How Your Employees Can Build or Destroy Your Brand. And What to Do About it.
We were walking by the Vancouver airport recently and an employee was standing outside of the Plaza Premium Lounge greeting by passers and encouraging them to try the service. More akin to the credit card hawkers you will typically find in an airport than a lounge greeter, this particular woman was engaging and aiming to please. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that this particular employee actually owned the restaurant.
The service didn’t end at the front door! After we decided to enter the establishment, this greeter escorted us up the elevator, over to the front desk, and then seated us herself. At numerous times during our stay, this particular employee came by to check on us and ensure that we were completely satisfied with the service and our meal. This employee created such a memorable experience that I would be happy to revisit and recommend the lounge to others. In fact, she actually suggested that we leave a google review if we were happy. Wow!
Comparing that experience to one a couple days before at a Browns Social House, where the food was in all honesty about the same as the lounge, the price was similar, but where the waitress left us for extended periods of time wondering if she was still on shift, is like comparing a Ferrari to a Lada. The next day we were in the same area looking for somewhere to grab a bite and with few options we considered the Browns Social House. Talking it over, two of us verbalized the fact that we might have to wait for a considerable amount of time before being served, one we both couldn’t justify. We walked on, the brand had the reputation of being slow in our minds and the business lost, due to substandard service by an employee.
Employees play an integral part in the success or failure of our business. They are key to how our customers experience and interact with our brand and our business. Great employees build our brand, enhance the experience of our customers, and drive repeat business. Having the wrong people in the wrong jobs engaging with customers is a risk that is hard to justify. If we can compute the lifetime value of a customer, we can recognize that the profit we make from a one-time purchase, is little compared to the value of a long term relationship with a valued customer.
So how do we find great staff to build our brand?
It Starts with your Core Values: Most companies haven’t defined what their core values are and as a result leave it to their employees to define what is important in the business. If taking care of people is one of your core values, then you better take care of your employees. They are going to treat the customers just as well as you are treating them.
When we have defined our core values, we need to bring those values into the hiring process and define our ideal employees based on how they fit those values. If taking care of people, staying with the same example is our core value, then we want to hire people who take care of people and love doing that. You would think that this would make sense but more often than not, many companies hire people for skills and aptitude instead of their attitudes as they relate to our values.
Keep employees accountable to what you value! When you hire and train people according to the company values, it's important that you keep people accountable to those values. If for example one of your values is honesty but you turn a blind eye when one of your star employees steals a few minutes of time at the beginning or end of each day. When you ignore when a salesman takes advantage of a client, or you yourself take a few packs of the organizations, printer paper and some supplies home for your kids to draw on because you feel no one will miss it.
Accountability starts with us as leaders and it filters down through our actions and our ability to manage our teams and keep them true to what we have stated as important. If for example you don’t feel that some values are out of date and not important anymore, change your core values so that in this case, honesty isn’t in those values or define values differently. This is difficult to do in larger organizations, so if you can’t live with the defined values perhaps it's time for you to move on.
Our brand is what people think about us when they consider our company. While there are numerous aspects to branding that are better explained by the likes of Matt Wood author of the book Don’t Wear White in a Blizzard, your brand represents considerable long-term value to your company. In order to mitigate the risk of threat to our brand by the actions of wayward employees or develop the enormous good will that well trained ideal employees can create; it is so important that we choose the right people and place them in positions that enable them to fulfil their potential. We do this by understanding our core values and hiring and training to those values. When we are successful, we have little to worry about and much to gain.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an Award-Winning Business Coach, the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy and member of the International Business Brokers Association. Employee issues? Email your challenge to firstname.lastname@example.org.