By Steve Moran

Every other week Chip Conley and David Stewart host “The Happy Hour Show”. It’s a free-wheeling conversation with the two of them, typically a guest, and room for questions from the audience. They, along with my friend Ken Dychtwald, have done more to make growing older look cool than any other people I can think of who are in the public eye.

They recently had as a guest Danny Meyers, Founder & CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, founder of Shake Shack, and author of the book Setting the Table, which is a useful read for senior living leaders. Here is what Danny had to say, with application to the senior living industry by me:

  • Think like a host. Our job is to think about how our communities make others feel; residents and team members. We want to get our team members to think about how they make residents and their families feel.
  • Pare back the things you do that don’t really make a difference.
  • People mostly care about how they feel when they come into your community. It is less the list of activities or the size and variety on your menu. 
  • If you want to have an edge over the home care sector, make sure your senior living experience feel amazing compared to home care. Make the experience so amazing (think about the best dining experience you have ever had) that they hate to leave your community.
  • Those senior living communities that make their team members feel better when they come to work each day have a big edge.
  • The biggest win is making your market area (the location in which you operate) feel better. Think about it this way: If one day a tornado of balloons (think the movie UP) carried your community away to a better place where your existing residents or team members were as happy as ever, would the rest of your locale notice?

    The goal should be to see your senior living community as a vital asset that really improves the character and texture of your marketplace.
  • We need to be thinking about our team members in the context that their job is to take care of other people, but at the same time they need to be taken care of in an unprecedented way.
  • It is really important to spend time listening to what team members say about how it feels to be a part of the organization.
  • How do you scale culture? How do you scale how you make your team members feel?
  • What if your primary criteria for evaluating a team member was to ask:  How did that team member make your residents feel? What if you were judged by that criteria?
  • Hold open office hours with the people you lead, whether you are CEO of Brookdale or of a single-site community. Once a month hold an open Zoom forum where people can ask you any question. Where they can tell you what they are thinking and feeling.

Hospitality has many parallels with what we do. I would love to have Danny Meyer as a guest at Foresight TV, though my guess is that right now he has his hands full. I am pleased to announce that Chip and David will be appearing on Foresight TV in December. I hope you join us. (Check out the Foresight TV page HERE.)