Your First Three Steps

I received a question recently from someone wanting to start an assisted living facility. They wanted to know the first three steps they should take. And my first response was to ask where they were starting from – did they have any experience, capital or connections with assisted living already.

They didn’t. So here is a recap of my reply to this beginner.

Working in another assisted living facility is always a good place to start.  Not only can you see how to do many important things, but you can also sometimes learn how NOT to do things!

So back to your original question about the first three steps (in my opinion)…

1.  Get experience.  You’re doing that by working in an assisted living facility.  We often see people who have healthcare experience or business experience but not both.  If you have experience in both of these areas, your chance of success is much higher.  And, if you lack any experience, you may need to think about buying that experience by hiring the right employees with the skills you lack or engaging a consultant to help you get started.

2.  Get capital.  Owning an assisted living facility takes money – obviously.  Whether you’re starting from scratch or buying an existing facility, it’s important to have enough capital to fund the acquisition/development of your facility but also to have three to six months of operating expenses in reserve to make sure you stay open long enough to get established.  Now, this doesn’t have to be just your money.  You can connect with partners, investors, friends & family, or others to raise the capital you need.  There are many ways to do that.

3.  Get your facility.  I may be biased given my business of helping people confidentially buy and sell assisted living facilities but I think that buying an existing facility is a great way to start.  Assuming that the facility has a good track record, you’re walking right into all the pieces you need – the staff, furnishings, equipment, policies, procedures, systems, and, presumably, a base of residents that provide revenue from day one.  You can start looking for a facility to buy today and try to learn more about what is available in your area, what makes each one special, how much they may cost and more.

4.  I’ll give you a bonus answer – network.  Get out to all the trade association meetings, local classes for assisted living staff, and other events that you can possibly attend.  Get to know others who are getting started and, even more important, those who have been doing this a while and might be able to mentor you during your startup.

Hope these suggestions help.  Good luck and stay in touch!