Sun City Retirement Community
June 16, 2008
Rita Y. Allen
When retirement communities began in the 60’s, the focus was primarily on healthcare with
the presence of life-enriching activity. Today, with retirees living upwards of 25 years longer, advances in medication
and a greater emphasis on healthy living, the primary focus has shifted toward the active, vibrant lifestyle with the presence
of healthcare. The first of the baby boom generation, just turning 60, was in the prime of life in the 60’s.
They are not interested in Big Band Music, scrabble and bingo. They are interested in fitness and wellness centers,
computers, gourmet dining, hiking trails, biking trails, tennis courts, and special interest clubs. Developers have
spent the last four decades designing ways to capture the massive numbers of retirees belonging to these first graduates of
the baby boom generation.
Communities who have catered to the post WWII era retirees will now have to rethink their style,
amenities, marketing, structure and mindset if they want to move with the population and begin attracting the new generation
of retirees. In essence, they must rebrand themselves. The current branding will only attract the same demographic
of clientele they have now. This research project is designed to explore avenues of rebranding. Included is research
indicating how other communities have accomplished their own movement into the retirement desires of today. Included
as well is information from a study done by Aramark, Senior Living Services, showing the necessity of more advanced marketing
techniques in order to reach the mass of young retirees.
The financial position of this generation of retirees is powerful with average assets of a million
and yearly income of $67,000. They are going to spend that money somewhere in retirement. Those communities who
work to give them the lifestyle they desire will capture that revenue. Rebranding is required to draw the baby boom
This is a proposal for the rebranding of Sun City Retirement Community with the goal of 100%
occupancy within two years.
Sun City Retirement Community (SCRC) is located in beautiful Hoover, AL. Branding limitations
restrict public knowledge that SCRC is not solely Assisted Living and Skilled Care thereby hindering residency considerations
of younger, qualified retirees.
Sun City Retirement Community is an active continuum care retirement community. Branding
limitations are a management concern because the availability of the unique, positive lifestyle enjoyed in SCRC is not portrayed
sufficiently to the public, leaving it out of the consideration for residence of the active, younger retirees, 55+.
Without this rebranding, SCRC will not attract the large numbers of young retirees brought to us by the baby boom generation.
In the Sacramento, California Pulte-owned (Pulte Homes now owns the Del Webb Corp.) retirement communities, the Tony
Bennett sound tracks are gone that greeted new retirees from a few decades ago. Today you will hear music by the Beatles,
Eric Clapton and even Led Zepplin. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” plays on the flatscreen. This
new group of retirees were among those who said “never trust anyone over 30” back in the 70’s. Dean
Wehrli, a Sacramento-based consultant with Sullivan Group Real Estate Advisors explains how this updating of retirement communities
is meant to pry those baby boomers out of their existing homes. The way you do that is give them something in the retirement
community that they can’t get in their neighborhoods. One way Wehrli did it was to bring in a 1950’s style
ice cream parlor and round up vintage 1960’s cars for a retirement community grand opening. Judy Bennett, vice president
for sales at the Sacramento division of Michigan-based Pulte Homes says, “The marketing message always shifts as the
population changes. We pay attention to that.” The heyday of today’s new retirees wasn’t the Big Band era.
Although there are many residents who cherish that era, there are new potential residents who will be drawn to the music,
art and activities of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Additionally, today’s retirees are healthier
and more active than retirees of four decades ago. Retirement communities must evolve in order to attract the massive
numbers of baby boomers just turning 60 (Wasserman, 2007).
There are numerous ways in which the need for branding can be assessed. Sun City Retirement Community stands
at 62.5% occupancy. The occupancy rate has rocked between 50% and 60% for the last five years. The community is
losing money. They have just been purchased by American Retirement Corporation who plans to implement renovations, changes
The causal/contributing factors of the current state of perception are derived from the establishment of retirement
communities from their inception. A standard was set for the first generation of community retirees and most of those
methods and techniques are still present today. It has been a monumental task to lift the cloud of AL and SK from over
the top of Independent Living (IL) communities. The perceived perception of a move to a community is after an event
occurs in life that dictates an inability to live alone. This is not the case with IL. Among other factors are:
History of retirement living as a result of not being able to live independently; hesitancy to implement new and innovative
marketing techniques, lack of training in nurturing, trust-based selling, and lack of consistent nurturing, team-building
encounters with employees.
The process of task analysis of identifying needs will be conducted by seeking full answers
to these questions.
- How will we meet our objectives to serve and expand our market? It
will require a plan of strategy, an increased budget and dedicated personnel.
- How can we create the desire for active retirement living as opposed to stand-alone
home living? Show the benefits of “living free.” Having the kind of life lived in the 70’s where
freedom is the key; someone else takes care of the maintenance and prepares good meals, which provides time for travel, work
- How can we educate the public as to the life changing and life lengthening
benefits of retirement community living? Emphasize, through the marketing strategy, the extreme importance of socialization
and brain stimulation. This can come through advertisement, workshops, seminars, interviews and invitations into the
- How do we train sales associates with the nurturing, trust-based attitude
of selling? Through workshops and training seminars. Not all sales seminars are trust-based. These would
have to be designed and developed into a series of sessions.
- How do we educate our organizational staff with the “upside of life”
mentality rather than the “nursing home” mentality? This can be done with administration with a prepared
series of workshops. The most difficult portion of the organizational staff will be the staff of AL and SK. They
“live” on the nursing home side of life and it is much more difficult to daily see the “upside of life”
when they are consistently dealing with devastation, dementia and death. There must be an organization of weekly input
for them that will give them vision of the glass half full to draw from.
- How do we market this venue so as to separate our community from the dedicated
“Assisted Living” and “Skilled Care” communities? We separate the active lifestyle from the
security. We market it with the understanding that we are a beautiful independent living community for adults over 55.
One of our residents commented that it’s like being on a cruise ship and never having to get off! We then market
the AL and SK as the security of having your future planned. If you lose all your money or lose your health, you never
have to leave. We will eventually write off the cost of your care…that’s security.
- Are our present facilities adequate or do we want to expand? With the
addition of upgrading and remodeling, the present facilities will be adequate for two years. At that point, with a Waiting
List hopefully in place, the possibility of expansion can be entertained.
- How can we create a marketable advantage creating the mindset of vibrant,
active living as opposed to “nursing home” or “assisted living?” We can develop a marketing
plan that will undeniably show how important it is to move while you can still enjoy life. If you wait until an event
occurs that would prevent you from enjoying life, it might also prevent you from qualifying to move into Sun City. You
must qualify medically and financially to move in. This will be the greatest challenge of all. The public perception
of not moving until you “need” to is very prevalent. Educating the public to the point of changing that
perception will require much input and time.
- How can we develop our services and distribution channels? In addition
to extra purchased marketing avenues, we can also take advantage of the many avenues of free marketing and goodwill ventures.
For example, submitting a press release on every possible occasion gives the opportunity for, once again, the public to see
the living, growing, active community we are trying to project. Every time Sun City can get their name before the public
in a positive light will be beneficial.
- How can we capitalize on the surge of retirees from the healthier, wealthier
background? We can target those areas. There are a number of affluent communities in the Hoover area whose residents
are wealthier and healthier than other communities. Most people who are able to pay the entry fee have planned for their
retirement. Typically you find that many of those who take better care of their finances take better care of their health
- What changes do we need to make to accommodate the new retirement generation
(the one just past the “Big Band” era)? Changes that will accommodate their desired retirement lifestyle.
We will need to change our music, expand our activities and increase our mental and physical health oriented activities.
- What forces are shaping our market? The Baby Boom generation is the largest
generation in the history of America. They WILL shape the way the world works for, at least, the next 30 years.
The business world will succumb to their demands and desires. Those communities who refuse to move with the times will
find themselves, in the future, where Sun City is now…at only 62.5% capacity.
- What do we stand for now and what do we want to become? We presently stand
for, “Enriching the lives of those we serve with compassion, respect, excellence and integrity.” This will
not change. The method by which we do this will change to include the joys and desires of the new generation.
- What additional amenities should be considered for our community making it more
alluring to this educated, active generation? We need to add a variety of activities that appeal to the Baby Boom generation,
such as hiking trails, biking trails, full spa-level fitness and wellness centers, college-level academic courses, concierge
services and gourmet dining.
- What geographic area do we want to include? We will market in the greater
Birmingham area, but as referrals are made our geographic coverage will become larger.
- What specific marketing techniques should be implemented? These techniques
are listed below.
- What are the greatest concerns for the future in each individual? The greatest
concerns are, “Where will I go when I need Assisted Living or Skilled Care?” For couples, “If one
of us has to go to AL or SK, will I have to drive to see my loved one in a cold environment and then return to an empty, dark
house when I leave?” Sun City can take care of both of these concerns. AL and SK are provided for every
resident on the same campus and a husband or wife will not have to leave the campus to visit their loved one. They will
have the support of an entire community while going through an extremely difficult time in life.
- What is the history of Sun City indicating marketing trends? The history
of Sun City is shaky. Sun City was built in 1988 and has never been at full capacity. The fact that it is entry
fee has a great deal to do with it. Entry fee is probably the hardest sell in the industry; therefore, an almost natural
ability for trust-based selling is required for a sales counselor to excel in the market. The difference is “acting
like you really care” and “really caring.” The people can tell the difference. Rental communities
in the greater Birmingham area have thrived, but Sun City has not.
The assumption must be made that the process will be labor intensive in the location of necessary
information and man-power to create the desired outcomes.
Will corporate headquarters endorse new and researched marketing techniques?
Will the assigned budget provide the funds necessary to expand marketing techniques and man-power?
The following are suggested courses of action to achieve objectives:
1. TV commercials
2. Radio ads
3. Radio interviews
4. Newspaper advertising
5. Newspaper post-it notes on front of paper
6. Automatic Response Technology
7. Weekly Direct Mass Mailing
8. Monthly email newsletter to developed email
list, developed to thousands.
9. Newspaper columnist/magazine articles/articles
in various publications
11. Audio Generator Messages
12. Individual Phoning of Data Base
13. Seasonal Cards and Birthday Cards
14. Thank You Letters
15. Tele-seminars for employees as well as
17. Free Reports
18. Voice Broadcast
19. Weekly nurturing sessions with employees
offering recognitions, awards, bonuses, rewards and kudos.
20. Public Relations Professional
21. Advertising on internet sites
22. Community Website
The following is justification for selection of the above courses of action:
1. TV commercials – Costly, but most
widespread visibility. Message and presentation must be effective to justify cost.
2. Radio ads – Costly with minimal return.
3. Radio interviews – Very positive,
but time consuming for employee. Dedicated PR position would include.
4. Newspaper advertising – Costly.
Good investment with right message.
5. Newspaper post-it notes on front of paper
– Excellent dollar value advertising.
6. Automatic Response Technology – Superior
time management nurturing for prospects, influencers, residents and employees. Requires training.
7. Weekly Direct Mass Mailing – With
right message, superior marketing technique. Excellent nurturing avenue creating a trust base.
8. Monthly email newsletter to developed email
list – Excellent tool portraying community as “in the know.” Time consuming. Dedicated technology
position would include.
9. Newspaper columnist/magazine articles/articles
in various publications – Great exposure, requires columnist.
10. Newsletters – Excellent nurturing.
11. Audio Generator Messages – Excellent
personal connection avenue. Very cost effective. Minimal training required.
12. Individual Phoning of data base –
Nurturing of Prospects, very time consuming. Most effective for warms and hots.
13. Seasonal Cards and Birthday Cards –
Excellent personal connection.
14. Thank You Letters – Excellent nurturing.
15. Tele-seminars for employees as well as
residents. – Excellent re-branding tool. Minimal cost.
16. CDs/DVDs – Tremendous power-packed
advertisement tool in an envelope. Minimal cost.
17. Free Reports – Effective marketing
technique as the “professional.” Minimal cost.
18. Voice Broadcast – Great time management
tool, minimal cost.
19. Weekly nurturing sessions with employees offering recognitions, awards, bonuses,
rewards and kudos – Vital to the positive disposition of any organization.
20. Public Relations Professional – Costly,
but vital for the rebranding of an organization. This would put the desired human quality to the rebranding process.
21. Advertising on internet sites such as online
senior housing locators. Cost is minimal compared to results. These are the sites that the children of potential
residents, as well as prospects, are checking out.
22. In addition to the corporate website that
points to SCRC, there is a tremendous need for a working, community website that is updated daily with current news, public
affairs, developments, advances, incentives, pictures, etc., along with a vivid, simple narrative of who and what our community
After deleting alternative #2 (Radio Ads), order the viable alternatives beginning with those
that are most readily implemented and proceed down the list until they are all implemented on a calculated, timely basis.
Retirement communities are no longer characterized by infirm neighbors and too-little stimulation.
With kayaking, skydiving and easy commutes to town, Dan Kadlec (2007) elaborates on how the perception of retirement communities
is certainly changing. They are being reinvented, and for a good reason. Just a generation ago, simple math didn’t
give retirees a very long life after leaving the work world behind. Today, the health and wealth that the baby boom
generation is bringing to life has created 25+ years for them to play with. Early dinner with a dessert of board games
is simply not enough, a far different reality than just a few years ago. With all the youthful retirees, today’s
contactors are rethinking all the aspects of the classic retirement community. Today’s trend is called “active-adult”
communities where residents as young as 55, still working full-time or part-time, can stay immersed in the world but chose
to take a few steps back from the rat race. Some of them even include “spa-level fitness and wellness centers,
college-level academic courses, resort-level concierge services and gourmet dining.” According to David Schless,
president of the American Senior Housing Association, senior housing has changed drastically over the last seven to eight
years. Developers have spent the last six decades devising ways to woo this onset of the baby boom generation, and some
of their tactics are breathtaking.
In a world of “retirement homes” and “nursing homes,” Webb Development
Company built an upscale retirement community in 1960 which was marketed to the healthier, more educated and wealthier retired
person. They had over 100,000 visitors on their opening weekend. Sun City and Sun City West span 23 miles and
are the largest retirement development in the world. They have consistently marketed to the vibrant, active retiree.
“Anybody can sell a house. We sell lifestyle," says Del Webb spokeswoman Martha Moyer. About 60% of the residents
are college graduates as opposed to 20% of all adults 65 and older (Edmondson, 1989).
In 1998 at Sun City West, the largest club in the community was the computer club with 3,000
members and 400 on the waiting list. All ten of the “active” communities built by Dell Webb have computer
clubs and some of them include fiber optic systems. The residents are not only keeping in touch via email, but are planning
trips, researching medications, and investing as well. Many of them are also looking for friends they haven’t
seen for years (Rose, 1998).
Chuck Roach met Dell Webb in 1970, not long before Mr. Webb died in 1974. Chuck became the CFO of Sun City West
in 1983. As for leadership and inspiration, he reflects on the life-changing attitudes of Dell Webb. He encouraged
people to take risks and consider new business ventures. He continually advocated and supported the notion that the
best way to do business is to build lasting relationships with people. He did that not only outside the company, but also
inside the company. He was very loyal to all of the people in the company and believed very strongly in treating people right.
Martha Moyer, spokeswoman for Del Webb Corp. shares how Roach also helps people learn how to “get out of the box and
do things differently.” For example, after a very productive year, Roach took his staff of ten on a rafting trip
down the Colorado for four days. They engaged in trust activities such as climbing a difficult path in total silence
helping each other on the path and falling backward from a ledge into the arms of a co-worker. There is an old saying
that, “one can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight.” In marketing terms this means
that one person can accomplish great things, but a team of two, three, four or more, when unified and of one mind, can accomplish
ten, twenty, thirty times as much. They key is uniting the team. (Padgett, 1998).
In October of last year, the first cable network dedicated to people 55+ announced the launch of a retirement living
TV Online Senior Housing Locator now available on www.rl.tv. The resource hosts over 65,000 independent retirement living communities and other senior housing options in all 50
states. This website is visited by more than 150,000 per month and has been growing at a rate of 20% per month, which
speaks to the power of baby boomers on the web. Retirement Living TV, seen in 29 million homes across North America,
is the only one of its kind and is lead by a team of gerontologists and researchers (PR Newswire, 2007).
In the article, The Continuum Drumbeat, Robert Wilson (2007) set out to identify the attitudes and knowledge
of 2,000 seniors pertaining to retirement communities. The sampling included current residents and non-residents ages
50 – 70. 60% of future residents did not know anyone who lived in a Continuum Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
and 11% had never heard of a CCRC. This is a lot of potential residents! According to Mr. Wilson, this lack of
awareness translates into a misconception about the quality of life. He further reported that once these individuals
were informed about a CCRC, 65% rated their perception of the quality of life to be excellent or very good. Based on
the statistical sampling, as a result of this study, 23 million people would strongly consider a CCRC for themselves or a
loved one. 96% of the residents in the study said that they were very happy with their communities and would do it the
same way if they had it to do over again. 59% said that their quality of life had improved since moving to a CCRC.
This is a powerful marketing basis.
The message in this study is the massive opportunity that is out there for CCRC’s to do a better job of telling
their story, and they do have a tremendous story to tell! The study also showed that many seniors enter a CCRC later
in life (average age 78) when they need more medical care. The goal for the CCRC is to better deliver the message to
more people so as to attract more seniors at an earlier age before they have spent a fair amount of resources otherwise.
Mr. Wilson (2007) goes so far as to say, “One radical consideration would be to change the CCRC name. Most people that
we spoke with had no idea what CCRC stood for, and associated this name with poor quality. Rebranding CCRC’s and developing
poignant messages around quality of life and lifestyle drivers could help to better educate boomers and attract them earlier
The financial picture of baby boomers is powerful. According to the study, the typical CCRC resident has a net worth
of nearly a million and an average annual income of $67,000. Only 12% of the study participants said that they would
not leave their homes. This makes sense because of the transient lifestyle of this generation. What an incredible
marketing opportunity! (Wilson, 2007).
Another very interesting aspect of this study indicated that 63% of CCRC residents are women, and that a senior’s decision
to enter a retirement community is primarily influenced by a daughter, sister or daughter-in-law. This is a strong opportunity
to develop marketing tactics “to women, for women.” Mr. Wilson (2007) shares that one community holds regular
“high tea” encouraging all women to invite their female friends and relatives.
Most senior citizens will never live in a Nursing Home, but most will eventually need help with daily living.
Deborah Fine Freundlich, author of Retirement Living Communities, says that 12% of those over 65, 37% of those over 75 and
70% of those over 85 will need help with one or more of the following: transportation, house-keeping, shopping, home health
care/help with medications and meal preparation (Restaurants, 1996).
Below is a chart of the study done by Mr. Wilson and Aramark, depicting the vast differences in perception and awareness
of residents and future residents. The reason 62% of future residents rated “don’t know” when asked
to rate the quality of life offered by a continued care retirement community is because they have not been educated as to
the benefits of a CCRC. That is what this proposal is all about, educating that 62% to understand the enormous benefits
of a CCRC.
Answering the question of where to retire with
all the modern-day eminities, one lady came up with a very entertaining option. Brit
Beatrice Muller (82) "retired" to the Queen Elizabeth 2, the grande dame of cruise ships. Ms. Muller’s reasoning
was that it would not cost much more than a retirement community and would have far more than a retirement community could
ever offer. Intrigued by the possibility, Money Magazine researched a comparison between the two. Their
findings were quite interesting. The retirement they used in their comparison was Shell Point in Fort Myers, Florida,
the "creme de la creme of retirement communities," according to Keesey Hayward of the Association of Retirement Resorts International.
The following was their comparison.
THE ISLAND AT SHELL POINT vs. QUEEN
RECREATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS 18 holes
of championship golf; 1,600-seat theater; woodworking
FOOD Four restaurants; most units
have their own kitchens
DAY TRIPS Pro baseball spring training;
Sanibel and Captiva islands; winter homes of inventors Edison and Ford
MEDICAL CARE Four full-time physicians,
180 skilled-nursing beds
RELIGIOUS SERVICES 700-member Village
Church, of the Christian and Alliance denomination
COST $850 to $3,300 a month, plus
$61,000 to $375,000 entrance fee; medical and nursing care included at age 65
[QUEEN ELIZABETH 2]
[RECREATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS] Casino;
Broadway musicals; onboard branch of Harrods
[FOOD] Seven restaurants; 2,400
pounds of caviar and 11 tons of smoked salmon served annually
[DAY TRIPS] Port calls on six continents
[MEDICAL CARE] Two doctors, three
nurses on staff; operating theater and X-ray room
[RELIGIOUS SERVICES] Nondenominational
services on Sundays; Roman Catholic mass daily; rabbi for Jewish holidays
[COST] $4,818 a month after a 45%
discount for "frequent floater" points that Muller collected on five previous cruises; meals included.
In conjunction with 20 (weekly nurturing sessions), which will begin immediately, implementation will begin with alternatives
14 (seasonal cards and birthday cards), and 15 (thank-you letters). These three alternatives are already implemented
at SCRC, but on a scattered, limited basis. Current birthday lists will be compiled and an active attitude/awareness
toward all “thank-you” possibilities will be keyed. This will build avenues for the personal connections.
Aggressive compilation of an email list including residents, prospects, referrals, friends, family, will begin. Although
many seniors do not have email, their children do. The children are almost always a vital component in decision-making.
This email list will be mandatory for the execution of many of the alternatives. In today’s marketing industry,
10,000 emails are considered a solid email data base. This allows the click of a key to do what required hundred of
man-hours in the past. Next, will be brainstorm sessions for 1 (TV commercials), 4 (newspaper advertising), 5 (newspaper
post-it notes), 7 (weekly direct mass mailing), and 8 (monthly email newsletter). TV content, newspaper content, newsletter
content and direct mailing content is vital to success. The wrong content can not only waste money, but actually do
more harm than good. It will be wasted money unless the content portrays our new branding, moving the hearts of those
who see it. We are daily faced with a myriad of advertising schemes. Ours must move the heart; and in our business,
that is not a difficult proposal. Corporate will execute the TV and newspaper after we provide our content. Marketing
will execute the direct mailing. One technology individual will need to be selected to spearhead the technology aspects
of the alternatives: 6 (automatic response technology), 11 (audio generator messages), 16 (tele-seminars), 17 (CDs/DVDs),
and19 (voice broadcast). These will require training. This person can then train the others in the marketing department
creating a team fully equipped to daily reach out to thousands with the personal connection, individual touch. Next,
will be the implementation of a writer/columnist. 8 (monthly email newsletter), 9 (columnist), 10 (hardcopy newsletters)
and 18 (free reports) will require superior composition capabilities. Contributions can come from various sources.
Consequently, the hard copy newsletter can be mailed to the data base. When using these methods of technology to drive
the prospects in, there will be large amounts of time spent on the phone in communication with the hots and warms. As
personal communication is built weekly and monthly with all prospects in the data base, the need to phone prospects to generate
sales will be minimal. Lastly, will be the position of a “Public Relations (PR)” person. This would
be separate from Outreach Coordinator in that this PR person would actively seek out professional speaking engagements and
public appearances, including TV interviews on community programs and current event news programs, radio interviews, keynote
speeches for corporations and IL related conventions, and perhaps the narrator of the community TV commercials. This
is to only name a few. The “public appearance” possible venue is endless. This person should ideally
be between 55 and 65 with a very polished professional image and extensive knowledge of the industry. They would actually
become the “face” of SCRC, projecting the identity of the desired resident.
The control system should be a team selected plan. As the Marketing Team begins this new process to change the
public perception, standards of performance, the setting of determined standards, methods to measure actual performance, and
corrective actions should be discussed and decided upon by the marketing team. If everyone has input into the goals
and directions, they are more apt to take ownership. As well, if they agree upon corrective actions, there is clear
vision of what is expected. Although these goals and expectations will be written and distributed to all parties, this
should not be a used as a tool for micromanagement. This written vision will be the guideline for success understanding
the human element.
Evaluations of this rebranding will come in two forms. The first will be the quarterly MIS (Management Information System)
which will show if the rebranding has had a positive effect on the sale of more apartments. It will also show the age
and employment of the new residents. The second form of evaluation will be the Resident Satisfaction Survey administered
every six months. This survey will explore all avenues of lifestyle, needs and community satisfaction. For
example, if there is an increase in the number of residents who would like to have a biking trail at the community that would
constitute a more active lifestyle. These two forms of evaluation will be used to measure the overall effectiveness
of the rebranding; they will be compared with the same forms prior to the rebranding. If occupancy is on the increase,
average resident age is lower and the lifestyle more active, then the rebranding will have been successful.
Impact of the Proposal
This proposal not only has the potential to greatly impact the active lifestyle of the current and future residents, but it
has the potential to rescue Sun City from a failing bottom line. While initial costs would increase the budget, results
should be evident within the first six months and marked results should be evident within the first year. The beauty
of the initial six month’s impact will be evident by resident referrals. Sun City has a strong resident referral
program in place. When a resident refers someone to the community and they actually move in, the resident receives a
$1,000 referral fee for the first referral and a $2,000 referral fee for each referral thereafter. The impact of this
proposal should increase exponentially as we move in new residents and they refer their active friends to the community.
By moving in new, younger residents and marketing our resident referral rewards, the average age of the community would go
down and the move toward a more active lifestyle would take on a life of its own.
Staffing is a very important part of this proposal. As residency increases, staffing needs will increase in almost
every area of the community.
- Maintenance Department – Each apartment is completely renovated before a new resident
moves in. With over 60 apartments to be renovated before reaching full capacity, the current maintenance crew of two
will not be enough to handle the renovations. As residency begins to increase, a third person will need to be hired
and if this proposal is as successful as anticipated, a fourth person will also need to be brought on board, doubling the
- Dining Services – Sun City offers only one large meal per day with the residency for independent
living residents. (AL and SK receive three full meals per day.) In IL, those who desire can purchase a second
meal a day for nominal cost. The residents choose whether they wish to come at lunch or dinner. At 62.5% capacity,
the dining room operates with ease. There is plenty of seating and no waiting. As residency increases, the dining
room will fill up quicker for both meals and the current wait staff will not be sufficient to serve all the residents.
Additional wait staff will need to be hired and, additionally, I propose a lengthening of the dining hours. Currently
lunch is served from 11:30 to 1:00. A change of 11:00 to 1:00 would be beneficial. Currently dinner is served
from 4:30 to 6:00. A change of 4:30 to 7:00 would be beneficial. This would better fit the active lifestyle as
well, as more active residents will tend to eat dinner a little later. Sun City also has a Bistro which offers hotdogs,
hamburgers, ice cream, popcorn, chips, candy, etc. They also serve a hot breakfast (the dining room does not serve breakfast
on a daily basis). One employee runs the Bistro from 8:00 to 2:00 daily. With the increase of residents and their
guests, including children and grandchildren, there is the great possibility that more than one person will be needed to run
the Bistro, and an increase in operating hours would be most beneficial.
- Housekeeping Service – Each resident has a housekeeper who comes to their apartment once a
week. They clean the entire apartment down to stripping and remaking the beds. Additionally, after an apartment
is renovated, housekeeping does an in-depth cleaning of the entire apartment. Sun City has 151 Independent Living residences,
24 Assisted Living apartments and 30 Skilled Living studios. One housekeeping staff cleans all the residences.
There are currently five housekeepers and the Housekeeping Director. As residency increases, housekeepers will
need to be added.
- Innovative Senior Care – This is the “therapy” division of Sun City. When a resident
has need for therapy, it is offered at Sun City; therefore they do not need to go to another location for their therapy.
As residency increases, there will be a rise the need for additional therapists to carry the work load.
- Beauty Shop – With occupancy at 62.5, one beautician has sufficiently supplied the hair and nail
needs of the residents (both men and women). As occupancy increases, more beauticians and nail technicians will need
to be added to supply the demand.
- Yard Maintenance Crews, Activities Department, Assisted Living and Skilled Care will not likely need to
add staff. AL and SK operate at full capacity most of the time; therefore, they are already staffed appropriately.
The Activities Director is the spearhead for all activities. When extra hands are needed to carry out an activity, she
solicits help from marketing and other departments to assist in the carrying out of some events. With this availability,
the activities department will remain as is. Sun City IL residents receive tremendous cost reduction in AL and SK when
the time comes that they need those services, and the promise is that there will always be a room for them when they need
it. Because SCRC has been at such low occupancy, AL and SK has taken people in from the outside (in addition to our
own residents moving up), consistently keeping our AL and SK almost full.
- Marketing Department should stay the same throughout the transition.
Because Sun City is an Entry Fee community, the type of selling required is Trust Based Selling. A resident must pay
from $111,000 to $270,000 up front to move in, dependent upon the apartment and the plan they choose. Most residents
use the sale of their home for this initial payment. Many of these sales take from 18 to 24 months to complete; therefore,
we are setting the time frame to achieve at least 95% capacity at two years.
The counselor’s sales expectation is one to two per month. 74 of the 151 independent living apartments are empty.
Accounting for 20 move-outs per year, each sales person would need to sell 1.5 apartments per month to reach full capacity
in two years. This is well within the set parameters. (The 20 move-outs per year are predominantly those who are
leaving IL going to AL or SK.)
The only support services that might possibly be needed will be in the area Maintenance. Should the new resident move-ins
quickly reach a point that the current crew cannot complete the renovations by the assigned time, outside paint and carpet
crews will need to be brought in to help complete the renovations. There will also need to be outside crews come in
for the initial renovations and upgrades to the common areas, before the marketing blast begins.
The two largest initial budget increases will come from marketing and renovations of common areas. Rebranding is new
marketing, and a lot of it; therefore, marketing will be an increased expense. The avenues of marketing are outlined
in the Assessment Phase of this proposal. Changing public perception takes time and media saturation. The current
marketing department budget of $4,500 per month will need to be doubled for the first year. After the first year, the
market should be saturated to the point that the marketing budget can then be lowered again. There are common areas
that need carpet change, painting and updated accessories. These renovations need to be done before the rebranding advertisement
begins. This will require outside work crews to be hired and the approval of a renovation budget. These renovations
need to be done quickly and efficiently.
The largest overall budget increase will be the hiring of new employees needed as residency increases in the community.
This will be done on an “as need” basis. Each department will be responsible for maintaining adequate employees
to meet the needs of the residents.
When retirement communities began in the 60’s, the focus was primarily on healthcare; today the focus is primarily on
living a free lifestyle with the added security of healthcare. The emphasis has changed somewhat. Retirement communities
who are willing to change with the times will continue to grow and flourish; those who do not will find increasing empty apartments.
Especially with an entry fee community such as SCRC, there is a greater expectation of amenities. For an individual
or couple to pay upwards of $300,000 up front, they want to know that they will be receiving exactly the life they want in
return. Sun City can do this, but only with a complete rebranding. New activities, new music, new programs and
new amenities are required…and a re-education of the public about Sun City. It is a beautiful community with tremendous
potential to be the most thriving community in the greater Birmingham area. The personality of the community is positive
and the residents are very positive advocates of their lovely surroundings. All that is needed to change Sun City from
a “B” community to an “A+” community (with a long waiting list to get in) is public perception, which
is no easy task, but not impossible.
The end result of this proposal is for Sun City Retirement Community to be 100% occupied with a Waiting List of at
least five on each of the six independent living residences: One Bedroom, One Bedroom with Porch, Two Bedroom, Two Bedroom
with Porch, Two Bedroom Corner Deluxe, and Garden Home. Sun City will be branded as THE retirement community for the
Baby Boom Generation.
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Retirement Living TV Launches Premier Online Housing
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Rose, Sarah (1998, Summer).
Old but wired. (The computer club is the
popular club at Sun City West, a retirement community in Arizona)(Special Issue: Money Magazine's Guide to Online Investing).
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