Simple concepts…difficult to execute

I was just at a conference of fellow Institute of Independent Business (IIB) associates.  The conference was good, but then again, I always see benefit in being away and having the time to sit back and think about my clients, prospects and my business.  Networking with others is beneficial and I left with new friends and new insight and, as usual, reinforcement of things I knew, but had not recently taken the time to think about.  On the plane ride back home I read “The Starbucks Experience” by Joseph Michelli.  Similar to my experience at the conference, the book was a great reminder of past reads reiterating the importance and power of fairly simple concepts.  Simple concepts, but not easy to execute.  So why are so few companies really good at simple concepts such as ‘doing the right thing’?  Why do we brand a hotel a ‘palace’ or a ‘spa’ and only realize there is a commitment to delighting its guests upon reading the post stay survey?  I spent a week in a hotel and never felt like anyone at the hotel had any particular interest in delighting me.  Yet, the post survey (which I always fill out) consistently asked about exceeding my expectations and how/if I was delighted during my stay.  One of Starbuck’s principles is ‘surprise and delight’ and the book provides many examples of how patrons are surprised and delighted.  The hotel where I stayed, also apparently seeks to surprise and delight.  I was in the gym, at the pool, in the conference area and in its restaurants.  Somewhere the execution was flawed.  Details matter.  Covering all the details of running a large hotel and conference center is not easy, but if you are really a ‘palace’, then the entire experience should support that branding.  It is not optional.  I submitted my guest survey earlier today.  Now it will be interesting to see if anyone reads it and responds to me.  At Starbucks, resistance is embraced and learned from.  Criticism is tough for any of us to take.  The great companies, no matter what the size, focus on the details and never stop trying to improve its service and its products.  Marketing can and should play an instrumental role in ensuring the heart and soul of the business speaks clearly and consistently throughout the organization.  Starbucks gets it.  Most companies cannot clearly articulate who they are and what their guiding principles represent.  Most would have to dust off a framed mission statement that is read about as much as the employment law posters in the break room.  Even fewer companies have the discipline and leadership to stay committed and true to who they are.  No matter the size of your business, we all need time to reflect and get grounded on basic principles that do matter.  Simple concepts that the majority of businesses can not execute. 

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