Senior Living Provider Cuts Costs With On-Demand Services Model

Many successful senior living operators have followed a pricing model that encompasses services from dining to laundry, housekeeping and more. In independent living and at some CCRCs, often residents have options as to how much of these services they want or need, likening pricing to an a la carte model.

But one San Francisco Bay Area operator is taking that concept to a new level by employing services across its indepdenent living community that are on demand, and are offered entirely by third-party providers that are not employed by the operating company.

“These services are going to become mainstream and they are going to change the game in terms of what we need to provide in a community itself,” says Arun Paul, founder of Priya Living.

The community is able to keep monthly rents at $2,295 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,595 for a two-bedroom unit, in part by providing all services on an on-demand basis. Even food service is outsourced to an area provider called Munchery and laundry services are provided by startup Washio.

“Every resident can choose exactly what level of service they want,” Paul says. “You’re not locked in. We feel the problem wtih traditional senior living is everything is bundled. In the typical IL community you get housekeeping, meals and transportation. You may not want all of it, but you’re paying for all of it. Even if you add the services up, our cost is much lower.”

The community also finds a niche in that it attracts a largely Indian population from the Bay Area and from across the globe. Demand has risen — so much so, that the current location is running a wait list of more than 1,200 names, and Priya plans to open two new communities in the near term in other California locations including Los Angeles and Fremont, with additional expansion opportunities outside the state.

“The demand is all word of mouth,” Paul says. “It’s very strong. We do work to create an environment that’s inclusive, and we think with Indian culture that there is widespread appeal. Holistic living is one of the things we focus on, and we find especially in places like the Bay Area there are lots of folks that are interested in this.”

Priya has been at full occupancy since its launch, and that’s without any marketing efforts. Some younger people, including children of current residents, have even expressed an interest in moving in, Paul says.

While part of the appeal stems from Priya’s ethnic niche, the price point is also appealing given all of the efficiencies the community has realized through its third-party approach to services.

Compared to other options in the Bay Area, and on an national basis, Priya can keep rents low while still offering residents lots of choices. For their dining experience, for example, residents can dine in when they want to, cook when they wish, plan dinners off-site, or they can opt to pay per meal for the on-site delivery service. They pay only for the meals they elect to receive on a totally optional basis.

Residents who wish to order lunch let Priya staff know by 11 a.m. and it will be delivered by noon. For dinner, the same applies with a different time cutoff. There’s a similar system for housekeeping, laundry and any handyman work that needs to be done, with Priya doing the scheduling via smartphone apps, and residents receiving a bill for their services at the end of the month. (Residents may also use their own apps if they wish.)

“[Food service] is important, but the cost of creating an in-house food service operation is an economic loss,” Paul says. “Technology is changing the game.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker