Charter Senior Living has restructured its leadership team aimed at improving operations as the company steadily takes on new growth opportunities.
The Naperville, Illinois-based operator on Tuesday announced the promotion of Jayne Sallerson as the company’s new president, a title she will hold along with COO.
The company also promoted Cathy Hampton to vice president of operations and Leslie Eldridge as regional director of new developments. With Hampton’s promotion, she will also assume responsibilities from Sallerson’s former position.
“I wholeheartedly believe that the change in this organizational chart not only allows us to continue to be visible and support our communities shoulder to shoulder rather than from a corporate office,” Charter CEO Keven Bennema told Senior Housing News. “It allows us to scale if we need to scale more.”
As Sallerson steps into her new role, Bennema will remain as Charter’s CEO. He said the leadership “refocus” was aimed at improving operations, fostering new leadership and ultimately providing better resident care.
“If we don’t change something about how we’re doing business, there’s no way we’re going to hit different goals and so we really drilled into our senior-level team,” Bennema said.
Charter management has taken particular care identifying pain points in the company’s organizational chart, like certain leaders having a prohibitive amount of direct reports.
Hampton will have five region directors and an operations specialist reporting to her, along with overseeing dining services and programming. Sallerson is now in a primary leadership role, where she will also now receive reports from clinical and human resources staff in addition to her duties as COO.
Elevating Eldridge will help provide greater operational support for new, future projects, with current developments being overseen by regional directors.
While there’s “light at the end of the tunnel” on staffing, Bennema said labor challenges would remain the biggest obstacle for progress in 2023 and beyond. This year, Bennema said the company would focus on three goals: increasing occupancy to 85% by June; reducing employee turnover by 20%; and hitting operational fundamentals, or as Bennema called it, “getting back to basics.”
Occupancy is currently up to 83% from the end of last month.
Margin compression and wage pressures have forced Charter to pass along rate increases to residents, but those have been cushioned by adding additional services at communities, Bennema said. While he wasn’t able to detail the company’s margins, he noted they are “improving and going up.”
“Margins are definitely going up and our budgets for 2023 are certainly to get back to respectable margins,” Bennema said.
To reduce turnover, the company’s leaders have boosted wages for key positions.
In terms of future growth, Bennema said nearly all would come from existing partnerships, while the company comes off of having six new communities in the last 12 months in its portfolio, with further potential projects in the wings.
Since June of 2022, Charter has added three communities in the states of Alabama, Michigan and Connecticut and three others in Kentucky.
All of the company’s new development will most likely take place east of the Mississippi River, Bennema added.
In the next 12 months, Bennema said he sees the greatest opportunities in enhancing culture, improving operations and recruiting and retaining new staff. He is keen on using the phrases “trust equals NOI” and “culture eats strategy for breakfast” as rallying cries exemplifying the company’s operations optimization journey.
“We’re not just chasing new growth,” Bennema said. “It’s very calculated and we owe it to our partners to continue to focus our attention on certainly managing assets that we manage while expanding our joint venture partner relationships.”
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