In this week’s episode, we speak to Lonnie Steckler, Managing Partner at The Pointe of North Gables, an assisted-living community in Miami.

In the episode, we discuss various topics including:

  • Lonnie’s path into the long-term care industry, starting at his stepfather’s independent and assisted-living community during his college breaks.
  • Lonnie’s career history, including his experience facilitating support groups for spouses of people with Alzheimer’s and his work in social care and administration.
  • How and why social workers tend to make great administrators in long-term care.
  • The marketing strategies behind The Pointe of North Gables, such as organic and paid social media marketing.
  • The unique activities offered at the community for residents, including virtual reality.
  • How the marketing budget at the community is divided and distributed.
  • Working with different cultures and how this has challenged and improved Lonnie’s leadership skills.
  • Lonnie’s experience of winning the ALF Administrator of the Year Award from the Florida Healthcare Association.

Rapidfire Q/A

How long were you a social worker?

When I graduated from school, I got a job in a skilled nursing facility and was a discharge planner, social worker and case manager for probably five or six years. 

I really enjoyed that kind of work. I started as a social worker then became a director of social services. And I was fortunate enough to work for a really good company. 

What was the role that most impacted the way you ran your team as an administrator?

I think that being a social worker gave me an advantage. And I tell people this all the time that social workers make the best administrators. 

Why? Because social work teaches you how to listen to people, how to understand their perspective and how to understand their emotions. And then, from that point, you can get that person to understand your perspective. 

And it teaches you how to ask the right questions. When I ran that group therapy, it forced me to ask the right questions and get to an end goal. The idea is so that everybody can work together towards a common goal. 

Do you still think that social workers make great administrators?

I haven’t had too many opportunities to bring on social workers but it does happen from time to time. From time to time, I meet a social worker and talk with them. And I encourage them to do whatever they want. 

Because social workers can do whatever they want, they can apply what they’ve learned through their social work skills in any field. 

I like to do marketing as well. So when I transitioned from a nursing home administrator to assisted living, I found that being a social worker and a nursing home administrator gave me a competitive advantage over other people in the assisted living world. 

Why? Because I was able to go into the nursing facility setting where we get a lot of referrals and go straight to the social worker and talk to them. I knew their challenges and could help them with anything they needed. 

And it’s the same with the nursing home administrators. I can walk right into the nursing home administrator’s office and be a resource for them. 

How do you spend your budget in digital marketing?

We don’t do any published marketing. We’re not in any magazines, newsletters or anything like that. 

Social media, Facebook, Instagram, we do a lot of that. So any dollars that we have will go into organic or paid work. It’s mostly organic. 

We post many activities, special events, and resident and staff interviews. We use that as a forum for people to get to know us and what we do.

What was your reaction to winning the ALF Administrator of the Year Award from the Florida Healthcare Association?

I was totally shocked. I had no idea what was happening. 

It was during the Florida Healthcare Conference. They have an annual conference and this one was in Orlando. And I go to that every year. 

President Marco Carrasco starts talking about this guy and I’m listening to the first line, the second line, and then by the third line I’m thinking, this guy kind of sounds like me. 

And I see people start looking at me and I’m like, oh, no, this is happening. And he calls my name. 

I go up there. And then I saw my family rush to the side of the stage. I had no idea they were there. 

My wife, my two kids. My mom was there. I was speechless.

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