Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Why Buyer's Remorse Happens & What We Can Do To Mitigate It"

Buyer's remorse is something that likely we have experienced both personally and professionally. How many of us have purchased something - impulsively or with considerable thought and planning and decided that we made a mistake? With the internet age, how many of us have purchased something and then looked online for a better price or terms? Our clients are no different.

Buyer's remorse simply is the desire to change one's mind and cancel or change a transaction, which sets in as soon as immediately after the sale happens ("before the ink is dry") up to a few hours or days later. It's regretting our actions and wanting to set them aside - a type of "do-over."

There are a few classic reasons that this happens, and there are a few ways to mitigate, prevent, or eliminate it. It doesn't always work, but its success rate is good.

The main reason that buyer's remorse occurs (when it happens with us and something we are purchasing, or when our client or customer tells us they want to cancel the transaction they have concluded with us) is that the sale seemed to happen too quickly. The buyer (us when we are buying something or our client when they are purchasing from us, depending on the situation) felt rushed, wasn't really confident that the proposed solution or product would fulfill their needs or expectations, or they couldn't justify the price but went ahead anyway.

Often the emotional energy of the salesperson seems so persuasive that the buyer goes ahead and agrees to purchase even though they were not fully committed to doing so when the conversation started. When people are ready to make a decision, but maybe aren't sure of the color, style, model, or other aspects of their final choice, they still are ready to buy and are more likely to keep what they purchased than when they feel talked into doing something.

If the value proposition seems reasonable to someone, they likely won't seek to change or cancel their decision over price - unless other aspects of the sale aren't quite right also. Essentially, when someone isn't ready to purchase and does so anyway, remorse can set in quickly.

The argument can be made that someone would never purchase something for which they weren't at least somewhat interested in having, and that is partially true. However, the timing of that decision, the amount of the purchase, and the details of it may be quite different than what they really wanted to have happen.

When we are working with someone who needs a simple kitchen remodel with a limited budget to invest in the project, and we talk them into a much larger decision with more extensive changes or more expensive finished or appliances, it may sound great at the time they are hearing it from us - caught up in the moment and sensing our enthusiasm for the solution. They may even reluctantly agree to it - knowing that it is more than they had decided to do. This doesn't mean that it's the correct choice for them or that they are going to allow the agreement to move forward without rescinding it.

If we know what the client wants, what will serve their needs, what their budget will accommodate, who all of the decision makers are who need to approve the decision, and they like us and consider what we have presented to them as being a reasonable solution for their concerns, there is a real good chance that a sale will happen and that it will not cancel. In this case, they would have been ready emotionally to make this decision, and they would have understood that we presented a reasonable proposal that aligned with their expectations. That's how to make a sale and avoid buyer's remorse.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Selling Is Part Of What We Do Also"

Aging in place professionals represent many areas of experience, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, gerontology, interior design, kitchen and bath design, architecture and building design, landscape architecture, durable medical equipment supplier or installer, equipment specialist, flooring contractor, lighting specialist, electrician, plumber, handyman, remodeling contractor, painter, professor (OT, PT, or design, for instance), social work, case manager, marketing consultant, non-profit organization, attorney, government agency or department, and many others. What may not seem apparent is that we also are salespeople.

It probably doesn't mention anything about sales on any of our business cards, but this does not mean it isn't part of our job description or function. It has to be because this is how we communicate with our clients and implement solutions for them.

Sales, pure and simple, is the conveying or expressing of one idea or concept to another person - presumably someone willing to receive and entertain the idea - if only for a few seconds. Sales very often is viewed or perceived as some type of formal, unpleasant, manipulative type of endeavor that many people want to avoid.

This is understandable because most people who hold that thought are placing themselves in a situation where they were expressing only passing or casual interest in an item (such as a car, boat, motor home, large screen TV, refrigerator, motorcycle, or surround sound system) and the person they encountered was very assertive and aggressive and was more determined to make a sale than they were in resisting or seeing that this did not happen. Bad feelings resulted.

In it's simplest form, sales is expressing a viewpoint and trying to get others to agree with us. We state your case. Others do as well.

We make a strong argument for our position - explaining why what we envision for their home as a solution to the expressed or observed needs is what we feel serves their interests the best and how it will provide a better value than any other choices they might have entertained or considered. This is selling. It may not be thought of in those terms, but that is what it is. So, we all sell, and fairly frequently even if money does not directly change hands at the time.

In working with aging in place clients to create effective solutions that we feel are what our clients need to continue living in their home safely and enjoyably - based on their budget, time frame, and physical needs as we and our team have determined them to be, we lobby hard (but not so hard as to make our client upset or defensive at our suggestion) to get our client to accept our proposal and agree to have it done. Again, this is selling.

Selling takes on many forms, from standing behind a counter in a retail setting to meeting with a client in their living room. Let's not be too quick to dismiss the importance of what we are doing and to shortchange ourself as an effective communicator and salesperson. Sales are what makes our business run. Without them, there is no business.

Sales is communicating our position and what you think needs to be done and getting the client and their family to agree that it should be done as an appropriate solution for what they need.

We don't need to have the title of salesperson or even mention the word "sales" on our business card to still be able to do it. We perform many other vital services for our clients and for the team, but we must be ready for the time when selling is what we need to do. It's how we relate to the client, how we explain what we have envisioned for them, how we secure their agreement that they are ready to have us implement the solution we have selected, and how we get paid for doing so.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"Being A Resource For Real Estate Professionals"

When people buy and sell their primary residence, it is often a milestone event. It might be their first purchase ever - getting them started on the path of homeownership. It might be their second or third (or even more) subsequent purchase as their needs have changed or the household has grown. It could be what they consider to their last purchase (even when done a relatively young age) because they don't like moving, know what their ideal home should look like, or can't foresee going through the home-hunting process again.

With the tremendous number of online resources (listing and review sites) and televised makeover, flipping, and home shopping programs. buyers are equipped like never before. Still, the services of a licensed real estate sales professional are often sought.

When it comes to aging in place, a few factors come into play with respect to looking for and selecting another home to occupy. For buyers making their initial purchase, they likely are taking an extended period of time to research their local market, determine what features and floor plan layouts exist, evaluate rates of appreciation for various neighborhoods they are considering, review amenities in the area (trails, recreation areas, shopping, roadways, public transit stations), and project how well that home might continue to serve their needs over time.

Many people are doing so much research and taking their time in coming to a decision on whether to continue renting or when is the right time to actually become homeowners, that they quite likely will age in place in that home they select for years. It' not inconceivable that with all of the time they will have spent locating and evaluating just the right home for themselves (of all the dozens or even hundreds of possibilities available), that they could stay in this home long-term (forever). Aging in place takes on another dimension when viewed from the standpoint that people are attempting to pick their permanent home as their one and only home purchase. It may not address all of their future needs because things happen in life, but as far as visitability and other access issues, they are reasonably comfortable that the home they select provides for this.

Of course, people may be looking for and selecting a home to occupy thinking that, either now or in the not-too-distant-future, they will have to bring their aging parents into their home to live with them. They are trying to account for this scenario also in selecting a home.

Real estate sales professionals can help their clients evaluate properties in light of finding a home that will serve their needs long-term or one that will allow them to bring parents or other loved ones to live with them, but they likely aren't as knowledgeable of aging in place solutions, accessibility products (for entrances, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas), and home technology as we are so we have a great opportunity to work with them to show what is available, discuss how to help their clients fine tune a home they may be considering, and make improvements to an otherwise acceptable home to make it more ideal for their needs.

Over time, as the buyers' needs change while they are living in the home, an educated real estate agent (through our efforts or just in tapping us to help them) can help them evaluate their needs and decide upon changes to make without considering the possibility of moving from the home they devoted so much time and effort into finding. occupational therapists, contractors, designers, and other professionals are going to be great resources for the real estate professional and their clients when it comes to adjusting and adapting their homes over the years.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

"Universal Design Is Much More Than Technology"

Universal design is a fascinating concept because it appeals to so many people - as it's designed to do. It literally creates access for nearly everyone. It is "all things for all people" as the ultimate type of inclusiveness. As long as something is able to be used by people of various physical sizes (under four feet in height to over six feet and a range of body types and builds), abilities (first grade to graduate school in education), strengths (little coordination or lifting ability to weightlifter), and mobility (ambulatory or dependent on some device such as a cane, braces, crutches, walker, or wheelchair), it is considered universal in its design and application.

This is because universal design features are easy to access and use, require little physical effort, and do not have to be used in just a certain way (flexibility and tolerance for error). A rocker light switch is a classic example of universal design because it can be operated by touching the control near the center or more toward the edges. It can be turned on or off with just a finger, a closed fist, the back of the hand, an elbow, shoulder, or even something being held and then used to touch and operate the switch. It can be used with a kitchen mitt or with cold weather gloves or mittens. It is universal.

Contrast the example of the rocker light switch with the older-style toggle light switch (the one with the little protrusion that must be pushed up or down or grasped to move it). It's also possible to create a little discomfort in one's hand if the contact with the switch is a little forceful or haphazard. True, the switch can be turned on or off by brushing or leaning against it (mostly accidentally) or managing to move the toggle with the elbow, edge of the hand, or shoulder, but this is not how it has been designed for use.

Another key property of universal design is that it is essentially invisible as any type of prescriptive treatment. If a toggle light switch doesn't work well in someone's home environment, for instance (in keeping with the previous example), replacing it with a rocker switch does not carry any type unusual response from people. They are surprised, taken aback, or otherwise remarking about this type of treatment except perhaps to compliment the use of it. It just fits in.

Many people have begun turning to technology in their homes, when that may be the only type of improvements they are making. They aren't addressing mobility, accessibility, or safety concerns, but they like the idea of using their cell phone, tablet, or digital controls to regulate their lights, temperature, appliances, or front door locks. They like wifi and blue tooth applications.

As great as these applications are, they aren't the total package. Universal design is more than technology. Some home builders have begun installing wifi and blue tooth applications in their homes. These are fine as far as they go, but there is considerable room for growth in presenting universal design elements to the marketplace.

Technology is appreciated by consumers and readily identified by anyone entering their home. The convenience it offers is unmistakable, and it is a wonderful universal design element. However, there are so many other universal design elements that can be included in a new or existing home that allow people to use their homes more effectively and safely.

In addition to thermostats, door locks, window and lighting controls, water temperature and flow rates, appliance settings and management, and responsiveness from devices like Ring, Next, and Alexa, there are many design elements that can included in a home to improve footing, entrances, passageways, seating, and general safety that can get overlooked if the emphasis centers on the technology aspect. Technology is fun to see and use. We like it. Nevertheless, it is a more obvious addition to a home than other universal design features that are more true to their core concept of fitting in without any particular notice.
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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"More Insights Into Working With Real Estate Professionals"

As people are looking at new homes that they are considering purchasing and occupying for themselves and their families, there is a lot for them to consider. They are looking at the home for their current needs and abilities. They also may be thinking of a few years from now and how well that home will meet their needs - especially if they have progressive conditions or mobility limitations that think may make using that home more challenging.

They also may be thinking of how well that home will allow their aging parents to move in with them and have their own space within the home and still be able to navigate the rest of the property well. It might be an additional bedroom or reconfiguration or enlarging of a smaller sleeping space, an accessible bathroom just for their parents, and perhaps a separate entrance from the outside so that they might remain more independent and can come and go as they desire and as they are able to do so. the home being evaluated may come up short in many of these areas but meet the buyer's needs in other respects.

Sometimes the buyer will find a home that is close to what they are seeking but not all the way there. Whether for their own needs, those of other family members, of the possibility of parents living with them, they are thinking that there are aspects of the home that are missing or not well represented. They might also be thinking that they are going to need more space or a different layout for entertaining. This is where the real estate agent can help them understand that all can be addressed and fixed with our help - and a very important reason for enlisting real estate agents as strategic partners.

Without the real estate agent being part of our team, they would not be able to help their clients find an immediate solution to their housing needs. The agent likely would continue showing additional properties, and maybe the ideal one never would materialize - just others that were close in their own way but still missing certain elements. We can help them look good, and they can help us by supplying additional business. The client is the big winner because they are getting exactly what they want and need without having to continue investigating the marketplace.

Without the real estate professional bringing us into the equation, or not knowing that we could help, their client would have to fend for themselves after purchasing and moving into a home that wasn't quite what they need but possibly was closer than others they had seen. Additionally, we can get everything done and financed before they move into their home and eliminate any mess or disruption while they are trying to move in and get settled.

One other way that we can work with real estate agents by partnering with them is by helping them and their clients years from now. Once someone moves into the home they purchase with a real estate agent and lives there for a while, they may identify some changes or improvements they would like to make. Possibly that aging parent would decide to move in with them. The purchaser typically would call the agent looking for the name or names of contractors or other professionals to call to help them with their improvements. They could look on their own or talk with friends, but the agent that sold them their home is a logical place to start.

Likely the real estate professional will have befriended their buyers and established a level of trust during the sales process and since that time so that their clients would immediately think of checking with them for people to contact before trying to do it on their own.

There are many opportunities to work with real estate agents and their clients - now and over time. We would be overlooking a great source of business generation if we didn't consider the importance of real agents in our market. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, January 12, 2018

"Working With Real Estate Professionals As Strategic Partners"

When people shop for their next home, whether it's new construction or an existing home that already has been occupied by somebody, they can take the time and effort to look on their own, or they can employ the services of a real estate sales professional - often a Realtor. Even though people may do a lot of preliminary research online and by driving through neighborhoods as they narrow their search of where they want to live or determine what might be available for them to purchase, a real estate professional they select will help them locate, see, experience, and select a home that meets their expressed needs and budget better than continuing to do it on their own.

When it comes to finding a home - again, either an existing home no matter what year it was built or what relative condition it is in, or a brand new, never-before-occupied home - that sales professional has hundreds of choices to recommend to a potential home buyer.

The search starts by determining an area of the town, city, or community where the purchaser would like to live. If there is no strong preference because work or other factors are not pressing, it makes it a little harder to determine a place to begin the search. Then, secondary factors such as shopping facilities, parks, schools, and other non-work related location issues might come into play.

Of course, many other factors are also used to locate a possible home for someone. Location is a major variable, but so is price, the age of the home, facilities around it, the year it was built, general floor plan or interior layout, and specific rooms that the home includes or does not include (depending on preference). 

Then, the real estate agent suggests ones for the purchaser to view. They may look at just a few or several, depending on how many homes meet the expressed needs of the purchaser or how easy it is for the purchaser to make a decision on a home they want to live in and enjoy.

The entire time of determining which homes to show, the Realtor will be asking the purchaser what they want in a home, how long they think they might want to live in that home, how complete they would like the home to be now as compared with improvements they might want to make later to find a home at a better price now, other people that might need to be accommodated for occasional or long-term visits, and any special hobbies or interests they have that might have a bearing on which home to suggest.

As the homes are being shown and demonstrated to the purchaser, the agent continues to focus on how the needs of the purchaser are being met and what their perceptions are of that home. This is how the real estate agent and the aging in place professionals can work well together. As the agent is trying to determine with the purchaser whether a home does everything they want it to do right now and if there might be some improvements or changes that need to be made before the purchaser would consider occupying it even though they generally like the layout of the home and other attributes about it, we can help. We can assist the real estate agent and their purchaser with an evaluation or assessment of the functional needs of the buyer and visit the property to design improvements that meet the client's needs (and then complete them prior to occupancy so that the client is truly getting the home they want). 

By having the real estate professional as a strategic partner, we can help them serve their clients more effectively and create a specific solution for someone when a home is close to meeting their needs but not entirely complete. This way, the client is saved the additional time of looking at homes and can occupy their new home sooner, the agent can complete their job sooner as well instead of continuing to show more properties, and we can be engaged to complete improvements that otherwise we might not have known about or been asked to do.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"When It Comes To What We Do, There Is No One Else Like Us"

Starting, running, and growing a business - especially a small business like an aging in place services firm - means paying attention to marketing, sales, customer relations, money management, relations with strategic partners and referring professionals, and so many other concerns. Additionally, there is the competition in some form. There are going to be - if not present already - other contractors, consultants, therapists, designers, and specialists in our marketplace that seemingly do what we offer.

Maybe other companies or individuals provide very similar products or services - perhaps even exactly the same to the casual observer. They might be located in the same area or serve the same market as we do - and even have a similar price point.

Unless a business of any type is quite new to the marketplace or offers a product or service that hasn't been around long enough for others to copy it, there is going to competition. It's what we do with that competition that makes the difference. It's how we neutralize it or actually capitalize on it that matters for us. Of course, with the internet and social media, it's easier for the consumer to be aware of other companies that they might not have been aware of in earlier times.

With the internet, it's not even vital that the competing company is located in the same area or even that near to what a consumer is considering. This is especially true for retail products where delivery time, price, and other factors determine who gets the order more than where the store is located.

As for our aging in place services, we provide a variety of products and services to our clients and customers - presumably in ways that aren't being done exactly the same by others or nearly as well. Essentially, we provide solutions - unique to each setting and household.

When a consumer calls us for an estimate or for an assessment or evaluation, are they contacting because of a referral where they know something about us and our reputation, or are there others that are going to be competing for the assignment? We need to learn this before we agree to meet with them or during the initial interview so we can determine how we want to approach a meeting or if we are interested in considering the assignment.

As for parity, are other businesses, even aging in place services ones, exactly the same as us? Likely not. Just as no two clients or homes are exactly the same, we differ from other businesses. Even when the product or services looks similar to the consumer, the major difference is us - along with our expertise, the way we approach the engagement, and the results we achieve.

Also, we are CAPS-trained, and this can be a major selling point for us. It an important part of our story and one to be accentuated. We need to let the consumer know what this means to them and why we already have an edge on anyone else they are talking with who does not have this designation.

How about our strategic network - also of CAPS-trained individuals and firms? Few people in our immediate marketplace can approach an assignment such as that being requested, or one for which we are actively marketing ourselves, with the teamwork, level of experience, and intuitive ability to deliver what they need at the desired budget - whether a medical component or special equipment is part of it or not.

No other company - even within a franchise organization - is going to be exactly the same as another. The products may be similar or even in some cases the same, the approach to doing the work may be similar just because of what is required to complete the job, and the final price may be comparable. However, no one else is us. We have our own values, thought processes, personality, and history that we bring to each job.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Planning For The Future Isn't The Same As Addressing Current Needs"

With aging in place comes many ideas for creating effective living spaces. Some of those renovations or improvements involve addressing current needs and issues, while some solutions or modifications are more of a visitable or universal design approach because they can serve current residents of a dwelling as well as anyone coming into the home to help them, visit with them, or attend a dinner, party, or get-together.

There are several names that apply to aging in place design. Universal design is an overarching concept that encompasses aging in place specific design as well as making the living space suitable for others as well. Visitable design is a similar concept that addresses accessibility and mobility more than specific features in the home. Adaptable design is the moving target that makes changes to someone's home to adjust to the ever-changing needs as they become evident and need to be addressed. Accommodating them prior to their actual identification is a universal design process because the end result of a universal design project and an adaptable one are nearly always the same in look, feel, and purpose. Only the timing and intent (reason for doing it - now or as it is needed) differs in the two designs.

Home modification treatments that some people may term adaptable because they relate to a change in a person's abilities over time - and could seem so at first glance - actually fall into the realm of preemptive design (my term). Installing wooden wall blocking just in case grab bars, fold-down shower seats, or railings in the hallways or other living areas may be desired at some future date is clearly preemptive. There is nothing in this type of approach that is appealing to someone's needs now - rather how those needs might change in the future. They might never change to the point where the preemptive design would be needed. This is not adaptive as nothing has been done to change or modify the space to help someone who needs it now.

Similarly, putting in chases to carry electrical or plumbing lines at some future time when it is deemed necessary to have them, or roughing in plumbing or drain lines so that additional plumbing fixtures can be installed in more convenient areas later is good planning, but this has nothing to do with adapting the space to appeal to someone's changing needs.

The key with adaptive or adaptable design is that it must be something that is done now that wasn't necessary in the past in order to make the life of someone in the home more enjoyable or functional. Enlarging doorways, removing carpeting in favor of a hard surface flooring, lowering or adding lighting to illuminate certain spaces, removing cabinet doors or otherwise adapting them (retractable, for instance, or removing the sink base altogether), changing the way faucets are accessed and operated, changing out appliances with ones that can be operated from a seated or low-vision ability, and other such changes are examples of adaptive design because they change the home from way it has been to the way it needs to be.

The easiest way to look at the design changes that might be contemplated as they relate to aging in place issues and appealing to specific requirements of the individuals in the living space is that anything done to improve a current (operative word) situation is considered as adaptable (changing or adapting from something not working so well to something that can work better), and anything done to impact or affect the future (operative word) needs or condition is termed preemptive - just in case or getting ready.

Both types of design have merit, but we need to call them by the right name according to their intent and the time frame they are serving.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"As Desirable As It May Sound, AIP Solutions Can't Be Standardized"

The more we learn about solutions, tools, and techniques we can suggest and implement for people to remain living safely and independently in their current homes long-term, the more we might want to think that we should be able to come up with a template - an overlay of sorts - that we could apply to nearly anyone's home.

While this initially seems like a great idea - to afford everyone the most protection, accessibility, mobility, comfort, and independence - it simply can't work. There are dozens of reasons why such a concept is flawed.

As desirable as it may sound to have a set of aging in place solutions that could be recommended and installed in every home we walk into, it simply cannot be. Even the simplest of solutions that we all would agree are beneficial may not be recommended in favor of something more pressing and necessary for health and safety reasons when the budget is quite limited.

Remember that aging in place is a specific approach to individual needs - that while there may be similarities among people - are based on their age, mobility, sensory perception, and cognition, as well as the layout, age, value, and other characteristics of their home.

While swapping out old-style toggle light switches for rocker switches, hard-to-use thumb latch entry door handles for single lever styles, twin-faucet handles in the kitchen for a single lever model, or an old-style dial or slide control thermostat for a digital one, all have merit and normally would be a great place to start with any home makeover, there could be serious safety issues (flooring, lighting, or passageways, for instance) that are much higher priority and would take precedence when the budget is tight or nearly non-existent. Not everyone is set to accommodate such a client, but for those whose business models align with this type of situation, there are plenty of people who need our help.

There are many important features (such as oven controls, lighting, door locks, water thermostats, and video doorbells, for example) that we would recommend freely when other areas of the home are reasonably sound, but for an older client who has no computer experience, these just don't work. Without a tablet, computer, or smartphone - and the knowledge and ability to use them, as well as the financial commitment to have and keep a plan active - technology solutions just aren't indicated. These might be high on the list of what we would want to recommend in many cases, but, for people without computer experience - who are distrustful of technology in general - they cannot be suggested as appropriate and thus are not anything we would consider as a standardized approach to aging in place solutions.

Age of the home has a lot to do with what can be suggested also. Many older homes are going to require additional electrical service and new circuits before anything else can be done. If there is rot, mold, lead paint, or other issues in the home, these will need to be addressed along with or before anything else can be undertaken. Widening hallways and doorways, improving flooring, bolstering the heating and air conditioning, adding exhaust fans, and completing other tasks dealing with the health and safety components of the home may be more extensive in older homes.

The entrance - including a proper stoop or entry porch, good lighting, and weather protection - would be recommended if they aren't already present. Even when these elements exist, they might require some modifications or improvements.


There are so many improvements that we can identify, suggest, and complete - subject to so many other concerns, including priorities and budgets - to make homes more livable, and no standardized approach is going to accomplish this or meet individual needs.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"One Reason That AIP Solutions Work Is That We Humanize The Sales Process"

People buy from people — especially people they like and trust. They buy from companies and businesses also, but those tend to be less animate and human than the individuals that comprise those organizations. In the case of single-member LLC companies, sole practitioners, or sole proprietors, the individual and the company are the same things.

People who desire to employ and use us to create solutions for them may know of, like, or respect our company before they ever meet or engage us. That's great; however, they are still buying from us one-on-one, them and us, when it comes down to making the decision.

There is no way a company can come into someone's home, look around, and make a determination about what might be needed to improve or stabilize the health, safety, comfort, and accessibility of the living space and those inhabiting it. That takes an individual. Again, companies, agencies, and organizations are inanimate. People are engaging and real.

Before anyone can believe or trust anything that we tell them about what our company or organization can do, how we stand behind our work, our core values, and the companies or individuals we have chosen to partner with to create the unique solutions for them and their household, they must connect with us. That credibility must be there.


We aren't interested in making sales to achieve sales quotas, because someone else overproduced a product that we have in inventory and need to move, or because our bottom line depends on it. There may be very little product involved in what we do - in the sense that the consumer would buy it in that form. We take raw materials, manufactured materials, ideas, know-how, and ingenuity to craft specific, one-of-a-kind solutions for our aging in place clients based on their individual needs, the needs of others in the household, and the physical requirements and parameters of the structure.

In addition to envisioning and creating solutions based on what we observe going on in the space and what our clients, their family members, caregivers, case managers and others tell us, we are interested primarily in serving our clients - not in making sales. Any sales that happen will be due to the empathy we have and show for our clients and their homes, but we can't force it or make something happen just because we want it. The sale is not for us, it's for our clients and then because it represents a solution for them. We don't have to perform to make a living. We just need to determine what our clients need and can use. Then, it's a matter of designing the most appropriate solution for them within their budgeted amount. That's how to make a sale - involve the client, appeal to what truly will help them, explore options and various price points to achieve the desired solution, gain agreement, and then move forward.

This is both how we humanize the sales process and why we can. We are people working with people. There are no performance rules in terms of how much sales volume we must generate per transaction. We don't have anything that already exists in the warehouse, on paper, on the ground, or anyplace else that we need to sell them to recoup an investment amount. We can choose projects that look like they fit our basic business model in terms of scope and price point, but it still depends on determining the needs of the client and then meeting and fulfilling those needs.

The biggest sale we make to our client is us. Everything else follows from that. We must be ourselves! We can relate to them. This is what separates us from a classic retail transaction with a sales clerk or order processor and a product.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.