The question of how occupancy levels are trending generates a range of responses from providers, reflecting the individual circumstances each facility faces in meeting demand for its services.
 
Mike Wagner, president, Leo Brown Group, and principal, Traditions Management, tells Provider his assisted living/seniors living organization operates 11 communities in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, all of which were developed from the ground up with several still in lease-up.

“Each individual market is different, but we are doing very well occupancy-wise for our stabilized communities and consistently are in the low to mid 90s percentage-wise, which is above the national average,” he says.

The way the operation is structured, Leo Brown Group is the developer and operator of the senior living communities through the wholly owned subsidiary Traditions Management.

Conservative Budgeting Pays Dividends

Wagner says when setting “initial-fill” projections, his company has always taken a conservative approach and plans on hitting the 90 percent to 95 percent occupancy level within three years of opening.

“While we certainly have seen projects get to this occupancy level much quicker, this conservative budgeting has proven to be prudent on our end as we have seen quite a few new competitive projects that have started construction in our markets soon after our projects started.”

Many of these competitive projects are purely “developer-driven,” Wagner says, which means they are built by relatively new entrants to the senior living world who are not operators and hire national third-party managers to run the communities.

“A lot of these developer-driven projects have unrealistic lease-up assumptions, and we generally have not seen good results from people who take this approach but, nonetheless, the fact that they are in our markets with new units to fill can certainly impact our occupancy,” he says.

In the end, Wagner feels confident that the conservative projections favored by his company, coupled with local and regional expertise, will ensure long-term success.