So we once again find ourselves waist high in earnings calls.

For the unfamiliar, this particular kabuki dance happens about four times a year. They afford an unmatched opportunity to watch CEOs do one of two things: gush with pride or apply lipstick to swine.

If the latest returns are any indication, this might be a great time to load up on L’Oreal stock.  

The obvious reason for the litany of bad report cards is COVID-19. And to be fair, it’s hard to overestimate the damage operators have endured on the staffing, occupancy and rising costs fronts as a result.

But in some ways, COVID has become too convenient of a target.

Truth be told, many operators were struggling to make payroll long before the virus arrived. More truth be told, this field has acquired some dubious habits that should probably be addressed.

So in the interest of making things better quickly, here are three humble tactical suggestions that just might help:

1. Pay to play

Your frontline staff literally does the heavy lifting. Yet you expect them to accept less than what the Amazons and Walmarts of the world have to offer? There are way more entry and near-entry level jobs available right now than people willing to do them. It’s time to buck up.

2. Remember the basics

Do you think that being in the senior living field somehow makes you special? Or that you are immune from the usual laws of business survival? Do you truly believe your customers will forgive and forget when you fail to meet even the least of their expectations? Here’s the deal: Residents and their families don’t care about your problems. They expect you to listen. They want your community to provide a great experience. And they don’t want to feel like they are being gouged.

3. Hit the books

Yes, this is a service business. But it’s also a knowledge business. Your local library is full of books, e-books, videos and more that can help you succeed. How long has it been since you checked any of those items out? If names like Jim Collins, Dale Carnegie, Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Eric Ries, Simon Sinek, Alfred Sloan. Spencer Johnson, Stephen Covey and Jack Welsh don’t ring a bell, they should. You can learn a lot from these guys and other business brainiacs. For free.

To be sure, there are many more things you could also be doing. But simply embracing these three suggestions will make a huge, positive difference. Feel free to pursue them at your leisure. Or to ignore them at your risk.