In this episode, Gene discusses his early days as a musician, how he started his career, the definition of residential assisted living, how he got into the industry and much, much more!
Last month Gene had the opportunity to sit down with the team at Superb Crew, a business news website that focuses on covering the most innovative companies from the tech and business world. Making a name for themselves by shedding light on the latest trends and sectors of growth in technology and business, it was only natural that they connect with Gene, founder of the RAL Academy, to discuss his vision behind the successful residential assisted living education model that he created, how it came to be, and where he sees it leading into the future.
Interviewer: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Residential Assisted Living Academy?
Gene: The Residential Assisted Living Academy was formed in 2013. The purpose of the company is to provide the education and resources needed to create, own and operate RAL homes. Our mission is to help create over 1,000 homes across the country by the end of 2020. We are well on our way of doing just that. With over 1,000 people coming through our live and online training, we have seen the creation of hundreds of RAL homes across the country.
Interviewer: You’ve recently released Amazon best seller book that’s changing the game in real estate investing; could you tell us something more?
Gene: The hottest niche in real estate and business is Senior Housing and Assisted Living, according to many studies and financial professionals. The goal of writing the book is to provide, those that are looking to invest in this niche, the baseline information they need to make a good investment decision. Knowledge is the key and the more an investor knows about the industry they are investing in, the better.
Interviewer: Can you give us insights into your training programs?
Gene: We provide live and online training for individuals that are looking to get into the Senior Housing and Assisted Living industry. We cover the real estate investing side as well as the business side, in our training. We hold 8 live trainings each year in Phoenix AZ. People come from across the country to attend this training. The topics cover everything that you need to know to get started and to do it successfully.
We are developing an investor training for those that are just interested in that as well. That training will be launched later this year.
Interviewer: What makes your approach unique? What’s your success formula?
Gene: We are owners, operators and investors in these homes ourselves. That is the perspective that we are coming from as an education company. We do not work inside the businesses as the manager or the caregiver. Instead, we treat this as a business with an opportunity to “Do Good & Do Well”. We show people in a fast and efficient manor, what to do and how to do it. At our live training events we tour our homes so the students can experience and learn it from the “inside out”. That experience provides the context for the content that we provide.
Interviewer: What are your plans for the future?
Gene: We understand that everyone will be getting involved in Senior Housing and Assisted Living one way or the other. Either as a real estate investor, a business owner or as a customer living in someone else home. Right now, you have a choice as in “how” you get involved.
With 77,000,000 Baby Boomers aging by the day, this represents an incredible opportunity. 10,000 people a day are turning 65. 4,000 a day are turning 85. That is 1.4 million people turning 85 this year and every year for the next 20 years. That is an unstoppable “Silver Tsunami of Seniors”
For many it will be a “crisis” because they will be unprepared for it. For those entrepreneurs and investors that position themselves properly, it is an opportunity of a life time, it is like seeing a stock chart 10 years in advance and knowing exactly when to get in and get out.
We are creating the RAL Industry to capitalize on this opportunity. We own and invest in homes and facilities ourselves. We educate and provide resources for others that want to do the same. We are providing the investment opportunities for those that want to invest in these homes and this opportunity We have created the RAL National Association to support and bring the players in the industry together. And in 2020 we are launching an Operations company to service the entire industry.
Learn More About the 3-Day Fast Track
And don’t forget to save the date this year for RAL NAT CON 2019. Join hundreds of others in this amazing industry who are working together to meet the needs of the growing elderly population in this country. This incredible convention provides the chance to get more plugged into the residential assisted living industry and networking with other RAL owners, investors, lenders, equipment suppliers and support service providers that can help your RAL business grow. Be a part of the solution!
– Do Good and Do Well, my friends.
Sooner or Later, every one of us will be faced with the challenges of providing safe and comfortable housing for our aging population. Whether you’re looking for a housing solution for yourself or a family member, or you’re an investor interested in profiting from this need while doing good for others, there is a lot of information you need to know before going down this road.
Gene had the opportunity to visit with Matt Sullivan at his RAL home Southern Grace Assisted Living. Located in Kentucky where the state meets Illinois and Tennessee. Southern Grace is in a Frank Lloyd Wright design inspired home built in 1975. Gene returned to the office very impressed with the exceptionally peaceful feeling that the home and caregivers emanated. Recently, Gene interviewed Matt for our Success Interview Series where Matt talked about some of the challenges of updating a large unique home to a residential assisted living home.
Kentucky uses a social model so there is no licensing, just state certification once you meet all the rules and regs, but the state does require larger rooms (minimum 10×20 feet) with an attached bathroom for every resident’s room, although bathrooms can be shared between rooms (i.e. a Jack and Jill bathroom). Like most SFH to RAL conversions Matt had to do some rehab and the state requirements did pose some challenges because even-though the home was 5000 square feet, it only had three bedrooms. He was able to take the master bedroom suite and turn it into three bedrooms, and a den turned into two more bedrooms. There was also a sunken living room that needed to be raised, Matt was a bit sad to lose the beautiful hardwood floors, but he said that it was worth it. As Gene says, “Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do,” and this rehab was no exception. After touring the home, Gene said you couldn’t even tell that it had been raised and a new floor installed.
The home had been purchased for $360,000 and sat on 3 acres of land. The rehab was $700,000 completely gutting the home side-to-side. Matt said he could stand on one side of the house and see all the way through to the outside on the far side. At this point, Gene will tell you, “Don’t think that all renovations cost that much!” This was a unique case of renovations, additions, a lot of bathrooms, and some high-ticket items required by the state including a water line out to the street, grease trap, triple sink in the kitchen along with double washers, and everything in the remodel done was with high end materials.
Southern Grace is a mixed 12-bed home of singles and doubles and could net around $12,000 to $15,000 per month when full, but Matt realistically calculates some vacancy and budgets a net of $10,000 to $12,000 per month consistently. In addition, he plans to raise the rates as the word gets around and a waiting list develops.
One of Matt’s challenges is educating the surrounding population about residential assisted living. Many people are just not aware of what it is. One way he has increased awareness is with his ‘Photo Stop.’ If you are in the RALA Inner Circle Facebook Group you may have seen Matt’s great idea for creating a buzz around Southern Grace Assisted Living. He is well known for creating holiday ‘sets’ where the public can take pictures of themselves on the front lawn that corresponds with the current season or holiday. Matt says that it has caused people to slow down and SEE the home, basically become aware of the home, and even stop to take pictures at his ‘Photo Stop.’ In each ‘set’ he makes sure that the Southern Grace sign can be seen or the actual home is in the background. The kids really love it and it creates brand awareness.
Matt is a Worship Pastor at one of the larger churches in the area and along with his wife and son, consider Southern Grace a form of ministry. Running your own RAL gives you the ability to create the culture that you are passionate about without worry of offending a customer or your boss, since you are the boss. The right people will come to your home because you offer unique services that meets their needs. Quite often this is a critical time in the resident’s and the resident’s families lives so Matt and his staff take prayer requests from residents, resident families, and the care giver staff, prayer is said before meals, and many of the residents and staff will join together in bible study and help with prayer groups. The residents love it.
One of the greatest things about owning an RAL for Matt is the moment when a family member comes to him and expresses how having a home like this has changed the resident’s and the resident’s family for the better. Matt tells a story of one moment where the daughter of one of the residents came to him and told him about one of their newest residents – the mother had lived with the daughter for 15 years and was never happy, then went to the other daughter and lived with her, but still wasn’t happy. The daughters had never seen her really happy. One week after moving into Southern Grace, the daughter asked her mother how she liked it (fully expected complaints about food or not it being home). Instead the mother said, “It’s great. All the people are friendly, and the food is so good. It’s normal, good, food!” The daughter who lived 3 hours away said, “Matt you don’t know what that means to me, that my mother is happy in a place like this, it means the world.” Matt says that to hear things like that from the relatives that express that they can go home and not constantly worry about their parents and that we are making a difference in their parent’s quality of life has been unexpected and makes it really worth doing – even more than the money.
This was Matt’s first home and he made sure to use RALA support and watch every YouTube video that Gene ever made, “over and over again,” he jokes. He has worked in a corporate environment in the past, but never as the boss and he said that he had a lot to learn. His biggest piece of advice is to ‘keep on keeping on’ because there will be some challenges. Matt says that when doing something the first time there will be challenges and looking back he wouldn’t consider starting without the consulting that Gene and RALA provided. He learned at the 3-Day Live Assisted Living Business Accelerator course that in this business if there is a problem, identify the problem, and find a way around the problem, and then take action.
As we say around here, ‘the first home is the hardest’ but after that it gets easy. By just taking it one step at a time you will get there. As for Matt, he is already looking for his second home and considering creating a memory care home near Southern Grace. He loves that RALA has shown him a way to make a difference in the world while also creating a strong financial legacy for his family.
Matt is a great example of Doing Good and Doing Well and we couldn’t be prouder of his success!
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