Dominic Gauthier: the importance of listening
Constructed on the site of the former Singer sewing machine factory, La Cité des Tours is a well-known fixture in the local community. This year, the residence will celebrate its ninth anniversary. General Manager Dominic Gauthier offered us a tour of the property.
Mr. Gauthier, you’ve been General Manager of La Cité des Tours for three years now. What was your professional journey before then?
Dominic Gauthier : I studied hotel management at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec and then worked at different hotels in the Montreal area. The big difference is that here, unlike in the hotel industry, the clients are here to stay. We see them every day—morning, day and night. Therefore, you need to show a lot of transparency and authenticity in addition to offering high-quality services.
In your view, what sets La Cité des Tours apart from other residences?
Dominic Gauthier : While there are some other competitors on the market, some of our residents who decided to try a different residential complex ultimately decided to return to us, because they say they feel at home here. Our residence is centrally located near shops and services. It’s an unpretentious place that feels comforting and welcoming.
Built on the site of the former Singer factory, La Cité des Tours also preserves several original elements like the iconic towers, exposed beams and some old materials. Some of the residents even worked here back in the day! The other day, a gentleman told me he was sitting exactly where his office once used to be located. That creates a unique ambiance. And the residents are very proud to live at La Cité des Tours. They’re our best ambassadors because they speak very positively about the residence.
How would you describe the relationship you and your team have with the residents?
Dominic Gauthier : I believe that the key to success is attentive listening. I often tell my team that they need to take ownership of the residence and ask themselves what decisions they’d make if it concerned their own mother or father. When someone requests something, we always look for a solution that will give them as much satisfaction as possible.
Plus, we're not just serving our residents, but also their families, which could mean around 1,000 people in total. We make ourselves available to them and treat every person with respect.
It’s also important to keep in mind that every moment devoted to residents is important. So we take the time to chat or have a laugh with them. They also have a lot to teach us. They are the ones who contributed to building Quebec, and today we work with them and for them.
In what ways does attentive listening make a difference for residents?
Dominic Gauthier : Each of my seven team leaders has a group of residents they frequently interact with, so we can be there for them in a closer and more personalized way. Lots of people tell us things that are important to them even before they discuss them with their families. This clearly shows that the residents feel a proximity to us and trust us. It’s a bit like we’re an extension of their families.
I’ll tell you a story of something that happened at the residence a while ago. We saw one of our residents and when we went to talk to him, we noticed that he wasn’t behaving like his usual self. When we noticed that he had difficulty speaking, we immediately sprang into action. Once the medical team arrived on site, they determined that he had suffered a stroke and he was given emergency care. This story demonstrates the big difference we can make when we interact daily with residents, get to know them and practice attentive listening.
How do you contribute to community life at the residence?
Dominic Gauthier : We have a rich community life and we’re always finding ways to enhance it. For example, we invited a local market gardener to deliver baskets of organic vegetables to us every week. Residents have the option to buy the products if they wish to. They really like the initiative and say that the vegetables “taste like childhood” to them. This month, we’re also holding a garage sale. Residents will be able to sell objects they no longer want, and all the proceeds will be donated to a charitable cause. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and offering new activities to meet everybody’s needs.
Thank you for the wonderful time and company. May your uniqueness continue to shine!