Who is Answering Your Phones?
Since 2006, I have created, led, managed, and developed marketing campaigns for senior living communities all across the United States. I’ve sat in sales training, lead marketing training, worked in management for the largest senior living company in the U.S. and worked in management for a small, boots-on-the-ground senior living company. Much has been discussed over the years about the sales process: how to close a lead, how to move residents in, what to say when they aren’t ready or afraid.
Much money has been spent on direct mail campaigns, full-page ads in the city’s best newspaper, digital campaigns, and referral sources over these past 14 years.
Yet I rarely ever hear companies talk about one of the most important people in the community: Your concierge.
A lot of talk goes to the activities director, and I get that: this person is vital in your community. Engaging, thought-promoting, resident-led activities are the best thing that can happen in your community.
A lot of talk goes to your culinary director, and again, this completely makes sense. If this person is not dedicated to making the best food and interacting with the residents, your community is sunk.
However, the person who sets the stage for your community? It’s the concierge. This is the person who:
- Answers phones
- Is the first point of contact with all current residents
- Is the first point of contact with all potential residents
- Is the first point of contact with all families
- Is the first point of contact with all referral sources
- Accepts the mail and all deliveries
- Talks to every single person who walks into your community
So, who is your concierge? And how are you going about finding and training that person?
In 2001, I was 21 and a recent college graduate. I wanted my first big professional gig so terribly bad. And that gig came as the front desk associate at Zale Lipshy Hospital, one of Dallas’ premier, luxury (if you can use that word in healthcare), hospitals.
In my first week, I sat through two full days of training before I ever met a single doctor, nurse, patient, or family member. What I remember from that first week is the simplest advice; advice that has stayed with me in every job I have ever had:
Answer the Phone With a Smile.
If you do that, your energy is transferred to the other person on the line. You are immediately communicating that your day is going well, and you hope the other person’s day is, too. Instantly, you work to dispel any fears or uncertainty with the other person on the line. They know that you are confident, helpful, and have their back in the first 7 seconds of them talking to you.
Don’t believe me? Try it.
Begin every situation of this next week with a smile on your face. When driving to an appointment you are fearful of, when visiting a stressful family member that you haven’t seen in a while, when talking to your team, when answering the phones. Start it with a smile and see how it changes everything in the course of your day.
Is this concierge training? It’s the start of it. It’s the essence of this role: to help, to guide, to set the way for everything that will happen in your community.
If you can’t hold a company training in the next few weeks, start with this. Make it a contest. Have your concierge team compete against each other for the most positive accolades, for the most hugs received or given, for the best ways they changed others’ days.
And then watch how this small change affects your entire community.
If you tried it, I would love to hear how it changed your day. Please reach out with your samples of the butterfly effect of a smile.