That Prominent First Impression

Rule 6 – From the very first moment, remember you are creating an impression.

When I decided to write about this rule, I immediately thought of my blog series a few months ago based on the Dale Carnegie quote – “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.” How you look, obviously creates an impression. Good or bad. What we say and how we say it; same thing. I’ve included snippets of those previous blogs as a reminder for Rule #6.

HOW WE LOOK…

Did your mom ever tell you the nicer you look on the outside the better you feel on the inside? I used to think she just said that when I told her I didn’t feel good and didn’t want to go to school. But as usual, Mom was right. If I’m feeling a little down and blah, I try and look a little nicer that day. Maybe wear a skirt versus jeans, wear a new shirt or brighter colors and most often times it works. That would probably hold true for your staff as well. Are they looking put together, professional and polished? Chances are if they are, their attitude and demeanor will follow. Maybe give your nursing staff, bright colored scrubs to wear. Or your housekeeping team nice logoed shirts that they are proud to wear. They “look” proud to be an employee, excited to learn something new, friendly to a new face and comforting to an old friend. Do you answer the phone with a smile on your face? Obviously no one can physically “see” you smile, but your look carries through the phone to the recipient on the other end.

What about your community? Does it have the “look” to make someone go WOW? I drove by a newer community the other day said to myself “I want to live there.” The front was very inviting; beautiful topiaries and white lights lined the front entrance. Apparently it’s difficult to look warm and inviting because many that I see DON’T. But the “look” that sold me came from the inside. You walked in the door and it was bright and inviting and had a sense of home and welcome. There were smiles on faces and each team member walked and spoke with confidence, kept their heads up and looked visitors in the eye when they said hello. I saw members of the entire team – sales, plant ops, housekeeping, dining services, operations, nursing, etc. (Never mind the fresh baked banana bread smell that immediately caught my attention.) The community looked like a place I could see a loved one living and one I would be excited to visit.

Operationally, you might consider putting a little color coding on those monthly reports and charts. Remember not everyone thinks and processes information the same. For the team members that are more visual and creative, a little color may go a long way. It helps explain your important points and is a little easier to follow. Perhaps add an inspirational or leadership quote to your invoices. Because trust me a little quote that puts a smile on my face, makes mid-month invoicing a lot more enjoyable.

As far as marketing, what does your brand look like? Does your logo and all of your materials look and feel cohesive? Do they represent how you want your vendors, clients and prospect to “feel” about your company or community? Do they look like they belong in the same brand family or are they a hodge-podge and a collection of fragmented marketing attempts over the past five years?

Do your recruiting and staffing practices look like a company everyone wants to work for and with?

WHAT WE SAY…

Take for example, you are a sales counselor talking to a senior prospect. What are you saying to them when they walk into your community? Are you giving them a “canned” tour and script? Or are you finding out about what is important to them or if you pre-planned the tour are you focusing on those items? Are you putting them at ease? Are you talking with them or to them?

If you are in a position of leadership, what do you say to your team? Do you really talk and listen to them? Not just a good morning or how was standup? I mean TALK to them. Have dialog?? It sounds silly, I know. But I don’t think we stop and really talk to people. Talk to them about their challenges, successes, ideas, processes, etc.. And don’t forget to talk to them about the company, their goals, the senior housing industry (or whatever your industry), future growth plans, opportunities, etc.

HOW WE SAY IT…

Think about if you are a sales counselor. You are sitting in your office at your senior living community. You have finished up your reports earlier that morning, you have three visits to pre-plan after your prime calling time, your call time is blocked out and you are making great progress on your follow up phone calls, then the receptionist comes in and says you have a walk in tour. OH INTERRUPTION and you were being oh so productive!!! You sigh, take a deep breath, gather your things (i.e. inquiry connection sheet) and rush out of your office to the lobby to greet your prospects. How do you say hello to your guests???? Do you sound frazzled, rushed and just say a quick Hi and then move right into your tour? Do you look them in the eye, smile, shake their hand and welcome them to your community and begin asking questions about them? You are saying hello in both cases, but how you say it says a lot more about YOU and your COMMUNITY.

If you are in operations and you have the monthly reports to distribute. Here is what you may have to work with – the department plans are below monthly goal, census is holding steady but revenue needs to increase because you know you have some large operational expenses coming up next quarter. Being in operations myself, I know what has to be said. The truth and the truth isn’t always pretty. But think about how you can say this. How can you say this in a way that still motivates and keeps those around you moving in a positive direction?

I know we all know this rule, but I think it never hurts to read something again (and again) to best form a habit. So read this today, read it tomorrow, read it next week, next month, etc. and then go out and keeping making a GREAT first impression.

Until next week…

 

Written by Jenn Cox, COO at Bild & Company.

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