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Listen to Episode 109

Hear from Josh and Taylor Furst, Implementation Specialist, about what insights you can draw from our recent Senior Living Operations Report – from market trends to planning ahead and more on overcoming operational challenges. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Hello listeners, we've got Taylor Furst here with us from the Dude. Hey, Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Furst  
Hello. Thank you for having me.

Josh Peach  
So, Taylor, before we get started, we want to know a little bit of who you are? What you do here? And then we'll get into the meat and potatoes.

Taylor Furst  
Well, I'm an Implementation Specialist here at Dude Solutions. I work exclusively with TheWorxHub, TheWorxHub is kind of what I do. I love it. I love the client base that I work with. I work with senior living communities, almost exclusively, you know, the odd church or membership organization here and there. And I've implemented a hospital or two in my day but senior living organizations are kind of where I spend my time and who I work with the majority of the time.

Josh Peach  
Cool, and you've been here for a couple of years?

Taylor Furst  
Yep, I've been here for two years. Work through a lot of clients, build a lot of really great relationships.

Josh Peach  
So you probably have hundreds under your belt that you've talked to, work with. 

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, absolutely. 

Josh Peach  
You have a little bit of insight, got a little bit of experience. So it's great. I'm glad you could come here and talk to me and our listeners a little bit about the senior living report that we just did. That we just got the results on where we had roughly 350 or so respondents that were directors, VP, C-level professionals, specifically in senior living.

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, it's really great. And it's kind of indicative of the fact that we're an industry leader in senior living, and it's somewhere where we have a lot of market penetration. So getting that much feedback, really provides solid data for us.

Josh Peach  
And a little more about what the operations report is, what does it contain? What is it? What do we come away with?

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, so it's really just kind of getting into, you know, information, some struggles, some successes, things that are going on in the market today, what people are seeing as market trends and, you know, things that are coming down the pipe as things that need to be overcome.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. And we've got an aging country, right? There's a lot of folks that are going into Senior Living Centers, there's more showing up around the country. I see them popping up all over the place.

Taylor Furst  
Absolutely, yeah. It's the largest generation in history is about to retire. And you know, to kind of cope with that a lot of senior living communities are building like crazy. And as they're doing that they're dealing with not ununique struggles, you know, dealing with things that are kind of in line with a lot of maintenance operations in the country.

Josh Peach  
And forgive me for my somewhat ignorance on this, but it's a competitive market. It's not like they're all state run, they're individually-owned, or there's a group that owns most of them. 

Taylor Furst  
Absolutely, there are privately funded organizations, there are publicly funded organizations. But there are a lot out there, there's a lot of choice and actually choices is one of the biggest issues that these communities are dealing with at this point because you're dealing with a generation that, you know, the the older generations, the greatest generation, you know, they were more receptive to "let me just do what's told to me, my kids going to send me here, I'm going to go here," and now this generation of seniors is about to retire that that's used to making their own decisions. They want the gym and Wi-Fi and the pool and they want these amenities, and they can choose "Okay, that one has what I want that one doesn't, that one might be a little bit more expensive, but you know, I've worked more than any other generation in history so I can afford it." 

Josh Peach  
Right so they're going around, they're shopping around for the best one. I've seen, we just had one in our town that got built and I mean the amenities, and you know a lot of the folks are in their late 70s, early 80s the amenities and just the opulence of it when you walk in it's almost overwhelming.

Taylor Furst  
It really is. It's crazy but that kind of illustrates, well, there's that end of senior living but there's this other end of senior living that's not talked about as much you see these palaces built these collisional rolling hills and, and be able to place that look like resorts. But then there's this other thing that's called the middle market that's not being addressed, that is kind of falling through the cracks. It's for the people who, you know, don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put into their retirement you know, as a buy in like a country club. And don't have $7,000 a month.

Josh Peach  
Or it's established space that's been around for 20 or 30 years. It may or may not have had those resources to keep up with, you know, the changing or the evolution and growth of the market.

Taylor Furst  
Exactly. So, so those are definitely challenges being faced by the industry moving forward is addressing the people who don't have half a million dollar stowed away for the next step in their lives.

Josh Peach  
Right. So, you know, let's talk about this report. You know, were there any surprising statistics that kind of stuck out for you that you're like, "wow, I didn't know that" or like "that makes a lot of sense".

Taylor Furst  
There a couple big ones. The first big one is the 42% of organizations don't have a succession plan. Now,  with that moving to the next step, moving to the next order of leadership, you know, the next team that's going to come through. I tell my clients all the time that using TheWorxHub, using preventative maintenance, using templates, these are all knowledge-retention tools. And when you're building the system, you're not building it for the team you have today. You're building it for the team. You're going to have six months, one year, two years, five years, 10 years from now. Because yeah, the maintenance industry, not only are our clients getting older, but our client the end-users are getting older. 

Josh Peach  
And our facilities folks.

Taylor Furst  
Exactly maintenance, you know the average age of so many of these communities for the maintenance staff is creeping up to the residents. You know, so you get these groups of 60-65 year olds who've been doing the job for 25 years. And so that guy who's doing the job is the only guy who's ever looked at that boiler. And he knows every shimmy. And every every loose nut, he knows exactly what's done on a daily basis. So when he leaves, he takes all that knowledge with him, right? And we want to get every scrap of that knowledge into the system to make sure that the next guy can step in and know what to do.

Josh Peach  
So I've been in this industry for about forever over 20 years, and 20 years ago, those 60-65-year-olds creeping up getting ready to retire. You know, I used to say what do you want to you know, what do you want to leave for a legacy? Back then there was a lot of like, I don't know, where do I leave it? What do I do? And just from your own personal, you know, experiences with talking to people, maybe from the report or maybe from your personal experience? Are you seeing some of those older employees and facility directors being more embraced to, hey, I want to leave something, I want to leave a legacy. They just might not know where it is, or where do I look? How do I, you know, how do I find it?

Taylor Furst  
Yeah. And that's the great thing about the industry that I work in, and I'm sure a lot of other industries are the same, but you don't get to work at a senior living community for 25 years, and not enjoy the fact that you work at a senior living community. It's a great, great group of folks. They care about the residents that they serve, and they all just want to leave it and and make sure that it keeps running at the standard at which they want it to run.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. And from the report, from your experience, did you see a lot with when that's a staggering percentage? 42% don't have a succession plan. Yeah, we always want to have a succession plan. We always want to know if this, then what? Do you see that they're overwhelmed with that? When I hear 42% don't have a succession plan. I go, "Wow, that's that's pretty overwhelming that half of the folks that responded this have no idea what's going to happen next, when somebody leaves when I get hit by a bus, what goes on?" When you're dealing with, you know, these new experiences and setting people up and doing implementation, do you feel that tenseness or they just embrace it, they soak it right in and they just like say, "hey, Taylor, take me on this ride and make it magical?"

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, not right away. There's usually an aha moment, though, as we move through training, because that's, what I do. I manage the training process of my clients. So I get them up to speed and then hopefully have a long term adoption, building these long term relationships through, you know, the multiple applications that we serve in TheWorxHub. But but there's you it's usually not right away.

Josh Peach  
So being scared is okay.

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, it's that first few weeks is, you know, drinking from a firehose, it's learning the the system coming from half the time it's coming from, you know, spreadsheets and post it notes right in their maintenance system, and they're learning this new thing. They're getting their mobile phones out there, you know, getting engaged in the day to day. And then when we start working on their scheduled work orders, their PMs, they're having that knowledge retention conversation, getting their assets into the system, starting to think about future values, replacement costs, you know, the idea that TheWorxHub can help you track things, you know, 10-15-20 years out, so that the $150,000 boiler that you need to replace in 15 years that doesn't creep up on you. You know, that's not a surprise you want to get that, yeah, we're outside the service life of this piece of equipment, we need to replace it next year. That's, you know, all the sudden, that's two employees that you were planning on hiring next year that you don't get to hire because you need to put all that money into your boiler.

Josh Peach  
Are you looking for a way to get inspired about your work as a facility or operations professional? Join us at our annual maintenance and operations conference Dude University in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 3-6, 2020. You'll be able to attend educational sessions about your day-to-day work, meet professionals from across the country that work in your and other industries, enjoy food friends and fun in the Dude's hometown. Learn more and register at university.dudesolutions.com.

So let's do this. It is roughly half of the people that responded and probably half or close to it out there that didn't respond, they're looking at this right? They're looking at a whiteboard that's got nothing on it. What advice would or steps would you suggest to those 42% and then after it, let's talk about people that are getting started what they should have a good idea of, you know, hey, we've got nothing, we've got a clean slate, we've no idea where we're going, you know, what should they be looking at first, what should they be considering? What should they be taken from this report as like a "This makes a whole lot of sense of where I should start and how I should get to start going.

Taylor Furst  
You write down your process. So much of what we deal with in healthcare, you know, there's a lot of regulation. Now, whether it's on the hospital side, you're dealing with national regulation. On the senior living side, there are a number of different entities that they get involved in regulation, but the regulations tend to refer back to the processes that you have written down. So go look at your processes because you have to have them written and that's just part of doing business in this industry. Go look at your processes, and then go look at what you're doing. Are you serving your processes? Are you meeting your service promise to your residents, your staff? And if not, then you need to, you know, you need to start looking into the, into the way you do your job. I talked to, I have to give her a shout out Amy Brahm, she's one of our absolute rock stars on TheWorxHub. She gave me this quote, and it was, I'm not going to get it verbatim, but saying, you know, maintenance technicians are professionals, and they need the right tools. And I'm not just talking about hammers, and nails and screwdrivers and wrenches. I'm talking about they need a tablet, and they need TheWorxHub, and they need it in the pocket, so they can do the right job wherever they are on campus. They don't need to carry on a stack of work orders that might be three days out of date. They need TheWorxHub and they need constant updates.

Josh Peach  
So one of the things I'm going to drive into your story, if you don't mind. The importance of surveying your clients or customers. And what happens a lot of times is when you don't have anything, when you don't have a succession plan, that's the big fear. I don't want to know like, I don't want to know how bad we're doing. I don't know how bad people are looking at me. So I think one of the best first things you can do in any organization is survey your clients. That gives you a starting point. You had an experience was that was based on a survey, right?

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, it was based on a survey that the client I just started talking to today said that the reason that they started using TheWorxHub, the reason they purchased TheWorxHub was due to the results of a resident survey, saying that too many things were falling through the cracks, too much was moving too slowly, and there was no transparency back to the residents. And everything that they were doing everything on paper, they were not responding, they were, you know, their techs were turning in their work orders maybe once a week. So there was no you know, real time update, and realizing that TheWorxHub was solution that solved those needs, and kind of closes the loop and allows residents to see what's going on, you know, you get a real time accounting of, you know, when things are completed.

Josh Peach  
You might not know, you might think you're doing a good job. But without that data without that spreadsheet of information without a report like this to see what other people are doing, this is another piece engraves we can give this report to people if they want it, right. So we've got a 36 page report that's got the respondents, the 350 or so respondents, information, quotes, statistics, if you want it, and we'll put a link on the on the podcast episode. And hopefully it's a good resource for you to start to evaluate your next steps. Which that brings us to the next step. You got somebody that says hey, all right, I've done my survey. I've looked I found my processes. They're in this notepad they're here, they're everywhere. I want to aggregate, put it all together in one place. Where do you know, that's a lot of stuff. You have like a so for me, you know, my specialties always been in education. So it's a learning experience having you here which I'm really appreciative of. For me, I would always say like life safety, that's an important one, your HVAC. That's a high ticket item, you know, the air conditioning and heat always goes in the coldest and hottest day of the year. And the most important people, the people pay the bills are the ones that are in it when it breaks, you know, what, is that the same thing and senior living?

Taylor Furst  
Absolutely, absolutely. And there was actually a really another really fun stat that from a Capital Planning standpoint, which is another tool we have in TheWorxHub there are, I think it was 24% don't have Capital Planning out beyond five years. And think about that fact that you know, he sure there are some things that you're going to have that are inside that five year range. But you know, so many of your pieces of equipment, your HVAC, your air handling units, things like that are going to have a 15-20 year lifespan, so all of a sudden something that costs over $100,000 isn't on the roadmap. You're not budgeting for the, you know, if you're, if you're not budgeting for that more than five years out, you're not going to, it's not going to be impactful. Yeah, you know, trying to save for something that big, that's got its own budget line item, parking lots, roofs those things that are essential to, your clients health and happiness, like a parking lot, you know, sure, it might not look great. All of a sudden your resident trips on right now, these are the older folks that's a serious issue.

Josh Peach  
Right, yeah. And that's, you know, there's a quote, Andy Kraft, he says we check our plan annually, but it's a 20 year plan to properly plan for capital needs. You really need that, a five year plan just doesn't provide the future vision you need. For example, if a boiler that has a 20 year useful life, but I don't even address it until year 15, five years out, I'll never have enough enough to replace it in time. You know, we call it I used to call it the threat radar. You know, what's on my threat radar and some of these high ticket items, I mean, you're going to have stuff that breaks that's unforeseen, no matter how detailed, no matter how much stuff you have, but if you can get 80-90% understanding that's pushing out more than five years of, you know, expectation understanding. You're doing all right. Right. And that comes into PM, the importance of doing PM, so I'm jumping the gun on that, sorry.

Taylor Furst  
I was going to take that turn precisely. And that's the you know, with with any system but with our systems, in particular, the data you pull out of the system is only as good as the data you put in. And making sure that you have the right asset data is essential. And then making sure you have the right PM data. So if you're able to look at a piece of equipment, that's 50-100 thousand dollars, and you're doing quarterly PMs on it, and at the end of that year, you're able to pull accurate data that tells you how many work orders, not just your plan work, your quarterlys, but you're able to pull that reactive work as well because you're tying that asset back to all of your reactive work and you see you're doing 15 reactive work orders between every quarterly PM and your scheduled to replace that in three years. But you can't afford to replace that in three years. You need to squeeze another two to five years out of it. Maybe you bump that PM schedule back to monthly, you're getting more regular touches on it to reduce the number of reactive touches on it, and hopefully expand and extend the life of it. Yeah. So that's the knowledge is power when it comes to that.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. And and that's, you know, one of the big pieces to our software that I was in, I was actually I wasn't a wrench-turner, I worked for a property management company that was basically delegated a lot of the work, I cleaned the toilets and vacuum the floors. It's about the extent of my experience, but you know, the question wasn't typically whether or not work was getting done. It was capturing that work and being able to say that it's getting done. So one of the big things is, is that asset data that you're talking about, you know, how do you suggest people that look at this report and see some of these numbers, or it doesn't seem like they have a lot going on, which they probably do. What do you suggest to them about getting that asset data? What are the ways to do it? How should they do it? What's kind of the best, the best way for different types of folks that you know, someone that's got the money, someone who doesn't?

Taylor Furst  
Yeah, I mean, that the best way at the end of the day is using a, you know, our professional services to get that data in the system. As I said, the data that you're able to pull out, it's only as good as the data you put in. And if you use our professional services, we know that that's going to be the right data, you're going to have the right information, it's gonna be clean. It's it's not going to make your eyes cross trying to look at it. But if you don't have the budget this year, you know, work with it, work with an implementor or work with our team. You know, make sure you get consistent data, you know, clear, concise and consistent. That's my tagline. When I talk about data, make sure that you're getting proper naming can mentions you're now you're getting things in the right way you're you're managing your data, you're retiring the stuff that you're not using anymore, you're putting the new data in, and you're attaching those assets to work orders on a regular basis. 

Josh Peach  
So, a couple last pieces here, you know, one of the things, I'm curious just retention, you think that doing all this stuff, if you start to implement if you take this report and go, "Hey, I gotta get a plan together, I gotta improve my plan." Do you see and do you experience? Or do you talk to clients that say, you know what, my retention is up or I've got people that are sticking around and they're happier in their work environment. Are you seeing that because I saw a couple things that would indicate to me that a better work environment is a better chance of someone sticking around.

Taylor Furst  
Definitely, that's definitely it. I mean, I talked to to younger guys and even guys that aren't younger, who are averse to technology and you know, you get that by and you say trust me use it for a month. You know guys who say I don't like technology. It's you know, I don't like Big Brother, knowing how much time I'm spending or how many work orders I'm doing. But after a month, you get him saying, Wow, yeah, I feel empowered because I know the boss knows exactly how many work orders I'm doing and exactly how much time I'm spending doing it. Yeah. So kind of empowering the staff. And then, you know, you get that clean data. And, you know, if everyone starts tracking every work order they do, then maybe next year, we're able to hire a specialist, we're able to hire someone on staff to reduce the amount of work that everyone's doing, because we've actually shown how much work we do.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. Well, before we get you back out on the floor and taking care of our incredible clients, do you see any other trends with the future of operations, do you see anything that's exciting? Are there any more things that came in this report that you go "Yeah, this is this is kind of the future, this is what we're seeing people start to do more of?"

Taylor Furst  
Technology is exciting. I mean, that's the the future of the industry. You think about the fact that, yes, that you know, we're talking about senior living and people don't usually think about technology associated with that. But the the most technologically says not just the largest, but the most technologically savvy and needy generation, you know, these are, you know, it's not my generation that grew up with a smartphone, but it's people who have over the last 10 years developed a dependence on smartphones who carry around you know, iPhone 12 or whatever we're on these days. And they want to be able to you know, we have Alexa as being standard and senior living residences, so it's it's being able to cope with the the new wave.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, no, I think you hit it spot on. I was actually going to do a post today on LinkedIn that was going to be a joke from somebody that I saw was thinking about trading my iPhone 11 in for a flip phone and you know, because it wasn't it was only 15 years ago we were using something called Nextel with Direct Connect for communication.

Taylor Furst  
I miss my construction phone.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, I didn't have any of this stuff. Right. So I think you're spot on, I think the technology is going to get exciting, it's only going to get smarter, more intuitive, it's only going to help us with the challenges. And why I brought that retention is that we're in a very challenging time, skilled labor is hard to find. So the most important thing is to retain the skilled labor that you have for as long as you can.

Taylor Furst  
And to tie back kind of everything that we just talked about. You've got an aging workforce, who's getting closer their, you know, golfing, and fishing days, and you've got this younger workforce, you know, those kids aren't going to want to walk around with a stack of work orders on a clipboard, you know, you get to hand them a smartphone, and say track your work orders on here, that's more engaging to them. It's something easier to swallow, throw in your pocket, you know, instead of 200 work orders.

Josh Peach  
Well, I gotta tell you, I'm gonna let you get back to your day job, but I really appreciate you giving a little bit of time here. Giving some insight and sharing some of the stats on the report and appreciate everything that you do for our clients day in and day out, which is the most important thing with the excitement that you have to share here knowing those stats, those numbers, those percentages, thanks a lot for that. That'll do it for this episode. We're going to have the link to Taylor's most recent blog, we'll have the show notes as well as the ability for you to download and click on a link for the report that we have here on Senior Living in case you want to give it a look. That'll do it. Thanks, Taylor. Have a great day.

Taylor Furst  
Thanks, Josh. Appreciate it.

Josh Peach  
Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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