In the travel business, we often remind ourselves how important it is to remember the details. After all, that’s what our guests remember. When a hotel staff member sees that a guest has brought a pair of running shoes, isn’t it nice for them to wake up in the morning with a running map slipped underneath their door. When guests have particular diet restrictions, it makes all the difference when the kitchen remembers to cut certain items out of that guest’s meals. If guests arrive with kids, finding ways to accommodate the kids and provide safe activities and entertainment for them is not only memorable, but it will have your guests raving about you for years. The details matter and we all know it.
It’s difficult to teach such extreme attention to detail and it happens when staff and management alike are on the same page. It’s not about teaching new habits, it’s about projecting an identity. The details have to become part of the character of the business. It is who you are and how you are identified among your guests and your peers. Achieving this level of perfection is truly an accomplishment.
Often, I see really good businesses that come close, but haven’t quite made it to such a level. They may run a tight ship, but perhaps have a sloppy website or dysfunctional sales department. The problem boils down to identity.
In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras published a book called Built to Last. It outlined a handful of companies they called visionary companies and compared them to their competition; companies that were successful, but had not quite reached the status of the visionary companies. For example, why was McDonnell Douglas unable to catch Boeing in the aerodynamics industry? Indeed, years after the book was published, Boeing bought out McDonnell Douglas. Why was Warner Brothers never able to quite reach the level of success of Disney? There are many reasons, but one of the primary points Collins and Porras made was that visionary companies create a vision that all the employees “buy into.”
You and your staff need to create a vision within your company – one that everyone can participate in. Have them hold each other accountable. Don’t dictate the vision to them. Allow them to help craft it. That way, they take ownership. Make sure the vision is clearly posted in places that staff members will see it. And most important of all, make sure the vision is practiced from the top down.
It took Google Plus several years to reach expectations because Google’s own top level executives weren’t even using it. If your top level doesn’t even believe in your vision, how will everyone else?
I’m not talking about making a mission statement. I’m referring to how you want to be perceived by your guests and your peers. What will people say about you? What type of company are you? What are your strengths? Identify these, even if they haven’t been achieved yet. Make sure everyone on the team knows and practices them.
Once you’ve achieved a vision that your entire team can identify with, then you’ll never have to worry about the details again. They will take of themselves – automatically.