I recently taught EntreLeadership principles for the National HealthCare Corporation’s annual convention. A great group of people who provide all of the food services for a ton of nursing homes.
Before I took the stage, they performed a skit that portrayed a letter they received from a nursing home patient. In it she talked about how a single item gave her dignity as an elderly person. I was blown away. Here’s just an excerpt of what she wrote:
At the end of my week-long stay in the hospital, once again beating back pneumonia, my pulmonary specialist stood at the foot of my hospital bead and asked, “Where do you want to go for your physical therapy?”
Without hesitation, I smiled and said, “Your nursing home. You serve cloth napkins.” He frowned briefly, seemingly trying to comprehend the meaning of my words. As he grasped the meaning, a broad smile crossed his face. He chuckled, and as he walked away, he indicated he would take care of this.
The facility is an elegant old nursing home that boasts hallways lined with gold tone framed art. The chef, sporting his tall white chef’s hat known as a toque, takes pride in his menu. His food presentations are served on trays that often include a small white bud vase containing a rich purple silk iris, a singe red rose, or miniature sunflowers. Colonial patterned stainless flatware wrapped in a gold damask cloth napkin provides an added touch of elegance to every meal.
One evening, as I unwrapped my silverware, I wondered how many residents were aware of the dignity afforded them, symbolized in one cloth napkin, as they too unwrapped their utensils.
As someone who has recently watched a loved one be treated completely without dignity, I want to applaud this facility! You see, they get it. They understand what it means to go the extra mile. They understand what being a servant really means. It’s not just a napkin that matters. It’s doing everything you can to make your customer feel taken care of.
Too often we as leaders focus on pinching pennies and cutting costs. Which, without margin, there is no business! But in this scenario, a customer chose to spend her money with this facility because of the way she was being treated. I mean seriously, where would you rather go? To a place that acted like you are a human, or one that treats you like a room number? I love to use what Rabbi Daniel Lapin said in his book Thou Shall Prosper, “God wants us to become obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others. When we do that through the mechanism of business, we are doing work that matters.”
Find what it is you do to add those touches that keep your customers coming back. If you can’t find any, come up with some…quick!
Question: Where have you seen companies serving people like this?