Gretchen Schauffler


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Why First Impressions Count

Why First Impressions Count

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I tell my clients all the time, “if you want your establishment to nurture people, create an environment that looks nurturing so that employees don’t have to exhaust themselves selling how nurturing your the environment is.”

A space that does not reflect the people who live there or work there always sends out a red flag. Like the time I walked into a contemporary split-level, NW Asian inspired home, and the wife greeted me at the door dressed in leopard print and wearing bedazzled glasses. When she showed me her bedroom, decorated with swag curtains, tassels, and brocade fabrics, I knew she was in the wrong house, possibly in the wrong life.

When I later heard she was in the middle of a divorce, I was not surprised. 

First impressions are hard to forget! Especially when what you see does not line up with what you hear.  As an important sensory resource, first impressions hone and strengthen our intuition, helping us to understand the world in quick ways without requiring much explanation.

This is what makes first impressions hard to forget. Internalized information is hard to "un-internalize".

Imagine how heightened the senses are of family members who walk into Senior Rehab and Memory Care Facilities for the first time when they no longer can take care of their loved ones.  They either can't provide, or no longer provide, for an aging parent or grandparent due to their declining health or eminent death. They are overwhelmed with guilt. They come in riddled with a high level of stress, anxiety and worry. 

By the time they have to find a place to care for their loved one, time is not on their side. It's not like they have time to research ratings, reviews, and seek personal recommendations, like when they are booking a hotel to go on  vacation. Limited by time and stressed out by the unknown, they rely on trying to find a place that feels good. They rely on their intuition.

They rely on first impressions.  

No matter what anyone says, what you see is what you get. Just ask the hospitality industry. Better yet, think of yourself as a hotel guest. If a hotel feels tired or run down, you will be more likely to judge their service. You will be more likely to find fault.

Families are more likely to question the level of care all along if the facility does not visually and viscerally reflect the level of care they are selling. 

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking, makes a case that thin-slicing or quick brief judgments are similar to those judgments based on much more information. They can be as accurate, or even more accurate than judgments based on much more information. A Senior Care facility that reflects a beautiful and strong first impression of care gives families a sense of peace and well-being that goes a long way. They will be more likely to relax, and visit more often. 

There is a reason why at  Starbucks no one is trying to tell you how good their coffee is.  The environment says if for them. 

Senior Digs: ​Marquis Cottages Tualatin, Oregon

Senior Digs: ​Marquis Cottages Tualatin, Oregon

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