I am going to try my best to write about a girl thing, well maybe even sometimes a guy thing, but for sure not my thing because I am bald.

My wife is on a never ending quest for the perfect combination of shampoo and hair conditioner. I keep trying to tell her to think of all the money she would save by just using hotel shampoo and conditioner (she travels a lot). She has never told me exactly what she pays for her magic hair potions, but it is my sense that she spares me because she knows I would cringe.

Anyway . . . .her most recent conquest/acquisition was something made by a top name brand. She has been using a particular combination for a number of weeks and was quite happy with it. It was running low and she went off to her favorite beauty store to resupply and discovered they had a new and improved (and no doubt more expensive) combination of shampoo and conditioner. She spent a portion of the family fortune to try it. She did this because she knew the brand and assumed it would be good stuff and maybe even better than what she was already using. In other words, this company had, at least for her, been doing everything right. Each of these concoctions was packaged in what was, in essence, a very large toothpaste tube. It turned out that, while the product inside the tube itself was good, the delivery system sucked. Even when the tube was full it was hard to get the stuff out. Because it was so expensive she suffered through getting at least part way though the supply but gladly threw it out and vowed never to use it again. In fact, when she resupplied, she changed brands, meaning that instead increasing market share they decreased it.

So, what does this have to do with Senior housing? In shampoo and conditioner the loss of one consumer means nothing. Losing a single resident to the competition always means the loss of thousands of dollars per month. But it is bigger than that. People talk. They tell their friends why they didn’t pick you and what was wrong. It is an unfortunate truth that people are a lot more likely to talk about the bad stuff than the good stuff. If they have a bad experience at your community they are more likely to talk about that than if they have a good experience.

You need to get everything right! A pleasant respectful receptionist; fresh coffee; great food at every meal; the ability to tell a clear and convincing story. Skilled nursing, and even assisted living communities, need to be especially aware of the smell factor. Because we get so used to the smells that surround us everyday it is an easy thing to miss. The only reliable way to make sure you do not have a problem is to, from time to time, get someone from the outside come and do a smell test. The other area that can make or break a facility is how much genuine care staff show the residents. Do your care staff, your food staff, your office staff, the Executive Director stop and visit with or touch the residents? If you have an older building that has physical plant deficits, the amount of care and concerns the staff exhibit toward the residents can make or break a facility tour.

Next time you you see a hair care product use it to remind yourself it all has to work! Next week: Part 2, The WOW Factor. Steve Moran