Starting an assisted living company is more than capitalizing on high demand service, you’re creating a life-line for those less fortunate in our society such as elderly patients who require round-the-clock monitoring and assistance, and physically challenged children and adults who can’t get the care they need living on their own or with loved ones.
This is a very financially and emotionally gratifying business, but there is a process to be mindful of. Considerations such as location, licensing, tax structure, staff, and marketing all play a role in your ability to launch and actually be successful in this booming industry.
1. Scout suitable locations (land or facilities) that can meet regulatory requirements in your state or province
Assisted living facilities will require a minimum number of rooms for residents, along with all the appropriate facilities for cooking, bathing, etc. Plus a communal gathering place for residents is also ideal for attracting tenants.
Note that you’ll be required to pass inspection by your state licensing agency for assisted care facilities. When converting an existing residential building, you’ll need contractors with experience doing such conversions. Either way, you’ll need to check with your local government to make sure it can be zoned for the intended purpose.
Keep in mind that location should be matched with the needs of your ideal resident, and also the services you’ll provide. For instance, if you’re outside major city centers without access to shopping and medical care, you’ll need to provide a shuttle/ambulance service or risk turning off potential residents. In fact, quick access to medical services is essential regardless, so you may need to consider having on-site medical professionals if easy outside access isn’t possible.
2. Attend licensing orientation session as mandated by your state or province
Contact the licensing agency that deals with licensing assisted care businesses in your state or province. In most areas, you’ll be invited to an orientation session where a representative will ask you questions about the proposed business and property and inform you of all the check-boxes you’ll need to tick before a license to operate is granted.
The rep will tell you how many residents you can service according to the size of the facility, how the on-site inspection process works, and how much capital (ie., 3, 6, 12 months operating expenses) you’ll need access to before the business is green-lighted for launch.
Knowing these and other rules are the key not just for running a successful assisted living company, but also business success in general.
3. Determine what business structure you’ll be using
In the United States you have the choice between structuring your business as an LLC, corporation, partnership or sole proprietor. In Canada, the choice is between a sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership, or a corporation. In the European Union and UK, the choices are sole trader, partnership, private, or public company.
There are subtle differences between each designation, but it’s important to consult a business or tax accountant in the area you’ll do business before choosing a structure, as the right tax setup will minimize your financial burden to the federal government.
4. Begin recruiting qualified staff to care for residents
This step will be crucial to the success of the business and well-being of residents. You’ll already have been advised as to the required resident-to-staff ratios required for the proposed facility when you went through orientation with the licensing agency.
You’ll want more than the minimum number of staff available in the event of employees becoming ill, or otherwise unable to attend work. Remember that your facility is subject to regular inspections without prior notice, so compliance in all areas is essential for long-term success.
5. Begin marketing the facility
The size and scope of your assisted living facility will obviously have an impact on marketing budget. For instance, a small assisted living home housing 10 or fewer residents should be able to fill to capacity by placing ads in the local newspaper and radio, along with ads placed in Craigslist and Kijiji. A larger facility, with many rooms to fill will require more of a national/international approach to draw in residents.
There are a number of advertising options available regardless the size of the facility. Exhaust all inexpensive means that you can, such as offline print and radio, and online social media such as YouTube, Facebook, etc., before diving headlong into expensive AdWords campaigns and niche magazine advertisements.
Also, make accounts with the major online search engines geared toward the type of assisted living you provide (ie., senior living, physically/mentally challenged adults, troubled youth, etc.)
You could DIY the whole process, but I recommend for you to work with an assisted living marketing company, as you’d better to allocate your time to crucial business operations and leave your marketing plan execution to the pros.
Starting and successfully running an assisted living company is anything but easy. The legwork required to get licensed and launch will seem daunting at times, but preparation and patience will make the entire process much more bearable.
Always focus on creating a good relationship with your local government, assisted care licensing agency, and any recruitment firms that can help you draw in quality employees and residents – in addition to other service providers that can benefit the business.
You’re not just starting a business intent on making a profit, you’re creating a life-line for people who rely on the care of others just to meet their basic daily needs. Pat yourself on the back for giving back to humanity, but never take it for granted!