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Understanding Your Market Study: Part 3

Conducting a Desktop Analysis of the Competition

When conducting a market study competitor analysis, many tools and sources of public information are available right from your desktop. The task may seem overwhelming, especially if the market is highly competitive. But here are some best practices to follow:

  • Know what you are looking for
  • Consider why the information is available
  • Think like a prospective resident
  • Organize a collection plan

1. Start with NIC MAP 2.0

NIC MAP 2.0 offers supply and construction data at the metro level. Excel workbooks can be downloaded and manipulated easily.

2. Collect disclosure statements

Next, find online or pick up the phone and request a disclosure statement. The disclosure statement is a one-stop-shop for the lion’s share of the competitive information. Disclosure statements include:

  • Description of a community including product types and services, governance and management, licenses, certificates and memberships
  • Unit counts, types, styles and square footages
  • Residency agreement, fee schedules for different service levels including a list of services, refund plan types for entrance fees, and admissions criteria
  • Payor mix in nursing (private vs. semi-private, Medicare, Medicaid, private pay, etc.)
  • Historical, current and projected occupancy rates, utilization and resident turnover
  • Details about future development plans
  • Financial performance, historical revenues, and expenses and balance sheets

Finding disclosure statements on the web requires some creativity. A Google search for “disclosure statement” (in quotes), including the community, organization and/or corporate name often yields results. Other ways to search for disclosure statements include by license number, state and local government websites, and EMMA® (The Electronic Municipal Market Access System), which is the official repository for information on virtually all municipal bonds. With some persistence, searching EMMA® can return bond offering statements that will include disclosure statements.

3. Comb the Internet

If a disclosure statement can’t be obtained, or if what you find is more than a couple years old, begin by reviewing competitor websites. Consumers often shop for senior living options online and expect to find much of the pertinent information on the website, so communities may post current prices and sales incentives. Locate press releases and scan news channels such as Senior Housing News and local business journals. And, review community photo albums and floor plans to evaluate the aesthetics and conditions from a distance.

While random web searches aren’t advised, try plugging in the community and corporate names into a search engine and include a common file suffix such as .pdf, .exl, .ppt, and .doc to retrieve internal documents that find their way to the internet. These can include board presentations, Excel worksheets with budget and occupancy figures, legal filings and annual reports.

4. Add depth to the analysis

For the more qualitative or subjective information needed to add depth to your competitor analysis, visit social media. Nowadays, many communities interact with their prospects and resident family members on Facebook. Yelp ratings and Google reviews offer insight, and job sites like LinkedIn, Monster and MyCNAJob include information on employees and job postings. Additionally, blogs and discussion forums often yield insider information, and sites like offer former employees a platform to describe company culture and morale.

Architect and builder websites are also often good sources of information about a new development or renovation. They frequently showcase their senior housing projects in photos and renderings online, and may include community common space square footages, unit size, design and layout.

In summary, when conducting your desktop competitive analysis, use all the available tools. Be creative and organized, and you will be well-prepared for conducting site visits. With the hard data already collected, you can focus during the site visits on more of the soft or subjective aspects of the competitive analysis.

For more detail about conducting a competitor analysis from the desktop, look for the May Insider and watch for the recorded webinar that will be posted on May 24.

About the Author

Lana Peck

Senior Principal Lana Peck has two decades of market research experience exclusively in the seniors housing industry. Prior to joining NIC, Lana worked for Brooks Adams Research in Richmond, Virginia as director of research, where in addition to serving as research consultant on the joint LeadingAge/Mather LifeWays CCRC Namestorm Taskforce to identify a new name that positions CCRCs in a more relevant way for future consumers, Life Plan Community; she was responsible for senior consumer market research, market feasibility studies, and industry research for national senior living trade organizations. Lana’s prior experience also includes more than a decade with Life Care Services LLC, in Des Moines, Iowa, where she served as senior market research analyst, and Gartner, Inc., a worldwide-leading information technology research and advisory company, where she managed global business-to-business market research projects. She holds a Master of Science in Management in Business Management and a Master of Family and Consumer Sciences in Gerontology.