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Strategic Planning: 4 Principles to Success


Follow the direction of progressive senior living leaders

Having a plan for the future. It’s a mantra in senior living. The question is, how well and regularly do community leaders, boards of directors and ownership groups conduct strategic planning? Here are 4 principles to success that all progressive senior living leaders follow when positioning a community for future success.

What to Plan For and Why

At Life Care Services, An LCS Company, we see a number of factors causing community leadership to focus more on strategic planning. Among those:

  • New competition
  • Regulatory and compliance changes
  • Health care reform and decreasing reimbursement
  • Shorter lengths of stay with higher acuity
  • A healthier, yet still volatile, economy
  • Staffing challenges and shortages
  • Aging communities and renovation needs
  • Rapidly changing technology
  • Changing consumer habits and demographics

LeadingAge ranks top concerns of not-for-profit aging services providers. Responding to these changes means your community’s strategic plan should be updated, modified, or at least revisited every 3 to 5 years. The challenging reality is that many not-for-profit Life Plan Communities don’t even have a current strategic plan in place.

Getting Started: 4 Principles to Success

The most successful community leaders, senior living boards and ownership groups properly balance attention on the past, present and future. It’s important to analyze and build on past performance, and of course maintain focus on day-to-day operations, satisfaction and net operating income. If you get too caught up in the present and don’t plan ahead, the chances of you falling behind in your marketplace increase significantly.

  1. Define your mission and your vision.

Everything you do should be leading toward this. What is your cause; your purpose? What do you believe in? Many communities are working from mission statements developed 10 to 15 years ago. How old is your community’s mission and vision statements? Is it time to modify?

  1. Address the “Why.”

Why does your community exist? Why do we get out of bed in the morning? This Ted Talk explores how many companies may have a good handle on positioning what they provide and the benefits it offers, but the most inspirational is to address the why. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

At Life Care Services, the LCS Envision™ strategic planning process starts with a retreat and a renewed focus on the mission to affirm it’s accurate, inspirational and represents why your community exists. The process involves more than community leaders and boards or ownership. It’s crucial to involve stakeholder input and perspective. Strategic planning is an educational, inclusive process to identify the steps necessary to fulfill your mission and the vision of where you see your community going. Learn more here.

  1. Assess the research and start planning.

It’s necessary to complete an analysis of industry trends, market-specific trends and a self-assessment. Keep in mind, strategic plans also need steps to drive accountability and deliver results. Follow these key components to develop a real and actionable strategic plan:

  • Market analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • Strategic objectives
  • Action items
  • Timeline
  • Methods to measure success

Continued success at a community greatly improves if there is a well thought out plan developed with various stakeholders – one that defines needs then identifies and addresses the real priorities.

  1. Communicate your plan to key stakeholders.

Communicating your plan lends credence to all stakeholder voices being heard and builds support. This will lead to more satisfied residents, board members and staff, in addition to improved financial results for the community.

Review case studies and white papers about communities we’ve worked with.

Interested in partnering with us on your next project? Our team brings 50 years of expertise in everything we do and has managed some of the most innovative communities in the country. Learn more about our leadership here.

Originally posted Sept. 12, 2016