How to take the final steps toward opening a new facility

In recent blog posts, we’ve been discussing the steps to completing a senior living facility building project. A successful project starts with a comprehensive building master plan. Once that plan is in place, it’s time to focus on market drivers to create your design. This design will then help you develop a budget to use when seeking funding.

Next, it’s time to begin the steps toward implementing your project. These steps include choosing your architecture and construction firms, planning your operations and staffing and marketing the facility.

Choosing architect and construction firms

Undertaking a building project—while exciting—is never easy. It’s often accompanied by the stress of hoping you make the right decisions while staying on budget and getting the project completed on time. To alleviate this stress, you need to feel confident that the architecture and construction firms you select have the right expertise and will be your partners from start to finish. By selecting a design/build firm, the process is streamlined, and your architect and construction partners work on the same team. This can benefit your project greatly by reducing costs and virtually eliminating the rework that is so common when working with multiple companies.

When choosing a design/build firm, consider the following:

  • Does the firm have experience designing senior living facilities? Senior living communities have unique requirements that are not necessary for other commercial construction projects.
  • Do the key project stakeholders have experience in senior care? Working with firms who know and understand your industry will streamline the design/build process.
  • Does the firm understand national, state and local code requirements?
  • Is the firm cost competitive? Ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when reviewing cost proposals from various firms. The lowest bid may not necessarily provide you the greatest value.
  • Is the firm completely transparent in its costs?
  • Does the firm use qualified local and regional trade contractors?
  • Does the firm have a high level of responsiveness after construction is complete?

In addition to asking these questions of the firm itself, it’s best to seek referrals and references from clients who have recently completed senior living facility projects. The insight of your cohorts in the industry will prove invaluable.

Operation and staffing considerations

Operational budgets

Once you’ve chosen a firm, you can turn your attention to the details of operating your new senior living facility. One of the most important considerations is developing a budget to cover costs both before and after you open your doors. Your pre-opening budget may include costs for:

  • Staffing and payroll
  • Insurance
  • Supplies
  • Marketing expenses (printed materials, website, etc.)
  • Membership dues
  • Staff education and travel
  • Accounting
  • Bank fees

If you already operate a senior living facility, you likely have a handle on the operating expenses needed to run the facility day to day. Make sure to take into account, though, that building a new and likely bigger facility translates into added costs for staff, utilities, property taxes and the like.

Staffing

Ideally, key staff should have input into your building’s design, so having them in place early will ensure the facility meets their needs. When determining the types and number of staff needed, keep in mind you’ll likely face challenges in finding qualified staff as you compete with other health care facilities. So, start recruiting early. You’ll also need to account for enough time to train new staff on your facility’s processes and procedures.

Marketing your senior living facility

Marketing your facility can begin even before ground is broken. Consider inviting and involving city officials, chamber of commerce representatives and others to join you in an official ground breaking ceremony. In smaller towns, local media generally cover the event, and your chamber of commerce may also be willing to promote your good news to supplement any marketing you are doing to build your census.

If needed, this is the time to enlist help from a marketing firm to develop your logo, tag line, business collateral (like business cards and letterhead) and other marketing materials.

Finally, when construction is complete, build in a day or two to offer tours of the new facility before residents move in. Hosting an open house and tours for your community is an economical way to not only tell your story, but to market yourself to potential future clients and generate referrals.

At Community Living Solutions, we walk you through every step of your building project—from concept to completion. If you’re planning a senior living facility project, contact us via email, or call 920-969-9344 to schedule a free introductory meeting.