Is excellent customer service only the purview of high end high cost senior living communities?

It was a rainy, dreary day (but not a dark and stormy night) when I pulled into the parking lot of Aegis of Carmichael. I was sort of dreading doing my tour thing. I am hitting less than 50% when it comes to great experiences and was really just not wanting to have one more pathetic, apathetic senior living tour. I was not looking forward to writing one more story about staff who were ill trained and ill equipped to answer this one question:

Can you tell me a little about your community?

For this visit I did all I could to set myself up for success.  I showed up in the middle of the day, in this case early afternoon, so that it was after lunch and early enough that people would not be heading home from work.

The Visit

Before I even got through the front door, there were empty visitor parking spots just a dozen feet from the main entrance.  I walked in and decided to be not exactly secretive, but maybe not quite so up front, with who I was or what I wanted. Receptionist:  “Can I help you?” Steve:  “I am wondering if I can get a little information about your community.” Receptionist:  “Absolutely, let me get someone for you. . . . while you are waiting, would  you like a cup of coffee or something else to drink?”


It should be like this each and every time. Before she was back with my cup of coffee I was in talking to the marketing director.  I explained who I was and what I was doing. We had a nice chat and she introduced me to the executive director.

Cost and Quality???

This community has 70 plus units of assisted living and memory care.  The units are large and comfortable; the common areas are inviting; and the grounds are wonderful.  They have three activities directors, which means there is always something going on. They are not cheap, in fact they are at or near the top of the market.  They are also almost full. When I look back over my first three months of doing these tours I am struck by the fact that all of the building where I have had a great experience have been on the higher end with respect to cost.  Some random thoughts on this:

  • At least of one the buildings where I had a less than stellar experience was also a high cost (for the marketplace) community.  This means high cost does not automatically mean great customer care.
  • It seems that, in most markets, being the most expensive in the marketplace tends to lead to higher occupancy.
  • Even though these good experiences have been in  high end buildings, it would be hard to argue that you need more staff or higher paid staff to go the extra mile in how you treat people when they first walk into the building.
  • I am convinced that when companies develop and operate higher end buildings they are more focused on the idea that everything they and their staff do has to go above and beyond in order to justify their higher costs.
  • Any community, at any cost level, can develop a culture that is always ready to welcome prospects with a friendly greeting and a cup of coffee.

Ultimately, I am convinced that it is possible to have a high end senior community mindset even in middle of the road and down market communities. Steve Moran ============================================================= If you like this article (or even if you don’t) it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE.