I recently travelled to Canada and the USA and well, I couldn’t quite switch off my business brain. As I experienced different businesses, services and countries, I was constantly observing how others do business.
Here are a few business thoughts which were reinforced to me during my travels:
Whatever you do in life, you need to have a plan. Whether that’s a plan to visit Alcatraz whilst in San Francisco, or a plan to achieve a level in your business you cannot just “go with the flow’. You need to know what you need to do, have a plan and know each step of the plan.
“A goal without a plan is just a dream.”
Be flexible and think on your feet.
The best laid plans will sometimes fail. I had booked a shuttle to take me to the airport and you guessed it, they were a no show. Here is a tip, even a small expense, like a shuttle, check out the reviews. Whilst I waited 45 minutes, I did just that. However, the message here is that sh*t happens, and you just need to accept, move on and move to plan B. Sure, a lovely taxi driver got me to the airport in time, but having the number of a local taxi company in my phone was the real saving grace too.
Customer service really does matter.
I must say, the Canadians as a whole are super friendly and pleasant. Anyone in hospitality really does seem to want to be there. Sure, they rely on tips, but the same occurs in America, so I don’t believe that’s the sole motivation. I flew Air Canada and the flights were amazing. Not because the seats were larger, or food was better, or even because they got me there in one piece, on time – but because of how their staff treated me. From the moment I arrived at the check-in counter, to the step off in Brisbane, they were NICE! One particular hostie, when you said ‘thank you’ always responded “Oh, it’s my absolute pleasure!” with a huge genuine smile. Even 12 hours in, she was lovely and warm. When it comes to customer service in your business, do you put a smile on all your customers’ faces? Do they feel special, valued and important?
Poor service will lose you more than a tip.
Conversely we had dinner at a restaurant where the service was slow, the waitress pretty much threw the plates on the table, she was surly and yep, she didn’t get a gratuity tip. Now, the food there was actually pretty nice, but would I go there again (even if I was local)? Would I recommend it to anyone? No – absolutely not. The customer service was shocking even though the product was pretty good. So remember, it’s not just about having a great product or service, but it’s how you deliver that product or service and make your customers feel.
First impressions really do count.
Take a fresh look at your reception area, or how you answer the phone, or your website. One of the hotels we visited had the most depressing, decrepit and un-appealing reception area possible. It WAS a reflection of the rooms. A coat of paint, picture on the wall and some fresh carpet would have made all the difference. Often we get used to our environment and don’t see it with fresh eyes (or how our prospects are seeing us). Is your website old, outdated and uninviting? Do your business cards or flyers need a refresh? Even your email signature could be that first impression someone gets from you. How do you answer your phone? We have only one opportunity to make a great first impression – use it wisely!
As much as I love travelling, I also love coming home and getting back into action and working with my clients to achieve their full potential. If I can help in any way – please just call me on 0411 622 666.