In product development, a proof of concept is evidence that demonstrates a design concept is feasible.
In construction, we start the same way. Our “proof of concept” involves high-level strategic planning and predevelopment steps that test the feasibility and business case for the large construction project you’re considering. Strategic planning is the most important step in the development process because it’s the only way to know that you’re not building something you don’t need, building more than you need, or building in the wrong location.
As the operator, this means you must consider your project from several angles before committing to construction:
- Vision. What should your community look like in the future? How will you position your community to meet the needs and wants of the consumer of the future?
- Market and location. What kind product and how many units can the market support? Where is there need for the types of services you’re offering?
- Scope of the project. How extensive does this project need to be? Should you renovate or build new?
- Capital stack. How do you pay for the project? How much debt can the project support? Is there a cash investment required? Will there be a capital campaign? How will the project affect cash flow?
- Project team. Whose expertise do you need to plan the project? When is the appropriate time to bring each person in? How do you choose the right project team?
The visioning process is probably the hardest step for most providers. It can be very difficult for communities to imagine how they may need to change to stay relevant and competitive. But current trends in senior housing have made it clear that communities will need to adapt to survive. Using third-party development advisors who are experts in the senior living space can help that creative process by bringing in novel ideas and explaining industry trends to help get leadership teams thinking beyond what they currently know.
Strategic planning is only way to know that you’re not building something you don’t need, building more than you need, or building in the wrong location.
Meeting these needs and planning for changes to those needs can be a very difficult balancing act that addresses operations, unit sizes, wellness initiatives, dining preferences, and relevant amenity spaces. In addition to these components, you need to ensure you are pricing and programming everything reasonably and competitively. A strong development advisor can be crucial during the scenarios-vetting stages of a new senior living construction project, whether that project is a renovation, repositioning, or new build.
Once you have an idea of where to build, what to build, and how you’re positioned to pay for it, then you can confidently move into the next phases of the development process.
If you’d like to learn more about the development process and the operator’s role in making it a success, download our white paper, “The senior living operator’s guide to large construction projects.”