The lumber was too expensive. The operator knew it. Their general contractor and construction partner, Brinkmann Constructors, knew it too. They had planned and priced a new community, and by the time they were ready to get started, the cost of lumber had quadrupled, pushing them out of budget.
So Brinkmann and the operator got creative, and found their answer when they visited the site.
“It was a demo site, and they had a bunch of crushed aggregate, just piles of it around because they just crushed the buildings and were getting ready to haul it off,” says Brett Goodman, Vice President of Brinkmann. Goodman and the team at Brinkmann pitched the operator on taking all of the crushed concrete and use it to fill in beneath the parking lot, sidewalks and building basements.
“By doing that, we were able to save almost $800,000 by going to the site, looking at it, and then sitting down with the owner and coming up with a good solution to save him money,” Goodman says. “That’s the type of collaborative effort where we can all come up with creative ideas to solve problems.”
The reason it worked was trust. Brinkmann has completed $1.7 billion in senior living construction, and undergirding that success is the trust they instill in their operator partners. That’s what builds relationships. And relationships build senior living. Here is a look at the top operator concerns of today, and why a strong construction partnership is the foundation of addressing them.
How Brinkmann helps its clients’ top concern: inflation
The operator with the lumber challenge is a typical client of Brinkmann’s in terms of relationship building. The St. Louis-based contractor views relationship building as the key to the success they have with operators — and the success operators have with them. And heading into 2023, success means handling the top concern Goodman hears from operators: the impact of inflation on construction cost.
“Clients wonder, when the construction pricing keeps going up, whether price increases are going to slow down, and what can we do to hedge the inflation part of it?” he says. “We’ve done a lot of wood frame structures for our clients, and when wood prices had almost quadrupled in six months, we had to come up with creative solutions to get these projects back in budget.
Creative solutions, such as the one with the $800,000 savings, starts with collaborative brainstorm meetings where Brinkmann and the operator are tossing out idea after idea. That see-what-sticks approach is only possible with absolute trust.
“A good recent example: We were looking at photometrics of the site that was producing about 35 site lighting poles,” Goodman says. “We asked, ‘Well, what if you had one pole but you put a double-headed luminary on it to reduce the poles by maybe half?’ Ultimately we were able to do that, but it was a complete and collaborative effort between the design team and the client.”
3 steps operators take to build a strong relationship with their contractors
The trust that Brinkmann builds with its operator partners comes from three steps.
“The first is what we call client advocacy. We try to treat every building and every dollar as if it’s our own, even though we’re working for the client,” Goodman says. “The second big one is creativity. We use a variety of creative methods in solving problems that help support operators — which ties back to client advocacy.”
The third is their work in empowering its employees to be entrepreneurs.
“Our employees are given direction to make quick decisions in the interest of our clients,” he says. “In today’s fast-paced world this leads to outstanding results for our clients.”
In the end, that’s the reason that operators keep coming back to Brinkmann.
“I think strong relationships matter, not only in health care, but in just about everything,” Goodman says. “We build up a trust, we do what we say we’re going to do and we get it done. It’s not to say we don’t have problems, but the people we work with keep coming back because they trust us to solve the problem — and not only solve it, but solve it in their best interest.”
This article is sponsored by Brinkmann Constructors. To learn more about how Brinkmann can help your new construction plans, contact Brinkmann’s National Senior Living Business Development Director Rebecca Randolph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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