Aspire for More with Erin

Curating an Experience for Your Residents a conversation with Loe Hornbuckle

February 15, 2024 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
Curating an Experience for Your Residents a conversation with Loe Hornbuckle
Show Notes Transcript

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Erin:

Welcome everyone today. I have the low horn buckle with me. And if you listened to my think tank recap episode, he is the low horn buckle that I met in Texas wearing a cowboy hat, although I think horn buckle is more English than it is. Texas. Is that correct? I don't know. Scottish,

Loe:

the, the Scots, they. They went on to become cowboys. I'm not, I'm neither really Scottish nor cowboy. I'm all hat, no cattle. So I just, I think I look good in cowboy hats, so you just got to go with what works.

Erin:

Yes. He made quite the entrance and his name preceded him. it was quite like a low hornbuckle in Texas moment for me. but I was able to sit by you on the. Second day of think tank and I had my own inner dialogue issues with wanting to sit by an owner operator of a senior living community, my own issues. But then you started talking about Genesis and Phil Collins. And I thought, okay. I can connect with this guy. We don't have to talk about senior living, but we can talk about Phil Collins and Genesis. So

Loe:

I'm always down for a good Genesis, Phil Collins conversation. and it was, I think it was that day that I figured out that we were actually on George straights property, and the whole time I didn't know. So that was, there's a lot of musical, relevance, to the conference for both of us.

Erin:

yes. And it's a great way to understand that you can connect with people, even people. At higher different levels, whatever, through humanity, just through anything. And so that's what I took. And then the rest of the day was history. I felt like we did a good job helping each other. so tell me, before we start, we're recording this the day after the Dallas Cowboys loss. So we'll give it just a moment, silence if we need to, love.

Loe:

no, I'm okay. I've slept, I think I'll be fully better tomorrow. I think today you're going to get like reflective, somewhat somber, which is probably good. I'm usually a dervish on these things. So perhaps a slightly more buttoned up low would be to everyone's benefit. I think. Okay.

Erin:

Okay.

Loe:

Okay. We'll take it. Dallas Cowboys. 2023

Erin:

season. Yes. As the weather in the Dallas area is freezing. So you know, it just. Is par for the course, right? Yeah. So talk about low hornbuckle and what he's doing for the industry. And you are an owner and an operator of senior living communities and a vision that I have not heard before. So I'm excited to dive into it. So tell us about you and. Your companies in your

Loe:

communities. Yeah. Thanks. I, I'm happy to do that. I'll try to spend just a little bit of time on, on kind of the background. I think everybody wants to understand that. so I got in the business very randomly. I think, what happened for me is that, my dad passed away, relatively young. he was under 60. And, had a, a very negative experience on hospice and, the illness leading up to, and it was just time that a life event for me, I was moving away from Louisiana and, was relocating to Texas and was going to take some time off and travel the world. And then my dad got sick and actually my trip got cut and cut short and in half, I didn't, I still haven't made it to Europe, but. that's okay. And, just dealing with all that. I think that had a profound impact on me and I don't want, I don't want to be intellectually dishonest, nothing, it wasn't like something happened to my dad. And then I was like, oh, I'm going to go start this company. It was more like, I think it opened my heart up to things that in the past I really wouldn't have been open to in the past. and so as time went on, it just became more and more clear to me that. That being successful in business, wasn't enough for me. I wanted to be successful in something that I could be proud of, and there's obviously lots of ways to make money. There's lots of ways to find success. There's lots of ways to, take care of your family or, give a charity, whatever it is that you want to accomplish, but if you don't feel good about, The place that you're going to spend, half of your waking hours. And if you don't really feel good about the mission that you're doing, then, to me, it feels a bit hollow. and so I was in a sales job and I learned a lot and I wouldn't be able to do what I did if it weren't for those opportunities. but, that kind of paradigm shift, I was moving, I was traveling the world. I was getting exposure, different ideas and different concepts. And then I just stumbled into the industry. and so I started with a, I remodeling a house into an eight bedroom. So I took a traditional, 4, 000 square foot house that, maybe had 4 bedrooms and a couple of living rooms and I converted it to, 8 bedroom, 8 bath house, with the intention of, opening our 1st assisted living. It's the 1st Sage Oak we started construction in 2015. it opened and then we started operations in 2016. I've been at this for, shade under 9 years. and, that's how we started. and ultimately what we figured out was, is that we really believed a lot in the small home model. a lot of people call it boutique. We actually have a trademark on boutique assisted living and memory care, but that's a whole other story. and so we were one of the first companies, if not the first company to use that, there's some debate about that, but, ultimately what we, really liked is we love this small home model and all the advantages that it has, but there are some incredible, Challenge of that model and, when you have a care home with 8 residents, right? The activity program is going to be lacking. There may not be enough people in the house, to justify, private chef and really elevating the meal program. and. You're also going to have very blended populations. So it's not uncommon if you had six people with dementia and then two people that were more assisted living type residents, but wanted to live in a home. So much more blended environment. The homes are retrofitted, so they don't necessarily have, they're not purpose built. So they have some great things about them, but there's also some things that you would change if you could do all that. and so after having 6, 8 bed homes, we started the journey of, Hey, what if we took our concept and put every home on the same campus and kind of moved out of the residential space more into the commercial space and that's really our signature product now. So we got our start in a certain spot and that was where our education was formed. I think what gives us a really interesting perspective is that. I don't know of very many other people. I know of some people that are doing similar stuff to what say joke is doing, but none that come from our background, meaning that if you work for a hospital or you work for a big building, and then you go try to build. A campus of 5 or 6 16 bed homes on it. You don't actually understand the genesis of the concept. I don't know anything else, but small facilities. And so we've really tried to do is we've tried to say, Hey, if this is the best model, but it has these problems, is there a way for us to solve some of these problems? And That next evolution for us was the campus and start our signature product. We have a campus in Lake Charles, Louisiana and a campus in Denton. Some people call them neighborhoods. And instead of having several care homes spread throughout a city, it's, 5 acres or in case of Denton, 20 acres. And it's got, 5 and 6, 16 bed homes. So between 80 and 96 beds total all on 1 campus. And the campus design is the. I would say the middle stage of evolution. And then what we're obviously going to talk a little bit about today is that we've now started to see that having these six houses, some people have the idea, or these five houses in Lake Charles. Some of these people have the idea that you want to try to make all the houses similar, right? So you want to almost like a bell curve. You want to have, certain people in certain situations and then have all the houses matched. And so your staff can be interchangeable. The term I would say, it's almost like being in the military, right? You got your GI, your government issue, right? So you got your say joke issue and everything. It starts to be the same over and over again. And you can imagine how operationally that would be very simple, right? however, it's not actually how people want to live. we hear time and time again, that people really want their mom, their dad, their spouse or themselves to be around other people. Whether it be of the same gender, whether it be the same religion, whether it be, of, the same acuity level, Someone that needs a lot of care versus someone that doesn't need as much care. And it's especially true when it comes to dementia, because with dementia, you have this experience where you have people that are. You could talk to them for 5 minutes and you really may not know they have dementia and they have the same condition that someone 5 years down the road is nonverbal needs help with every activity of daily living and a lot of people struggle with those 2 populations colliding, especially the people that are quote unquote earlier in the journey. and as we kept evolving, kept thinking about things are our next, look toward the future and something that we've executed both communities is we took a full memory care house. And we thought about the populations and we said, how do we split these populations up to improve the experience? So you spend your entire career trying to fill a house and we said, Hey, let's split it up. And so that was a big bet for us, because you'd love for that to happen organically. You'd love for people to just come like 3 here. I'm coming with 4 friends and I'm going to we're all alike and we have these things. That's what you would love to have happened. But we actually had to Create it, and create the concept and, there was some considerable resistance from some families and some families were very excited about it. but now, after, a couple of months in Denton and we're on week 2 in, in, in Lake Charles, It's starting to accelerate and we're starting to see that there's this desire. And so we've had in the last couple of months, I've had people that in the past, I probably would not have been able to move into Sage Oak. choose us. I'm talking like very early stage, a very early stage dementia, very much capable of bluffing someone that they have no cognitive impairment at all. And we've had a couple of people move in. Or deposit that we probably would not have gone into a relationship down the road. And so now we have both a product that is appealing to the early stage folks. And we also have the product that allows us to keep folks through most of the time end of life and not having to discharge. to a nursing home or send them to hospice as a place, things of that nature. And so it's really rewarding because we've always prided ourselves on, not having people move out, not have to go to skilled nursing. But at the same time, when you have those blended populations, we actually turn away other people, Accidentally, We want to help them and we want to educate them. We want them to have those opportunities, but at the end of the day, if they don't like the energy or, they've, they've got the diagnosis for a year, they're coming straight from their house. They're mobile, they can carry on a conversation. They don't necessarily want to be around someone that's totally different than them. and maybe it reminds them too much of what's coming and it's scary, right? there's all kinds of reasons why someone may not want that. the question is, do you fight that, or do you create something that works to solve the 2 problems? The 2 problems are how to get to people that have dementia diagnosis to move into memory care communities sooner. It's a big problem. And the 2nd thing is how to make sure they can age in place and they don't have to constantly move. and so I think, what we call curated care, gives us the ability to do that. And that's obviously what we're really excited about right now. We love our model. but, Because the model's new and it's not that common of a model. We learn stuff every day about what the model can do and what the model can be. and I think we're just really comfortable asking these questions and, it takes a little bit of a crazy person to go, Hey, we've got this full house, let's split it up and see if this happens like we think it will. And so that's what we did.

Erin:

the word curation is like a buzzword. I feel like it's like a buzzword right now. And I really took the time and I looked up curation, like what is the definition of curation? Okay. And then like, how are we applying that to senior living through this model that you're talking about? And it's, is, fascinating to think about and to watch and see how successful it will be because it is creating. An atmosphere, an environment, an experience for like minded, like affected individuals. You and I spoke about it before. I worked at a larger memory care community and it had four individual hallways of 16 apartments. And so I always sold it as For individual communities with the ability to come together in one large, environment for activities or for, music or meetings or whatever. And so it did apply to the people who liked less stimulation and the people who liked big group. Simulation, one thing that we did think about constantly was this, this idea that you're talking about, which was curation in a question that was asked to us all the time was, does each hallway, each neighborhood have its own definition of who lives there, right? And we couldn't divide that out to men or women because we never had a consistent 16 minute. One time, right? And then you wouldn't be able to rent a room to a woman to be on a hall full of men. And we didn't have that defining, kind of idea of what each hallway would be based on acuity, which in my state, you don't have much acuity in memory care. So that wasn't going to be it. And so it's fascinating to me that you are able to come up with those definitions. And Risk it, like you said, like literally risk determining what the outcome of this curation experiment is. And I have to say that is very bold and it's strong and it's exciting to see, if it works. You actually have the opportunity to do that and. Yeah,

Loe:

I think, thanks, I think for someone like me, I would say, look, first off, anybody, this entrepreneur, Anybody that's gone off on their own. I know that you've recently started that journey and you're figuring those things out. And there's a big part of that, that, that comes and what I find so interesting. so I think anybody that's an entrepreneur, Before I digress, think about it's an entrepreneur has to start to get comfortable with what risks they can take. and, I think, if you have this. If you have this design, if you have this campus concept, you have this neighborhood concept and these are individually licensed houses, they do not connect in any way. So the, what you would describe or used to work where you had the nurse's station in the center and then the 4 wings, and this is not an insult, but if you were going to design a prison, physically, it might look a lot like that. prisons that have the guard station in the center and they can see down all the hallways. Okay. These are homes. They aren't connected, to each other. They're individually licensed. And so you could be having a medical emergency happening in one house. The other house is having a party and have no idea. And so you have to have, in my opinion to do curation, curated care to the level, that I would want to do it. You have to have that physical separation. Number 1. it's a barrier for entry for the vast majority of, competitive folks out there. The second thing is you got to be committed operationally, to figuring that out. it's a lot easier to just, Hey, we've got an open room. Take it. We've got an open room. Take it. But if you really care about wanting to someone wanting to have a certain type of experience, if you've got a house, that's. They get into concerts and you want to move somebody in that, that, that can get into sensory overload. you're just going to ruin their experience and they're going to complain and they're going to end up moving or whatever the case may be. So if you can start there and go Hey, where's the right place versus a place, so that, that takes a very strong operational commitment. It also takes a lot of courage, right? Cause a lot of communities, they're. Sales philosophy, it's a bit like boiling a frog, right? if you take a frog and throw it in hot water, it just jumps out. But if you slowly dial up the temperature, the frog will remain in the water. This is a, maybe a Cajun food reference for some of you that have never heard of this. This is how frogs get cooked. so what they do is they say, okay, we're going to move you in and we're going to give you this special, or, Hey, you really probably need memory care, but we're going to pretend that assisted living is okay. Cause after two or three months, then you'll want to move to memory care and all that stuff. And so there's a lot of companies that are built on telling people what they think they want to hear. And I think one of the defining characteristics is that our company wants to tell people what they need to hear. And, they need to understand that, Hey, if you're appropriate for memory care, here's why you need to consider it. Which kind of go in full circle with some of the people that we've got that were more independent than we would normally get in the past. They can walk into the high, high functioning, we haven't quite come up with the branding labels, but they can walk into the high functioning house and see people walking around carrying on conversations that remind them of themselves, that remind them of their loved ones, depending on whose eyes we're looking through. Versus, Hey, they're in wheelchairs, this is going on. Maybe somebody is having a behavior that is not, something that's pleasant, right? It's part of the experience, part of the process. And so creating these two different things really matters. And so what the vast majority of other companies have done is that their version of curation is they just kick people out really soon. and in your case, maybe the state made you do it, right? Because once you got to a certain acuity, they wanted to funnel people to a nursing home. But the thing is that what we're trying to do with curation, a nursing home could do it. if they chose to do and really the kind of the grandparent of sort of residential assisted living or residential care homes is the greenhouse model, which started with nursing homes. So you could, in theory, even when, restricted by an assisted living or memory care licensure, you could have nursing home. curated care. this concept is something that I think, everyone intellectually, if you ask them, what would you want for your loved one, what would you want for yourself? they want to be around, look, a lot of people want exposure to other cultures and other things. And I'm not saying that, most people are against diversity. but, there's types of diversity that are, don't make you feel good. And so if something reminds you of your own imminent death. or something reminds you that you're sick, that may not feel good. And so for some people, they want to navigate around that as best they can and then, and face it on their own terms. And so what we like to do is try to put people in the right position to find the most success. and again, and then not be the company that goes, Hey, we want all these perfectly well groomed, well-behaved. nobody has anything negative. Going on in their life, memory care residents, which is a myth, but let's just say that's possible. and then the moment they have a problem, we go, let's send them somewhere else. That's the experience that the vast majority of people have, or the other experiences they take anybody. Can you fog a mirror? Great. We'll move you in with no consideration for someone's needs. And so both of those options sound terrible to me. and we just said, Hey, like we have the physical. Capacity, what we lack is imagination. What we lack is execution. Can we inspire ourselves to try something different? Do what do we think is going to happen? Are people going to go along with this? Do we have the trust of enough clients to participate in this? And then what, how is the market going to respond to that? And I don't, the answer is unclear. We don't know the answer to that. But what I would say is that I'm as committed now to, as it was before I started it, because I've started to see that critical mass, the avalanche of. Hey, this is truly unique and maybe for the first time we're starting to hear something where someone's I've never seen a memory care think this way. and there's a lot of companies that they say, okay, we're special or unique. They maybe they all do. But when your clients are saying, I've never seen anyone think about memory care this way, and we can do this in assisted living too. We just haven't yet. So we have a smaller version of this going in Lake Charles more so than we do in Denton. But, curation can extend beyond dementia care can extend into assisted living curation can be cultural. You could have a house that has certain religious preferences. It could be dietary. it could be clinical, right? You have a house that everyone eats a low sodium diet. You could have a house that everyone is diabetic. one of my favorite. 2 favorite concepts for this is you could have a house with traumatic brain injuries that are younger folks. Cause they really have nowhere to go in the vast majority of us cities. And the other thing, I think that in the geriatric population, that's really overlooked Parkinson's, people with Parkinson's. are often out of place in assisted living and out of place in dementia care environments. And so they really have to choose between if I'm having a tough day with hallucinations, do I want to be, labeled or mistreated by my fellow assisted living residents? Or do I want to go into a memory care unit where my good days I'm very much more, cognitively aware and out of place there and The ability to curate an experience and create curated care really does extend well beyond, the boundaries of what we're currently doing. This just seems based on what we currently have, which is we have a double avatar of high functioning memory care and high acuity memory care. That seemed like the natural place to start, but it's a thousand mile journey. And this is the 1st step. So ultimately, that's our vision for we want this to be. And, over the years, I think it'd be really interesting if, a house 5 somewhere is it's kosher. And then, a year later, it's serving, It's serving diabetic food. And then a year later, it's, it's high functioning dementia kit. You know what I'm saying? Like the house change as people change and the market conditions change. And all we need is an imagination, a commitment to execution. and then we need the marketplace to tell us, Hey, here's holes in the market. Can you fill these holes? and we can.

Erin:

Yeah, going back to, creating or curating that experience, think about, I think about when you're talking, like when you have a community that may be even struggling in occupancy, or maybe that's doing well in occupancy, you could go both ways, but you have somebody come in and you think that they're judging. The amenities and the aesthetics of the community, but they're really not right. They're looking at the residents that are there and it's bringing awareness to them. And so all of a sudden you're fighting the awareness. Like you said, It's like that I'm going, I'm not like them, like I, I loved hearing residents say, there's a lot of old people that live here and I'm not old, and I'm like, Oh, I said, age is just a number. And just because there's gray hair doesn't mean there's not a lot of life here. You know what I mean? And so that's what this experience that you're creating is allowing people to walk in. And whether it's a family member or the actual resident, like in assisted living or in the higher functioning memory care versus the lower functioning memory care. Like they can see themselves there. And that's the feeling that will hook people to want to move in, is acceptance and awareness. And I belong here. And you might be on to something because everything right these days can be, what's the word I'm looking for? Customized, right? Creating, curating and customized, right? that's where you're going.

Loe:

Yeah, and I think, we talk about how to, how to mentor in the business and this is his old, old adage, but, it's a 3 legged stool. And, you've got the families and residents are 1 leg, right? The staff is another leg and the business is the 3rd leg. And, obviously decisions that benefit all 3 are great decisions, right? if you make decisions that help to, but. But ultimately harm, the third leg of the stool, right? If you focus so much on money that you don't take care of your staff, we know how that ends, if if you have a resident that's abusive towards your staff and you don't take any intervention, right? You're so resident focused, right? We all know people in healthcare that they think the resident can do no wrong. And then results as it runs off the staff. We know what happens. And if you make decisions that are like, oh, we're just going to pay our staffs so much money and do everything. It sounds lovely. And, we're not going to charge the residents very much because we're on a mission and on a journey. And then you go out of business. You're no longer on mission anymore. Anyway. 1 thing I really appreciate about, the curated model is that, specialization allows, for us to open. the application pool, for quite a few people. So obviously when we talked on the pre call about this, one of the examples I gave is, in memory care. you've got to have, it's pretty clear to most of your listeners, I'm sure that, being a caregiver in a dementia environment, has a, there's elements to it that are really challenging, right? There's a lot of beauty, there's a lot of joy, all those things, but you may come to work and someone you really love may accuse you of having stolen something from their purse, the day before, right? And you got to have a certain demeanor to be able to process that, but the other thing that happens is because memory care. in, in other parts of the industry, I've literally seen someone move from assisted living to memory care because they became incontinent, no other reason. And so the memory care serves as their kind of de facto, hey, you have needs we can't meet with our staffing ratios and assisted living. Let's try out memory care. We could do a whole show on why that's a horrific idea. If that's what the industry is doing. Then what ends up happening is in order to be a memory care caregiver, you both have to be incredibly physically strong because now you're having to deal with the closest thing to nursing home patients you're going to find in an assisted living in a dementia care setting. You have a lot of people that are full transfers, full ADL assistance, but they also have to be redirected. And so literally you'll go from a range of, I have a person who can't express any need to me verbally, and I have to get inside their head and figure out, and I have to know their schedule so well that I know when she cries out a certain way, it means X. And when she cries out another way, it means Y. Like just think about all of that. Okay. And that enough is not enough. You have to then be strong. Then you have to be able to. Think about all the things going on. You might have a person who's mobile and more of an elopement risk. And so you have to think about that. And then you're like, Oh, this person's in the kitchen and the chef put the knives away, right? So there's just, there's all this stuff that you really have to do. And we can't take all of that away, but if you create a house. Where, the house is incredibly high functioning. There's not much transferring. Now, all of a sudden, the caregiver that's really good at redirecting the caregiver. That's really great at coaxing someone into taking a shower that absolutely needs to take a shower, but is otherwise refusing a shower. they're just great at every aspect of the job, but they just can't consistently lift 200 pounds or they, they're intimidated by, using certain types of medical equipment, like a Hoyer lift or a sit to stand or whatever the case may be. They have a job now and they didn't have a job before. So you're literally asking everyone in a traditional memory care setting to be adequate at so many things that you get these Jack of all trades, masters of none, I think if I'm, if what I need as a person with dementia, if I need redirection, I want the best redirection person possible, if I want to be transferred or need to be transferred, I'd like the person that's got the best angles, the best footwork that understands leverage, that's going to utilize a gait belt properly. I want someone that's an expert on that. And we get this opportunity where all of a sudden the different, we create classes of direct care staff. We create classes of nurses. We create classes of activity coordinators where all of a sudden people that may not have a place because they're not really a jack of all trades, their specific skills and talents can now be used to serve a population. That they may have been frozen out of because they couldn't do the whole job in the traditional broken model. So it solves that piece as well. And you can have people come into the industry, cause what we're going to have happen in our industry is people are gonna have to come from other industries, to help, we, they're going to need immigration or any people like, so let's just say a fast food worker. Who's worked at places where, yeah, if I messed up the order, they yell at me, we've seen people have a milkshake or 2 thrown in their face. We all see the videos, right? if you can deal with that, you probably can redirect someone with dementia, frankly, and if you got the patience to do that, But maybe you don't have the transfer skills or maybe you don't have. So you'd be like, look, I understand customer service. I got the hospitality piece down. Now I need to understand the disease progression. You have a faster path to come into work for us in that scenario. Then you would, if you had to know how to transfer, know this, know enough about medical stuff. You could have a conversation with the nurse, know this. it just, what we ask of the caregivers is incredibly hard. We all know that. Yes. So creating a space for them to where they can really polish on one or two things is really powerful. And the same thing with activity coordination, these poor activity coordinators were like, Hey, there's 20 people under your memory care room, and you've got five of them that literally are total care. How do you engage them at the same time as a person who's exit seeking and I don't think they have a great answer. I think they're doing the best they can with their budgets and all that stuff. And so they often end up creating these either ignoring 1 population or doing, quarter half jobs at, trying to engage everyone. now they. Literally slip into a different character. Like I know I'm going into this house. This is who they need me to be. And when I go to this house, this is who they need me to be. And that can either be the same person slipping into a character. It can be two totally different people because you create different. Product classes and different service offerings inside the same category of assisted living or inside the same category of dementia care. Yeah, it sounds

Erin:

full of intention and lots of communication and it requires the administrator and you to walk, side by side and understand the nuances, but it is exciting. And it, like you said, it is courageous because it's change and. It's not out there much, if at all, when we were talking about this, I loved how you said, you want to change the industry, like from the inside, right? Like completely, make it think differently, which this will clearly, and then along those same veins, we were talking about, entrepreneurs or owner operators, or even administrators, we have to take a risk. And we're not really good risk takers because there's a lot of negative consequences that can be on the other side of those risks. And you made a comment about, how there are zero. Reckless old pilots and I'm like, where do you come up with this stuff?

Loe:

look, it's, I didn't make it up. There's, there's a, I have a couple of friends that are pilots. There's a saying, there's reckless pilots and there's old pilots, there are no reckless old pilots. And I think what it really boils down to what I think, whenever we're talking, and I appreciate the shout out, I didn't invent a quote. sorry, for bursting a bunch of bubble, but, The thing to understand is this, I, in the past used to coach people to start their assisted living businesses. I really don't anymore. One of the standards actually that I have to work with someone is they already have to already have been successful. They've already opened a place. if someone comes to me and says, Hey, I've got a couple of houses open. I'd like to open. I'd like to do something similar, like a campus is on, or I want to go from two houses to 10. Those people actually, Okay. Do you like to work with? Cause I think they are accomplishing things and doing things. There is two types of entrepreneurs, that I run into in this space. and it's very heavy weighted toward one or the other, but there's still two very clear avatars. Avatar one is analysis paralysis. these are the people that, maybe they perfectionists and they're like, I got to get the LLC, right? I got to get the operating agreement, right? I got to get the website up. I got to get this. I got to do all they do all these tasks, all these things. Anything, but actually go talk to someone that could be a customer and actually tell them, cause that's really it like at the end of the day, what are your customers want to need? What are your unique skills? Where do those overlap? And that's how you start off as an entrepreneur. anything to not talk to investors to go out and raise money for this dream project that they have. they won't go, they won't take a job, right? They don't think in themselves, they go. Hey, I want to learn how to do this. If I want to learn how to do this, why don't I take a job in this industry? So I get the connections and the, just, they're just, they're reading, they're studying, but they're never acting. Okay. So that, and that's very common. That's a very common healthcare avatar, right? there's a healthcare. Idea that I famous during job interviews are like, I just want to keep learning. So I'm going back to school. I'm like, I just go around the room to all my staff. have you learned more working here in college here? Here? Okay. You can learn in the world. that's how this works. Then on the other side. Okay. You have these people that don't necessarily come from the industry. And they're like, this industry can be disrupted or they bought a course or they learned something or, their mom went through this and they go, oh, there has to be a better way. And they're just impulsive and they act and they just do all these things and they never stop and ask, like what happens. If interest rates go up or what happens if my manager, I don't know anything and I hire this one key person and I pay them peanuts because I'm such a great negotiator. I'm impulsive. I'm a business person and that person quits and they're like, Oh no. And like it hits them. You can just see it. And so those are the 2 avatars and both those avatars are going to fail. one's going to fail because they're never going to do anything. It's impossible to be a change agent if you never do anything. And then the second thing is you have these other people that like, dude, you're a case study on what not to do, because it's the combinate. You have to get the education, the knowledge, the skills. You have to work on yourself. Do you have to improve your team for the purposes of taking action? the shoot from the hip people are going to fail and the people who are waiting for the perfect wind conditions and the perfect day and the perfect this and the perfect everything are never going to get started. And, I just knew, instinctively that I was comfortable with taking risk. I just needed, but I just needed to take the time to figure out what we're going to do. What it looks like, what the downsides are, what the I'm sorry. So what we do the analysis, we do the work, but we're not scared to act once the data or once our sometimes it's a gut. Sometimes our gut just says, Hey, you hear this over and over again. I don't have any data that says is what people want. I have. Anecdotal evidence. I have points. I'm not tracking it. And I'm like, I think people want this and I think people need this. And I think that this has an opportunity to be those things. And so I'm comfortable going, Hey, I'm going to risk this full house that works and maybe I'm going to create two houses that don't. but my hope and my, my, my guess and my wager, if you will, is that actually I'll make two houses that are better. That'll feel faster. Because I'll be doubling the types of people that I can have, in terms of, not necessarily doubling, but I'll have 2 different avatars. And when I have 2 different avatars, potential clients, right? High functioning or high acuity, all of a sudden now I'm capturing clients that we couldn't capture before and we don't do this it's not just a business gimmick because if you do a business gimmick where you're like, Hey, I'm going to Captioners Sell people on moving here, but then you fail to execute. It's not going to work anyway. even though we've talked a lot about how this might allow you to attract staff or how this, might allow you to attract residents, anything that's a gimmick in our industry where, people can leave with a 30 day notice, is bound to fail and your back door will be open. Curated care for a lot of people is a gimmick. It's like when they talk about personalized care. It's just a phrase that has no actual meaning. And if you ask their customers and you ask their clients, are you treated like an individual here? They would almost always say no. So that's what I mean by you have to execute and it has to be part of your DNA. It has to be part of the ethos of what you're trying to do. Otherwise you shouldn't do it because it's a lot easier operationally to just be like, Hey, we'll give you, we'll waive the community fee. We'll give you the third month off. Try us out, that, that's, if you're going to be a gimmick, just do that. cause we know that works, but don't be a gimmick with the thoughtful creation of an experience for somebody, because that's just going to fail in my opinion. Yeah.

Erin:

We're talking about people's end of life and what we want, like you are creating is an experience, a service of we're your team to ensure that we can meet the needs of your loved one. And yes, it's a commitment for sure. And it's pretty impressive that you're committed to it to this extent and to know, you're not going to fail either way, you're just going to learn. And to me, that's been the hardest lesson, the most eye opening lesson for me of someone who was always scared of the failure part, like when you fail, you're still alive. And what does failing do? it gives you lessons to be learned and you can take away a lot from this experience. If it works for five years, if it works for two years, there's a lot that you can take away and messages that you can give to people. Which is really exciting. and I think,

Loe:

we've skirted around this issue, but look, like there wouldn't be a company without an entrepreneur, but there wouldn't be a company without employees either. there's something wrong. There's nothing plenty of people are risk averse and it's good. It's about finding a balance and I always love all these, all these entrepreneurs that have something to sell some course or consulting or whatever. and they're just like bag, Oh, yo, you got a nine to five, got a nine to five, got a nine to five, got a nine to five, and they just bag on a bag on it. I'm like, how do you hire employees? Like all you do is talk about how stupid you are. If you work for someone else and blah, you know what I'm saying? And I'm like, who works for you? Like, why would anyone work for a leader that denigrates, that experience. And look at the end of the day, right? the team's a lot more important than me, like by a long shot. I think the difference is that, there, there does have to be somebody that can be in the middle of the ocean and say, we're changing course, we're changing direction and it's actually easier to do when things are going well, you cannot steer a ship that's not moving. And so you have to have. you've got to have some kind of power. You've got to have some sort of ability to turn the ship. And so you have the team has to create those opportunities. and, I think the other thing is that, our 2 communities like Charles and denton are in slightly different spots. 1 is about a year older, 1 is. Much closer to being full than the other, but we executed the same mission in both in one community. it'll allow us to go from good to great. And in the other community, it'll allow us to, launch ourselves to being good. And I don't mean like operationally good. And I don't mean like those things. I think those things are true already, but I just mean that, in terms of the company health in terms of success, because without that three legged stool. if I'm just, if I'm just great to the staff and just great to the residents, and I just neglect the other leg of the stool, then it doesn't work. and, there's no money, there's no money to pay shareholders to ever have them invest again. There's no, there's no, there's no way for me to, have a roof over my head if there's no, nothing to distribute. ultimately, what you have to do is you have to think about those things. And, I think. And this industry, maybe the simplest thing I would say is everyone has this tendency in our industry. It's very dangerous. It's very risk averse. It's very, it's very commoditized. This is a service business where we're taking care of people up to end of life. There's nothing commoditized about it. But we made it into a commodity, we talk about it like it's not, but we made it into a commodity. So if you can just have a company that just understands that this is a service business, and this is about an interpersonal relationship between a resident, their family. And 10 or 12 members of your team that care for them and cook for them and clean and lead them and, process invoices and whatever, all the things that it takes to live in an assisted living community. That's what it is. It's a relationship between 12 people and then it's their personal relationship with their other housemates, so these are just really small little communities, these little personalized opportunities that come along. Why would anyone turn that into a commodity? But they did. And they did it because commodities can be examined by a spreadsheet. you can sit in a boardroom in New York and you can look at your spreadsheet and you can look at your KPIs, your key performance indicators and your dashboard, and you can lead the company, but you don't know what's really going on. You don't know what the energy is. You don't know the satisfactions are. You don't know those things. And so ultimately a service business. Is about service and it's the, it's where hospitality and healthcare intersect in our particular industry. And those are two very service heavy businesses. And I just don't think that making this a commodity was a smart idea. I understand why it happened. our job, if you want to be a change agent, the last thing that you want to do is turn yourself into commodity. So the question that I think we really are trying to answer is I know that I can help. I know that I can build something that'll help a hundred people. I know I can do that. I don't know if I can build something that'll help a thousand people. I think I can. I think I, I think that's the journey that we're on and that's our goal. We want to have a thousand beds and DFW and been a very tight geographic radius. and and if you go from eight beds to a thousand beds and all the, all the employees along the way and the staff along the way and the families and the residents and the moments of joy and all the horror stories you got to hear from what happened to someone else and other situations. And then they come with you and you give them something. That they've been yearning for and something they've wanted and that you're willing to put in the time and the thought to create something that they didn't even know they wanted. They just, cause the truth is what happens now, and this is the frustrating part is. It's like the first time someone tours us, we always finish second and they go to the other place that has the smoke and mirrors experience and then they call us back sometimes in a month, three months or six months and they go, you were right, but here's the thing, something's happened. There's been an event, there's been a fall, there's been a service failure. we've experienced rapid weight loss because the food wasn't good or now we're on hospice and we weren't before. And so I decided that instead of. Instead of letting people touch the stove to find out it's hot, which they will do. If I could create something that would allow them to synthesize a little better, their mom or dad or their spouse being in that environment because they see someone like them or someone like who they believe their loved one to be through their own lens. I might be able to keep them out of having that negative experience, because we have bad days. We make mistakes. I'm never, anybody that's perfectionist in this business is in the wrong industry. However, a lot of times when we have a bad day, it's about like an average day in a typical place. And so if my C game is an a game somewhere else. And if my a game is like nothing else, then, we have an obligation to get to people sooner. and look, I'm not saying that's true. I believe it to be true. I think there's a lot of evidence that we have for it to be true. But at the end of the day, we're not perfect for everyone. And not everyone's a perfect fit in what it is we're trying to do. There's plenty of people that. don't fit into our model. The problem that I want to solve is there are people that I know fit into our model. I know fit into this story. I don't want them to have to go to the wrong place first to anchor in that 15 to one ratios and 30 to one ratios and very little nursing oversight and long hallways and food being purchased by the same place where they get the food for the prison. And then, just throw in people and just, we got an open room, you're in this hall and there's no thoughtfulness about where you are. I just don't think that's going to work for most people and the only people that I think it will work for are the ones who are constrained by funding and the funding constraint means that their expectations are constrained because the really interesting thing about our industry is it's very expensive. But there are a lot of people that are like, Hey, I don't see the correlation between going from 7, 000 a month to 20, 000 a month. I don't see that. I don't see the change. And so what we're trying to do is say, Hey, if you give us the money, you'll be really glad that we were the stewards of the money for you. and there's obviously all kinds of things going on in the industry. There's lots of challenges to solve. I think the middle market is one of those places where people are going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to solve those problems. That's not the problem I'm trying to solve. I'm trying to. Solve the problem of, can we give someone the experience? We tell them we're going to give them, can we say X and do X no gimmicks, no games, just transparency, authenticity, and. And thoughtfulness. And if we do that, then we're one of the only companies in this industry that do that at scale, because it's easy to do it. if you own a care home or you own one facility in your office out of there, and you're there all the day and you got your finger on the pulse of everything and all the players and you've grown up in the town and, there's just so many advantages, there's so many ways that you could create a single place. That's amazing. That's a lot of people were doing that. Can you create 20 places that are amazing? Can you create 30 places that are amazing? That's a lot harder challenge in our industry. It's not fast food, right? We can't just run systems and process and just tell everybody to say my pleasure and everything will be fine. That's not how this works. And it's funny because this is so complex that I tell my executive directors, their job description is exactly this. Manage your team, grow your team, that's their job description because it's people taking care of people and what we're trying to do is we're saying, Hey, let's curate the staff to be what the residents need and let's put the residents around people that make them feel good or feel better about who they are. So their family visits more because they enjoy being there. And then lo and behold, they attract more of the same type of people. Of themselves and so they, it's a feedback loop of building a community versus. Tension and friction of different levels and, someone in assisted living doesn't want to be in memory care. Someone Parkinson's doesn't want to be an either. And so we're just creating this friction. And so what I want to do is I want to take that friction out and just say, Hey, where is home for you? Let's build that for you just provided that home for you 15 other people.

Erin:

Yeah, I think you, you solved the retention problems when you said. We have made it a commoditization because people are not a commodity. I'm not a commodity. You're not a commodity and your team is not a commodity. You probably felt

Loe:

like you got treated like one when you worked in the industry. Did you not? Yes.

Erin:

Okay. And I didn't quite yet know like that. And I'm like, I am not a commodity and they are not, like fighting that, battle that I didn't realize that was the exact battle. You know what I mean? I was just fighting. just coming across difficult, whenever that was just it. Like we are people, this is service. We do things differently because it works. People want connection. They don't want perfection and they want an experience and they want to belong. And if you are just a commodity, then you don't feel like you belong. Yeah. And that's pretty powerful.

Loe:

That's pretty powerful. that's what happened to the industry. And unfortunately we're having to unwind that. and, so that's the game we're playing is basically, can we unwind the thought process that got us where we are? and, we're right now we're an overbuilt industry. We don't tell good stories. We're not very thoughtful. We're not very affordable and we don't get very good outcomes. Sound sounds like fun. Where do I sign up? And we've got to acknowledge that and lead that head on and, no offense to people that are investors and bankers and all the people that have helped make what we do possible. They're not the solution. They just play a role in the story, but this problem is not going to be solved on an Excel spreadsheet. It will not be, I promise it's going to be solved. helping the light bulb go off for an employee that, that, somebody else wouldn't have helped, Turning, turning a manager into a great leader. and now all of a sudden they can lead a team and now all of a sudden you can accomplish great things. And that's really where this is. And so you've got to identify those linchpins. And so if you're not wanting to help people, if you're not wanting to manage a team, if you're not wanting to grow a team, then this industry isn't for you.

Erin:

It's true. It's true. All right, low. You've inspired me. I'm excited to watch out, your company say Joe grows and how you do it and what you learn from it. it's inspiring your commitment to curation and all the nuances and intentionality that are going to come in that, he's very intriguing to me.

Loe:

thank you. I don't feel inspiring, but if it's working fantastic.

Erin:

you'll know if it works, that's true, if it works, that's true. Come back and you can let us all know how it goes. Okay. So what is your favorite? Yes. What is your favorite Genesis song?

Loe:

probably in too deep. Yeah.

Erin:

Yeah. Is it invisible touch? Is that Genesis or was that Phil Collins? I

Loe:

think that album is Genesis. I get a little confused. I think Invisible Touch is Genesis.

Erin:

I always thought that he said, an invisible talk show, and then I realized it was touch and I'm like, yeah, how do you make touch that many syllables in that song? I don't know. Yeah.

Loe:

Poor Phil. he's got a, he's just if you listen to his songs, you'd think that he's just been dumped more times than any, he's like Taylor Swift before, before Taylor was even a twinkle and he buys that man's been dumped and just treated. He's written so many songs about women not returning his phone call, whatever. So I think without Phil Collins, there would be no Taylor Swift. Probably not. Probably not needed Phil, and there was probably somebody before Phil, he's just, I'm an eighties baby, right? So that's my first reference of just getting dumped in every song.

Erin:

Hopefully he did find a groovy kind of love,

Loe:

Now he's doing what? Disney theme song. Yeah. His career arc is definitely, yes. I'm not listening to the check cashing Phil Collins. I'm listening to the sad. Phil Collins of the 80s and 90s. That's my Phil Collins. The real Phil Collins. I'm, maybe he's happier now. I can't speak to that. His music was a lot better when he was sad.

Erin:

That's funny. Thank you for your time today. I appreciate it. Had a lot of fun. Yes. And thank you for breaking down the barrier of My inner dialogue and being able to sit by an owner and operator, that was nice.

Loe:

you did that yourself and it's not your, I'm like imminently not that easy to approach have a, like a, whatever. Yeah. I'm just not I hate being at conferences. So I'm sure you probably picked up on that energy. and I was like, but. I love having these conversations. I'm a more of a one on one guy. You sit me in a room with 30 people, I'm thinking about all their energy and what are this person thinking? And what is this? It's exhausting. You just give me one on one and I'm like, okay, like I know what's going on. I know, I know which jokes are landed, which ones aren't okay. We're good. So no, you did that on your own and I'm so glad we connected and I'm so glad we got a chance to do this. I've been enjoying, watching, your, journey through this. And if, maybe, maybe I'll convince you to get back in the industry. Maybe that's like my, maybe that's my gift back then. I'm just going to get a few of you people that, that left the industry cause it sucked cause you didn't want to be a commodity and you go out and start your own thing and maybe one day y'all come back and you're like, all right, it's time to change from the

Erin:

inside. Maybe you never know. You never know. Say joke,

Loe:

Alabama incoming. that was really important. thank you.

Erin:

Thank you. I appreciate it. Talk soon.

Loe:

All right.