Imagine you have been given the task of building a residential community for teenagers. You are assigned the task of determining what the top three amenities will be and what fitness program will be offered on a weekly basis. What do you choose?
For exercise, perhaps you choose Zumba, because everyone seems to like that. As for the amenities you may choose things you think teenagers like – such as skateboarding, so we’ll have an indoor skate park, they also like video games so we’ll have a gaming center. Lastly you decide that most teenagers seem to enjoy bowling, so you design five private bowling lanes as well.
Now let’s be honest – regardless of whether or not you agree with my list – when I gave you this task you started envisioning the kinds of things you thought teenagers would enjoy.
Okay, so that exercise was a test. Did it occur to you that perhaps you should ask some teenagers what they might like to see in a community instead of assuming what they might like?
I had a very refreshing conversation the other day with one of our more innovative clients, who is known for thinking outside-of-the-box. Instead of assuming what seniors want, they make it a point to ask them what they want, what they desire, what makes them happy, what they value and so forth.
Sometime they have these conversations on a whim with seniors they’ve just met, occasionally focus groups are planned, and other times they just chat with older adults who are checking out one of the company’s communities. These conversations give their team meaningful insights as to what these affluent boomers and their parents are searching for in a retirement community.
Quite recently, they held focus groups for children to determine what activities, food and entertainment they enjoy so they could tailor different aspects of the communities to cater to their younger visitors, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of residents. Placing a tremendous value on family, they want their communities to be the kind of place children want to visit. Too often grandchildren are deterred from wanting to visit their grandparents because a given community doesn’t offer any kind of entertainment for kids.
This particular client is eager to change that paradigm and plans to offer activities, games, food and events that are specifically targeted to the things the children said they wanted. They even discussed having a monthly meeting to get continued feedback from the residents grandchildren.
Everything changes over time and more and more companies will come to see that needs and wants are not something they can simply assume or something that stays constant over time. They understand that needs, wants and interests change over time, and they will continue speaking to the people they serve directly, as well as their visitors.
The most important aspect here is that because they understand the values, interests, wants and desires of their residents, their team will always be better-equipped and empowered to fulfill the varying needs of residents and their families, making each community tailor-made.