Can You Compare Your Senior Living Employees to Disney Employees?

Can You Compare Your Senior Living Employees to Disney Employees?

In the last six weeks, I have been to Disneyland five times.  Am I a little crazy?  I certainly hope so and try on a regular basis to truly enjoy living in paradise.  After a series of interactions last night, I was forced to take an overall look at how I was treated by Disney employees.

The happiest place on earth did not have happy employees last night.  75% of the employees were grumpy, sullen, crabby, tired and worn out looking.  What a surprise, when it seemed that most Disney employees had a sunny personality when I have visited in the past.

There was not one smile on any parking attendant at the parking lot.  I waited 20 minutes to pay and should have been greeted with a smile, but it did not happen.  At the tram, no smiles – only frowns.  Going through the bag check, only weary and sullen expressions.  When I arrived at the park to go through the turnstile, the employee actually yelled at the person in front of me!  No kidding folks, she said, “Can’t you read the signs?  Mickey’s Halloween Party entrance is over there!”  So that meant I was in the wrong line too and changed lines, before I got yelled at too.

After I made it into the park, they were handing out trick or treat bags and I headed to the left, but I was reprimanded to instead head to the right.  Now my husband and I were in and heading down main street and it suddenly hit me that it was not the happiest place on earth tonight.  What happened to the famous Disney experience?  I thought that when each “cast member” comes out “on stage” to their position, they smile and leave all their own personal negativity and family challenges in the break room?

We headed to Space Mountain (transposed into the Galaxy Ghost for Halloween) and the fast passes were already gone for the day.  To make matters worse it had an 80-minute wait, so we went to the Haunted Mansion (transposed into the Nightmare Before Christmas) and it had a 45-minute wait.  Now I was grumpy and I have NEVER felt that way at Disneyland before!  Had all the negative employees affected me?  No one had said to have a wonderful night, enjoy Mickey’s Halloween Party or I am glad you are here – NOTHING!

What happened at your senior living community today?  What percentage of your employees were “Happy” or “Grumpy”?  Everyday I wake up grateful that I can help seniors improve their lives by moving into the Continuing Care Retirement Communities that I represent.  I know they will have a better life than being isolated in their own home.  Winter is coming and so many seniors don’t drive in the dark.  They will be literally trapped in their homes after 5 pm each night.  Plus seniors will live longer with more nutritious meals and the connectivity of other residents is what us humans need to grow and keep our brains sharp.  Okay, I will shut up, because I am preaching to the choir…

Every retirement community has at least one grumpy employee.  The question is what percentage of grumpy employees do you have?  This could be affecting your occupancy.  If your residents and staff don’t look happy, prospective senior residents see that and don’t want to move in.  Residents at my CCRC communities said the number one reason why they moved in was because of the friendly residents and smiling staff.  Do your residents say this too?

The good news to my Disney experience was that we went on Pirates of the Caribbean and then I was back to the happiest place on earth.  We saw the best fireworks of my life and later on only had to wait 20 minutes for the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information:   Twitter: @market2seniors Web: Blog:

Do you discuss T.E.A.M. with your senior living team?

Inspiration can be planned or it can come from out of the blue.  As I was setting up for a pancake breakfast at church, I was encouraging the other volunteers.  Then another volunteer inspired me – Michael said, “We are working as a “T.E.A.M.,” which stands for TOGETHER, EFFORT, ACCOMPLISH, MISSION.”

As we start this New Year with each of our senior living teams, are you going to give an inspirational talk to build a team approach toward filling and marketing your retirement community?  Why don’t you discuss T.E.A.M. (TOGETHER, EFFORT, ACCOMPLISH, MISSION) with them?

TOGETHER – we can support marketing!   It’s all about the first impressions each of us can provide the future resident and their family.  From the receptionist standing to greet every guest with a smile; to every director “accidentally” running into future residents on a tour; to housekeeping/maintenance paying special attention to the front entrance area, community spaces, restrooms and hallways; to a caregiver or staff member greeting guests in the elevator/hallway to say, “We look forward to you choosing to live here!” or “This is a wonderful place to work.” or “I would love to take care of your mom.”

EFFORT – is going the extra mile to be welcoming!  Can every employee smile and greet the customer who passes them in the hallway?  Out of the hundreds of communities that I have toured, only one retirement community in California blew me away when – every single staff person smiled at me during a tour.  A dining room server said, “We would love to spoil your mom.”  This community wide impression of caring and a happy staff was a huge “wow factor” for me.  I would want to visit my mom at this assisted living community any time.  That particular tour experience is forever itched in my “good moments” memory.

ACCOMPLISH – the occupancy goal!   With everyone working together to make residents, future residents, guests and family members feel welcome – it creates an atmosphere of positivity, good energy, compassion, homelike warmth and a feeling that everyone is happy and well cared for.  Does every staff member know the names of all the residents and continually use them?  Residents love this and they are your best referral sources too!  Your senior housing community will fill to the brim.

MISSION – is your retirement community’s purpose come to life!  Do marketers speak about your mission and/or values during a tour?  It can say a lot about your community when any resident will volunteer how much they enjoy living there.  Discuss how your team can live/show your mission, so future residents can see that your team walks the talk.  Differentiate your senior living community from competitors by showing how your unique staff is enhancing the lives of your residents through excellent service and compassionate care.

Showcase your senior living community through the T.E.A.M. approach!  Here is wishing your community 100% occupancy in 2012!

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors

Web: Blog: