Imagine Senior Living is on an upward growth trajectory in 2023 — but the small operator has no plans to dramatically upsize anytime soon.
The Dallas-based operator was founded in 2019, and it currently manages three communities with a total of 183 assisted living and memory care units, with a fourth AL and memory care community coming online next month in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Two additional AL and memory care communities will also come online by the end of the year.
Looking ahead, Imagine Senior Living co-founders James and Suzanne Dennyo are growing only in markets within a six-hour drive from Dallas, with the intention of building a company with regional scale.
Since the start of the pandemic, senior living providers across the country have adapted to a new operating environment where residents enter communities with higher acuity and care needs. That has been Imagine Senior Living’s aim with initiatives including its memory care program, Trellis.
“We’re ready to provide quality service to residents on various, different levels and we’ve seen a rise in acuity,” James Denny told Senior Housing News. “We’ve been ready and that’s helped us increase our occupancy rates.”
Measured expansion is all part of the company’s growth plans, James Denny said, adding that it’s not the company’s goal to “leapfrog states” or become a cross-country operator.
“We’re trying to make smart strategic moves in acquiring these communities. And we’re also growing our relationships with our current partners and new partners to really emphasize on a bright future for our company,” James Denny said.
“We’re improving our systems and really getting ready for this strategic growth,”he added.
Suzanne Denny called the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as a “baptism by fire,” as the leaders of the newly-formed company sought to protect residents after opening their first community in 2021.
Fast forward to today, revenue for the company has increased 20% across in the operator’s AL and memory care communities and nearly 38% in its standalone memory care communities. Occupancy for the company’s communities currently ranges between 70% and 80%, James Denny noted.
But those gains have not come without challenges.
The Dennys outlined many longstanding issues faced by operators and management companies alike in the industry, from rising acuity, inflation-driven cost increases to growing expense pressures.
James Denny said the gains made since the pandemic has been “a struggle,” having to pass on rising costs to residents. But the increase in costs also comes with an increase in services –and and the opportunity for new ancillary revenue opportunities, he added — as residents seek out senior living in 2023 and beyond.
With an emphasis on supporting staff, growing regionally and implementing technology to improve operational efficiency, Denny believes Imagine Senior Living is primed for the future.
In tandem with the company’s growth has been a hiring pish. Recent hires include a programming director, maintenance director and resident care coordinator, personnel moves that have allowed the company’s to trim agency staffing expenses and give frontline staff more time with residents and their families. In the last six months, the company has not had to rely on agency staffing.
The Dennys emphasized the importance of building its employee culture, and credited that positive work environment with the company’s ability to garner referrals for new employees. That’s led to an improved retention rate across the company’s portfolio of communities, Suzanne Denny said.
“We’re able to get them in, train them, coach them and engage them in the culture within the communities and that’s how we’re able retain our staffing,” she added.
The most important goal for the Dennys is clear, and that’s supporting staff while providing quality to residents.
“We believe that helping people over projects is a goal for us to stay consistent within our communities while still growing,” Suzanne Denny said.
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