Monthly Archives: October 2010

How a bit of blue tack only cost me £500 in damages!

How secure is your data?

Last week I made a costly mistake, and caused £500 worth of damage to my laptop. All down to a piece of blue tack!

But why do I say only £500?

Well, it certainly could have been a lot worse.  Although in the end I decided not to send my laptop back to Sony for the £500 repair, but to replace with new, I did end up with no computer for a few days, and not able to retrieve files from the old one. So what would have happened if….

  • What if I’d had no other means of accessing my emails and lost potential business as a result?
  • What if I’d had nothing backed up?
  • What if all my client details had been on the computer, rather than on a web based system?
  • What if I had decided to get it repaired and been without a computer for several weeks?

 

Thankfully none of these applied, and I have an excellent relationship with my IT support supplier, who had me up and running again in no time at all.

So what’s this got to do with running a hospitality business?

Well, just ask yourself if you are putting any of your data at risk?

  • Do you have back up of all your documents, emails and contacts?
  • Are your customer details secure?
  • What provision do you have if you lose internet access? Can you still take bookings and payments?
  • Are you dependant on any single piece of equipment to run your business on a day to day basis?
  • What is your relationship like with your key suppliers?
  • Do you get your IT equipment regularly serviced in the same way as you would service other equipment?
  • How secure is your sensitive data (and the equipment it is held on)?

 

See business management tools for more resources to support hotels.


C is for Communication

In the A-Z of Hospitality Leadership C is for Communication

 

This is probably one of the areas that gets most criticism from staff of their managers and organisations as a whole. People hate being left in the dark.

 

There’s nothing more frustrating, and demotivating for staff than lack of communication and being kept in the dark. Unless people know what’s expected of them and what’s going on you’ll end up with an unhappy team, and ultimately an impact on performance levels and increased staff turnover.

 

Hopefully the communication starts with a thorough induction, which includes not only an outline of their job and what’s expected of them, but how their contribution fits into the bigger picture, the values and culture of the business and an insight into what happens in other parts of the business.

 

Your staff need to be kept up-to-date all the time.  They need to know what is going on in the business, and how this will affect them through daily briefings and regular team meetings. They need a forum to put forward and share their ideas and receive updates on the business performance as a whole.

 

The value of regular one to ones should never be underestimated and provide an opportunity for feedback on how they are doing, and to let them know their contribution is important and valued. These should be two way, provide an opportunity to ask for help if needed or for talking about their on going development.

 

And finally don’t forget the value of the impromptu communication. This might be anything from a simple “thank you everyone” at the end of a busy shift, to the ’emergency briefing’ when something big hits, or change is imminent.

 

Communicating throughout any change is vital. Few people like change when it could have an impact on the status quo, or threatens the security of their job. Introducing new equipment could give rise to concerns over how well they may pick up the new procedures or even that it might do them out of a job; changes in management or ownership could make people nervous over the future of the business. So whatever changes are afoot tell your team what you can; what it means to the business, and to them as a team or individually, and how it will impact on their jobs.

 

If you don’t give people the facts, they’ll soon make it up!

 

Communicating with your team is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in Leading for Peak Performance Foundations of Leadership Programme


B is for Buy in

In the A-Z of hospitality leadership B is for Buy in

How often have you been told to get on with a task with no idea why you should do it and therefore either carried out the task, but to the minimum standard, or worse still simply avoided it altogether?

At the very least for staff to do anything with any degree of commitment they need to understand the reasons why – why does sit need doing in the first place and why them. Identify reasons or benefits that are personal to them, not just how it helps the business.

Better still ask for their input in what needs to be done or in the way it has to be done. You might be thinking “well if it is a new law or company policy it wont be open to discussion”. True, what has to be achieved may not be open to discussion, but the way it is achieved might well be.

Let’s say you have a new piece of health and safety legislation to introduce. It’s the law, so it is not negotiable.  But because it is the law, all the more reason why you cant have people deciding to ignore it. You need that buy in. Threats might work, but not very effectively.

What is negotiable is the way it can be achieved. By asking for people’s ideas, recognising their experience and knowing the work better than e=anyone, they will often come up with the best way to implement something that on the face of it is just extra workload. The greater the level of involvement in the process and decision-making; the greater the level of buy in.

And if they come away thinking it was their idea, the more likely you are to see it done with some degree of enthusiasm, commitment or pride.


The A to Z of hospitality leadership ~ A is for Attitude

Welcome to the first in my A-Z series of hospitality leadership.

A is for attitude. Your attitude.

 

It’s easy to criticise our staff’s attitude, their enthusiasm for the job, the way they support their colleagues, how they talk to your customers. But how much of this stems from the example you set?

Attitude is one of those things it’s sometimes a little difficult to quantify. What we can quantify are the behaviours – what people see or hear – that suggest our attitude.

So to give an example:  You have to announce a change in some internal systems that may not be well received because they involve a little extra work for everyone, including you. The tone of your message – what you say and how you say it – focuses on the negatives and uses words and phrases that emphasise the extra work involved, but make no mention of the benefits and the reasons why. You also stress that you are also being affected. This could easily infer that you have a negative attitude to the changes.  Net result? They will too. Conversely if you focused on the benefits these changes bring and your confidence in the team that they can deliver your attitude will be perceived as being positive.

Your attitude is conveyed in all that you do – how you interact with guest (and what you say about them behind closed doors), your support for management decisions, the enthusiasm at which you approach challenges, how receptive you are the staffs’ ideas and suggestions, even down to your personal organisation and personal presentation.

Always ask yourself – what attitude am I conveying , and is the example I should be stetting for the team?

Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my tele seminar: Leading for Peak Performance on 19th October.


What can the NHS learn from hospitality?

Yesterday I sat in the hospital waiting area with my Dad, while he waited for a scan. As an in-patient this made a welcome break from being on the ward all day. We were actually there for over an hour and a half, and during the lapses in conversation I observed the receptionist.

(I use the term receptionist loosely here as my understanding of the term receptionist is attributed to someone who greets or welcomes visitors, patients, or customers, and alas I did not see much greeting or welcoming going on here).

She didn’t appear to be particularly busy. In between munching her way through a large piece of cake I observed her barking out the question “Name?” (note, no please), lots of scowling over the top of her reading glasses, and telling people to take a seat. Absolutely no indication of the wait time, where to get refreshments, or any attempt to put people at ease.

In the hour and a half we sat there I cannot claim to having seen her make eye contact or smile with any one of the patients.

Contrast this with the welcome I received at the little B&B I was staying in near to the hospital. A big smile as my host opened the door to me, and addressed me by name. I was shown round, and taken to my room. 5 minutes after arriving I was brought a welcoming cup of tea (and yummy cake), and asked if there was anything else I needed. All this in the space of 5 minutes and more welcome than I’d seen to the entire population of that hospital waiting room in the hour and half.

What does it cost to show a little warmth and welcome to people who are probably already nervous about the examination they are about to have, or the results they will receive? I think the NHS should take some lessons in customer service from hospitality. You never know, if people get a better experience, it might make them feel a little better, and might even go some way to aid their recovery.  

Getting the best from your team will be the theme of my tele seminar – Leading for Peak Performance – on 19th October


Take the Customer Journey

How often do you put yourself in your customers’ shoes?  Taking the customer journey is something every business should do, not just hospitality businesses. But what does this mean for a hospitably business?

It starts with the research, the booking and the journey. How easy it is to find you on line and then make a booking -either on line, email or phone? You’ll obviously do this through slightly different eyes to your average customer so ask someone new to the business or outside the business to give you feedback on this. Does what you say on your website give all the necessary information to make a decision, make a booking and arrive in one piece? Check the things that frustrate your customers – do all the links work, are contact details easy to find, does the postcode take you to the correct destination when using sat nav?

Then take the journey your customer takes from the point of arriving to the point of departure. This starts with driving into the car park, your walk to reception, and to your room, what you see out of the window, the service in the restaurant, how comfy your beds, the cleanliness of the public toilets, your greeting in the gym, the speed of check out: everything a guest might see, hear or experience.

The problem is we can become oblivious and it’s quite difficult to get a real first hand experience as the service you get will never be quite the same as your guests’ experience. So involve your team in the process, especially new staff members who will be experiencing things for the first time. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department – ask your kitchen staff to take the customer journey in the gym, your housekeeping staff to dine in the restaurant (and bring a guest so they come when off duty, and see the full customer journey), your conference team to stay the night.

The customer journey does not end once they drive out of the car park. What follow up do you do with your guests? Do you thank them for their stay? If there have been any problems, how are these followed up? Do you let them know of other events or offers they might be interested in? All these are part of the customer journey and add to the total customer experience.

 

Related articles: Do you guests suffer from buyers’ remorse? When was the last time you slept in one of your hotel beds?, How long is the queue at your hotel reception?, Guests’ first and last impressions

 

See resources for a self audit checklist to help you review your customer journey.