New senior housing company Metta Senior Living has an initial portfolio of three former Enlivant properties and a plan to grow in the Southeast and beyond.
The Winterville, Georgia-based senior living operator currently manages three communities, with more communities slated to be added in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Chief Operating Officer Saul Wolhendler.
“The goal right now is to expand within Georgia and then later on beyond it,” Wolhendler recently told Senior Housing News. “Our goal is really to double our portfolio every year for the next few years.”
Metta Senior Living acquired its three-community portfolio in Georgia following the exodus of assets from the recently troubled senior living provider Enlivant. As previously reported by Senior Housing News, the joint venture company of TPG Real Estate and Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA) that involved 150 communities operated by Enlivant failed to meet certain financial covenants and issued a default notice earlier this year.
“They were not in a great place operationally and financially and we’re definitely heading in the right direction and at the right scale,” Wolhendler said.
With the ability to partner with other organizations in health care for purchasing supplies, Metta Senior Living is drilling down on expense management to keep costs low. That is aimed at improving margin over time.
The need for diligence on expenses was top of mind for Wohendler who noted that one of the communities under the Metta banner was able to slash expenses by 20% “without residents feeling anything” in terms of lost amenities or services.
The discipline on expenses plays into Wolhendler’s view for Metta as an efficient operator that is well-versed in its local markets. The company’s name stems from a Buddhist concept meaning unconditional love and kindness, something Wolhendler said the company will embody as it grows.
“That’s really my vision and that’s what I want to bring to these communities,” Wolhendler said. “My vision is to always have that personal touch.”
Building back occupancy and stabilization operations is an uphill climb for many operators, and Wolhendler said he wants Metta focused solely on building a customer service-oriented workforce and compassionate care staff. That’s not to mention modernizing the operating systems necessary to run a community smoothly, having transitioned from physical record keeping to digital.
“It’s about building out the policies and procedures,” Wolhendler said.
Currently underway in analyzing its care billing structure, specifically on the memory care side by creating a level of care system based around five levels. That’s due to Wolhendler’s belief that higher acuity offerings like assisted living and memory care will be in-demand more readily into the future as demographics trend older.
“There were facilities operated by large countrywide organizations lacking the personal touch and personal feel and that’s what people are looking for,” Wolhendler said.
And Wolhendler puts his money where his mouth is, meeting with resident families and hearing their thoughts to help ensure residents feel acknowledged.
Future growth may also include Metta pursuing middle market offerings to drive affordability in senior living, with a focus on communities of 75 units and up.
“There’s a need for good communities in the $4,000 to $6,000 monthly range,” Wolhendler said. “I’ve seen horrors and there’s a need for good, positive environments and care in the mid-range market.”
In closing out the year, Wolhendler said Metta is aiming for positive cashflow at its three communities in stabilization as proof that the startup’s model has worked. The signs of the progress is clear, with Metta moving from 40% average occupancy to over 80% in October.
With his background in health care and home health, Wolhendler said he’s confident that Metta will be able to meld ancillary services like home health and hospice care to its arsenal.
“Hopefully over time we combine the two experiences and we’re able to pull out revenue from these communities to be competitive in the market as a whole,” Wolhendler added.
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