Sunday, January 22, 2017

When Good Enough Isn't

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

When doing a task, a lot of people, and organizations for that matter, will often finish the task by defaulting to “good enough.” Most of the time, not always – but most of the time, that means the task at hand has been completed at a bare minimum or at something approximating an average level of competence. In fact, “good enough” carries the distinct undertone of not really caring.

Here at Arlington, we constantly remind ourselves, and each other, that “good enough” really isn’t. When patrons/clients/customers enter our office on what is often the worst day of their life, they expect to have all of their questions answered clearly and concisely. They expect a high level of professionalism and expertise.  They expect to have all of the "i’s" dotted and "t’s" crossed. What they don’t want are excuses or surprises along the way. So, we listen and we plan and we coordinate; we set schedules and throughout the process of providing our services, we’re looking for opportunities to improve the survivor’s experience at a very difficult and challenging time. That’s simply impossible if anyone on our team is willing to settle for “good enough.”

Our constant goal is to provide Renowned Service so that when a surviving family leaves our office or our grounds, they understand that we focused on their needs and cared enough to give them our best. To be sure, producing consistently at the very highest level is aspirational at best; and since we’re not perfect, we occasionally fall short of Renowned Service. However, when we do, we take it to heart and spend time exploring just how we can avoid a similar outcome in the future.

Unlike a lot of organizations, the services we provide are enormously personal in nature and sensitive. When a beloved one dies, those who had close or even intimate relationships with the deceased want to remember the funeral for what it should be: a ceremony that focuses on and celebrates the life of the deceased. Funeral rituals are, after all,  the starting point of the healing process and survivors don’t want to have recollections of mistakes and oversights that, intended or not, are often remembered as a personal affront, a slight or a signal of disrespect.

Similar to the old adage that, “You only have one time to make a good first impression,” we are not granted the opportunity for a “do-over” if we’ve goofed-up. That’s why “good enough” isn’t a part of the Arlington lexicon.

Dan Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.