A La Carte

When I was paying almost $200 per month for my satellite TV service it always bugged me that half of that cost was used to buy the television rights to sporting events of which I watched none. I have been on streaming TV for about 15 months now. I am paying about one-third of what I was. I couldn’t be happier with my a la carte choices. I find myself increasingly watching British, Aussie, and New Zealand shows via BritBox, and AcornTV channels. The violence of American TV is just becoming more too much for me.

A la carte TV has started me thinking about the same idea in other areas of my life. How about making my RetCom (retirement community) life more a la carte? I pay more than $100/day here for my 800 square foot apartment. Yes, all the utilities are included in that cost, but there are also several other things that are of no use to me right now. Why can’t I skip them and pay for them when I actually need them. One of those choices is in dining. I have a $350/month stipend for dining included in my monthly payment and I seldom use more than a third of that amount. Why not let me pay-as-I-go? Another is all the medical things available to me. For my first 16 months here I have not used any of those services.

While a la carte services are usually better for the customer, they are more difficult for the provider. If the provider doesn’t keep the meal quality and convenience up to what is available outside the community, people will simply go elsewhere, especially given the present options like GrubHub and DoorDash. Sometimes I get the feeling that the community administrators in most retirement communities (I have visited about 20 of them now) are more concerned about the bottom line than they are about providing their customers quality services. In some degree that has to be the case, but not keeping up the quality of service in an a la carte world would mean that their customers will likely look elsewhere. In the end maybe this is just a “rock and a hard place” type thing?

There are so many options now for RetCom dining services, that soon administrators will have to recognize the competition. I’m surprised that some of that competition has not taken advantage of that unchallenged food monopoly. I am convinced that all it will take is for one RetCom in a area to advertise multiple internal and external venues for dining and the rest of the communities’ RetComs would be forced to follow suit or lose residents.

Pre-packaged deals just don’t hack it now in so many areas of life anymore. If someone wants to enter a market all they have to do is to figure out how to provide a la carte services profitably, and they will likely grab a big share of the area market.

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