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If You Build It They Will Come

We all dream of something better. When we take on a position as a Manager we have hopes to build something no one can resist. We have dreams and desires. I find myself drifting to this movie clip when I think about that.

I post this blog in many groups I am a part of on LinkedIn and I have gotten some great feedback. Something that was said in reference to my last post  made me think that he may be a bit frustrated. I am going to post the message and tell me that you haven’t felt something similar as a manager.

Dirk; the experience of a guest begins when they pull into your driveway and continues long after they leave. From the flowers by your front door to the cigarette butt on the sidewalk. From the valet who runs to their door to the bell hop texting his girlfriend instead of offering his services, they notice everything. The experience is everything the guest see’s and how you make them feel added together, upselling, having excellent Menu’s (not as easy as you may think) in your restaurant, awesome housekeeping and a functional front desk area must work seamlessly together. As a manager how many times have you heard from BUT guests, everything was great BUT, the room was perfect BUT, the hotel was excellent BUT. Unluckily the human condition makes it easier to remember the BUT’S than it does the excellents. Putting your best foot forward or Knowing who the best employees are has always been easy for any manager. Taking the average employee and through training creating the NEW best employee that is what good management is all about. To Take an average hotel or resort and through training, leadership, personal contact and example turn it into an exemplary establishment is what great managers accomplish. Maya Angelou said ” People may forget what you said, People may forget what you did, BUT they will never forget how you made them FEEL”

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

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If you haven’t felt some of these same emotions then you haven’t been in management long enough/ Like in the movie clip we brush up against positive and negative influences everyday. We have to decide how we will deal with it.They key to remember is that your staff will be a reflection of you because you are their leader. You will be the benchmark your staff compares everything to. Chances are, you will also be the measuring stick your Supervisors will judge things by as well. Regardless of how fair you may think the circumstances are you will be accountable for what you make of the situation. For some people that paralyzes them when they know they are being watched, but for others it’s something different.

It’s important to seek  “Buy In” from your staff, bu it’s important that you know what it is you want them to jump into. Do you know fully what your supervisors expect from you in your role, and do you have clear goals reflecting that? If so, are you familiar with your company’s philosophy? Does your philosophy reflect that of the company with the team you manage? These are questions you should be asking yourself often so that you don’t lose touch with what it is you strive to achieve with your staff. When you do or say something does it reflect your company in a positive light? Back to the benchmark thing – your staff will take cues on how you support your company’s ideals by what you say and do. I don’t think I will really touch here in your off-work life, because I am sure that it will appear in a future post. Remember, everything you do will be put under a microscope at one time or another.To acquire “Buy In” from your staff you will need to show them an example worth buying into. Ask yourself in every situation if you have truly done everything you can over a given situation. Then your example will dictate the direction of your crew.

I was a Manager with McDonald’s for three years, and most of that tenure was primarily nights. I called my night crew “The Island of Misfit Toys> They were primarily young and I handpicked the majority of them. We were all a little crazy and definitely unorthodox. However, we held to one thing all the time. We held ourselves to the standard of providing food the way we were supposed to do it when we were there. I always said to them that it was easier to learn to do the right thing and get good at that as opposed to cutting corners. Did we goof off some – oh yeah, but we came together like a well oiled machine when it was time to do what we did. The kids I had didn’t all seem like everyone’s first choice in the regular world, but it was amazing to see them grow up as young men and women.The one thing I learned from my first supervisor with McDonald’s, Ralph Lawrence, is that they need to see you pick up a mop before they will respect your asking them to do so. Ralph showed me a great example of Servant Leadership. I try to make that philosophy mine where ever I am. He also said, “It’s not about you; it’s about the business.” I have to remember that a lot; When you put yourself before the company and if someone isn’t trained to fill in for you in your absence then you aren’t doing what you need to do to protect the business. It’s always important to duplicate yourself in someone else; not because they can’t live without you but because you need to leave the place better than you found it when you got there.

If you work hard to reflect the company’s standard and show your team the best example of a sold out leader for that team as you can be your team will notice. It’s so much easier to hold your crew accountable when you are a person of integrity. Then you don’t have to try and backtrack or even worse deal with a do as I say and not as I do moment.  That’s a death knell to your ability to keep your crew’s respect. Unfortunately, I have learned that the hard way.

Most importantly your staff isn’t going to care how much you know until they know how much you care. This will be reflected with your crew and the guests you take care of. If you keep that key element in mind you will do more good than harm wherever you are.

As Always, please feel free to shoot me feedback and I will be happy to help or listen however I can.  I really appreciate the opportunity to interact with people of many industries.

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It’s All In How You Look At It

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Mem...

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee. The first self service grocery store, opened 1916. Français : Le premier supermarché Piggly Wiggly ouvert en 1916 à Memphis, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and you just got off work. You have gone to the grocery store to get the one item you needed to finish dinner. After picking up your cart you see an immense stack of Coke strategically placed like the White House, and realized you needed a case of soda because it’s been a long day and you are thirsty. Then you turn the corner and you see all of these beautiful vegetables displayed and realized that you could make a great salad with just a couple more items. Rounding another corner you see dessert  peering through a little glass case at you, and of course that Angel Food cake would be great with some strawberriesand whipped cream. So, back to produce and on to the one thing you needed. Passing the meat counter you see fresh Porterhouse steaks displayed on sale, and “Shazam” you have tomorrow night’s main course. On each end cap is displayed amazing Little Debbie treats and Tortilla Chips.  Turning you go over to the aisle where the salsa is located because you really wanted a different brand. Now you have four more items and you are headed for that one thing… What was it? Oh yeah!  Get milk… Then that takes you past the ice cream, and then another display with sale wines. Excellent… Oh, now you see one of those “Chip Clips” hanging next to the wine. Turning around you see the new Sports Illustrated displayed on the magazine rack. Then before you get to the register you see a display of beef jerky and realize how hungry you have become. With the saltiness of the jerky you are going  to want a soda in the cooler, next to the jerky,  to wash that down. By the time you get through the register, the milk you came for just cost you 83.55, Does  it dawn on you then that you have just been cleverly outsmarted by technical genius of a grocery store team that you thought was well below your pay grade? No, but you do remember to pick up flowers for your wife on the way out so she won’t yell at you for getting the Little Debbie’s.

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by Mc...

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by McKee Foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a commissioned, or tipped, employee I would like to suggest that you need to take the “grocery store” approach to the services you provide. The key to a great haircut, meal, or outfit sale is to give your guest what they want while adding nuances along the way that will enhance their experience. We want them to walk away from that occasion in time knowing this was the best opportunity ever, and that they couldn’t duplicate it anywhere else with anyone else for that price.

When you introduce your customer to the menu they need to see all of the things that made your establishment special – your “Signature’s” so to speak. If it is a suit, they couldn’t have done it just right without one more really nice tie. In addition, the really needed the French Cuff shirts to set off the ensemble.Your job is to be aware of everything available to them with each option and then enhance their experience with such an option. Here’s the tough part – ready? You have to lay that suggestion in so softly they don’t notice they were just sold on it. They key is to never look hungry – like you need the sale, and never question in your mind whether they need something; – assume they do.

If the majority of the people that walk in have a set tip percentage in their mind then it is to your benefit to deliver the best experience at the optimum price point.

English: unrecognized dessert.

English: unrecognized dessert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a trick for a server – It’s a bit of a Ninja maneuver – So, don’t let  just anyone try this. When you approach your table, before you get their drink order, introduce them to some of your favorite items. These items will be a little higher price point than the lower end items everyone else sells. Here’s what happens next. You get their drink order and are heading to the back to get their drinks. The time you are away works for you. Their mouth is now watering for the specialty Filet as opposed to the chopped steak they would normally be looking at. What just happened was you diverted their eyes from the inexpensive items and focused them with a laser fine gaze open the mouth watering top dollar steak. The time you have gone away has turned into time for that steak to melt into their braincells. Try it, and if you do it just right you will have them eating out of the palm of your hand, actually the best part of the menu the majority of the time.

The key to making money as a commissioned professional is to fully educate yourself with the items that are available to you and how to pair them with the accessories that are available with each item. You will find that the more tools you add to your toolbox the more prepared you are to to do specialty work in your job.

Always remember, most anyone can wait a table, or sell an outfit, but it takes a special person to create an experience.

Cheers!

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The Intangibles

Charles Barkley representing the 1992 Dream Team

Charles Barkley representing the 1992 Dream Team (Photo credit: dgaproductions)

All throughout my life I have been a sports fan. I love to watch some of the greats and how they play. Basketball, Football, Baseball ad other sports it was always amazing to see the huge upsets or the amazing plays. Men  receive Hall of Fame status because of the ability to do great things constantly.Names like Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Dan Marino, Charles Barkley, Greg Maddux, and Mike Singletary. Some very vivid memories come from plays made by these great athletes. There were other names that I heard of men who never really made the same splash in every category on the statistics sheet, but nonetheless they had a series of intangibles that they brought to the court everyday as well. Does anyone remember when John Paxson drained the three pointer in 1993 during the Championship game to beat the Suns? I am a Suns fan, and I remember the blood draining from my face. Dan Majerle was famous for his last second heroics and his defense. Mark Clayton made Dan Marino look amazing. I remember following Cedric Ceballos when he was with the Suns, and remember his coaches always saying that they never ran a play specifically for him. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, A.C. Green and Steve Tasker are some guys that had amazing facets to their game that made them amazing in there own areas of excellence to make big plays at any given time.  I speak of these guys because these are the types of individuals I want to focus on in this post.

Greg Maddux in 2006

Greg Maddux in 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In management it’s hard not to focus on those “Rock Star” employees, because they run up the most sales on a given night, or they seem to handle the front desk best when there is a rush from a bus. These are revenue driven tasks and they are vitally important to the team. They are people we feel like we can build a team around because often they are charismatic and full of energy. Those people deserve attention; however, here are other people that you should make sure you witness as well. Some of these people work hard in the support roles, or they bring special talents to the table that may be outside of their job code. These are many different kinds of gemstones with beautiful facets, but their colors emerge when they are polished. A person with great organizational skills can be consulted on their ideas about group dining practices. The person who is always bringing fun to the group would be great to assist with planning company parties. Maybe you have a blogger in your group that could help publicize your company. Finding ways to utilize those hidden talents is the best way to make them feel appreciated and lighten your management load.

English: Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen 1995

English: Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen 1995 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those people make great role players for your team and can get often overlooked. The key to great management that takes you to the Hall of Fame as a coach, so to speak, is your ability to develop your diamond in the rough and find beautiful places for them to sparkle. The key to building great teams is making the bench players feel like integral parts of the game at every level.

In addition to the great team that you have created you need to find ways to improve upon that. In the off season or when a hiring push is about to arise it’s a good idea to create a depth chart to assess which areas of the organization are strong and where you have opportunities for improvement. Then you can analyze your players and see what traits seem to make them strong and look for similar traits ion new candidates for positions with your company.

If you take the time and analyze your staff and find ways to reward those with the hidden aspects that make them special it will benefit you on many levels.

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Keep Calm – They Go Back To Where They Came From – Part Two

In the last post I suggested that the ability to hold composure throughout stress and adversity in your job is key. It’s the ability to relax through the stress that wins you the opportunity to build relationship with your guests.

Whether you are a Server in a Restaurant, a Front Desk Agent in  a Hotel, or a Police Officer there are going to be instances when you are required to stare into the face of someone that is generally unhappy, and you will have to decide in a split second how to handle that situation. There are some key things to remember when this opportunity arises. Yes, I called it an opportunity. Danny DeVito said –

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” 
The key to all of this is to remember that whatever is going on in front of you it probably isn’t about you. Initially you can take refuge in that fact because to a certain extent the pressure is off. The sweet thing about such a situation is it gives you an opportunity to do exactly what you are there for. I know that they may be there for food, or to return a blouse they don’t like; however, in most cases we get into service related fields to help people.

Take the incident from the last post where the guy had been chilly to me when I greeted him at the table. I guess something inside me made me give him a chance to vent in addition to getting the drink orders for him and his wife. He had an opportunity to tell me about his situation. I had recently lost my Grandmother at the time so it gave us both an opportunity to share a little through the process of the dinner. Long story short, it was a rewarding opportunity for both of us.

The other thing to remember is the big picture is always a baseline for you to fall back on. What I mean is, you aren’t the case of this problem, and in many cases you generally have a supervisor to assist you if you have any questions. Regardless you have opportunities to make a bigger impression that your position sometimes presents. There is also another f actor to this bigger picture concept. It can benefit you to be considerate. There is a Nicholas Cage movie called, “It Could Happen to You” that is a story about a Police Officer who offers to split lottery winnings in lieu of a tip. Monetary rewards don’t always come and I suppose I would hope that wouldn’t be the expectation, but you never know what can happen. I did receive a very nice tip from the couple I took care of and they also gave me a great review to my manager. To be honest, seeing the guy and his wife leave smiling and knowing I may have helped some was a really big thing to me.

Regardless of what you are faced with people are generally always faced with stuff as well.  Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to remember that to keep perspective on the big picture. Know that whatever is in front of you that looks like it can get ugly probably has little to do with you. Shine, and show those people that see darkness there is hope.

The Journey To Great Experiences

Servicelogo

Great Experiences Don’t Often Happen By Accident

The journey can be just as sweet as the destination if you take the time to enjoy the sensations and nuances that make the experience amazing. That’s why I have created this Blog. I work in a town in the Hospitality Industry that is known for great experiences. Individuals and families come to Branson, Missouri to see and feel things they don’t feel in their everyday life. People spend tons of money to see shows that will make them forget what may have been going on at home and give them something to remember for years to come. In a town where building memories is so important to people it’s sometimes very surprising that the people who work in the Hospitality Industry in Branson don’t always seem aware of that big picture. Of course, we all want to make money, but even more importantly the key to making that money is helping people to really enjoy their experience.

I am devoting this Blog to the Service Professional that wants to bring their game to the next level, or feel they have something to offer in what they do. I don’t know everything and I am counting on the feedback of the audience of this Blog to assist me on this Journey. I am going to use examples I have experienced to point out aspects of this and I am hoping it will become a springboard to your sharing of great experiences you will have as well. In addition to that I may at times point out some of the other opportunities I have had to witness some experiences that were not so great, not to embarrass those making the mistakes, but to help us all learn. Please feel free to interact with me in this process so that we can all take this journey together and enjoy the ride.

Much of my experience in service has been in the Hospitality Industry has been in Restaurants, and Hotels. I would hope that this Blog will be something anyone in the Service Industry can use with a little application tweaking to make it fit their given situation. I have done stints in other areas of occupation in my life and so I am hoping I can find a practical middle ground for those working in Hospitals, Grocery Stores, or even Ministry. Again, this is going to be where you come in; I will need your input to make that an even better offering as time passes.My vision is something that will help us all get better, and I am looking forward to seeing how this develops and what stories may arise through the course of time to follow.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this Blog; it is my pleasure to serve you with this vehicle your great service experiences.