Friendliness means having real adult conversations about life and the world.
By Steve Moran
I first met David Smith during the 2014 ALFA convention in Phoenix where he and Alex Fisher were officially launching their Sherpa CRM product that is based on One On One’s Prospect-Centered Selling SM. During that visit he invited me to come visit The Gatesworth, his flagship rental CCRC in St. Louis. Over the past year I have crossed paths with a number of other people who confirmed everything David had to say about The Gatesworth, telling me it was a community I had to visit.
It finally all came together this past week when I spent two and a half days there, staying at the community and participating in his One On One Sales training.
The Gatesworth is a rental CCRC that provides the highest quality of service to the St. Louis senior living marketplace. They have just shy of 300 independent living apartments, 45 assisted living units, and 76 skilled nursing beds. Here is what makes it unique:
- The Stay – One other time I was invited by an owner to stay in their community. I won’t tell you when, where or who, but it was terrible. Staying in a Motel 6 room would have been a better experience. My Gatesworth experience was perfect. The room was the right size, they had the right amenities, there were snacks and coffee. It was a great experience.
- From the Airport to the Community – I was met at the airport by a driver in a Gatesworth town car, one of 5 they operate 7 days a week for the residents. They do everything they can to make sure their fleet of cars and drivers are in use all of the time. If 3 or more residents are going to the same place, that is, in effect, an activity and there is no additional charge for the car and driver.
- The Front Door Experience – Crazy mind blowing – They have two entrances to the independent living portion of The Gatesworth. The front entrance is staffed with 5 doormen during the bulk of the day. They are there to assist with pretty much whatever residents need. It has always seemed crazy, that Walmart has someone to greet me when I come into their house, to purchase a tube of toothpaste, but often when you walk into a senior living community where they are hoping you will spend fifty to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars over the course of your stay, it can be hard to get anyone’s attention.
- Dining – The Gatesworth has three distinct restaurants that are available to independent living residents. What is unusual about how they do dining is that only a continental breakfast is included. If you want to eat lunch or dinner you go in, are seated, order whatever you like off one of the ala carte menus and at the end of the month you are billed for the meals you consume. This forces the community to compete with other restaurants in the area. If the quality of food or service is not up to snuff, three residents could just as easily grab a car, at no cost, and eat off campus. They do compete well, with a kitchen led by and an award-winning Executive Chef and the food service operation generates a staggering amount of revenue.
My big litmus test for any senior living community is the friendliness of the staff. This goes beyond the basics of “good morning” and “how are you today”. Friendliness means having real adult conversations about life and the world. It was weird in the best of ways, how many really nice conversations I had with . . . the doormen, dining room servers . . . and others throughout my two-and-a-half day stay.
I have a very short list (less than five) of senior living communities that are so cool, so amazing I would be glad to sign-up for living there sooner rather than later. The Gatesworth is my newest addition.