Recent Acquisition Part of Aspenwood’s ‘Explosive’ Senior Living Growth in 2024

Recent Acquisition Part of Aspenwood’s ‘Explosive’ Senior Living Growth in 2024

After a record year for revenue in 2023, The Aspenwood Company is kicking growth into a higher gear in 2024.

Aspenwood has 20 communities under management thanks to the opening of a community in Charlotte, North Carolina and the recent acquisition of four communities operating under the Village on the Park brand in the Dallas Metro.

“We had explosive growth in March,” Aspenwood President Heather Tussing said.

Aspenwood doesn’t plan to become one of the largest senior living providers, Varin noted. But he said it plans to “be the best” in the markets it operates in, with an emphasis on higher end luxury offerings in metros across the Southeast region, particularly in and around Houston, Austin and, now, Dallas.

All the while, Aspenwood has built a platform on which to grow and improve. The operator saw a 43% increase in move-in volume so far in 2024 compared to the same period in 2023, according to Eric Varin, the operator’s senior vice president of sales. The company also notched an 8% increase in occupancy from 2022 to 2023, with a majority of its communities being in the 80% range and several breaking 90%.

Last year, Aspenwood reported an inquiry-to-tour percentage of about 39% and a tour-to-move in percentage of 40%, exceeding industry averages, the company’s leaders said.

The previous year also was one where Aspenwood saw its highest-ever total revenue, and the year ahead is about executing on what the company does well, Varin said.

“Right now it’s about building the regional teams to ensure that we have proper hands on and community support to then elevate these communities to our expectations,” he said.

He added that the company in March saw its most-ever move-ins in a single month.

“For us, the winds of demand have been incredibly strong,” he said.

Laying a foundation for growth in 2023

In order to better prepare for the growth it has seen this year, Tussing said Aspenwood’s team focused on internal improvements in 2023

“We actually had opportunities last year for growth that we turned down because we needed to make sure that we had that stable ground before we went into the growth mode,” Tussing said.

Alongside changing its customer relationship management (CRM) methodologies, the company rolled out a memory care program called Soar. The program was brought about through a partnership with Rice University and focuses on a research based approach for “every aspect” of the program to create a “failure free” environment for residents to have new experiences. The program also has “purpose points,” including sensory stations and programming with art, language and positive affirmations. Aspenwood first launched the program in the summer of 2023.

The company also has new expectations for life enrichment and technology integration in its independent living and assisted living communities.

For example, Aspenwood rolled out use of the LifeLoop platform at its mid-luxury level communities. Dining efficiencies were also created through updating and integrating new point of sale (POS) systems to allow residents to order on tablets, which Tussing said has been beneficial for both residents and staff.

Another shift was changing the overall culture of Aspenwood, with more of an emphasis on allowing staff to enjoy their time off. Tussing said a general expectation for executive directors is to not get emails after hours or on the weekends, and the home team office avoids meeting after hours as well.

The company has so far seen a reduction in turnover of about 2% as a result, Tussing said

“Our residents get better team members where they have time to debrief and enjoy life with their family,” she said. “We set expectations, we hold people accountable and we look at those opportunities for improvement. But we also give people time to debrief and really take time off and enjoy their life outside of work.”

Continuing explosive growth in 2024

With its Dallas acquisition, Aspenwood further solidified its presence in the metro area. Founder and CEO Jim Gray has ties to the Texas city, having grown up there; and the market also has a high level of demand for the company’s services, Varin said.

The latest acquisition adds an additional footprint to the company’s management portfolio, as well as a slate of new communities with occupancy rates more than 80%.

“We see the opportunity to take these communities from good to excellent,” Tussing said. “They’re not distressed, but there are things that we can do to help them be better. And that’s what we’re really excited about.”

Looking ahead, Aspenwood has more plans for further growth through a combination of acquisition and development.

The company has one active development underway in the Green Hills area of Nashville, Tennessee, which Tussing described as being a “high end luxury urban infill project” and is anticipated to open between late 2024 and early 2025. So far, the project is over 50% pre-leased.

Alongside development, the company is looking into further acquisition and management opportunities, with Tussing saying there is another management agreement likely to be announced within the next 90 days.

“​​As we grow, we want to make sure that things make sense with us. So it’s a type of product that, honestly, we want to be proud of … in a market that makes sense for us,” she said. “Unless we took over a large portfolio, we’re not looking to move to the West Coast, for example.”

Moving ahead, Tussing said Aspenwood is looking to “create excellence” within the communities it acquired and continue to invest in new technologies with a particular focus on resident safety.

The other part coming for 2024, according to Varin, is executive on the company’s expectations.

“The demand is there,” Varin said. “We still have a lot of change from last year that we still need to constantly reiterate and support and train to be sure that we’re executing on our expectations and our standards.”

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