Upsurge of Ownership by Professionals in Assisted Living - Are There Special Considerations?

A uniquely high number of professional people, i.e. physicians, nurses, social workers, accountants, engineers, educators and law enforcement executives are entering into the assisted living business as owners. These statistics come from the professionals whom they hire to guide their entry into the business.

Of course, most are not leaving their careers immediately, and many more are planning for their retirement thereby working to create reliable income streams to help maintain a lifestyle after leaving the rat race. Such plans are both workable and admirable. After all businesses that serve the care needs of humans - in some fashion or another - will always be around.

Certain professionals bring a unique blend of organizational, strategic planning, clinical, financial and business experience to a field of business operation where many owners have no professional experience or credential at all. The blend created can be a real boon to an industry which could use more credibility and professional competence.

Of course barriers, or shall we say challenges, exist in every business endeavor. Mindset is often at the core of them all.

For example, a physician may have received numerous accolades for certain accomplishments in his/her field and the very completion of medical school is worth lauding and gives many significant feelings of self-worth.

However, when entering a new business venture when there is much to learn, that medical or superior business education or even past successes in other business models may be viewed rather insignificantly - including by regulatory personnel - who insist you comply with applicable State administrative rules regardless of your alternative thinking. Of course it takes a healthy dose of self-awareness, modesty and humility to position oneself for continued learning.

When hiring a technical advisor/consultant there is also a need to be open-minded when offered advice. Some of the advice may not represent the road you choose to take but be careful dismissing it all without ample thought and research.

Direct care staff are the backbone of the care business, in both in-home delivered services and in assisted living environments. While most of them will not aspire to possess or maintain the business acumen you display and may not have a vocabulary that rivals your wide ranging one, dealing with them condescendingly or heavy-handedly will serve no valuable purpose.

Investing in the appropriate staff development and then providing assistance to help direct care staff comply with the expectations of the business and regulators is the most effective approach. Clear and concise personnel guidelines should govern the work environment and a healthy dose of personal interest, compassion and relationship balance should color the relationship between management and direct care personnel.

Lastly, there is the need to respect the power and logic of investment into progressive, strategically planned and organized marketing and advertising. Most demographics are rather crowded with providers of care in different categories. The winners are obviously going to be those who excel with exceptional services but even these have to tell the world you exist and what sets you apart.

Providers should make healthy, liberal and authorized usage of testimonials, web presence, professional photography and well planned outreach to educate the buying public about what you do and what sets you apart. Newsletters, webcasts, postcards, live presentations, door-to-door information delivery and gathering should all be a part of the process. Professionally designed corporate identities must never be viewed as optional.

Physicians beware. You may have built your practice via referrals from an affiliated hospital but your new assisted living business will not normally work that way. Refusing to invest in the right outreach will scar your efforts and likely cause your investment to become nothing more than a "write-off".

With us please applaud the entry of professionals into the arena of community based care. Let's just be sure those entering acknowledge, address and prepare for the challenges in order to heighten your chances for success.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

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