We have such a tremendous industry that is willing to help one another because we want to see seniors live better!
Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.Learn More ▶
Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.Learn More ▶
Your associates are your best marketing tool.
There is power for providers to understand the partner solutions side of the business, and that’s what Lacy Jungman, VP of Growth and Development at Heritage Communities, brings back to the table on the operator side. Tune in to hear Lacy’s thoughts on culture, marketing, and succeeding as a working mom.
Host of Working Mom Moments podcast.
Listen to Lacy on Ep. 222.
This episode was recorded at SMASH Sales and Marketing Summit 2023.
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Welcome to season six of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, NIC MAP Vision, ProCare HR, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, Patriot Angels, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.
Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, the Senior Living podcast with Josh and Lucas here in Las Vegas at the SMASH Conference 2023. And we have a great friend back on the program. We want to welcome Lacy back to the program. Welcome!
Thank you so much! I'm excited to be here.
Well, big congratulations because you have a brand new title, what is it?
Yes, I'm so excited to share that I am the Vice President of Growth and Development for Heritage Communities based out of Omaha, Nebraska.
Nice, nice. And you know heritage communities, right?
It is no secret. I know Heritage very well. I worked for Heritage for 10 years actually prior to switching over to the vendor side when I was at One Day. And the one thing I said as I left Heritage because I loved everybody, I loved the entire culture and the passion and the mission of Heritage communities, but I wanted to see what the other side of the industry looked like. And I knew that one day I would return as a provider, as an operator, but I needed to see what the lens was of which the other side operated and how does everybody else do it. And being on the vendor side really provided that opportunity for me. And I'm ever so grateful for the time that I spent with One Day. And I had a friend, Jamison Goslin, who said to me years ago, he said, "If you ever have the chance to sit on the other side of the desk as a vendor, as a solutions partner, do it because you will learn so, so much." And as I left Heritage two years ago to transition over to the vendor side, I said, "I will be back. I will come back." I don't know in what capacity, but if I wanted to come back I had to go and learn more about the industry than just the bubble that I was in. So I'm super excited to come back and to be a part of Heritage Communities yet again.
I didn't really know that you hadn't been on the provider side for years and years and years. And then you came in on the partner solution side and you took it by storm. I mean, we saw you all over the place. Speaking really became a thought leader on the solution side of the business. I'm really curious how learning that as you say, has prepared you for going back into the world of operating communities, developing communities. What do you think your chief takeaways were?
Yeah, it's interesting and I think there's many different layers of which my learning took place. But a lot of it was, I wanted to see how are teams structured? How are different organizations that are providers and operators, how are they structured? What makes sense, what's working, what isn't working? And really the opportunity to get to meet different leaders within our industry in the sales and marketing space was really important for me. And probably the biggest takeaway and biggest bonus is just getting to know some of those other leaders who then now as an operator, I can lean into, pick up the phone and say, "Hey, I'm stuck here. Or what would you do in this situation?" Because we do have such a tremendous industry that is willing to help and handhold one another because we want to see seniors live better. And so having those opportunities to really make connections and network with other thought leaders in the industry has been really significant in my life.
Another big thing, we're here at SMASH and one of the things that we are hearing almost everybody talk about is how different marketing and sales is over the last five, six years. And so what are you seeing from what you've learned that you're gonna take back, not only with what you've learned but how the industry has been changing over the last several years and use that at Heritage?
Yeah, I will say probably the root foundation is you can have all the creativity in the world, but if you're not investing in your people, you may lose a critical opportunity to make sure you're getting the outcomes of what you want. So I'll give you a great example. I recently was certified in the Six Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni who had written The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. And essentially it is a process of which you can gain better productivity and outcomes by maximizing the associates you have and their skills and strengths. And so I think that you can have all of the ideas in the world, but if you don't have the right people to support those ideas and see it through the finish line, then it's a gap that we have to bridge.
When we talk about teams in our industry, there can often be huge gaps between the corporate, the regional, and the actual communities. How do you plan to help address that at Heritage, to fill those gaps?
I'm fortunate enough to say knowing heritage communities as well as I do, the one thing we do is invest in our people well and make sure that we have face time. And so the more that you're present, more that you're inside of the buildings, more that you are having conversations and truly getting to know those individuals that are on the team level, whether it's in the communities, whether it's in the regional capacity or the corporate team, that it is personalized just like we would with our own prospects or our residents. It's personalized, it's intimate and it is a true connection because we can't help and support one another if we don't actually know one another.
Love following you on LinkedIn as thousands of other people do. I like how you put out a really good amount of balanced content between the corporate world, living in your day job, but also balancing, how you do that and also still being a family person, being able to raise a family. Can you talk to our listeners that maybe haven't heard your podcast, what it's like juggling all of that and and being such a successful career person?
Thank you for the nod over to my podcast. So I do run a podcast called Working Mom Moments. I'm the host of that and I'm so pleased to share with you that it is in the top 2.5% of all global podcasts. And I'm fortunate for the opportunity to have met and known so many influential women leaders that I have on as guests. And really the whole concept is focused on supporting working moms. There are so many women inside of the senior living industry, many of them are moms that work inside of our industry. And so I know that this is a area of focus that will resonate with many associates that work inside of our communities and at the corporate level as well. It's a passion of mine to really support the working mom. I remember when I was having multiple children, so I have four boys and when every time I announced I was pregnant with another child, the response ever increasingly became, "Oh, well maybe now's the time that you stay home. Maybe now's the time that you stay home." And it was a lot of pushback, especially on baby number four that this is probably the time you should stop working. There's a lot of children there and there are, I get it. But I was always looking for an outlet or a resource that really spoke to me as a working mom with a large family. I understand now that if you have four children or more, they consider that to be large as a family. So there's six of us in our family, including my husband and I, and I was constantly looking for resources to say, "Yes, you can do this as a working mom, you can be a working mom, you can have a large family, you can do all of the things." And I fell short every single time because as a working mom with a large family, it was usually deemed as impossible to do both.
And I do believe that it is possible to do both. And I want to inspire and motivate other women who, whether they have one child or 10 children, that they can do what they have their mind set out to do. They can juggle both. Now it doesn't mean that you can do everything well and perfectly and all the time, but it does mean that there is an opportunity to do it. And so I often talk in my podcast about blend versus balance. I believe that we all are trying to achieve this elusive notion of balance, work-life balance. We want balance, we want balance. That's what we hear all of the time. But at the end of the day, what we recognize is that balance is really hard to achieve and it is extremely subjective and even more difficult to maintain. Right? Your version of balance may be different than mine.
And so how do I quantify that? How do I actually know when I've achieved balance and how do I maintain that? And so my goal for working women is to really encourage them in career advancement and also raising children and that you can do both. But also recognizing that life is a blend, it is more satisfaction. You gain more satisfaction by blending your lives together rather than a hard cutoff of maybe I only think of family at this time. I only think of work at this time, but rather blending and weaving, right? There are days that I need to need to leave at three o'clock because track meets start at 3:30 and I might miss it if I don't, but I know that I'm picking up my laptop later in the evening and I'm going to effortlessly, hopefully, blend the two of them together. And so again knowing that there's so many working moms inside of the senior living industry, I think it's a nice compliment to a show like this one.
I can only imagine because as you pointed out, there are so many women that work in the industry and have worked in the industry for years and I can't remember the statistic, I heard it a few years ago, you may know it off the top of your head. But especially even at the community, where most of the boots on the ground happens. That's almost the majority of that workforce is a female, most of which have children. I know most of the ones in my communities have children. And so I can only imagine that what you talk about is so relatable to them. And you know as a provider, when you go in with your management team equips you to when you can relate to your team because I think so many of them at the community, they just see us off at the corporate office. They think, "Oh, you don't deal with the things I deal with." Everybody's been talking about coming out of the pandemic and stuff. We're starting to see occupancies rising. We're at the Marketing and Sales Summit. What are you hearing here and what are you seeing are some of the biggest challenges to overcome and to continue on the climb of occupancy for senior living over the next few years?
What I'm hearing is a trend of we want new, we want different, we want innovative, but what does that look like and what are different industries doing? So there's a constant comparison of multifamily or hospitality. And from my background working at One Day, a great opportunity to be immersed into different industries, right? B2B, we have many clients in B2B, many in multifamily as well as senior living. While we focus so heavily on senior living, it did provide me an opportunity to see what other industries look like. And so I think there is a lot of correlation between hospitality, multifamily we've talked about for years. And I think taking into notion how they operate and their sales process could be a nice also compliment to how we're striving to increase occupancies as well across the board.
Well Lucas, you're seeing so much effort on the renovation, reposition side development, new development has been really tough. Our industry over the last several years, not only because of the pandemic but now the banking situation and the capital markets are tight. So much going on in your world and I think you guys are going to have some overlap because y'all have a lot of communities in Texas. You're all over the Texas and the Midwest. What are you seeing and what are you hearing?
Well I had an opportunity, actually just last week. I sat down and I was able to have 10-minute conversations with about 70 different executive directors across the United States. And the question that I asked all of them was, "What went right this year?" Because we all know what went wrong and I was really grateful to hear, to your point Josh, the census, that almost across the board, these are literally communities from the Pacific Northwest California to Maine and all in between. And they'd all said that "Yes, our census, our occupancy is going up and we are being able to tackle our staffing challenges at a greater level than we were before. Everything's not perfect but things are starting to change." And so I was really encouraged by that. A number of them were also still dealing with some Covid things that depended on the state that they lived in. But I think that there's a lot of sales and marketing support and momentum that can be gained now that this momentum has started to gather going into 2024.
I have to believe the aging population is still aging. So we still have a huge demographic that's growing that we know need the services of senior living, which is a broad spectrum, but with the new construction going down the supply is not growing to match the demand. And so all the things that you're going to be doing at Heritage, the repositioning of communities, there's a lot of things that you can still do, but that should help all of our occupancy and all of our communities no matter what type of community you have.
Really investing in your associates because your associates are your best marketing tool, whether it's longevity or the skillset that they have or some of the giant shoutouts that come from residents and their family members. Those are great marketing tools as well. So as we think about repositioning, whether it's a community or an entire company and whether it's acquisitions or you're growing in new development, those people almost trump your building, the people you have inside of your communities can trump the design aspect. And I say that with a lot of love for the design aspect and construction. I do believe that the lifeblood comes from those people in there. And so I love to hear that we're getting to that stabilization point for many organizations of getting better control of their associates.
Well and you imagine, just to kind of play off of what you said, what would our industry look like? Because I know every year we sit down and we think about what is our CapEx budget for these units? What is the number we're putting on unit turns for the year over the next seven, 10 years, I'm not sure that we all take that much intentionality and planning into saying, "What do we want to invest in each one of these team members just like we do these units. What are we going to do to invest and pour into them to make them the best that they can just like we do these units." And so it would be a very interesting paradigm if we kind of approached it the same way.
You've got to blend it. You can't balance those out very well. You've got to blend it, right, to seal your phrase. And this is one of the questions that I asked some of the executive directors who were taking over buildings that were struggling. What was the biggest thing that helped you raise occupancy or keep staff? And they talked about culture and that's not new, right? But they were able to get that culture back and then they said, "And then we realized we needed to update the building." And when you can blend those two things of developing great care, great culture along with a beautiful looking building, then you're on a great path.
I will say one of the surveys that we did prior to my departure at Heritage when I was there two years ago, we did a survey with our existing associates, our existing residents, prospects, anybody who even had maybe chosen a competitor. We did this giant culture survey and essentially what came back, we were trying to discern like are our three big wins basically in our eyes from the corporate team, do they align with what other people see for heritage communities? And surprisingly, we always would say our buildings are not about buildings, our buildings about people inside. And so we really leaned into the qualitative aspects and that emotion-based aspect of our brand. But we were surprised to see that so many people commented on how much they loved working in our buildings. They liked having a nice place to be able to say, "I work here." Or they loved living in our buildings. They loved having their family members over 'cause there was a place for them to go. They could have a dining party if they wanted to in the private dining room or they had enough space in their apartment to be able to have guests over. So the amount of people that stated they liked visiting, they liked coming, they liked working and living inside of our properties was an "Ah ha!" Moment for us because for so long we said, well it's not about the building. And we say that in senior living and that's very true because it is about the experience that happens inside. It cannot be overshadowed the fact that the building is important as well.
Well this has been a fun conversation and I can't wait for our listeners. I would dare say the majority of our listeners already follow, already probably listen to your podcast, but it'll be fun for us to connect many of our new listeners. We're getting new listeners all the time, not only to your podcast but what you're doing at Heritage. Look forward to all the exciting announcements and growth and development from Heritage and you, Lacy. It's always fun and thanks for taking time with us today.
My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.
So final word before we let you go, what are you most looking forward to leaving SMASH with?
The connections. It's a big reunion. I love SMASH. It is a way to reconnect with some of my friends across the industry that are across the states and even internationally. But what I am looking forward to this specific conference is really learning about new opportunities that I can grow and develop my sales teams and really help my company to grow, not only with the communities that we have, but to grow as an entire organization as well. So I'm looking forward to those key moments.
Awesome. Great final word there. And we'll make sure that we connect with at in our show notes. I'm sure LinkedIn is a good spot. Is there anywhere else a website or is LinkedIn a good spot?
LinkedIn is a great spot. Or you can find me at workingmommoments.com.
There you go. There you go. We'll put that in the show notes and go to btgvoice.com. Download this content and so much more. Connect with BTG on LinkedIn as well. Thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge The Gap.
Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.