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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

Episode 62: Sevy Petras

Priority Life Care CEO Sevy Petras is here with an episode packed with family, culture and middle market tips.

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Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. We are in San Diego at the NIC Conference and we are going out in the crowds. We’re trying to find the best people to talk to you. And this has been a bucket list for us. Today, I would love to welcome our best friend and CEO of Priority Life Care Sevy Petras.

Sevy: Nailed it!

Lucas: Got it. So, this is so fun and your company is one that we love following. It’s one of the few that’s on Instagram and Facebook and you guys are putting out content. But, before we get there, we want you to tell our listeners some of your background and how you got to this point.

Sevy: Oh my gosh. First of all, thank you so much for having me on. This is one of my bucket list because I love you guys and I follow both of you individually as well as on Bridge the Gap and I love following your stuff that you’re both individually doing in the senior housing world. I’m just so impressed with you guys.

Josh: Thank you.

Sevy: And love the contribution. I mean, it’s just, it’s amazing to have friends who we get to do these types of things with, right?

Lucas: It’s fun.

Sevy: We’re really lucky.

Lucas: This is really fun.

Sevy: And San Diego normally is a little bit, you know, more-

Josh: -sunny?

Sevy: Sunny.

Josh: We’re having fun anyway.

Sevy: Yeah, but this is, we’re making it bright inside.

Josh: That’s right.

Sevy: Bringing the bright inside.

Lucas: You’re bringing the bright inside.

Sevy: I’m doing my best. So, just to get a little background on who we are and how we got here and how I got here is, I guess I could start with- I’ll tell a little bit of the story. I’ll try to shorten it because it’s a kind of long one.

But I’m one of the stories that we like to tell the people that work with us is how me, my brother, my mom, my sister-in-law, and one of my best friends got started in seniors’ housing on the operations side. So, I had been a banker for about 10 years and I’d worked on the bond side and public finance and then ended up doing some lending in specifically senior housing with Merrill Lynch and Heller was some really great guys. And as the downturn came and everybody kind of was at a standstill in banking, my mom was actually an administrator at an assisted living memory care building in West Virginia. And so there really wasn’t much going on. So, I was training for two ironmen at the time. And so I was going between my mom and dad’s house and then one of my friend’s house in Colorado because that’s where all triathletes go to do ironman, as Scott Stewart knows.

Lucas: Yes.

Sevy: I’ve done a couple with him. So, I was there and when I was there, my mom kept coming home and talking about these just stories of these individuals who live there for a long time and had ran out of money and they were no longer able to stay in the community. And I was like, well I was a banker. We went to different types of assisted livings that had programs that the state provided funding for and I’m like, oh well that’s silly mom, they should just go to those buildings that have the funding. And my mom’s like, well Sevy, not all of these buildings, not all the states have this funding. And I was like, what do you mean? Like how? So, how do people pay for assisted living?

I mean I understood from a banking perspective because there was a lot of private pay. Those are like the high end ones, like weren’t there these lower-end ones? Maybe we just didn’t lend to them at Merrill Lynch Capital, but there had to be those out there. So my mom was like, there’s just not.

So, what I started doing, because my background from my master’s work was specifically in statistics, I started looking at the statistics. So I knew that there were all these seniors coming up. The silver tsunami was on the way and we were still quite a few years behind it. And that we were going to have some issues with these private pay worlds that people were, how they paid for it.

So one, they would sell their homes, right? So you use the money from their homes to fund their assisted living and the rest of the money that they needed for, hopefully, the remainder of their life.

Two, adult children kicked in to help pay for it.

Three, they’re looking at what they had in their savings. Well, 401ks were diminished as a result of the downturn. Home values completely were wiped out the board and people couldn’t even sell their homes. Adult children, either one or both of them lost their jobs. And then also sometimes they had adult children that they then had to have bring back home and help fund.

Lucas: Back in mom’s basement.

Sevy: Absolutely. So, it was kind of like a trifecta of difficulty from a financial perspective for how people are going to be able to fund assisted living in the years to come. So I said, man, I think that some of these states are going to have to embrace some additional options for people rather than in a nursing home. We know that the nursing home costs are entirely too high and that the consumers coming up, we’re going to want something different than sharing a room in a hospital bed with a shared bathroom and a lot of restrictions.

So, we kind of started looking at some states that already had programs in place, like the state of Oregon and Wisconsin. And Oregon had done a really good job already and really flipping how many people were in the nursing home to assisted living and saving the state an awful lot of money.

So, we really started focusing on from just a marketing research perspective, what states were starting to have these waiver programs and where we could kind of start to identify some properties that might make sense and where the states were going to be amenable. So we looked in like Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Florida had some stuff as well. And so I put together all these statistics and it was Thanksgiving.

I came with an Easel, you know, one of those ones, you get it like, you know, OfficeMax. And I wrote out an organization plan: Who’s CEO? Who’s CFO? Who’s ops person? Who’s marketing? Who’s this? Put together a whole business plan. There was a lot of wine at the table

Lucas: Yes.

Sevy: It was my family table. And I said, pretty much everybody’s going to quit their jobs and they’re going to come and work with me for free. And we’re going to take on a senior housing industry in terms of starting to find an affordable product with repurposing some older buildings, whether they were independent livings that just couldn’t really make it or they were hotels that had lost their flagship or they were purpose bill and just needed some renovations and made, you know, adding in this memory care, memory care piece as well as some assisted living waiver from the state.

And so everybody’s cheering and being like, yeah, this sounds great. Fantastic, Sevy. We’re way behind you.

Lucas: Can you imagine there at the Thanksgiving table?

Josh: Yeah, we’re going to dive a little deeper into this family business thing.

Lucas: They’re building a real empire over turkey.

Sevy: And wine.

Josh: We’re going to dive deeper on that for sure.

Lucas: Sorry, go ahead.

Sevy: And he has met my family.

Josh: Okay, I have not.

Sevy: He totally knows.

Josh: I’ve got to learn.

Sevy: Yeah, you’ve met my whole family. And so the next morning, my brother, so I only have one brother and he was married at the time. So, he was already married and they didn’t have any kids. They are driving back to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the morning and, you know, I’m staying at my parents’ house and Bobby says to Brandy, they’re driving, he’s like, ‘oh, what a fun Thanksgiving. And his looks over at him, she says, I mean, that’s not serious, right? Like we’re not really going to quit our jobs and like start this company with Sevy? And Bobby was like, no, no. I don’t know. He’s pretty, she’s made her mind up-

Josh: It’s going to happen.

Sevy: And sure enough, like little by little, like I just whittled them down and everybody came on board unpaid. And so that’s how we kind of got things started. So that was like 2008 to 2009 and by 2010, we’d identified a partner and then we’d identify four communities that we were able to acquire during one of the worst economic downturns and then one of the worst financial situations. And I’m able to bring on some of the largest assisted living buildings that offered medicaid waiver in the states. And that’s kinda how we got our start.

Josh: That’s an incredible story. So, I’ve got so many questions now.

Sevy: You were going to not say anything!

Josh: No, I’m just sitting here and I think Lucas has an advantage because he’s known you longer, got to meet your family. So a lot of, you know, I see the now, but I didn’t know a lot of the backstory. I didn’t know about the banking and your background in that and so I learned a little bit about that before our show.

So it sounds like you’ve been tackling what I as an operator think is one, such a huge need because you’re talking like affordability in the middle market. Which we have a whole conversation about that, right? Everybody’s talking about that. But then the transition business, so you guys went into some places that at least you were leading me to think these are not easy situations and that’s a market that a lot of our industry, I’d say the majority of the industry just kind of like, oh yeah, that’s a huge need. We need to talk about that. And then they kind of like turn and you kind of look the other way.

So, I mean, just pull back the veil a little bit here because it seems like Priority Life’s got it going on set. Sevy’s in control. Let’s talk about some of those challenges and those transitions and you know, because I think a lot of operators that are listening are thinking, ‘oh, that’s intriguing. You know, we want to do that or we’re in the middle of that and gosh, we’re hitting landmines everywhere.’ So what were some of your, think back, what have been some of your pitfalls and some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome? Just some tidbits you can give our audience.

Sevy: Sure. The nuggets?

Josh: Yeah, the nuggets.

Sevy: Nuggets. And I’m always an open Kimono. I’ve always said this, anytime I’ve spoken anywhere or I meet anybody, like anything I can do to help further this cause, I am all for it. I think, what do they say that when you copy somebody is the best form of flattering. I want to see more people copy this. Like please do it.

Some of the biggest challenges for us are a couple things. So one, there’s only a few things that we can control, you know, as an operator when it comes to cost, right? And that’s the whole name of the game, right? Like even not for profits have to like actually be able to sustain themselves, right? So there’s labor is labor and we all have to attract good, solid people that we can count on and we have to be able to- we have to be able to compensate them appropriately, right? And compensation isn’t just what we’re paying people hourly, you know, it’s also what we’re able to offer them in the forms of benefits.

And that can be a little bit more difficult know as a smaller operator in terms of being able to be more competitive with your benefits and your packages and the type of support that you can offer them, right? So that’s one of the big ones.

Food cost is another large, large cost. Insurance costs are, you know, we all have to have it, and those are, you know, regardless expensive. So what can we really control then from an expense perspective to be able to offer these things at a better price? Or mortgage, right? So, it’s how much you actually pay for the property. So some of the difficulties have been like we were very fortunate, you know, when we started in this because there weren’t a lot of people competing for some of these types of properties that we could pick these things up at the right price, renovate them, get them licensed or add the licensing for, you know, really our price point was trying to get somewhere between like 50 and $60,000 a unit.

We always look to have…not-semi privates. We are always looking to try to have as many private units as we possibly could because in some of the states to offer waiver, it had to have a private bathroom and their own private room. So one of the biggest pitfalls I think has been…looking at those different buildings and then figuring out, so how can we do this affordably but still not compromise on the amenities that we’re able to offer because we have to have good programming, right?

So, we’re licensed and regulated the same way everybody else is, no matter how expensive your care, you know, how expensive you’re paying to be in that building or how low you’re paying to be in the building. So you have to be able to find that. So that has been that the difficulty is the balance and being able to find that it’s become more difficult because prices have become a lot more competitive. You know, cap rates are getting, you know, squeezed a little bit from that perspective. And so I would say that’s probably more difficult. And construction costs have been rising. So that’s been making a lot more difficult. You know, in 2010 through 2014/15, things were pretty low and you could still get things at a decent price. And right now we’re finding people want paid for value that has, that you have to create. And so it makes it more difficult to find that, you know, that way to get in there and find the affordability.

So we’re trying to be more creative in working with and partnering with other platforms and people. One of the things we’re doing right now is I’m on a consortium for, it’s called Upward Labs and they’re in Hartford, Connecticut and they have this like shark tank kind of thing where we just sat and listened to 15 startup tech companies who are trying to, you know, shake up or do something different in either software technology, specifically in the aging population. And these guys have the backing of like Lincoln Financial, Hartford, Cigna, Aetna, like big, big financial partners that if one or some of these are selected and they’re going to be piloted in our communities, that they have the ability to really make some changes.

And so I think those are the ways that we’re going to have to continue to be creative so that we can continue to offer things at an affordable price.

Josh: So cool.

Sevy: Because it’s not always, you know, the states aren’t always increasing the rates…on an annual basis. You know, sometimes they’re cutting them to some degree and they’re coming down harder from a regulatory perspective. So we have to try to find other ways that we can really be creative in keeping those costs down.

Great insight. So, we could talk a lot about that topic. There’s so much there, but I want to dive into another little, I’m going to get real personal here. Yeah. So I follow you, at a personal level and at Priority. And one of the things I want to touch on is family business because we’ve all had good and bad experiences or stories that we’ve heard of family business. You guys seem to be really excelling at it. And I love seeing your family. You spend a lot of time with your family. And I’m talking like multiple generations of family, so not just the immediate family. It’s so fun to see you guys actually look like you like each other and possibly love each other.

Sevy: That’s what social media is for.

Josh: Yeah. So tell us what’s it like? So you told us a little, a little nugget of how you kind of rallied the family, we’ll call them the troops, to believe in you, but what’s that journey been like with the family and how do you guys juggle that of living together and the stress that goes with operating? How do y’all turn that on? Turn it off? I mean, what’s your secret?

Lucas: You gave mama a BMW or a Mercedes, right?

Yes. Our mom was our very first administrator and our very first building and…when we bought the building in 99 units, it had 19 people living in it that were basically independent living and weren’t paying to live there. I mean, we called them free 99s, because when the people that had it before, were not giving them 1099s for working in lieu of rent. And so we called him free 99s.

So, that was our very first building, and this is probably one of my favorite stories and this is a great way to sum up and then I’ll talk a little bit more about how we got to where we are now. This is 10 years in the making, right?

So our first building, my mom was the administrator. eW had a business office manager who, who was there. We had  my brother was handling operations. My sister-in-law was overseeing the marketing. My best friend Joe Record was also there and she was our brand manager putting together all of our marketing packages. And then I was overseeing all the financials and working with our back office from our partner, et cetera.

So, we’re all in this one building with like not a lot of office space. And none of us were making any money, right? My mom had like a salary as an administrator, but there was hardly any revenue coming in. So we’re all just like gung ho, 100% looking for other buildings. The business office manager comes into my mom’s office, which basically all of us were in and everybody was kind of off except for me. And we’re sitting in there and she comes in and she’s crying and you know, I’m in my, like, you know, business kind of suit because I’m used to working in, you know, the professional white collar world. And I’m sitting in there and she’s crying to my mom and I’m kind of half listening and I’m kind of not listening. And my mom and she leaves the room and I was like, ‘Mom, like what the heck? Like there’s no crying in the office. This is a professional setting. You can’t be, you can’t be crying here right now. Like this is ridiculous.’ And my mom said, Severine, and when I get a Severine, I’m in big trouble.

‘Severine, let me tell you something. You don’t, you don’t work in an office anymore. You don’t work in, in corporate America anymore. You work in people’s homes. And we’re dealing with people who are, are emotional because she was crying because somebody that she’s been working with and been here with for the last two and a half years is dying.’ And people cry and she said, ‘And you want to know something, you hug them, you don’t shake their hand.’

And she said, ‘And by the way, lose the suit cause you’re making everybody really nervous when you come in here with that.’ She’s like, ‘You see anybody that’s working, sitting at home in their suit. No.’ She’s like, ‘So lose the suit.’ And I was like, this big wave came over me and I was like, man, wow. Like you’re totally right. Because I was really looking at things from, I’m still in this corporate world, I’m dealing with bankers. I’m dealing with investors and I really hadn’t really looked at the like humanity, the human part of what we’re dealing with, with our, with not just our residents. Cause I look at it from the residents and I’m like, okay, I get that. But I really didn’t understand the impact that it was having on our employees. And then and eventually obviously on myself as well as I got more ingrained in that piece of it.

So, you know, my mom gives us tough love. A lot of tough love and her name is Debbie, but we call her Deb and she gives, she oversees all of our HR and payroll now, but we call it our corporate soul because that’s the crux of what makes us who we are. It’s our people. And so we approach things from a coaching perspective. So it’s not just a place that you get your paycheck, it’s not just a place that you’re coming to get in trouble. You know, we try to take this, so we call them Deb talks, like if my mom has a Deb talk-

Josh: -I love that. Instead of a Ted Talk, it’s a Deb Talk. I love that.

Lucas: Totally different topic.

Sevy: It’s a totally different topic. And my mom, the way she does it, that’s a really good example of a shortened Deb talk. But it’s one of those ones where, you know, they kind of like, she’ll break you down to the, so break you down to where you’re like angry, you want to cry. And then at the end of it you’re like empowered. And I think like those are the coaching moments that we try to find there. And my mom- so we’ve really taken my mom’s approach to that throughout like our entire string…And I think that that’s what’s led to the success of our family together is because we aren’t afraid to call each other out. We’re not afraid to get angry with one another. I’ve been hung up on. I’ve been told, you know, to shove it. And until I’ve had every one of my family members have quit except for my sister and Brandy. Brandy’s never quit on me.

Lucas: Loyal.

Josh: Shoutout to Brandy.

Sevy: Shoutout to Brandy, who is amazing. I mean, and that’s part of the thing too, is we are best friends. We’re all best friends. Like I, Lucas knows this, he’s hung out with my mom and my dad. You know, but it’s because we’re not afraid to have the difficult talks. We’re not afraid to call each other out when we think we’re being too high and mighty. And we’re not afraid to say, hey, you’re being a jerk or you’re not looking at it this way or- and one of the things we did really early on because we were in the same office in one building and we were all working towards the same thing. We were butting heads a lot at the very beginning. And so I brought in a really good friend of mine who happened to work for, I think he worked for, it wasn’t Amazon, it was like a VRBO or something. So he worked for one of those companies and he did a test where they look at all of your personalities. I can’t remember what those are, it’s like all the letters.

Lucas: A DISC?

Sevy: Yeah, a DISC. He came in and I brought our whole team in and I had no money to do it and I was like, what is the minimum amount I can pay you to do this test? And because I just knew if we were all going to continue to function well together and maintain a good family life, how we’re going to do this. And what we found out is that my brother and I were very, very similar personalities and my mom and my sister-in-law were almost identical personalities. And then Jill was kind of somewhere in the middle of all of us. And so once I realized how I needed to speak with my mom and my sister-in-law and how I needed to talk with my brother, and they understood how I was talking, it made all the difference.

Because when I get angry, I talk slower and calmer. I choose my words like more, more precisely. And my mom and my sister-in-law and everybody else, including my husband- poor Felipe- they take that is I’m being condescending, whereas I’m trying to be more cautious and more conscience of like what I’m saying.

So, we don’t do the best job with balancing between the family and the work. Like I remember one of my first nieces baptisms. My brother was like, ‘Hey, look guys, we are not going to talk about work. Okay. Like, let’s just enjoy this day. Let’s be mindful of it. Let’s just enjoy each other.’ And we all ended up in the kitchen talking and my brother was the one that brought it up. So I was like, I didn’t, I didn’t start it.

But we’re very, very passionate about what we do and we love it so very much that it’s very difficult for us to not be talking about it when we’re together because I mean, that’s what we do.

Lucas: Well and I think that that’s a leadership story that transcends a family business. You’re illuminating and uncovering how to develop culture in a business. It reminds me, I just finished a book called Radical Candor. And it’s that process of identifying those hard conversations and approaching it in a way that is direct but also respectful and it seems like you guys are a really implementing.

But it’s a great pivot point into culture. Um, what are you guys doing as far as cultural? I actually know because watching it. You’ve got team members out there doing videos, you’re highlighting your services. How has that- where did that start and how, what kind of impact is it having on your company?

Sevy: When we first started out, you know, we had like four buildings and then six buildings and 11 buildings and, we’re very hands on and we liked to go to the buildings. I like to go and do trainings myself still. But as we started growing and getting bigger, it became obvious that it was more difficult for us to penetrate down to like the hourly employees on the weekends and the evenings. So when I started looking at it in and I try to, you know, engulf as many books as I possibly can as well, and I haven’t really seen anything that’s different. I feel like a lot of people are saying a lot of the same things. But one of the things that I thought was really important because I would come away from different topics or conversations or meetings and I would have these great ideas and I wasn’t really having anybody who could go back and just focus 100% on them.

So I said to my brother, I said to Bobby, I said, ‘Hey, I really think we need to have one person who’s dedicated to this.’ And he was like, ‘You’re totally right.’ I said, ‘I want to have a culture, a culture cultivator.’ I said, ‘I want to have a director of our corporate experience and I want them to drive our mission behind our corporate soul.’ And he said, ‘That’s awesome.’

And he, and then brandy said, because this was I think around a couple of glasses of wine and I was sitting at their house, because when I go to our back office, I stay at their home.

Josh: Okay.

Sevy: And I have four- I have three nieces and a nephew there- and I usually sleep with my niece Bianca. Or my niece Bella. I don’t get my own room.

Lucas: Right.

Sevy: So one of them is always sleeping with me.

Lucas: Bunk beds.

Sevy: Literally bunk beds. But there’s always one like-

Lucas: -for sure.

Sevy: So, I said and Brandy said, “Hey, I have a great person and it would happen to be a person who is working in our ARAP back office in Fort Wayne, James Elliot and we’ve kind of tapped him on the shoulder, who by the way, he is your number one fan.

Josh: Yeah, shout out to James.

Lucas: James appreciate it.

Josh: We’ve been following James’ journey.

Lucas: Yes.

Josh: Yes.

Lucas: Strong mustache game, too.

Sevy: Gosh, doesn’t he?

Josh: Not too many people can pull that off and he does a great job.

Lucas: Respect.

Sevy: He really does. So, we tap James, we talked to him about it at the end of the year and you know, and I love for you guys to meet James and to see him in action some time cause he just has this like remarkable personality. He is just vivacious and warm and caring and so sincere and so… we saw how I had one instance where we had an issue, as you know, as an operator it’s all about balancing our vendors and paying them. Look, we’d all have to pay everybody at the beginning of the month and 30 days before the bill is due, but it just doesn’t work that way. Yeah.

And so it’s about balancing that. And so James- we had an issue and the problem was the bills kept coming to me. Somebody who’s physically sending me the bills to me house!

Josh: Right to the top!

Sevy: Right to the top. Physically sending me the bill, not electronically either by the way, like a physical piece of paper to my home. And so I just assumed it was like a copy. And everybody in my company by the way knows not to give me anything of any importance or value that is a physical copy of anything because it will never get to where it needs to go. I am aware of my flaws and that is one of them.

So I was like, so then they’re emailing me, they’re like Sevy, you know, it’s getting towards the end of the year and you have like this AR. I’ll say this was, this was Taft. This was my lawyers. This is Eric Simon and Peter… tell him the story  and I was like, oh my gosh, Eric, I’m so sorry. like, I don’t know why this hasn’t been paid. Like let me contact my back office. So I call Iyvonne Byers our CFO, who’s an amazing woman, licensed administrator. And I said, hey Iyvonne, why hasn’t somebody… She’s like Sevy, I don’t have this anywhere in our system. Like I don’t know where these bills are.

Lucas: All over your coffee table.

Sevy: And I said, and my husband, Felipe, God bless him, said, ‘Hey, hey, Sevy, we get those bills here. And I said, ‘What do we do with them?’ He’s like, ‘I think you throw them away.’ And I said, ‘Well, I just thought they were copies. Like who sends me a physical bill?’

So I say, ‘Can you email these to me? Like can you get them to me and I’ll make sure they get to the right people?’ And so James gets on it and James emails, the people, he calls the people- and this is his response back. This was his response back: He said, ‘Thank you so much for explaining the problem. I think we’ve got to the base of where the problem was. It wasn’t coming to the right person.’ He left my name out of it.

Josh: He didn’t throw you under the bus. That’s good, James

Sevy: And he said, um, and, and what he said in the email was he reconfirmed what they talked about on the phone. He reconfirmed how the situation was going to be resolved and then he gave them a deadline of when it was going to be paid by and then within a week he followed up and said, thank you so much. We now have these in our system and please confirm that you’ve received the wire that we sent.

And I was just like, oh my gosh. Like this is what I want every vendor, family member, employee- that is exactly how I want them to have an experience with us in a very difficult situation. I mean we had really outstanding AR at that point, you know, accounts payable at that point. And I was like, and it could have, they could have been really angry and like just the way that he handled that.

So anytime anything, it kind of escalated, I started like sending it to James, like James, could you follow up with us?

Because I think one of the things that is very difficult in our day and age is that we get so heavily reliant on technology. We (cut out repeated we) just email people when we should be calling them and we text people when we should be having a conversation with them. And so that’s been one of our big things is, hey, you need to know when to send an email. When it’s appropriate to send a text. When it’s appropriate to have a pick up the phone and when it’s appropriate to wait until you’re in person. And so those are kind of the communication piece is what we’ve really been working on.

Even with our family. I mean there’s some things where I’m like, okay, this text message has gone on too long, like we all need to just pick up the phone. And so James really just kind of portrayed without us even telling him that’s what I wanted our experience for any vendor or any person to have. And so when we tapped him and I said, hey, this is what I think you could do, I mean he just jumped kind of right in. We just find out like really what we wanted him to focus on this year. You know, really what we wanted him to jump into right away. But, but that’s really kind of how we, we came to James’s position.

Josh: I love that. So, I’m learning so much. I feel like we could do an episode Lucas on that whole when and how the appropriate communication because I think we all struggle with the idea.

Lucas: Yes.

Sevy: We do.

Josh: I know I struggle with that. If you guys have nuggets on that, we’re going to have to have you back for that.

Sevy: Yes.

Josh: And the other thing I have just learned as if Sevy is talking very slow and intentional with me, she’s ticked.

Lucas: Watch out.

Josh: What you need to know Sevy is I do that all the time just because I’m from Tennessee and it has nothing to do with me being angry with you. So yeah, this is so fun. Well, thank you for being very transparent.

Sevy: Anytime.

Josh: This is so helpful. You know, we need to be having more of these conversations because in the operator bus that many of us are in, you know, we’re kind of all in the same bus and so often we get unintentionally even in our little silos and our communities and there’s like wealth of information from people that have kind of been down the road. So, thank you for being willing to just be transparent and share that. That’s so, that’s so informational.

Lucas: Yeah and we want to do a reality show about your life. I think that we need to, you know, kind of like, you know, the real world Sevy, you know, that sort of thing. I think that that would, that would scale well.

Sevy: I wouldn’t have more like yoga clothes on, if that’s cool.

Josh: Whatever works.

Sevy: That’s really funny. So when you come to our offices in Fort Wayne, my brother, we started our back office and my brother has a crossfit gym. He’s very fit. I don’t know if you know this.

Lucas: Yeah. Dude’s like the Rock.

Josh: Yeah, I noticed. We noticed. We don’t talk about other dudes too much, but, you know, we noticed.

Sevy: Oh my gosh. He just also like made it in to some crossfit competition in Greece.

Josh: Okay, we gotta have him on the show.

Sevy: He’s really good.

Lucas: Maybe you and him could do a little bit of crossfit.

Sevy: Oh yeah!

Josh: Okay, let’s not go there. Because I see what you’re trying to do, and we’re not doing that.

Sevy: We could do it at the gym!

So we had, there were some office space that just came with the gym and the, obviously that was already, cause you know, we didn’t really have a lot of money when we were restarting our platform. And so we had free office space. Yay. We still kind of do. We had to build out this space a little bit more. But um, so everybody that’s there gets all of our employees get free crossfit gym membership. And everybody just works in workout clothes.

Lucas: I love it.

Sevy: So, um, we moved the offices because we were like, oh, maybe it should be a little bit more professional. Maybe we should move it. And we moved it and everybody revolted and was like, no, I want to be back at the gym. I want to just go back to wearing workout clothes. So when we have people, people come to the office, I’ll be like, could you guys all wear like business casual? Just so?

And we, and so we’ve expanded and we had to go into like the warehouse part. So we were building it. It’s really cool. Like we have like a golf simulator in there and a little bar-

Lucas: -I love that.

Sevy: And it’s really fun and we’re trying to make it different. And, and I know what’s up the little unconventional cause when you first walk in you’re like, oh my gosh, what am I doing? I’m literally walking into like a garage? But, um, and, and we’re working on getting like a big training center with like a little bit fancier, you know.

That’s, again, that’s really one of our goals this year that James is kind of taken on. And we’ve also brought on my husband Felipe as an unpaid consultant to help us with our-

Lucas: -he probably already was.

Sevy: He was. He has been. It’s just more official now. But, at some point we’ll pay him. Everybody who starts at our company, if they’re related to us, as unpaid. Like that’s just a requisite and then we pay them.

Josh: At some point.

Sevy: At some point. We had to test them out first and see if they’re going to work.

Josh: Right.

But it’s really cool. So when you guys come, like you’ll see like half of the offices are on one side, then you have this, like, amazing crossfit gym and then there’s other offices that are kind of look like almost little houses. But one of our goals for this year is to create a really robust onboarding system for as we’re onboarding new buildings that come on, onboarding every single position, and then how we’re going to continuously do training so that it’s something that we can monitor and, and help provide some type of support and a better way for us to engage with our employees versus trying to figure out ways for them to engage with us.

And that’s been, I think our biggest thing that we’re trying to change is like what can we do to engage with them versus expecting them, like, let me give you something and you engage with me?

Josh: Sure.

Sevy: Like let me come and engage with you.

Josh: Yeah.

Sevy: And so I want us to create what would become the gold standard in training and onboarding in seniors housing because I think it’s something that we’re, we’re kind of missing the boat on. Because we get so quick.

Lucas: It’s hard.

Sevy: People have to get in the buildings and we need to get them doing things. But I think that’s part of the reason we’re seeing a lot of turnover is because we’re not doing a good job of explaining the expectations and the expectations aren’t just, ‘Hey, this is what you have to do on a daily basis. This is also what we’re expecting you to react and this is how we’re expecting you to communicate and this is how you would want to be communicated with and this is how I would want to be communicated with.’ So we’re just trying to figure out how we can be doing that better.

I think we’re all doing as best we can as operators. But what else can we do? And that’s why I love to talk to other operators. I don’t know everything. I love talking to people in other industries, which is one of the reasons I wanted fully Beta to come on and say, hey, give us some other perspectives. Because I think we always look a lot internally and we don’t look externally when there’s some people doing some really cool stuff.

Josh: Sure. Totally agree.

Lucas: And you know what, and that’s probably, that’ll be the topic of our next show because we are going to be following you very closely. And we would love to have you come back and talk about that onboarding process because I think that you have just uncovered a huge piece of any business in particular operations and then that engagement. That’s exactly what we want to do with our audience right now.

So, we’ll connect to Sevy and her company in the shownotes. You can follow them on Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, all the social media sites, but we want to call the action right now. Engage back with us. Do you want to hear the rest of this story with Sevy coming up later at a different point about onboarding? Tell us yes or no. Is that an important topic? That’d be something really, really interesting of a way to engage back with our audience. So we’ll connect all of that in the show notes. Sevy thank you so much for being an awesome friend, an awesome rockstar, a thought leader in this space and a great collaborator. You’ve given us a ton of great information. Thank you.

Sevy: You guys are amazing. Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.

Josh: Awesome.

Sevy: Thanks, too, Sarah, for being back there, getting all this stuff together and keeping people from walking in front. That has a big job.

Lucas: We’re having a great time at the NIC Conference here in San Diego and it’s been a great conversation and another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

Thank you to our supporting partners NHI, RCare, NRC Health, TSOLife, ERDMAN and Sherpa.

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Episode 62: Sevy Petras