We need a vacation

Family vacation is a big deal to me.  Some of my greatest memories as a kid involved vacations – and I’ve tried to make sure that my kids can say the same.  We’re heading off this afternoon for our “official 2010 Wood family vacation” and heading for the shores of Lake Michigan.  And we’re ready – because we need a vacation!

But I got to thinking back to a  few of the best vacations that we’ve taken as a family…

  • Anna Maria Island, Florida – We had a condo right on the beach – awesome.  I fell asleep each night listening to the waves lapping on the shore.  We also went to Disney World that year.  But we did have one mishap – Allie lost her teddy bear on the trip.  We replaced him, but it wasn’t the same.  (See Toy Story 3 to find out how Teddy felt.)
  • Cambridge, Maryland – Highlights included a quick trip into Washington, DC and just hanging out on the Chesapeake Bay – and eating blue crabs.  Actually it was Kelly who ate the blue crabs.   My favorite memory was flying a kite with Allie.
  • Washington State – We really enjoyed both sunny days – and also trips to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens.  Luke talked us into seeing the latter and I’m glad he did.  We visited over 25 years after the eruption, and the desolation was still overwhelming.  A memory I would like to forget was my running through Midway airport in my socks because I knew that if I took time to put my shoes back on we were going to miss our flight.  (We made it, by about 30 seconds!)
  • Washington, DC – My niece and her husband let us use their apartment in Georgetown for the week.  What a blast – we tried to do it all – the memorials and monuments, the Capitol building, Arlington, Mt. Vernon, the Smithsonian – and my personal favorite – Lincoln’s summer home.  (Note to would-be Washington travelers:  Do not visit Washington during spring break week, especially when it coordinates with the cherry blossom festival!)
  • Colorado – I think this was our favorite vacation to date, though it had a few rough spots.  On the first day Lindsay ended up in the ER with her big toenail having been ripped off.  Then we all got the stomach flu – not at the same time but in succession.  Still we managed to go on an incredible horse back ride with just the five of us and a guide (actually, it was the four of them and the guide – my horse was content to follow several hundred feet behind), do some river rafting, visit Focus on the Family, drive from Aspen to Colorado Springs on the world’s most frightening road ever (I think it was a scenic ride – I was too scared to look), see the Maroon Bells, and make the climb to Hanging Lake.

So I love vacation – visiting new places, doing stuff as a family, taking some time to regroup and refresh, taking some pictures, eating too much fast food, finding the best ice cream place in town, stopping in at some glitzy souvenir stand, and making a thousand new memories.  Lake Michigan, here we come!

Customer Service

Recently our hospice team watched a webinar on the subject of customer service.  The guy teaching it ( Bryan Williams) was in charge of the guest relations department for the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain for years before going into business as an independent consultant.  His material was really good, so I started writing notes –  not so much because I thought it would be helpful in the hospice world, but because I thought it might be helpful in the church ministry world.

From my (random) notes:

  • The golden rule says treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • The platinum rule says treat others the way they want to be treated.
  • The double platinum rule says treat others the way they don’t even know they want to be treated.
  • Remember the 10’/4′ rule.  Anyone with in 10′ of you should always be acknowledged.  Anyone within 4′ of you should be engaged.
  • Recognize the difference between function and purpose.  Function is what you do; purpose is why you do it.  Make sure your team knows the purpose.
  • There are four basic steps of service: 1] a warm welcome using the person’s name,  2]  complying with wishes / anticipating needs, 3]  offering additional assistance, and 4] a gracious farewell.
  • Whatever you focus on improves.
  • Invest where the improvement comes the easiest.
  • Always give your team appreciation.  Without it they quit and leave.  Worse yet, sometimes they quit and stay.
  • Always get the input of your team.
  • Take advantage of every touch point.  Make deposits and not withdrawals.
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