Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm On My Break Syndrome

The I'm on My Break Syndrome. It seems to be all the rave.
Employees who are on their lunch breaks but insist in staying at their work premises fully identified by name tags, uniforms, promotional merchandise etc., and have the audacity to glare and rudely tell a client asking for help that: "I'm on my break."

(Sarcasm Alert!)

Suggestion, if you or someone you know suffers from IMB Syndrome and don't wish to be bothered while you're "On Your Break", leave the store, office, work space. Take a break!

If however you choose to stay in your general work area babbling away with coworkers who ARE NOT on their breaks. Please don't light yourself up like a Christmas tree and then complain when you are interrupted by the people who purchase the merchandise you sell thus creating a need for you to be employed. In this fashion you could obtain a full break schedule otherwise known as unemployment, for not doing what you are paid to do, provide SERVICE.

P.S. One time offenders are excused. Just don't make it a habit. Other than being rude and annoying, it's bad for business.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Service Success Tip #8

Follow Up, Follow Through- Sometimes in our dealings with others we tell them; " I'll call you", and we don't.
There are many reasons why one might not call. You forgot, were very busy, something came up etc. In some instances people say they'll call back when in reality they have no intention of doing so. It is a way of being polite, and not giving an explanation as to why you won't be making that call.

Follow through, keep your word. If you can't call back because something comes up be sure to contact the other person as soon as you can and let them know what's going on. Write them an email, leave them a message, have a coworker contact them. Find a way to stay in touch. This shows interest on your part and consideration for the other person.

If you have no interest or intention of following through, be upfront and kindly let them know you won't be calling and why. This way they don't waste your time by calling back to see why you haven't called them. And you don't waste theirs by giving them false expectations, and they can move on to other things.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Scoreboard

By Gil C. Schmidt

I love sports. And like many sports fans, I love sports statistics. Although numbers can never convey the myriad thrills and action of the actual sport, they serve as benchmarks, shorthand descriptions that frame a player or team in context.

For example, a baseball player with a batting average of .325 is considered quite good. A football team that averages 400 yards of offense per game is very good, as well as a basketball team that scores 105 points a game.

But by themselves, statistics give you only part of the picture. In the examples above, a .325 average in a league that averages .330 is sub-par; a football team that gains 400 yards may be a loser if it allows the opponent an average of 500 yards and a basketball team scoring 105 points a night might just break even if it allows the other team to score 105, too. Statistics without context are not enough.

We often make the same contextual mistake with employees, especially those in service positions. Because service is often considered “the absence of negatives”—no complaints, no errors, no returns, etc.—the numbers created are taken out of context. I know of businesses that never received complaints and had employees with “zero mistakes,” but had to close anyway.

And by focusing numbers on service personnel, such as salespeople, without an overall set of numbers to measure the entire company puts a huge burden on those thus measured. So when times get tough, people look at the sales numbers and criticize that department, when in fact, the entire company is involved in the downturn, but we choose to focus only on a few numbers.

So how do we get a “statistical overview” for a business? The method I suggest has to be generic, but with a little imagination and a good grasp of your business procedures, you can come up with your own simple to understand and use “Scoreboard”:

1) Start with the basics: income, expenses, cash flow and profits. You have to know what’s happening, at least in general terms, with the money that moves through your business. This exercise alone could give you a snapshot of your business that is very different from what you think your business is.
2) Link processes to each area listed in #1. A process is a series of tasks that lead to a specific result. Identify processes that take different paths to achieve a result. For example, in a flower shop, selling flowers for weddings is a separate process from selling flower arrangements and fruit baskets. What you are doing here is determining what you do that leads to income and profits and how different each process is within the business.
3) Identify key elements within each process. For the flower shop, key elements for wedding flowers could be seasonality, quantity and delivery logistics. Note that key elements are often groups of tasks and almost always “hidden” from the customer in the sense that s/he never sees the work involved, only the result. One should focus on results (like wins in sports), but also keep on eye on the steps needed to achieve those results (like hits, yards gained and points.)
4) Now link key elements to income, expenses, cash flow and profits. Don’t worry about overlap: focus instead on the impact each key element has on these aspects of your business. In the flower shop example, seasonality is very important (June and December are big wedding months), while delivery logistics, though important, have less of an overall impact. In your case, determine the impact of key elements according to your vision of the business.
5) Final step: Share the analysis with your employees and let them determine how to measure success within their jobs. (Surprised you, didn’t I?) Here’s the reason: Employees need to know not only how they are being measured, but why (as related to the company’s vision.) The more they know of the why, the easier it is for them to do their job well. And you’ll be surprised at how much your employees will contribute to this process.

Take the time to create this “Scoreboard” for your company. Success is built on consistency and knowing how well one is doing every day is a great step to take. Don’t delay: begin today.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The People Business

I went to my cousin's wedding yesterday at the Wyndham Condado Plaza. The wedding was simple and elegant. The food was delicious! The accomodations were acceptable, the service was average, except for one employee who I found delightful.

Her last name is Quintana, she has been working at the hotel since she was 17 years old. She is currently in her 60's. She was assigned to the Powder Room, making sure there were enough clean towels to dry one's hands, that the basket carrying mouthwash,emergency sewing kits, hand cream and matches was always full of supplies, and to lend a helping hand to any ladies who might be a bit tipsy.

Throughout the evening I found myself going to the Ladies Room just so I could talk a bit with Quintana, listen to some of her anecdotes and life stories. Observe her interact with her charges, like a mother hen with her chicks. Give out advice along with the bath towels, and keep everything on the up and up.

To some Quintana is just an employee, the hired help, someone assigned to that position so she could get a paycheck at the end of the week.

From where I was standing she was so much more. Caretaker, lending hand, a friend and confidant to some, a ray of sunshine for others. There was a degree of comfort in her presence. She is the kind of person I describe as a Human Band Aid (need I say more?).

Before I left I asked Quintana if she had ever aspired to be in management.

The answer was a simple No!

She's in the people business. Service is her specialty.

Two quotes come to mind when I think about last evening:

- It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success. (George Washington Carver)

- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. (Leonardo Davinci)