The Greenway Retirement Village in Brampton is filling up faster than expected by focusing on customer service and hospitality.
“The staff make or break these operations,” Regal Lifestyle Communities vice-president of operations Gary Harper told YourMississaugaBiz.com by phone from Niagara, Ontario. “It’s hospitality in the retirement business. It’s like a four-star hotel designed for seniors.”
In addition to the building’s food, medical services, activities, housekeeping and laundry, the executive said “the right people” are the reason occupancy is now at 81 per cent ahead of the forecast of 77 per cent.
Harper also noted the operational team’s involvement in the community through social events, its good reputation and its relationships with the hospitals as factors that have helped its development.
Of the 10 Regal properties Harper oversees, the Brampton building on Ken Whillans Drive is the company’s largest retirement home, employing approximately 80 to 110 people.
And while Regal acquired its properties only 10 months ago, Harper plans on pinpointing the best practices of each to help standardize the company’s overall vision of service and amenities.
“Recently we converted some independent suites into some assisted living which has allowed us offer a continuum of care through the facility,” Harper said.
However at 242 units, including 20 townhomes, Greenway is already a big operation.
“Traditionally, your ideal sweet point for the retirement business is around 150 or 160 units,” Harper said, owing the size of the residences to the original developer.
While 66 per cent of Brampton’s population of 550,000 consists of ethnic minorities, largely from South Asian countries like India, Harper said very few of them are residents at Greenway. The make up of the residence is primarily Anglo-Saxon Canadians, he said. “A lot of the ethnic groups really believe they need to keep their parents at home and look after them.”
With rates for Greenway starting at $1,795 a month for townhouses, $3,450 for one-bedroom units and $4,500 for two-bedroom residences, Harper acknowledged the importance of marketing, both for Regal and the rest of the retirement living industry. “There was a period of time where we had only one marketing person in the building, now we’ve gone up to two to deal with the volume, the traffic and the follow-up.”
As for the future, Harper said Regal is looking into possibly expanding the Brampton building. “There is some land that is adjacent to that property that we’re obviously keeping a close eye on,” he said.
Regal is also looking at the possibility of acquiring another property in and around the Greater Toronto Area, but couldn’t disclose any further details.