Tag Archives: first impressions

Are you losing your customers?

I find it quite ironic to be writing this post just a few days after the New Horizons probe has managed to make it several billion miles to Pluto without getting lost.

But, if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ll have driven somewhere confident that your sat nav will get you there safely. And when it helpfully tells you “You have reached your destination” you realise you are in the middle of nowhere, wondering now where?

In short you are lost!

So how does this happen? Let’s face it, sat nav is only as good as the info we give it, and I’ve had two instances recently that have landed me in totally the wrong place.

Had I been a customer these instances would have given me a far from good customer experience and first impression…

Probably arriving late and in a bad mood.

Not a good start to a good customer relationship, and potentially putting you on the back foot right from the start.

So as a business what can we do to prevent this negative first encounter? In fact can we use something as simple as travelling directions as an opportunity to impress our customers right from the start. All part of great customer service.

1. Make your post code prominent

90% of people these days are likely to go to Google maps or similar to look you up, (and probably want to see where you are before they decide to visit you) and chances are they’ll use sat nav to find you.

Make sure your post code is easy to find, not tucked away in minute font on a hidden contact us page.

2. Check your postcode actually comes up

Today I was looking for a hotel and had their postcode. But when I put it into Google Maps it didn’t like it one bit. I called the hotel and asked them where they are as it wouldn’t find them, and they gave me a different postcode. I suggested it might be an idea to put this on their website! “Oh, that’s a good idea” came the reply!

Hardly rocket science, but it’s one of those things that simply gets shunted to the bottom of the to do list – giving your staff more to do, and frustrating your customer from the outset.

3. Check it out

Get into your customers shoes and check your postcode and directions and where these take you. Not just your postcode when you enter it into a sat nav, but on Google maps and other map apps.

Check the directions it gives for the final part of the journey, and not down some farm track or footpath (yes, I am serious, it has been known) and it takes you to the front entrance, not some rear entrance that you’d rather your visitors didn’t see!

4. Give alternatives

If your postcode takes you somewhere remote, don’t just tell customers to ignore their sat nav – give them a practical alternative. Do some homework and check out the postcode for an alternative point on the journey to use as an anchor or waymark they can use instead. And then make this clear.

5. Update your Google listing

Get your business on Google so when people find your location on Google maps your business name comes up too (not just your competitors’). It’s nice and reassuring for a customer when they see this.

6. Keep your eyes open

It’s easy to drive in on auto pilot, but is your business easy to spot? Have road signs got over grown, faded or damaged. Is your entrance visible from the road? Are sign posts accurate (who hasn’t been caught out by some prankster turning signs around and sending you in the wrong direction?) It’s fine for us, we know where we are going; your customers don’t!

7. Road closed

Keep an ear out for roadworks. If you know in advance a road will be closed or there are major roadworks give your customers the heads up. It’s a great excuse to get in touch before their visit and earn some brownie points.

But don’t just warn them; let the know the alternatives (particularly if you know any diversions will take them the long way round when there is a sneaky short-cut).

8. Provide old fashioned directions

What did we do in the days before sat nav? Oh yes, we gave directions with landmarks. Be prepared to do the same today. And ensure anyone likely to get asked can do the same – e.g. reception or anyone who answers the phone to customers. Build this into your customer service training.

9. Reserved Parking

Once your customer has found you, what’s their first impression when they arrive? Do you provide parking? If not where is the best place, how far is it, will they need change for the meter? If so forewarn them in a friendly note before they travel.

But if you do provide parking one of the best ways to wow your customer is to reserve a space. Having your plum parking spaces nearest your front door reserved for directors or your own team speaks volumes about how much you value your customers!

10. Applying the principles

Although I’m referring here to directions to help customers, what other processes do we fail to make simple for our customers? Is your ordering process clear, how simple is your cancellation or refund process, do you make it easy for customers to pay you (e.g. clear invoices and prominent bank details), is your website easy to navigate, is it easy to find your contact details and a way to contact you directly?

Ask your team for their input. What do customers remark on. What questions do they frequently get asked? What else can we do to to make it easy for our customer?

These seemingly insignificant factors all add up to giving your customer either a simple smooth experience or a stressful one, which loses them on the way…

5 Keys to Customer Loyalty

Why is loyalty important

There are only 3 ways to get more sales – get new customers, get customers to spend more, and get customers to come back more often.  Most businesses focus all their marketing efforts on the first option of getting more customers and miss the easier option of getting more sales from existing customers. It’s certainly a lot harder  (and more expensive) to gain a new customer than it does in getting repeat business from your existing ones.

So whatever your business be it a bar, hotel, B&B or restaurant, any business needs to place as strong an emphasis on keeping existing customers as it does on gaining new ones.

What you are doing to convert this extra business into loyal customers who will return time and again?

Loyal customers who know, like and trust you are also far more likely to refer you to others. So even if a repeat visit isn’t on the cards they may still generate more business for you indirectly.

Here are five key factors in establishing customer loyalty. None of these are new or revolutionary, but there may be one or two areas where you may want to make some minor changes to be making the best of the opportunities.


Understand and Love your customers

I won’t dwell on this point as I covered this in a recent post, but bear in mind no one will want to do business with you if there’s no rapport between you. The more at ease you are and the more you have in common with your customers the better you’ll feel and the better the experience they have too.

Show you understand your customers’ needs. The more you get to know your customers the easier it is to anticipate their needs, and deliver what they want on a consistent basis to keep them satisfied. Keep up-to-date with what your customers want from you by listening to them. Get to know your customers and be visible in your bar, restaurant or hotel, making personal contact with your customers to build rapport and trust. They are then far more likely to tell you what they want and what would encourage them to return.

Avoid being so bound by your own rules that you can’t be flexible. If they’d like something from the restaurant menu in the bar, or a dish from the a la carte to replace something on the table d’hôtel is it such an issue? If a guest wants a lie in and would like breakfast at 11.30, is this really that big a problem if it means they enjoy their stay and tell their friends? If they’d like to take their desert home in a goody bag because they are too full to enjoy it, then let them.


Giving Outstanding Service

Get the basics right. Ensure your customers’ second, third, or 30th visit is as good as their first. Have systems in place to ensure you’re able to deliver the same level of service on a consistent basis. Take the customer journey regularly, and see everything from a customer’s perspective. Be sure to under promise and over deliver. With regular customers this means continuous improvement, as they will have set expectations, which we need to strive to exceed on every visit. Simple things delivered well will always be better than trying to be over sophisticated and delivering it badly.

Wow your customer Do something different that help you to stand out from your competition. Home in on the things that are of high value to your customers but low cost to you so you can give added value. Give people a reason to talk about you. Always look for an opportunity to go that extra mile to wow your customer to make it really difficult for them to ever contemplate not coming back to you. Always leave them with that open invitation and tempt them to return.

Last impressions. What will your customers remember most about their visit to your bar, hotel or restaurant? What happens in the last few moments of their visit that will undoubtedly influence their lasting impression? Show you appreciate their custom; a sincere thank you in person goes a long way. Give them a little memento to take home with them as a lasting reminder: a box of homemade petit fours, jam or pickles or gift bag of your exclusive toiletries for your leisure guests, or quality logoed accessories for your corporate market. Obviously this needs to be in line with your margins, but even something as small as a print out of the ingredients of their favourite cocktail or the recipe of a dish they asked about, or printing out directions for their onward journey.


Spot Your opportunities

Listen to customers so you can spot opportunities for additional sales. Not just for your own business, but for other local, sister or complimentary businesses too. A visit to a neighbouring attraction, place of interest or even another hospitality business might still generate spin off business for you (and vice versa).

Ensure everyone fully understands your products and services so they can spot opportunities. This doesn’t mean ramming unwanted offerings down people’s throats, but picking up on an interest or need and helping to find the right solution or offering suggestions that the guest or visitor may not have thought of themselves or been aware of – a win-win.

Train and empower your team to be flexible so they can tailor offers to best suit the customers’ needs and make appropriate recommendations.

You team also need to know the level of service that your customers expect, and have the appropriate training, tools and systems in place in order for them to deliver this. Brief your team so that they too can recognise and remember your loyal customers and empower them to deliver what your customers want and expect. In the unfortunate event that your customers have cause to complain, give your staff the training, confidence and authority to deal with complaints promptly. Your recovery of the situation can in itself earn you brownie points.


Acknowledge Loyalty

I read recently it’s estimated that over two thirds of customers will fail to return if they feel unappreciated. This is the number one reason businesses lose customers.

Ask for feedback. Never take your regular customers for granted; ask for their feedback and resolve any shortfalls quickly. Problems or challenges are often your opportunity to shine and leave a positive lasting impression if dealt with positively. Now’s a chance to exceed expectations. Face to face feedback will always win over a comments form or questionnaire.  Ask them what they like and what disappoints them if anything, so you can learn from this and continually improve.  Customers will be flattered if you ask for their opinions. So also ask for their feedback on how things can be improved and their recommendations and new ideas. Then keep them up to date with the changes they’ve made to demonstrate that you have been listening. What a great excuse to invite them back again to show them the changes you’ve implemented?

Show your appreciation of their custom with a simple thank you message. Naturally you’ll do this in person. But for B&Bs or hotels you might follow up with a simple personalised thank you note a few days later to show your appreciation. Anything that will give them something to remember you by, especially if it is handwritten and tailored to them. Some think that in this web based age that this is out dated; how would your customers react to receiving something in the post, rather than clogging up their email inbox?

Remember them. Not only addressing your customers by name (although don’t under estimate the impact when someone remembers your name especially when you aren’t expecting it – and getting the spelling right when you’re writing it down). It’s also about remembering their preferences. Do they have any particular likes and dislikes, what is their favourite table or room, do they have any particular requirements such as a late check in or special diet. How do they like their drinks mixed? Do we know their birthday or any special anniversaries? Remembering such details will always be appreciated. And although you may know this regular customer, do your staff know them too. Record their personal details and any special requirements so whoever is on duty the welcome your customer receives is consistent.

Reward their loyalty with exclusive deals that have genuine benefits. How does it make you feel when you see promotions offering special deals for new customers that aren’t available to you as an existing customer? Make your loyal customers feel special by putting together packages or deals which are exclusive to them. This again demonstrates your appreciation of their custom, as well as potentially prompting additional bookings. As a loyal customer, the last thing you want to hear about is an offer that’s only available to ‘new’ customers.

Know your competition. Keep an eye on your competitors, what they are charging, new services they offer, improvements, marketing promotions, etc. Make sure your services are the best value for the money. You do not necessarily have to lower your prices when your competitors do, but make sure your customers know that you are worth the extra money. Stay competitive. I’m not just talking about other hospitality businesses; your customers will compare you with anyone else who delivers a service. So as long as you deliver a five-star service you’re going to compare favourably with all your ‘competition’.


Build Long term relationships

Keep in touch. Out of sight is out of mind so even if your customers are only likely to visit you once a year, keep in touch with them for the whole year so that when they are considering a night out, a celebration or weekend away you are very firmly in their mind.

Let them know what other things of interest you have going on, you never just know, it could just tip the balance in favour of them coming to see you as an extra visit. What are the things that they didn’t’ get a chance to experience on their last visit: something new, something seasonal, something they didn’t have time for – not just at your bar, restaurant or hotel but locally.

Continue to build credibility by letting your loyal customers know what you’ve done, awards, accolades, events, services they didn’t even know about.

Remain on their radar by your presence on social media. Do your homework first and find out the best options to suit your customers. If you’ve make a great impression initially this keeps this going, and makes the referral process much more likely too.

Remember: Out of site is out of mind; stay on their radar! Even if they don’t want to book anything with you next week, next month or even next year, if they remember who you are as and when they’re ready you’ll be the first place they think of and they’ll know where to find you




Coming up smelling of roses

I love my little convertible at this time of year and being able to drive around in the Surrey and Sussex countryside with the top down and taking in the fresh air and hearing the birds sing. There is a downside though – it means you don’t have a buffer between you and some of the not quite so pleasant countryside smells, such as the field of cabbages not far from where I live! Or the smell of farm waste being spread in the fields.

You might well think that the subject of smell is an odd choice for an article. But smell can be very evocative and if used positively can help to create the right emotions in your visitors, guests and customers. When I worked in Paris my boss there always wore a particular perfume and to this day almost 35 years later (oops, I’m giving away my age now!) whenever I catch a whiff of this perfume it always takes me back to where I worked.

The same of course could also be said about the wrong type of smell in creating negative feelings for your customers. Even the subtlest hint of a smell can sometimes be enough to send out the wrong message. The trouble is that if we are around the smells the whole time we become oblivious to them and stop noticing.


The fresh air

In most situations ‘fresh’ air  is a good thing. And who doesn’t love the smell of freshly cut grass or the sea air?

But when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction do your customers get a whiff of the sewage farm, the local gasworks or traffic pollution. Obviously you can’t control these things but you might go some way to minimise the impact. How you position or screen your terrace or outside sitting area. Is it worse on some days than others?

Do you need to warn hotel guests who want to leave their windows open if you know that when the wind is blowing in that direction? Is there an option or other alternatives when you’re downwind of the offending smell?


Your property

If you have outside space making the most of this will not only be pleasant for your customers but also potentially attract the right type of wildlife. A well-stocked garden with a mix of plants that have a fragrance, not just during the day, but come to life in the evening – such as honeysuckle. Or the use of herbs which might be used in the kitchen too.

Compare this to the smell of dustbins or an extractor fan pumping out kitchen fumes directly into areas where customers will need to walk to access the building or while sitting outside. Think about where you place your smoking area. As a non-smoker one of my pet hates is being prevented from sitting outside because the whole area is monopolised by smokers (apologies if you’re a smoker; I hope I haven’t offended you!) or having to walk through a group of smokers to get from A to B.



Estate agents used to say that when you’re selling your house to put some fresh coffee on and bake bread! Well having walked through the supermarket today and past the bakery section I can certainly vouch for the fact that the smell of freshly baked bread does wonders for the appetite!

But what happens when the cooking smells aren’t quite so fresh? When beer or food has got trodden into the carpet leaving the lingering odour. Whenever I smell air freshener I become suspicious as to what it’s trying to cover up. Check your rooms too; mildew, evidence of guests smoking, smells wafting up from the kitchen can all mar a guest’s stay. If you own a pet is it allowed to enter public areas and leave a smell that you probably never notice, but your customers might well do.

Be careful with flowers too. A big vase of lilies can give a dramatic effect, but as the blooms fade the small can become over powering, and not a good match for food or drink (not to mention the risk of pollen on cloths).

What lingering smells do you get from your cleaning materials? If you have hard top tables, do your table sanitizers leave a sickly clinical smell? And what about the detergents used in public toilets. Being taken back to my school days is not a good marketing tactic. Anyone else remember that smell of Izal?



Obviously in the hospitality industry personal hygiene is key and we’d probably be very quick to pick this up on any of our team. But what about smokers? If you smoke you are probably completely unaware of the smell that lingers on your clothes and those of your team. But for a customer being served food by somebody who smells of smoke can be completely off putting. I used to share an office with someone you smoked, and I’m not joking – I could smell her coming down the corridor after she’d been for a cigarette.

Be aware of the inappropriate use of perfume and aftershave. What might be fine for a night on the town may not be suitable for those serving food or drink. And in the same way I can always detect the smell of my former boss’s perfume, it doesn’t take much for it to become irritating or off putting.

So why should you care about any of this?

In hospitality we are about creating emotions and making people feel welcome. Being exposed to a smell that offends or even repels people doesn’t achieve this end, and in fact if anything is likely to either turn people away, shorten their stay (and spend) or at the very least make them reluctant to return. Not the best strategy for building customer loyalty.

So get out there, enlist the help of someone who won’t have become oblivious or desensitised to any of the smells and ask them to experience the full customer journey. Someone who won’t be afraid of being brutally honest to tell you the truth if something stinks!  And make sure you come up smelling of roses!

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


What we can do to get kids hooked to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry


OK, I’m hooked

If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.

The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.

Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).

So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports? 

One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?

There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.

But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.

We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.

Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the jobs.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.

Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Yesterday I went to wave on the Olympic Torch as it passed us by in our nearby town. After parking a good 20 minutes walk away and standing in the rain for 20 minutes I was certainly ready for a cup of coffee, as I’m sure were many others.

I knew I’d be passing a pub restaurant on the way back to the car, along with another 200 or so people who’d parked in the same street. So that meant 200 or so cold, thirsty and wet customers.

And guess what?

The pub was closed. What a waste!

Here they had a captive audience, and completely gone to waste. And the next thing is they’ll be moaning about lack of business. Surely for that number of people it was worth opening 30 minutes earlier and making a song and dance about it. After all we all had to walk past on our way to the procession. Juat a little bit of restaurant marketing could have gone a long way.

Even with passing trade there was a great opportunity to drum up business.

What could they have done?

Here are 7 ideas to get some sales:

  1. Took account of the weather and how people would be feeling on the day
  2. Put up a welcome board or sign to attract attention
  3. Organised take away coffee for people en route to the procession
  4. Put together a bundled offer – e.g. coffee and Danish or hot food to give value for money and upsell opportunity (win-win)
  5. Joined the other businesses who got press coverage of what they were doing to celebrate (and get on the radar of visitors for potential further business; another win-win)
  6. Contacted their regulars and existing customers to let them know what they had on offer (easy if you have a mailing list)
  7. Bothered to open the doors!

I know it’s not rocket science……

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


What’s Your Story?

Everyone loves a good story, you just need to read the pages of Hello magazine, or even our own trade press such as the Caterer to see that we like to hear about what goes on in people’s lives behind the scenes, and get a feel for the real person.

And for any hospitality business telling your own story is a great way to engage with your customers – be they existing or potential.

Hopefully your perfect customer is the type of person you want to spend time with, because you have an affinity with them, share a passion, or like to engage with them.

Telling your story is an ideal way to communicate to your customers what you have in common, and what is different about your restaurant or hotel.  Everyone talks about identifying a USP (unique selling proposition) but some business owners find this a challenge.

Telling your story makes it easier as even if your restaurant is almost identical in every other way to half a dozen other hospitality businesses in your town or area the one thing that will make you different is the story behind you, your team and your business. And because you’re talking about you, it’s so much easier to be authentic.

Your story provides a great way to grab people’s attention. It creates a less obvious or blatant way to build your credibility and customers’ trust in you. You are starting to build that relationship, demonstrate empathy and create that sense of belonging for your customers. It’s also a great way to share information, and educate your customers.

Before writing war and peace consider what you want people to remember from your story. Your story becomes a part of your brand; your identity; so ensure people are left with an image that’s congruent with everything you believe in and is important to you. This is your chance to show why you are perfect for your ideal guests or customers. This is the point where you make sure you tell everyone about and demonstrate your difference – in detail.

Describe what you do, who you are, what is important to you, what makes your hotel or restaurant different, what makes you the best in your market or your area or your price range. And don’t be afraid to go into detail; all good stories give detail. The more detail you give, the more compelling the reading, providing it’s in tune with your ideal customers’ needs and interests.

Reflect back on all the things that customers ask you about – the history if the building, the origin of the name, what’s the story behind a peculiar feature, where your meat comes from

Here are some more examples of being different and how telling a story can help.

  • If all your veg comes from local organic farms, or even your own kitchen garden, describe this, maybe even a little bit about the farms, and the gardeners. If you go up to Smithfield to buy your meat tell people why you’re prepared to get up at an unearthly hour and what you look for in your choice, and what makes it so delicious. One hotelier I know even rears his own pigs – the perfect story especially when combined with photos of the pigs running around!
  • If you’ve made efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, detail your goals, what steps you’ve taken so far, the support you’ve had, the changes you’ve made to your systems, purchasing, equipment, and training, and some of the challenges you’ve faced. Tell them about the quirky practices or products you are using, and what customers might see around the restaurant or hotel as part of your mission. What has been the impact to date, and what are your plans for the future?
  • If you’re a hotel and you provide special activities for guests, make sure you tell people not only that you provide them, but go into the details. How did you get involved in this in the first place – maybe a hobby of yours, or from a quirky request from a past guest that led into something more. Talk about the hosts for these activities and their story too.
  • If you provide picnics, tell people what’s included, about the quality of the products, and about how it can make their day special, and what opportunities it opens for their day out. Give some example itineraries, places to go, discount vouchers – the ideal ‘morning for walkers’ or an ‘afternoon out for foodies’. Don’t just end up being the same as everyone else. It only makes your job harder.
  • If you’ve designed all your rooms or your restaurant around a particular theme, tell them how this came about, the research you did, the features you’ve incorporated and the added extras they can expect. If you’ve had a checklist or criteria for your rooms then share this with guests. It’s not to brag, but to show the care, thoroughness and attention that you’ve given to their experience.
  • What’s the history of your building, village or community, and other places of interest associated with them (including places they may be familiar with outside your area)

And don’t forget the individual personalities that truly make your restaurant, hotel or hospitality business unique. What are their stories?

  • How did any of you end up being where you are today?
  • How does your chef get his inspiration?
  • What’s the story behind that exceptional flare of your waiters
  • Who’s the inspiration for your beautiful gardens

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

And the best bit about these is that your team can tell their own stories, to bring them to life.

Once you have your story(ies) you can use them on your website, for PR, in marketing material, in your blog, include snippets in your menus and other onsite merchandising, at networking events, even in sales conversations or speaking… Anywhere you want to engage and get the attention of your potential or existing customers.

You know that even if you’re in a road with 20 other restaurants or hotels, there will be unique personalities in your business or values that you can promote. Now it’s time to tell your customers about your special features and in detail to ensure they book with you and not your competitors. Keep your perfect customer(s) in mind throughout, and show you really understand them.

So, what’s your story? Write up your story to include: what you are selling which is unique, what makes you different, and your passions and values to reflect your identity.

Stop being a shrinking violet, get out there and tell your story!

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

Who are your salesmen (and women)? Part 4

Today is about rounding up all that has been discussed this week on finding your salesmen and women.

Give guidance, incentives and recognition

Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. Observe how your staff handle the sales or upselling conversation and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help.

Link your upselling activity to some goals.  This might simply be a target to sell x number of a certain product or service, or may be linked to specific financial profit targets.  Whatever goals you set ensure these are clearly measurable and achievable, that any incentive is equitable so everyone is motivated to contribute, and that you give regular updates on progress.

Recognise and reward those that do it well, to encourage them to continue to do so. And ensure everyone knows they all have a role to play in sales

Who are your salesmen (and Women)? Part 2

Yesterday in Part 1, we talked about how the scene is being set for the first impression of your business and also who contributes towards it,  today it is about increasing knowledge and skill base and how this will help contribute to improve your sales in all roles within your business.



In order to sell, upsell, or cross sell, as a minimum staff need to understand all the offers, products and services you provide. This goesbeyond just a laundry list; it needs to include some understanding of the features and of course the benefits from a guest’s/customer’s perspective. What’s included in a package, what are the different options, what are the recommendations or suggested combinations? A good understanding of your customers’ profile, needs and expectations will help this process.

When I’m working with some businesses I’m often somewhat alarmed by the lack of exposure staff have to other departments. Have any of your porters ever set foot in the spa, your receptionists ever sat in any of the meeting rooms, your chefs seen a bedroom, or your housekeepers walked around the grounds? How can staff ever hope to convey to guests all the
benefits of these facilities if they’d never had any first-hand experience? Experiencing them for themselves will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about them, and it will
certainly be easier to evoke an emotional a ppeal through vivid descriptions of taste, smell, feel, if they’ve been there themselves.

Of course, staff don’t need to be expert in everything, but it always helps if they ‘know a man who can’ so they can refer to or call on the appropriate person when needed to deal with a specific guest request or query.

Hospitality is an ever-changing business, and every day there will be specific and individual options, events, and situations. This is why it’s so important to have regular staff briefings so everyone knows what’s happening and when (see previous article “do
your staff know the score
”). This includes knowledge of what’s available, what are today’s high profit items to be promoted, and just as importantly, what’s not available.



Teach staff the mechanics of upselling. How do they ask open questions to identify what the customer wants; how to listen actively to customers’ requests or preferences; how to respond, and make suggestions, or offer alternatives that best meet the customers’ needs.  Give them examples of how they would describe each of your products and services.
Rather than a script, allow them to develop their own dialogue, one that comes naturally to them, rather than something they have to remember and run the risk of forgetting.


Tomorrow in Part 3, will about how to bring all the elements together which have been discussed today and what can be put in place to support this.

Who are your salesmen (and women)? – Part 1

Over the next few days you will read about how you can get the best from your staff and find out how they could improve sales within your business.

When I’m delivering customer service or sales training in hotels or hospitality businesses I often ask the question; “Who here has a responsibility for selling?” Obviously all the people with the word sales in their job title put their hands up, but they are usually the only ones. Surely everyone in your hotel or hospitality business will have an impact on sales, regardless of their role, and whether they are front or back of house.


First impressions

Guests’ and prospects’ first impressions will certainly  influence their level of spending. This is not just down to how the phone is answered or the welcome from reception on arrival, but it’s what your guests see and hear from behind the scenes. What response do they get from off-duty staff when they drive into your car park, or even down the high street close by. Wherever your staff are where they can be recognised as staff (because they are in uniform, or have already had dealings with your guests) they are bound to make an impression.

Picture the scene: you drive along the street approaching the hotel and you see two staff in uniform fooling around with loutish behaviour. You pull into the car park only to find that all the choice parking  spaces close to the hotel entrance are filled with (dirty) staff cars. You park at the far end of the car park and whilst struggling with your heavy suitcase you pass by another member of staff who does nothing to acknowledge you. Tucked away in a corner you see a little huddle of chefs and waiters puffing on their cigarettes. On entering the hotel a member of staff is leaving, but fails to hold the door for you, let alone greet you.

Check-in is swift but you’ve booked a standard room on a room only basis, and you are given no other information about any of the services or facilities that the hotel has to offer.

So within the space of about five minutes just how many opportunities have been lost to create a great first impression and create the right mind-set for your guests to want to spend their hard earned cash?


What contributes?

Your staff’s ability to encourage sales will be dependent on a number of factors:

  • Their behaviours, conduct and appearance
  • A knowledge of your customers’ needs and
    expectations, and of the products and services
  • Their skills and confidence in the sales process
  • Being given the right incentives, support and


Let’s just reflect back on the scenario described earlier.  Do you think any of this behaviour was a deliberate ploy to undermine the sales process? No; it’s far more likely that these members of staff are completely oblivious to the potential impact of their behaviours. Communicating your expectations of staff’s behaviour, both on and off duty, should form part of their induction. Bring this to life by getting them to put themselves in the guests’ position and to identify what impression they give, and what guests might expect.


Part 2 tomorrow, will be about how knowledge and skills all help towards better sales within your business.


Show you appreciate your guests’ custom

Your relationship shouldn’t end the minute they walk out the door. Keep in touch with your guests. The first and most obvious way to make contact with them after they’ve left is to write and thank them for their business. Not a mass produced impersonal e-mail, but a personalised letter sent by good old-fashioned snail mail with a handwritten signature. Even better if the whole thing is handwritten on a thank you card.

What better way to show your appreciation (and giving an incentive to return) than with a voucher of some kind for them personally or to pass to a friend or colleague if a return visit in person is unlikely. Again make this personal; there’s little value in offering a complimentary bottle of wine to a teetotaller, for example.  If they have been celebrating an event extend this to their next anniversary.  Or if they only ever stay on company business on expenses, tailor the offer to something they’ll benefit from personally. If you missed out on the opportunity for the little finishing touches mentioned earlier, now might be the perfect time to send them the information, gift or little extra that leaves them with that lasting memory of “Wow, what an amazing place, that was amazing service”.

Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February https://www.naturallyloyal.com/coaching/leading-for-peak-performance-29-day-challenge/