Posts Tagged ‘training’

What can your business learn from Rio?

August 4, 2016

RIO 2016 OlympicsI love the Olympics!  I clearly remember reading all there was to read in Sports Illustrated and in Newsweek when the mail would arrive! Yes, I am dating myself and my kids would be astonished to be reminded we did not have cell phones and internet to get live updates of athletes’ performances.  We sat in the ‘family room’ and watched TV as a family with no disturbances from everyone being on their own device.

With Opening Ceremonies tomorrow night, I can’t help but wonder what all of us can learn from all that is swirling around Rio 2016:  Zika, plumbing issues, contaminated water sources where athletes will be competing, corruption, a very pricey train that stops 8 miles short of Olympic Village…and the stories go on and on.  Perhaps there were such challenges in other Olympics as I was growing up, but this one in particular seems rampant with issues.  So what can we learn?

I would propose that Rio highlights the fundamental need for and importance of planning.  Both planning ahead and contingency planning.  Just like any major project in your company (or even a small project or initiative), one develops a plan. The plan includes critical milestones, dates that have to be met (e.g., opening ceremonies, arrival dates for athletes), resources (financial and human) that need to be available and trained to support the project.  Define the top-level goals of the initiative/project (insert the word Olympics) and then expand the plan by logical work streams (e.g., security, transportation, living quarters for athletes, venues, etc.)  Assign experienced owners to each work stream and develop formalized structures for meeting, coordinating, communicating etc.

Take security as one example.  Can anyone fathom leaving such a vital effort until Live Date minus ~45 days?  I was stunned to read the company hired to handle security (and now replaced) was only hired about a month ago!  They were supposed to hire about 3000 people and get them trained and they had achieved hiring about 500 and apparently the training was basically non-existent.  Yikes. So in addition to planning, once could also learn the importance of allocating the necessary time to properly train people on their roles; ensuring they have the tools and information they need to perform their roles.

When I meet with CEOs to discuss their marketing needs, I ask them if they plan. Do they have a strategic plan? Do they value a plan? Recently a prospective client stopped in his tracks as he paced the boardroom we were meeting in. “Why did you ask me that question?”, he asked me.  I smiled and explained that I ask it to evaluate the fit for us working together.  I value planning.  A key part of our value proposition is planning and accountability to delivering on the plan.  I have worked with clients who value the entrepreneurial spirit and insist that plans are not necessary; they insist they need to be nimble (inferring a plan is confining and restrictive) and they end up valuing activity over progress, ineffectively leading across the organization as there lacks alignment and focus. Plans bring people in an organization together. It provides focus and discipline and sets priorities.  He nodded and said – “Of course we plan. We have a business plan and I would see no other way to run our business”. Great – sounds like a good fit.

I would not go to this Olympics if someone offered me the experience for free. It is a shame that there appear to be so many aspects of the experience that present real risks and that for whatever reason have been poorly planned and/or executed.  As you watch the athletes compete, as you cheer on Team USA, reflect on the strength of your company’s plan.  When was the last time your business plan was reviewed? Do you have a marketing plan that aligns and supports the sales plan? What about training and employee development? For many companies the next quarter is the planning phase for 2017. Let’s hope and pray that all athletes and visitors to Rio 2016 are safe and sound. But for our businesses, remember that hope is not a strategy. Don’t leave your company’s future to chance.




When coffee is not enough.

November 22, 2013

cup of coffee

Hey restaurant owners and managers.  Pay attention.  Two things not to do when anyone on your team screws up someone’s order at a restaurant:

1. Offer them a free dessert.

2. Bring the check and say, “I did not charge you for your coffee”.

Lesson to all business owners: when you screw up, and we all have and will, do the right thing.  Do more than the customer or guest expected.  Wow them – this is your chance!  This is the BIG moment to shine.

I met two dear friends this week for our GNO dinner.  We waited 45 minutes for a table, ordered quickly and got right down to business – talking and catching up.  Dinners were served and my meal was no where in sight.  The waitress neglected to order it.  She apologized.  I understood.  It happens.  She offered us free dessert – we explained we did not want dessert.  We ordered coffees.  I purposefully did not ask for a discount on my meal.  I wanted to see what she would do.  She opted for the weak path, the cheap path, the ‘she-won’t-care’ path.  She didn’t charge us for two coffees.  How pathetic.

My guess is she did not tell the manager.  She did not want to draw attention to herself by making a mistake to discount my meal.  She and the restaurant – Not Your Average Joe’s was very average.

How do we all avoid being weak, being average and disappointing the customer?

1. Training – get your team trained using examples and scenarios clearly defining your expectations

2. Believe in Wow’ing and create that mentality in your business

3. Empower your employees to WOW

4. Share ‘wow’ moments with your team; share the feedback that you get from customers

5. Think like a consumer, client, customer.

Don’t be an Average Joe.  Be above average.  Be excellent. Let’s get to wowing and make your peace-offering more than a cup of average Joe.

Getting ‘it’

May 7, 2013

Marketing is as effective as sales.  Sales is as effective as customer service.  Customer service is as effective as operations.  Bottom line – it takes coordination, integration and a lot of work to build a brand and execute on the brand promise.  Your efforts are always dependent on someone else doing their part.  There also seems to be a ‘special sauce’ – people who get ‘it’.

I often speak to my clients about their employees who ‘get it’; sometimes training can help; other times it is that innate, natural ability to do the right thing – no need to have a written process, procedure, manual or training session.

I love meeting people who get ‘it’.  I love experiencing people who get ‘it’.  It is refreshing, it is encouraging, it is exhilarating!

Big kudos to DiMillo’s restaurant in Portland Maine.  They get “it” – beautiful views from their unique floating restaurant in lovely Casco Bay, great food (best lobster roll I have ever had – little to no mayo – what restaurant puts the number of calories on the menu for the lobster roll?  Never seen it anywhere else but DiMillo’s can because it is chock full of lobsta – as we Mainers say it!), free parking to all patrons who get their parking ticket stamped – nice touch, and friendly staff.  They have the whole package and that comes from leadership and from people who get ‘it’.  Steve DiMillo could have done what many restaurants do when they don’t get ‘it’ – they offer a free dessert to the person celebrating a birthday.  Nope – not the case.  My mom’s birthday lunch (a lobster roll – not that it matters but people who don’t get ‘it’ may have chosen not to based on the meal ordered) was on the house after he stopped by our table to chat, learned it was my mother’s birthday and graciously engaged us in conversation for several minutes.  When the waitress later brought the bill by, she wished my mom Happy Birthday and shared that the lunch was on the house.  Nice touch.  Nice gesture.  Will I forget it?  No way.  Thanks Steve.  You made a special birthday lunch for my Mom even more enjoyable for me the marketer.  I work with my clients on all aspects of the customer experience and raising the bar, doing the right thing, going above and beyond and you epitomized what can be an elusive goal for many.

When you get ‘it’, you do the right thing.  When you get ‘it’, you experience your business as the customer, not as the owner or head of customer service or sales or marketing.  When you get ‘it’, you think long-term and you perform random acts of kindness to surprise your customers, to wow them, to be nice and to treat others as you would want to be treated.

‘It’ is powerful stuff.  I love ‘it’.