Private Equity Bets on Senior Living Marketing’s Growing Power

The senior living sector has seen an influx of outside investment dollars as the industry anticipates growth in the coming years and decades. Equity investments have targeted development projects and operations, and now they’re honing in on another area: marketing.

Private equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partners, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently made an investment in one of senior living’s largest marketing companies: GlynnDevins.

Founded in 1987 by Jim Glynn and George Devins, the privately-held company, based in Overland Park, Kansas, brought in $35 million in revenue last year. The companies’ management did not disclose the investment sum, but says the investment will be used to grow GlynnDevins amidst a time of overall expansion in senior living.

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We sat down with GlynnDevins co-founder Jim Glynn to learn about the company’s expansion plans, why senior living needs to change its marketing message and why the need for good communication between the industry and its prospective customers is more important now than ever.

SHN: What’s the big picture perspective on private equity investing in marketing for senior living companies? 

Jim Glynn: When you have a firm that’s very strong financially and they look at the sector and our company for investment, it is just one more positive for us in senior living. People are taking notice.

SHN: You currently have more than 120 employees and operate in 38 states. What does this investment mean for company expansion? 

JG: In having a strategic partner, it’s very much about growth. We think with the right stimulus and resources we can grow this to be a bigger and better firm because of the sector we serve. Occupancy levels are good, but we feel they can be much higher.

With the right resources, we can drive those levels higher. We have clients at north of 95%, and they know the benefits [of marketing]. There’s a lot of potential there. Falfurrias shares that view on potential, which necessarily means more associates and more investment in technology. That might be the biggest part of the story right now, since Falfurrias is connected through technology in other industries such as multifamily housing.

Senior living has been slower to adapt than in other industries such as hospitality, but we see stepping that up in senior living. It’s all very promising. We plan to grow, improve occupancy and we think Falfurrias will help with that.

SHN: Are there specific channels where you are seeing growth potential? Where are clients seeing efforts return most on their investment?

JG: There are a couple of areas, including digital and data analytics. First, in the digital space, it’s all about automation and connecting with people in the way they want to be connected with.

When seniors don’t move forward [with a senior living decision], often it’s about misperceptions. Now we are able to proactively reach people so they can learn more about what these communities can offer.

The second area is data analytics. Who are the people most likely to move into a senior living community? What is their profile? What are they interested in? It’s understanding the demographics more completely and putting people most likely in front of sales staff who can tell the detailed story.

We’re able to identify the people most likely to buy. Most senior living communities have a database; in general this is a CRM (customer relationship management) program. Some are barely functioning, and some have a lot of data. We want to find that data and find the person most likely to buy into that community.

Senior living is slower to adapt. We want to put this on steroids and we think we can be the leader on that.

SHN: Where does senior living need to improve most in marketing? 

JG: First of all, on misperceptions. We’d like to see the name CCRC go away, and just call the communities senior living communities. We’re telling [prospects] there’s a great future if they move sooner rather than later.

As far as acceptance, we have been very effective in generating inquiries. We continue to be successful with lead generation by digital means, and most of our clients are adapting. But for future clients, it’s about the most efficient way to tell a story and get seniors raising hands and asking ‘tell me more.’

We are also able to help make sales staff more efficient. This can be a daunting task. We need to make data more actionable for sales staff and it will help drive occupancy up.

SHN: Will GlynnDevins change its look and feel as a result of the private equity investment?

JG: Where are Jim and George going forward? We do hope for the beach, but we love senior living. We have been in it since 1981 and it’s exciting to see what’s happening here and we’re staying. There’s still an incredible satisfaction for us, with more communities adapting for successful aging and more hospitality coming into the industry. This bodes very well for our seniors.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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