MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Penn Valley company fills niche, offers step-by-step assistance to seniors ready to relocate
Sunnyside Senior Transition Services
Full senior move and transition service
Colleen and Steve Trotter, owners of Trotter Properties
Penn Valley, Calif.
Millions of American seniors would like to move into assisted care facilities or retirement communities but the idea of moving is just too overwhelming. In some cases, staying in one’s home can become unsafe or increasingly isolating.
Years ago, while working as a Realtor in the San Francisco Bay Area, Colleen Trotter noticed that for the seniors who did actually move, there was a glaring gap in services between the Realtor and moving companies. People moving into assisted care simply needed more help with the daunting details of relocating their lives.
That’s when Colleen and her husband Steve came up with the idea of a full-service, one-stop “move and transition” company designed to walk seniors through every step of relocation. Now living in Penn Valley, the Trotters first launched Sunnyside Senior Transition Services (SSTS) four and a half years ago, and have since helped more than 100 seniors move into senior communities. Serving Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties, the Trotters are members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, which has a rigorous accreditation program that requires demonstration of best business practices. This enables the Trotters to pair with other trusted members across the country should a senior relocate out of the area.
“The more Colleen talked, the more I liked what she had to say,” said Joe Lipscomb, 80, who recently moved into a 55-and-up Grass Valley condominium. “I thought I would have to do everything myself, but she took all of that off my shoulders. Colleen took over — she packed and moved everything in, all with a smile. The whole process took two months. I love where I am now.”
During an initial consultation, Colleen spends an hour or two determining each client’s needs and explains services. These can include researching and identifying a retirement community that suits one’s needs and budget; helping to sort through years of accumulated possessions; hauling junk; working with trusted movers who offer senior discounts; designing a floor plan ahead of the move (complete with measurements and known outlets); unpacking and setting up in the new home, including hanging pictures, putting dishes away and setting up internet connection, phones, cable television and more.
She also is known to take clients shopping for items they may need in their new home.
“It’s also very important to take a person’s health issues into account,” said Colleen, “I work at their pace, even if it’s just two hours a day. ‘Relocation Stress Syndrome’ is a very real thing.”
Colleen continues to take continuing education courses in senior care to learn more about issues such as dementia. She has taken caregiver courses from the “Yes I Can” series offered by Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
“Colleen helped us notify everyone of our change of address, including PG&E, Social Security, the DMV, you name it,” said Barbara Eustice, who recently moved with her husband Sam from Lake Wildwood to Cascades of Grass Valley Senior Living. “Moving from a large house seemed overwhelming. Sam had suffered a stroke, but Colleen made it easy. She knows things like where to sell an old stamp collection or a vintage fur coat and get a good price. So many people wait too long to move — their children are often busy with families and work or live far away.”
Because the Trotters have their own real estate company, they are also often able to help clients sell their homes. While another realtor helped the Eustices sell their home, Colleen, who is also an accredited staging professional, was cleverly able to use some of the couple’s furniture when showing the home, despite the fact that the bulk of the move had already been completed. The entire sale and relocation process took about three weeks.
“Combined with the our real estate brokerage, Trotter Properties, we offer seniors a one stop shop,” said Steve Trotter. “All they have to do, with Colleen’s help, is decide what they want to take. We will then liquidate the house and on the Trotter Properties side we provide all our clients with the final house cleaning and up to one full truck of junk hauled away from Junk King. The Junk King truck is an 18-yard dump truck so one truck is a large volume. All this at no added cost.”
“We are dedicated to helping our senior clients with their move to a senior living environment — or just down sizing to a smaller home without stairs. We try to make it as easy and seamless as possible. You know you are in the right business that if it were not for the fact we need to eat, we would do this work for free.”
Colleen is also known for checking back in with clients weeks or months later to see how they’ve settled in. Recently, Colleen asked Barbara Eustice if there was anything she regretted getting rid of.
“The only thing I could think of were pruners for the garden,” said Barbara. “A couple of days later Colleen showed up at the door with a pair of pruners.”
“Each day is never the same — this is so much fun,” said Colleen. “I get rewarded every day just by the look on our clients’ faces. They seem so relieved and relaxed when I visit them after the move. This is my passion. I’ve found what I was meant to do in life.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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