What the research tells us

How long do village managers stay in the job?

The role of the village manager is both challenging and rewarding.

How challenging is reflected in the fact that for many it is a high turnover career.

In January this year we commissioned Australian Online Research (AOR) to survey the managers in villages covered in our National Resident Survey villages. 283 responded, a significant number (out of 545 invited).

From the chart above you can see 21% had been in the job for less than a year and 51% had been in the job for less than three years.

As you would know, it takes a couple of years to understand a village, its budgets, its residents, the service providers.

So this turnover is not good.

Village managers were also asked for any added comments they would like to offer. The following are some of the themes which emerged:

1. High job satisfaction

2. Dealing with unrealistic expectations of operators, residents and families:

  • Increased demands of compliance, regulatory and corporate reporting, taking away from needs of day-to-day job
  • Challenges of increasing care and support needs of residents as they age, which may exceed the intended ‘offer’ of a retirement village
  • Unrealistic expectations for village manager to be on call 24/7
  • Poor understanding of contract terms by longer-term residents
  • Increased pressures to do more with same budget

3. Issues with job appeal and description undervaluing the role

  • Complexities of the job undervalued, requiring complex set of skills
  • Poor pay structure
  • Poor job growth opportunities (e.g. promotion)

4. Insufficient staffing/support to run the village

5. Need for more authority – particularly with maintenance and approval of capital expenditures

6. Impact of bad press on the industry, perceptions and demands

7. Decline in respect by residents – no longer mutual respect, but matter of ‘we pay your wage’

Do these themes match your own?

Latest industry developments

Manufactured homes are now ‘Land Lease Communities’

In our travels, we meet a lot of village managers who have not experienced the new breed of manufactured homes. They are wondering what all the fuss is about.

Why are people thinking of them as a competitor to retirement villages? Aren’t the homes made in a factory and placed in a caravan park?

First up the modern ‘manufactured home park’ is now being called a ‘land lease community’.

In fact, in most states the legislation is adopting this title because it explains the contract better. (You own your home but lease the land it stands on – like a caravan).

The important thing for village managers to understand is that LLCs are doing two things.

The first is grabbing the traditional market for retirement villages, being ‘affordable housing’. Most retirement village homes are now $350,000 and more.

A new LLC home can be as low as $225,000 and older LLC homes are nearly always in the mid-$200K field or even lower.

The second is the homes are no longer always built in a factory. They can be built on site and still comply with regulations for being ‘removable’ if they can be split up and taken away.

We went to the launch of Ingenia’s Latitude One development in Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, last Saturday. See the photos.

They are big – up to 200 m². They are still reasonably affordable, ranging from around $350,000 to $550,000. And they are built on a slab – not raised on posts.

LLCs target a younger market than retirement villages, emphasising lifestyle. They have big community and support facilities. And most don’t have a DMF.

For operators, the resident owns her own home and are responsible for its maintenance. As a village manager, you will recognise this benefit.

It is still early days for LLCs. There are about 300 serious locations across the country with about 20 operators, compared to 2,000 retirement villages and 600+ operators.

But as a village manager, you will hear more about them, especially if you are in a regional location or on the outer Metro fringe.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Have some fun. Bring the proven joy of karaoke singing to your residents.

Have some fun. Bring the proven joy of karaoke singing to your residents with Mobydisc hire: $220 per event to $450 for one month.  Laugh and the world laughs with you!

Why not have some fun by hiring a Mobydisc jukebox for a resident event – Friday night drinks, Xmas in July, village birthday or just a party?

It is being taken up by villages across the country, creating happy residents who engage their family and friends. It’s also a great sales tool.

The jukeboxes arrive pre-loaded with 10, 000 songs and 2,000 karaoke songs (with lyrics) plus speakers, amp, flashing lights and two microphones to belt out the tunes.

Mobydisk can design special programs as well like ABBA nights, 50’s rock and more.

Mobydisc give residents the experience of a premium event without breaking the bank. Mobydisc charges only $220 for 24 hours of hire and also offers the option for you to hire the jukeboxes for a month for only $475.

To find out more call Mobydisc on 1800 100 606.

What the research tells us

Private Vs Not For Profit villages – what do residents think?

One of the most common phone enquiries we get here at DoComeMonday Media is the question of whether Not For Profit villages are better than villages with Private operators.

We asked AOR to explore this in our National Resident Survey 2018, where we had 30 Private and 25 Not For Profit operators participate. Here is a direct quote from their report:

With an understanding now of the different segments, it is useful to compare the Private and Not For Profit sectors and how they fall out.

Residents living in Not For Profit villages are more likely to be in the ‘Couldn’t be happier’ segment, at 28% compared to 22% of those in Private villages.

This reflects the relatively higher proportion we saw earlier of residents who gave a rating of ’10 – very satisfied’. However, at the same time, Not For Profits also have a higher proportion in the ‘Generally unhappy’ segment, at 15% compared to 11% of those in Private villages.

This relatively higher polarisation suggests that where the Not For Profits deliver on the promise, they deliver well. But where the delivery falls short, the shortcomings are numerous.

What the research tells us

Are village managers rewarded for the job?

Above is one of the summary conclusions by the leading market research firm AOR, who we commissioned to survey the residents of 557 villages – yours might have been one. Nearly 20,000 residents completed it.

Like all good research, it tells you what you already know. Being a village manager is a tough job.

What we did not know was the high turnover – 50% of managers moved on in less than three years.

This means one of several things. Village managers are not enjoying the work (not supported by the research). You are not getting the support you expect from HO or the owners (this is supported by the research). This goes to variability in training. And the fact that the job is demanding and, as suggested by the researchers, underpaid for the skills, responsibility and hours.

How much do village managers earn? Most sit between $55,000 and $90,000. You will have an idea if that is just reward.

Over the coming issues, we will discuss this further and the other findings of the research. (If your village participated your organisation will have a full report – you could ask to see it. Fascinating and very beneficial.)

Latest industry developments

Managing workplace – and resident – bullying

Bullying is now accepted as a real phenomenon affecting all people, including employees and residents of retirement villages.

Employees can bully each other and the residents. And residents can certainly bully employees.

Leading Victorian lawyers in the village sector Russell Kennedy have put together a fact sheet on how to prepare for bullying.

Check it out HERE.

Needless to say there are procedures.

Staff need to know that bullying is unacceptable, and how to make a complaint if they experience bullying.

Managers need to know how to recognise and prevent workplace bullying, and what to do if they receive a complaint. And how to make a complaint.

Policies and training will assist you to reduce your risk of a bad outcome, claims for workers’ compensation or a Fair Work Commission bullying process.

Latest industry developments

Security, safety and emergency access in retirement villages

How intense are the regulations and requirements in your state for emergency management in retirement villages?

In NSW we are expecting them to get a lot tighter and we expect the rest of the states will follow.

This is because in particular fire regulations were heavily discussed by residents who spoke up at the Kathryn Greiner retirement village inquiry meetings we attended.

Put simply, the residents gave repeated examples where operators were slack in following fire signage and egress regulations, plus few had evacuation plans.

One example was a resident in a wheelchair living on a fifth floor with no fire evacuation plan – especially when the lift is out of action.

Another was the lack of a roll call process to check everybody was at an assembly point.

We checked and this is the current information sheet available to NSW village managers – click HERE.

Email back to us your thoughts on the regulations and requirements for emergency response (fire etc).

What the research tells us

Awareness and perception of retirement villages

What is the awareness of villages?

Retirement villages are better understood and more favourably thought of than many would think.

In January we commissioned market research firm Australian Online Research (AOR) to survey residents of retirement villages. 19,600 residents participated.

As a control we also commissioned AOR to survey non-residents and their perceptions and interest in joining a village.

The top graph above reflects the answers by 1,109 people to the question: “Are you familiar with the concept of retirement villages?”

24% know quite a bit and 55% know a little. Only 23% say they haven’t heard of them or are not familiar.

I expect this matches your own experience.

The graph underneath, unsurprisingly, shows that 63% of the 1,109 people surveyed know someone who lives or has lived in a retirement village.

What we hear is that prospective residents have nothing against the concept of a retirement village but, with their kids, they are more wary of the contracts.

This is good if it leads to better understanding at the commencement rather than at the end of the village journey.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Retirement Living Council announces industry image campaign

Content here.

Next Sunday it will be 11 months since the airing of the Four Corners program titled “Bleed Them Dry Until They Die”.

Many residents were unsettled by the theme of the program – that they had made a terrible mistake joining the village. Had they been foolish?

Sales enquiries and sales were impacted, and some still are.

We hear nearly all prospective residents are now being accompanied by their children on inspections and contract discussions (which is a good thing).

The Retirement Living Council President (and CEO of RetireAustralia), Alison Quinn, states that the village sector has to ‘rebuild trust’.

Now the RLC is funding an image campaign.

Its Executive Director Ben Myers (pictured) said last week:

“Members of the Retirement Living Council have agreed to coordinate and fund the development of an industry image campaign, to educate the wider market of the benefits of retirement community living”.

“A member-led campaign committee is working with a leading creative agency to create the campaign material, which will undergo rigorous focus group testing before being developed in the next few weeks. It is proposed the campaign will begin early in the new financial year”.

They are looking at TV, radio and press.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Village sales still ‘subdued’

Content here.

Eleven months after Fairfax/Four Corners, retirement villages are a two-speed market. Hands-on village operators are enjoying good sales but they are leaving no stone unturned and are aggressive in their marketing. Private and Not For Profits.

The public companies give the best insight. Aveo has left no stone unturned (understandably) and has caught up its 19 weeks of sales pain last July-December. By June 30 they will be down on target for Established village homes (they have to sell 1,200 a year) but up on new home sales.

Stockland has done OK but its result is behind – ‘subdued’ they call it. Lendlease – no clear answer but at Christmas they were 30% behind.

Across the three they missed over $40m in net DMF income July-December.

With the exception of WA, assuming no more negative media, sales should be back to normal by Christmas.