the product appeal to the personas your community is attempting to attract as residents?
- Do you want to appeal to a particular age group (older or younger), or persons with a specific service need (memory support, rehab, supported living, etc.)?
- Do you want to appeal to baby boomers or another specific interest group?
- Influencer Personas: Does it appeal to influencers of prospective residents?
- Does your product appeal to both your prospect and the adult child who may influence the decision?
- Internal Competition: How does this product fit with internal products already in existence within my community?
- Are there existing residences within your community that will cannibalize your prospect list, making it difficult to sell new product? Be sure to examine both the product and the price.
Careful consideration through differing perspectives will guide you toward the correct product choice. A healthy yearly review will prevent your community from becoming noncompetitive in a fast-progressing senior living marketplace.
Next week’s blog will examine services and amenities.
Read our Back to the Basics Blog.
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