By Steve Moran

Everyone has heard about the “Ritz Carlton way of doing things”. The big thing everyone talks about, that has the most press, the most viral is that each team member is allowed to spend up to $2,000 to solve guest problems or create a wow experience.

There is no doubt that this is a cool policy but I have never seen a senior living organization adopt a similar program and there are good reasons for this. I am not saying there is nothing of value in thinking about what this might mean to senior living. But, in truth, there are a bunch of other things the Ritz Carlton does to make it a great place to work, that you probably don’t know about or haven’t thought much about.

Learning from the Masters

As you likely know, Denise Boudreau-Scott and I have a joint venture called Culture 2100 where we curate some boutique events for senior living leaders. Earlier this week (the week before Thanksgiving 2019) we gathered at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, for what turned out to be perhaps the most remarkable and practical gathering of the six this group has experienced.

We spent 3 hours in conversation with one of the 6 founders of the Ritz Carlton brand, Ed Staros, who was employee #3. We got to experience their daily line-up (their version of the senior living stand-up meeting); we toured their kitchen/back of the house; and spent an hour with their head of HR for the two Naples properties.

Coming out of that gathering will be a series of articles, with this being the first.

The Ritz Difference

When the founders started working on the concept, they sat around in a big room asking “what can we do to make the experience special and unique?” If you have ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton, you will know the list is long. It starts with the big stuff, luxurious appointments, and amazing, friendly, helpful, well-trained staff.

But there are also so many little things. Here is just a short list I made during the session:

Pens. They have the best pens of any hotel I have stayed in. I stole as many as I could, 6 or 8 I think. They are heavy feeling like say a Cross pen and write very nice.

Pad of Paper. Instead of little puny paper pads, they have large pads of paper in the room and in meeting rooms. Large enough to take serious notes.

Bath Soap. They have near full-size bars of bath soap, not those tiny little ones.

Fresh Flowers. They’re on every table every day.

Blotters in the meeting rooms. At every place setting for our gathering, there was a leather (more likely faux leather) desk blotter, that made being there feel special and it created a nice writing experience.

Big, thick towels. What else do I need to say about this?

This is a small sampling of the dozens of things they do.

Asking the Right Questions

I found myself thinking about what would happen if every senior living community, every senior living organization did this exercise once a year? Start with the executive staff, then with a group of regionals, and groups of executive directors. What if this happened with a bunch of front-line staff who know the residents most intimately?

I believe you and your team would come up with some amazing ideas. It is an exercise I am going to engage in with the Senior Living Foresight team, to talk about what would delight readers and our sponsoring partners. I have one idea already kicking around in my head.

Watch for future articles in this series.