This started out as a single follow-up to last week’s blog, “Lessons From a Tube of Shampoo”. This week, the wrong kind of WOW, next, the right kind of WOW. The wow factor cuts both ways. A few months ago I was doing a survey of some skilled nursing communities in a very local marketplace. I identified nine communities I wanted to visit. There were a couple of nice facilities, a couple of “so so” facilities and one that had the WOW factor, but the wrong kind of WOW . . . Visiting the last community on my list, it was difficult to figure out parking and hard to find the entrance.I walked through the front door of this older facility, into a small, empty reception area. It had old furniture, out of date, torn and stained, magazines. There were some faded statutory posters on the wall. To my right was a door labeled Administrator that was closed and locked. I tried knocking and got no answer. There was another door in front of me that looked like it led to in to the facility and finally I located a small sign above a doorbell-like button telling me to push the button for help, which I did. After about 5 minutes a nurse or nurse’s aid came to the door, cracked it open and asked what I wanted. I told her I would like to talk to the administrator and have a tour of the building. She immediately told me the administrator was not there, she did not know when he would return and that I could not tour the building without the administrator.

She also made sure I could not see into the patient care areas, by keeping the door almost completely closed. This facility had the WOW factor . . . . WOW! I cannot believe anyone would ever allow someone they loved or cared about to be placed in a facility like this (I prefer the term community, but with a building like this it is only a facility and barely that). While this is not typical, it is also not as uncommon in the industry as we would like. I think it is safe to assume, that, if you are reading this blog, you are not involved in a building that looks like this. Yet, without being careful and constantly vigilant, we can allow things to slip by, thus creating mini negative WOWs. A personal pet peeve of mine, and one I see fairly frequently, is when the only resident and staff smoking area is right by the main entrance to the community.

There is no doubt that, in many instances, management needs to provide a smoking area, but when it is in front of the building it means that the operator already has something to overcome before a prospect walks in the door. There are so many little ways you can create negative WOW. An unfriendly receptionist; an overflowing trash can; an empty coffee pot or even worse a pot that has stale or cold coffee. It is a matter of keeping your eyes open.

Next week I will talk about how, even if you have an older building, you can create a meaningful, positive – WOW experience for your residents and new prospects. Steve Moran