If Halliday Shores Retirement Village looks like a five-star holiday resort, that’s because it is – its residents just happen to be on holidays for the rest of their lives. Halliday’s beachside retirement facility is located on the idyllic coast of New South Wales, just three hours up the highway from Sydney. Located in rainforest country, the area is scenic and warm, and has the advantage of both being peacefully secluded while still having access to everything a resident could need for their sustainment and amusement, including the major towns of Forster and Taree just 20 minutes away.
Halliday Shores has its origins in 1991 when co-owners, Ron Dobler and Mark Dixon first came together. “Ron then started his first retirement village in Kincumber on the New South Wales’ Central Coast,” recounts Dixon, Halliday’s CEO. “I was Ron’s accountant and aspired to partnership in Coopers & Lybrand by building a significant retirement village consulting base.”
Dobler went on to found a large retirement village group called Living Choice, which he sold in 2002 with Dixon’s assistance. Gordon Eacott, Ron’s original partner at Kincumber, started Halliday Shores in 2003.
“Halliday needed some new energy, some new capital, and some new zip,” Dixon says. “Its pulse-beat slowed a little during the GFC and it needed some revitalization, so Ron and I came together and came up with some new ideas for Halliday. That all came to fruition when we jumped in on the 25th of July, 2011.”
Dixon and Dobler got excited about Halliday for a few reasons. Firstly, they had close, successful associations with each other. Secondly, they were passionate believers in the retirement village model. “Ron genuinely believes that people’s lives are greatly enhanced by involvement in these aging-in-place collaborative communities, and I also subscribe to Ron’s ethos, so we saw there was an opportunity to work together again to do something meaningful,” Dixon says.
“Ron and I view the ideal retirement community as a close-knit, supportive community with a management organization that helps people to enhance their lives,” he explains. “The ideal village provides people with the opportunity for more freedom and capacity, more social connectiveness, more friends and people looking out for them.”
That ethos guides how Halliday Shores is run. According to Dixon, the village’s main goal is being a community that focuses on independence and provides wellness and life enhancement opportunities, for residents to selectively enjoy.
Since joining the organisation, Dixon and Dobler have went back to the drawing board and engaged award winning architects to redesign all the homes. “We’re looking at everything, whether it be the physical environment or the service environment,” Dixon says. “We’re looking at reinvesting always, and making sure the village is continuously receiving new advantages.”
Looking forward, he says it is critical to keep looking for improvements that will enhance resident’s lifestyles. “A village is not a closed environment, it’s an open environment. We are continually looking for partnerships and to forge connections, introduce people to our village, and facilitate better outcomes.”
As a secondary goal, Dixon adds that they are also concentrating on expansion, as well as getting the word out. “We really need to create a lot more positive momentum,” he says, “And we really need to focus on the appeals of Halliday Shores to the broader community to get it up and motoring and financially secure and self sustaining. A lot of energy’s gone into that.”
As part of that effort, they have increased the size of the Halliday Shores team, adding a full-time village manager, construction team, extra groundsman, accountant, as well as three sales people. That’s on top of being very active Directors themselves. “We have pushed the boundaries far more strongly in sales and marketing, and in other areas,” Dixon says.
“Our sales and marketing manager, Mark, comes from senior franchisee and management positions with Harvey Norman,” Dixon adds. “He is very energetic, creative and focussed, bringing a wider exposure and sharper edge to things.”
When it comes to the staff at Halliday Shores, Dixon says everyone has a lot of motivation, positivity and energy – he says that’s a culture that starts from the top down. Dixon himself has a background in being a senior partner in other businesses, and he says his goal is always to do the best not only for himself, but for the people around him as well. “That philosophy has attracted like-minded people.”
That culture applies to both their sales and construction staff in equal measure. “Everyone who has come through the village, particularly those who have technical qualifications, have been extremely complimentary about the quality of the build, about the fastidiousness of the finishes, about all of the elements coming together well,” Dixon says. This is because their builder, Kevin – who has been involved since 2003 – is always pushing himself to be at the top of his game.
“He really looks for high standards, and he attracts those kind of tradesmen, those kind of workers,” Dixon explains. “He’s very forward thinking. He’s always looking at where the village will be, not just where the village is today. Our senior groundsmen have been at the village for over five years and the beautiful gardens and surrounds are an absolute credit to them.”
“One of the key ingredients in the whole team is people-orientation and humility,” Dixon adds. “In retirement villages, you have to be humble. You’re dealing with a lot of different kinds of people, and you need to be aware that they have a lot to say, a lot to contribute, and a lot of good ideas. If you ever think that you know it all, you soon come up with egg on your face. It’s an environment where you’ve got to be patient, and persevering.”
The persevering quality is important because Halliday Shores is always re-examining their business, always looking to improve in whatever capacity they can. “We need to be very mindful we’re working for the residents, and our major objective is their happiness. It’s all about ensuring they are receiving the benefits they need and deserve from the village.”
The corporate culture at Halliday Shores also extends to their suppliers and partner relationships. According to Dixon, the people they work with all share their values, and are as client-oriented as they area. “We’ve been lucky, because the team we’ve got has managed to attract great relationships.”
Relationships – whether it be with employees, partners or residents – are particularly important to Halliday Shores because of their locale, which is unique in the sense that it’s not located in a major population centre. If they were not operating at the top of their game, they would have a difficult time attracting people. “We like to think on one hand we’ve got a couple of additional challenges, but on the other we offer some particularly unique and special ingredients that are rarely afforded.”
These ingredients have contributed to nearly 40 new deposits in less than 12 months, since the change in ownership, in relatively challenging times.