Yesterday my wife and I experienced joy and sadness at the same time as we dropped our oldest daughter off to go to school at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. We are so proud of her effort and commitment in order to earn the opportunity to go to the school. She was number two in her graduating class in high school so she also earned some very nice scholarships too.

At the same time, we were experiencing this great joy and pride, my wife and I were sad too. We are going to miss her being at home. We jokingly said she could go to any school she wanted as long as it was within a 30 minute drive from our home. GCU is on the outer edge of that boundary.

For a moment our emotions were overshadowed by the phenomenal effort and energy the school put into making the incoming student feel welcome and a part of the Grand Canyon student community.

We arrived with our car packed to the gills with our daughters stuff to help her move into the dorms. What we found when we got there was a well orchestrated process that started when we got within a mile of the school.

This week is Welcome Week at the school and they taking it seriously.

Signs were clearly posted and student volunteers enthusiastically pointed new arrivals in the right direct. As we entered the campus, we drove past a gauntlet of students smiling, waving or offering us water or a cold drink. Occasionally, we were stopped and asked a couple questions so they could direct us to the right place. My daughter got a new t-shirt and met some very friendly people along the way. My wife and I felt better about the people our daughter was going to be spending the next 3-4 years with. They all seemed so genuine and happy to see her.

As we made the final turn to park in front of her dorm, our car was quickly and enthusiastically surrounded by 12- 15 students cheering and applauding our daughter. They were calling her by name (it was written on the windshield with grease pencil earlier by another volunteer). She felt like a celebrity.

Once we stopped the vehicle, these student proceeded to get all of her stuff out of the car, put it on carts and dolly’s and take it up to her dorm room. She didn’t have to carry a thing. From there she was escorted to meet the Resident Assistant while they put all her stuff in her room.

When she got back to the room, all she had to do is put stuff away.

I noticed a handmade sign on the door for each of her roommates. Just another of the many details the school did to make sure the student had a great experience.

Now why am I so impressed with this you might be asking?

First of all, I believe the school is doing something beyond simply providing an outlet for an education. They are intentionally and purposefully making students feel a part of a community. They are creating an experience that will cause the students to have an attachment to the school, to feel connected well beyond their school days.

From the moment my daughter even began to consider going to school there I noticed something different. They were more attentive. Never for a moment did we ever feel like someone wasn’t actively interested in her. She got texts from her adviser. Got letters and mail. She even got a congratulations letter when she was admitted to the school filled with confetti and other Grand Canyon University swag.

In the long run, I think the graduates of the school will more likely become boosters and supports of the school long after they have gone. The will be advocates. The school demonstrated that they care about things that matter to students beyond a good education. They are making sure the students feel valued and important. They are making sure they students are connected.

Consider for a moment your business. Are you doing the same with your employees? Does your business create an environment where people are genuinely connected? Do they feel like they belong to an establishment that cares about them? Do they really feel valued, important and welcomed?

What about your customers? What experience are they really having with your business? Is it memorable and leaving a positive impact?

It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of effort to do those things. You simply have to determine the impact you want to have on your employees and customers and come up with a system to deliver it. The Level 7 System helps people do just that. Watch the video here.

I think we can all learn a lesson from Grand Canyon University. Nothing they did was that complicated. Fact is anyone could replicate it. The difference is that they are doing it. And I believe it’s making a big difference.

I know it is for my daughter…and that’s what matters most!

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