Here’s some good news: you will never get it exactly right in delivering service to your customers. It’s impossible.

Here’s some good news: you will never get it exactly right in delivering service to your customers. It’s impossible. You will whiff, strike out, hit a pop fly. Let’s put it in perspective. It’s impossible to hit 1.000 in baseball. Well, technically, it is not impossible. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb got the closest by hitting .366 over a 24-year career. In short, it means he “failed” 64% of the time.  

At one of our Keystone Communities, each year we serve 175,000 meals, receive 3,000 maintenance work orders, administer 750,000 medications, respond to 140,000 emergency calls, carry out 175,000 care tasks for residents and schedule 125,000 labor hours.

We get it wrong. Service failure is inevitable. Legendary Football Coach Vince Lombardi said: “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”


2nd chanceOur Food and Dining Director Gabe Mulligan calls it the “Fun of Failure.” Yep, that’s Gabe. Recently Gabe told me about a guest who was served an undercooked hamburger in one of our restaurants but only groused about it to the others at the table. The part that Gabe was disappointed in was not that the burger was not to the guest’s liking. 

Getting it wrong is par for the course for Gabe. But, he didn’t have the opportunity to make it right, to show the guest his commitment to taking care of the people who eat his food. The difference between a burger cooked medium rare and medium is about 90 seconds. Gabe lives for those precious seconds. Maybe that’s why his name is Mulligan.


Yes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Big deal. But you do get a second chance to make an amazing lasting impression. It’s called The Recency Principle, which states simply that what I remember the most is what I experienced most recently. The opportunity that is often missed is the powerful, lasting impression you can make by making it right with the other person and save a cherished relationship.

Some time ago I visited a spa resort in another state. The service in their dining area was abysmal. I was ignored in the midst of a bunch of women at the spa for a “girl weekend.” Apart from the fact I couldn’t blame the bartender for ignoring an old, bald fat guy, the reality was he overlooked me. So, in customary fashion, the manager offered me a free dinner. But I didn’t want just a free dinner.

I wanted them to apologize. I wanted to restore and maintain the relationship I had with the staff at the resort. But, they did not apologize, really. They took little to no ownership of the service failure and instead tossed a free dinner my way. They missed it. And they lost my future business.


In caring for seniors, the scene is rife with mistakes, flubs, goof-ups, slips, errors, miscues, stumbles and even a few falls. Oops! You get the idea. It’s because we are working with people, and people will throw plenty of curve balls your way.

Here at Keystone Senior we are out to deliver a consistent level of above average service with a scattering of “WOW” moments (credit to Shep Hyken for the principle).   I have news for you: you are not in the entertainment business. You are not operating a “cruise ship on land.” You are in the business of . . . , well . . . what is your business? I’m in the business of elevating life for seniors and do it with excellence.

And remember, you will hit home runs.  Lots of them.