When I go to trade shows I spend as much time and energy as I can muster, getting to know new people. In fact, what I usually do for big conferences is set a goal to interact with a certain number of people.
For the American Health Care Annual (AHCA) meeting I set a goal of 65. In order to hit my goal I push myself into being pretty outgoing, but it is still not the easiest thing to just walk up to strangers and introduce myself.
One evening at AHCA, there were a number of vendors who set-up hospitality suites where participants could wander enjoying drink, food and conversation. These are ideal times for me to go meet new people. I approached a table with a group of four women and introduced myself, then asked who they were and what they did.
In turn, three of them told me what senior communities they were with and what they did. The forth was silent. I turned to her and asked “What about you?”
She responded in kind of an embarrassed tone saying “I’m only a receptionist.”
I was really taken back by the response and I think she got it all wrong.
At most senior communities, front desk people sit close to the bottom of the team totem pole, with the position often seen as an entry level position. But, I am convinced that the person who sits at the front desk could be . . . no, should be . . . the most important person in your community because that person has more interactions with . . . everybody.
When someone calls looking for information about your community, 90% of the time it is your front desk person who answers the phone. How they answer, how they respond to questions, and how they move a prospect to the next step is critical to your success. Their diligence in capturing prospects data becomes critical.
The wrong first impression can cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year, and the right first impression can lock-in prospects in a way nothing else can. The same is true for walk-ins and for first time tours. I am not sure it will ever happen, but maybe the front desk person should be the highest paid team member at a community.
We Are Constantly Telling Our Story
Every single interaction every single staff person has with anyone, be it resident, family member, vendor, volunteers, and regulators, is a potential story. Most interactions are not significant enough to ever be more than just a positive, natural or negative impression.
But sometimes, those impressions turn into real stories that get told, and we know that people tend to tell negative stories more than positive stories. By their very nature, negative stories are more sticky than positive ones.
Finding a front desk person who can create a positive impression for every single interaction makes that person's worth their weight in gold. Particularly if those interactions are so special (in a good way) as to be memorable impressions, or better yet, stories.
How is your front desk person?
How do you take care of them?
How do you monitor them?