Recently I met Bob Pacanovsky and talked about his training business. Initially I thought we would do an article about planning events, which is a nice topic. But after talking to him I uncovered an expertise he has that is interesting and very valuable for people dealing with aging issues, specifically helping their parents find an assisted living location in Akron or the surrounding area. Bob specializes in helping these places have superior customer service and making people’s lives better. He agreed to answer the questions below so that if you are looking for an assisted living location you are armed with information on what to look for.
- Bob, tell me about what you do and what you have seen change in Assisted Living locations.
I speak and train companies on creating a consistent Customer Experience, or in this case the consistent Patient Experience. The experience differs from your typical customer service mentality because it focuses on doing those things that will help create a customer who can become a loyal and raving fan of your business. It is creating a long term customer and relationship versus a short term or one and done transaction.
When it comes to Assisted Living Facilities, you are not only wanting to make sure that the residents are taken care of from just a medical standpoint, (although this is very important), but that they are made to feel like where they are living is truly their home. One of the ideas we talk about in my seminars is that “We work in their homes, they don’t live in ours”. What that means is that the staffs that work in these facilities need to understand that they are not just working in an assisted living facility, but they are truly working now in someone’s home.
I think one of the biggest changes that I have seen in Assisted Living locations is the push for better quality in everything they do. From the food service, to activities, to the grounds and the rooms or apartments. People are living longer and they would like the comforts of home, without all the challenges and upkeep of it.
- Does improving service improve the happiness of the residents? Examples?
I believe that it does. Who wouldn’t want to be treated in a special way, where we not only know who you are, but a lot of things about you. In a training seminar recently, I was telling one of the staffs that they maybe didn’t realize how lucky they were to be working there. As they looked at me somewhat quizzically, I mentioned to them that they had the opportunity to get to know their “customers” (residents) more than most businesses because they were with them each day (or numerous times throughout the week). I told them that they had the opportunity to get to know so much more about their clients than most other companies and to use this information to make these residents happy.
- How can improving service in an assisted living location improve occupancy and retention?
This would probably be a better question for a director, but here is my short answer…
Just like any other business or industry, word of mouth is still “king”. If I am having a wonderful experience at the facility that I am now living in, I will also tell my friends and/or family about it. Referrals are still the best form of marketing in any business and I have to believe that this industry is no exception. If I am happy, why not tell others about this place?
- Do visiting families see a difference when they come into a facility with better service?
Sure! I think you can tell by a number of things- how the place looks, how friendly the staff is to you, how good the food tastes and most importantly- what you are hearing from the person that is living there! I call all of these items “Impact Points”, because they make a subconscious impact on you and your experience. Think about it, if you are greeted not only with a friendly smile and welcome, but that staff person knows who you are, or even better knows a lot about the family member you are coming to see and talks lovingly about them, doesn’t that make an impact on you and your experience?
- Does it cost a lot more for a facility to offer superior service?
Absolutely not! In fact, I tell the staffs that I work with that to give superior service (we call it “Black Tie” service) doesn’t cost any extra. You don’t need any fancy videos or expensive gifts to deliver it, you need to treat everyone with class, prestige and importance- every day. You never know who that next resident will be and the impression that you leave with that person or their family could be a deciding factor. It is also about doing the “little things” when it comes to delivering that Black Tie service. It is about exceeding the expectations of your customers and looking for ways to “wow” them.
- How can I spot superior service if I visit an assisted living location I am considering for a parent?
Start by doing your research. Look online and don’t necessarily just look at the company’s website. The pictures and quotes on their site should be outstanding. Also look at the reviews they have online to get a feel for what others are saying.
Check with your friends. If you have a parent that is in need of an assisted living facility, chances are pretty good that one or two of your friends are in a similar situation (or have been). Again, word of mouth is king.
There are also state licensing agencies that you can contact to see if the facility is meeting all the codes and regulations. You should also be able to check with the local Better Business Bureau to make sure there are not major issues to contend with.
I highly recommend scheduling a tour. This is the easiest way to see a lot about the facility. While you are on the tour, see how the staff is treating the current residents too. If you see a lot of happy faces, from both the staff and the residents, it may a facility to take a closer look at.
And make sure to try the food. The food needs to be good since your parent will be eating 2 or 3 meals a day, every day.
- How can people find out more about you if they need to improve service in their organization?
They can contact me via email- [email protected] or phone (330) 352-6084. All of my seminars and trainings are customized to fit the needs of my clients. There are no “canned” presentations here.