Improving Production by Treating—and Delighting Donors—Like Valued Customers

Whether it's because of COVID, stimulus checks, unemployment checks and/or an improving economy, getting donors back is going to take some effort.

Whatever keeping donors away, now is the time to make them feel more welcome and valued.

1. Why paying more doesn’t work long-term

You could get into a war with your rivals over payment. Plasma companies also often think the wait to donate is the problem, or they are not doing enough marketing.

None of these point to a solution. What does work is thinking of your donors as valued customers.

What are you selling? An experience. While donating plasma is not exactly a walk in the park, it can be more or less pleasant, depending on your facility and how donors are treated:

    • Does your location make donors feel safe at your center? It is
      better not to locate in the poorest areas for a number of reasons. Call Stough for details.
    • Is your facility welcoming on the outside? Is it in good repair? Do the signage, cleanliness, parking, lighting and other factors work
      together to encourage passing potential donors to stop in?
    • Do you open on time, or even early if people are waiting out in the cold, rain or snow?
    • How are donors treated upon entry? Are they greeted in a friendly, yet professional way and told exactly what will happen when, or are they treated like cattle moving through stanchions, directed by impersonal signs?
    • Is there a comfortable, attractive place for them to sit while waiting, with generously-spaced chairs and calming interior design elements like soft colors and nature-themed art?
    • Is your interior clean, attractive and well-lit? How about the bathrooms?
    • Are your signs minimal, professionally printed and strategically placed?
    • Is your staff friendly and attentive in every interaction?

When you design/build with Stough, facility pluses give you a competitive advantage.

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2. How can donating plasma be more like getting Chick-fil-A?


Proper training is the key. When you offer a delightful customer experience—whether the customer is buying a chicken sandwich or donating plasma—people want to return.


Putting plasma centers in convenient, attractive locations near universities or healthcare complexes (not down-and-out, scary neighborhoods) will draw a more productive group of donors and encourage them to return often.

Using your real estate effectively

Back to the “how long is the wait” question. One often must wait a while to be served at Chick-fil-A. But they use their quality, strategically-located real estate brilliantly. You might have to drive around the property’s footprint three times before you are served, but you are treated royally the whole time.

The basic design of your center ensures staff can provide a great experience. Is there a way to move donors through the donation process more efficiently?


Your facility plays an important role in attracting donors. Like a Chick-fil-A restaurant, every Stough-built facility is attractive, clean, well-lit and inviting. The parking lot is well-lit. There is visibility into the waiting area from the street. Proper heating and air conditioning make Stough facilities comfortable.

Stellar service

The clean-cut and friendly staff at every Cathy franchise ask your name. It’s a simple practice, but highly effective in helping customers feel valued.

Everything from your website to your collection center staff plays a role in delighting customers.

Building trust

Chick-fil-A is beating Kentucky Fried Chicken in the United States by building relationships with customers, understanding them and knowing their goals and dreams. Chick-fil-A endeavors to give their guests a great experience every time They also play a positive role in the community by giving back.

Here’s an example of how they do it: For the parents of young children (a key customer group), Chick-fil-A has started a new service called “Mom’s Valet.”

Making the experience easier

Parents can order at the drive-thru while the kids are still contained in car seats, then come inside to a table that has the right number of highchairs already set up.

The staff serves the food at the table once it’s ready. Not having to pick up food from the counter and juggle children, food, car seats/diaper bags/purses, etc. while walking to the table reduces stress for parents. Wow. What a great idea!

How could plasma centers do something similar?

  • Look at the process through the donor’s eyes.
  • Think about how YOU would feel coming to donate plasma.
  • What would motivate you the first time? The next five times? The 20th time? Those same things will motivate your donors.

You can improve your business model and raise production rates by creating the experience you would like to have. Could you:

  • Offer free coffee in the waiting area?
  • Make changes to the flow?
  • Offer crayons and coloring pages or lollipops for kids accompanying parents?
  • Set up free lockers for donors’ belongings so they don’t have to schlep them from station to station?
  • Have special (typically low-volume) days where donors get candy bars, lottery tickets or another low-cost extra reward?
  • Make the center look festive on holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Encourage staff to dress up and decorate the center.
  • Give “Frequent Flyers” expedited service. Give them a card that lets them come to the front of the line, use a VIP waiting room chair and the VIP donation bed (marked as such).
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3. Cultivating a service mentality

Innovation can be large-scale, like changing your processes, or small-scale, like how employees handle questions.

If you own a large number of centers, you can test ideas at a few before rolling them out company-wide (another Chick-fil-A trick).

It starts with identifying your core customer and their specific needs. Then you can start building an experience that delights them.

A few guidelines

  • Before working on donors, make sure you are delighting your even-more-important customers—your employees. Enchant, educate and empower your team members so the joy trickles down.
  • Find out what would make their work life more pleasant, then do it!
  • With both employees and customers, ask, listen, serve and follow up on what you hear.
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To streamline delivery and control costs, we take a prototype approach when possible, engage local civil engineering consultants for each project, and establish a working relationship with the local governing authority.