Silicon Review Interviews Dan Natterman to Discuss Culture & Innovation

Morrison Living is recognized for providing the dining solutions seniors deserve, backed by the data and insights clients need, delivered by genuinely caring people.

Headquartered in Boston, MA, Morrison was started as a single cafeteria concept to deliver a dining experience built on a sense of community. In the mid-1990s, saw the opportunity to embark on a journey serving the acute care hospital space with the same notion that community and food are vital to the patient experience, and with its expertise in foodservice, Morrison would be better equipped to implement standards to meet the operational needs of its clients. Morrison Living came to fruition in 1998 in response to the need to place greater specialized focus on the needs of seniors. Partnering with an organization with nearly a decade of experience in providing quality service was well-received in the senior living space and in 2001, Morrison Living joined Compass Group marking the group’s first entrance into healthcare hospitality and, in 2021, the operating company was positioned under Compass Group’s super sector, CCL Hospitality Group, which afforded its leadership and team members the resources and intelligence needed to best serve the niche senior living industry.

In 2014, Morrison Living won the ICAA Innovators Award for its creative wellness products and services for active older adults. And today, Morrison Living, under the parent company CCL Hospitality Group, continues to deliver best-in-class culinary services to the rapidly accelerating senior living industry.

The Silicon Review contacted Dan Natterman for an interview, who serves as the CEO of CCL Hospitality Group and Morrison Living. Here are his insights from the interview.

As a leader in culinary services, what are Morrison Living’s key focus areas?

Morrison Living’s ethos is building community one meal at a time, and striving to be the best part of someone’s day. We accomplish this through:

Flexibility at scale: No one else has both scale and agility. The unique combination of size and flexibility affords Morrison Living the opportunity to offer customizable programming, unbeatable procurement management and infrastructure while still allowing it to address the individual needs of each community and prioritize agility to deliver the right experience for every client, every time.

Data-driven solutions: Morrison Living doesn’t guess what residents want and need because it uses data to identify insights and develop intelligent solutions that minimize risk and advance communities’ bottom line. A data-first approach creates better resident experiences and cost-saving opportunities for clients.

Masters of every detail: Morrison Living handles the intricacies of addressing seniors’ unique needs, so clients don’t have to. Senior care can be complicated, but Morrison Living is the expert in implementing strategies to address dietary requirements and state inspections, as well as resourcing and training the best associates.

People are our focus: Morrison Living’s people-first approach impacts everything it does because it believes the best way to provide meaningful, genuine experiences for seniors is to begin by caring for its employees and clients. Morrison Living makes significant investments in training and cultivating a supportive environment, so people are better suited to support the clients they serve.

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How is Morrison Living shaping the industry’s future leaders? What strategies are in place to ensure that these leaders are groomed to market standards? 

Morrison Living is committed to investing in its team members, equipping them with the necessary tools and training for optimal performance. Through the integration of service training and initiatives focused on proper implementation of protocols, based on each community’s needs, service expectations, culinary execution and techniques, and other areas focused on leadership development, the company guarantees that its team members are not merely employees but integral parts of the service team—helping team members to feel knowledgeable, supported and empowered. 

That said, the company’s visionary leadership team has been instrumental in shaping Morrison Living’s culture and guiding its growth. This team brings a unique perspective to the company, fostering an environment where Morrison Living isn’t just a workplace; it’s a place where people want to work. This is supported throughout the organization with numerous diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, team member recognitions, and mentorship opportunities. As such, Morrison Living has successfully retained top talent, allowing for greater consistency in meeting expectations and more knowledgeable teams that can better support each client’s business goals, building a sense of community, and catering to its guests.

Recognition and representation is evident with Morrison Living’s participation in various corporate events. One example is the annual Purée competition, which emphasizes the significance and benefit of Morrison Living’s PUREé program, and how it integrates culinary craftmanship and nutrition and wellness to enhance the resident experience for those with specific dietary needs. Equally important, in 2023, the winners exemplified the promotion of diversity and the support of team members across differing stages in their culinary careers. During this year’s event, the three finalists strongly showcased their extraordinary talents in roles that included sous chef, cook, and dietician. By bringing together team members from different areas of the country, the competition is intended to inspire others and allow participants to have broader visibility within the organization. This exposure methodology increases ingenuity within the organization through sharing one’s experiences and learning from peers outside of one’s immediate network.

In short, Morrison Living is not just about providing outstanding culinary services; it’s about creating an organization where employees are motivated, engaged, and proud to be a part of the journey.

Can you introduce us to your services? What are their main features?

Morrison Living provides the dining solutions seniors deserve, backed by the data and insights clients need, delivered by genuinely caring people. The following are a few of the services the company offers:

Culinary: Morrison Living’s approach to food is simple. Wholesome meals, innovative menus, and engaged associates improve everyone’s wellbeing. As a difference-maker, the priority is to ensure the dining program is embraces the client community’s culture, respecting both the heritage and modern taste trends. Holistically, Morrison Living’s food philosophy is embedded in the development of menus, putting flavor, nutrition, and service at the heart of everything it does.

One way that Morrison Living stands out is through the belief that shared meals and special events are the heartbeat of each individual community’s culture. The community’s menus and service options allow residents to “personalize” their culinary experience with offerings that support their needs, preferences and schedules.

Morrison Living recognizes that this is central to the satisfaction of today’s residents, and how future audiences perceive the client’s brand. Additionally, there is great consideration and belief that residents at all levels of care deserve culinary excellence, as do visitors and associates. It involves not just the plated food but the way it’s served, the dining spaces, and close collaboration with nutrition and wellness teams. It’s a “whole-team” strategy that Morrison Living considers when understanding what to do immediately and where we want to head in the future.

Menu variety, venue options, and attention to nutrition are the keys to drawing residents to the community. That care and artistry are integrated into every dining venue and residents in all areas of care. This approach helps Morrison Living achieve resident satisfaction and for those that are on more specialized nutrition care plans, it minimizes the use of supplements. The following are additional ways Morrison Living showcases itself as a frontrunner in the contract foodservice space:

Morrison Living also upholds its commitment to corporate social responsibility, prioritizing the procurement of fresh, locally sourced proteins and produce when possible. This aligns with the belief that sustainability is best for both residents and the planet. One example to mention is Morrison Living’s use of Imperfectly Delicious Produce, which includes grade-A fruits and vegetables that aren’t pretty enough for the grocery store but are great for chopping and cooking.

Nutrition and Wellness: A team of registered dietitians and nutrition care managers offers individualized wellness and nutrition services to help residents achieve their highest state of wellness and support custom diet needs, empowering residents to make better choices toward achieving their lifestyle goals.

Additionally, Morrison Living has a collection of specialized programs geared to the unique needs of residents at higher levels of care so that everyone in the community can take positive steps toward healthy aging and wellbeing.

Memory Care: Morrison Living has appropriately designed dining services can enhance the dining experience for residents living with dementia. Its Dignified Dining program offers the expertise and training needed to design an inviting dining environment for these residents, with suggestions on menu planning, dining room layout, tabletop modifications, and more.

Texture-modified Menus: Trained culinarians create stunning renditions of the week’s menu. Artfully prepared and super nutritious, PUREé uses the same core ingredients all diners enjoy, with the added dimension of a few classic techniques: mousse, quenelle, and layered timbale. The PUREé programs offer authentic cuisine for residents with difficulty swallowing traditional food textures.

Design: Morrison Living prides itself on its expertise in innovation and optimization, aiming to customize a flexible experience for all who live and work in the communities. Whether designing new venues, cooking new menus, launching a new wellness initiative, or finding ways to recognize team members, something new and better is always on the horizon to keep things fresh and inspiring.

Integrated Technology & Innovation:

Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing your clients’ challenges and how Morrison Living helped them overcome them? 

Reasons for partnering with a dining and hospitality management provider can vary. An organization may seek consultation or improvements regarding internal variables, such as improving financial outcomes or delivering a higher-quality experience. External factors, like the impact of the tumultuous labor market or the evolution of buying trends related to the target demographics, can create the need for alternative solutions and expertise. Morrison Living has experience in developing and implementing strategies that drive results. 

One example highlights a client community seeking resources that would aid in streamlining operations, provide cohesive and consistent standards, and reduce turnover, anticipating that improvement in these areas would correlate positively with higher resident satisfaction. By deploying recruiting specialists with expertise in the senior care industry, Morrison Living was able to educate candidates at local job fairs to draw in top talent, provide team members with hospitality and service training, and mitigate inflation, which allowed for more competitive wages and benefits. As a result, reliance on temporary labor solutions was no longer needed and a welcomed culture shift, focused on reinforcing recognition and professional growth opportunities, helped stimulate team member productivity and engagement. In this partnership, Morrison Living was able to help see the turnover rate reduce from 135% to 46% in a matter of only a couple of years—a significant breakthrough considering the given labor market trends in the hospitality industry.

Alternatively, another client community engaged Morrison Living for its valuable expertise and knowledge of consumer trends relating to current and future residents. To enhance the resident experience, Morrison Living used data and analytics to guide decisions, focusing on modernizing multiple venues within the community and providing greater flexibility of services. In tandem with improved, diversified venues, the Morrison Living culinary team curated higher-quality menus that offered more variety to meet guest preferences, and management teams implemented hospitality-centric service expectations, delivering more holistic solutions. 

To learn more about the solutions Morrison Living delivers to its clients, visit our case studies page.

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Tell us about the Morrison Living team. What value do they bring to the company? 

Team members are the heart of Morrison Living’s operations, building a sense of community that guests seek and clients strive to provide. The team is made up of hospitality, culinary, and clinical experts who are committed to improving experiences and meeting the needs of the individual communities served.

The team integrates various means of interacting with residents and clients. Town halls and resident committee meetings allow residents to get to know the team behind their dining experience and vice versa. This interaction allows for more open discussion about preferences and things residents want to see incorporated into menu and program development. The teams can take this information and put it into action, creating more memorable experiences because they resonate with what matters most to guests. In conjunction, the team is trained to leverage data and analytics, providing key insights for application of various programs that are designed to increase resident engagement and satisfaction. 

On the client-relationship side, two-way communication is just as valuable. During client meetings, leadership presents metrics around operating procedures, focusing on resident satisfaction, staffing, financials, and innovation. With complete transparency, the Morrison Living team collaborates with the client to meet critical business objectives and gauge the dining program’s effectiveness in increasing the community’s marketability. 

What new endeavors is Morrison Living currently undertaking? 

Morrison Living is always seeking new ways to improve the resident experience through the latest technologies and driving innovation. Enhancing the customer experience goes beyond the quality or number of meals served. While incredibly important and a standard that Morrison Living is committed to delivering, embracing a hospitality mindset and seeking ways to improve operating efficiencies leads to higher productivity and strengthens the methodology behind enhancing the resident experience and community culture. 

About Morrison Living

Morrison Living believes that a culinary experience, aligned with your culture and your residents’ dining preferences, is the heartbeat that makes your community one of a kind. Our experts in culinary, wellness, design and marketing will collaborate with you to find that magical blend of options that offers a little something for everyone. By making every breakfast, lunch and dinner a chance for growing communion, we make food the Best Part of Someone’s Day. That’s a winning recipe. For you, your business and your residents. Learn more here.

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