Sometimes education in business and life comes through learning from the experience and insights of others. If you are considering a senior living start-up, here are some valuable tips from Health Dimensions Group based on work we recently completed with a large real estate investment group.

Make sure your market study includes “boots on the ground.” With senior living occupancy falling 50 base points and assisted living at its lowest occupancy rates since 2009[i], it is imperative in today’s market that new construction or acquisitions happen in markets with demand for the product and services. Simply gathering competitive information from calls and online research isn’t enough. Your market research firm is going to run into salespeople who will spin or color the reality of the situation. Nothing is better than having a firm that visits and sees the competition, market, and proposed location. It may cost more up front, but the outcome is a much more accurate market assessment, and this affects the speed and ability to reach full census—which is your end goal.

Partner with an experienced operator who understands the needs of residents today and into the future. Working with a sophisticated operator is obvious to ensure smooth operations from concept through long-term management. However, you also want an operator who is looking to the future with the innovation necessary to maximize long-term viability. The seniors of today are a fluid and changing demographic and are not the same as the seniors of tomorrow. For example, technology wasn’t talked about much in senior living even a decade ago and now it is one of the top priorities with owners and investors. Find an operator who thoroughly understands the needs of your key customers.

Get your sales and marketing team on board early. Experienced sales and marketing personnel are a key component to your lease-up rates. If they are part of the team in the beginning, they can represent the voice of the customer from their experience to make sure your community meets the needs of the residents. It also ensures they have the in-depth knowledge needed to lease those units.

Health Dimensions Group is an experienced partner in senior living management and lease-up support for a variety of start-ups, from new constructions to mergers and acquisitions to turnaround projects. For more information on Health Dimensions Group’s services, check out, send us an email at, or call us at 763-537-5700.


Authored by Cindy C. Olson, Vice President, Consulting Business Development, Health Dimensions Group

[i] NIC MAP’s Second-Quarter 2017 Seniors Housing Data Release