If “hugs” aren’t our business specialty, then what is?

Posted March 3, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Customer Service, External Branding

Tags: , ,

Tims PlaceMeet Tim Harris. He owns his own restaurant — where hugs are on the menu! The sign says, “Tim’s Place: Breakfast, lunch and hugs!” Tim sums up his philosophy of being a restauranteur — and life: “Food is food. I give them a hug and then they all feel better!”

Tim has down syndrome. He begins each day at 5:30am, completes his morning routine and is off to work around 7:00am each day. He typically does a “dance off” across the parking lot to prepare himself for the day ahead. Greetings guests at the door with a hug — you can see the joy he gets from serving people food — and from giving a little bit of love!

The Albuquerque restaurant calls itself “the world’s friendliest restaurant!” And as Tim says, “We serve breakfast lunch and hugs: hugs are the best part!” Check out this short video that tells their special story.

Owning a restaurant has been a lifetime dream for Tim. When he was 14 years old, he said he wanted to own a restaurant. He graduated high school and earned college certificates after which, his family helped him pursue his dream.

In its own unique way, Tim’s Place has created an environment customers flock to. Yes, they can order food there but it’s the hugs that keep them coming back.

So what about your organization or business? What is it known for? And perhaps an even more important question, “Is that what you want it to be known for?” If you haven’t given these questions much thought, it is a strategic issue that will impact every decision you make.

So consider these items:
• Do you want to be known for innovation? Then how forgiving is your culture to allow employees to make mistakes as they try new ideas?
• Do you want to have a reputation as customer-focused? Then how you does your employee selection process differ from your competitors?
• Do you want customers to describe your quality above all else? Then what emphasis is placed on continuous improvement on every aspect of daily operations?
• Do you want to be known for your service? Then how to do you ensure every employee shares your understanding of service expectations? And what happens of these expectations are not met.

What is great about Tim’s Place and its gift of hugs each day is how Tim leads the effort. You see, at the end of the day, your organization’s consumer reputation ultimately begins with its leaders. So where to begin? I think we can benefit from Tim’s example and embrace the challenge.

When Customer Service Goes Outside the Lines

Posted February 26, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Business Execution, Culture, Customer Service

Tags: , ,

outside lilnesI was traveling recently and stopped at the Starbucks inside the airport before catching my plane. As usual the line for that caffeine jolt was quite lengthy (especially for folks traveling before 8am).

As I waited in line for the next available cashier, I overheard the barista shout out to the folks in front of me, “What beverage can I get started for you?” She took their order and got the first name of each customer and got started making their coffees and latte concoctions. The cashiers ahead were busy ringing up customers far ahead in line.

As I inched up in line she did the same for me. So when I got the cashier station, my coffee was already waiting. All that was needed to complete my transaction was a nod from me if I wanted any food items then my total was ready for payment. And most importantly, I was on my way to the gate.

Now this may not sound like a big deal, but in the world of food and beverage, that extra effort in customer service made all the difference in the efficiency of my visit and certainly my satisfaction.

So of course, it got me to thinking. I wonder if that barista was simply doing what she was told and moving the line along (which if so, was great logistics on Starbucks’ part). Or could she have possibly seen an opportunity to make a difference and stepped outside her normal duties of making beverages and took care of the customers?

Interesting thought isn’t it? Either option demonstrates a focus on service many organizations miss. In fact, TSA clearly missed that opportunity just 30 minutes prior as I (and 100 other folks) slowly squeezed through only three open security checkpoints trying to get to our gates.

So which option describes you or your organization? Are you focused on the customer experience to the point you continuously look for ways to improve efficiency or effectiveness of customer interactions. Or do you teach and model for your team to go outside the box and simply take care of the customer when you see the need – regardless of job title?

You know, this is one of the rare instances that it’s okay to say “both”! Your customers will certainly thank you for it.

Maintaining your Team: Will a little WD 40 and Duct Tape do the trick?

Posted February 18, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Business Execution, communication, leadership

Tags: , ,

duct tape and wd 40Maintenance. I was reminded of this word over the weekend as I washed my car. The grit and grime of the winter season had taken its toll on every inch of my vehicle. As I scrubbed the tires, I was reminded how easily things (anything really) can get out of hand without regular upkeep and care.
For some, it is health. Perhaps it’s your house. Or even some it can be finances. For leaders, it may well be your team.

While the first quarter briskly moves along, your team, no doubt, is off and running in pursuit of its 2013 goals. And therein lies the potential danger. For leaders working in any type of organization, the real secret is to not let the first quarter get away from you without essential team maintenance. So what does this look like?

I have borrowed the benefits of two well-known repair tools to get you started: WD 40 and duct tape. These two items have multiple uses. In fact, click these two links to see specific uses for WD 40 and duct tape. Is your brain buzzing yet?

It starts with a plan.Does your team know what your organization or department hopes to achieve in 2013? If not, you have to start there. Let them know what a successful 2013 looks like. What will revenues, profit, new customer relationships, new services or products look like? And more importantly, how does each team member’s role help those goals become a reality? It’s not too late to have that “state of the department” speech. But wait! Your job isn’t over just yet. Maintenance means follow up and attention. Each month let your team know how they are doing. Break your year into units: annual, quarterly and monthly. This dashboard keeps everyone informed and in the loop.

Use WD 40 to “un-stick” those behaviors that impede your team’s success.Humans by nature are prone to slip into unproductive habits. We like routine and let’s face it, over time poor behaviors can sneak in and set up a “home” and negatively impact results. Those habits can be anything from habitual tardiness to missed deadlines. So what is your WD40 weapon? It’s you! Integrate quick “check-ins” with each person each week. Get updates on deadlines, co-worker dynamics, and needs/wants from you. After all, it’s much easier to stop a bad habit before it starts.

Use duct tape to secure behaviors that help your team achieve success.There is a powerful dynamic at play when each member of a team is showing up and doing his/her part toward a goal. More is accomplished and momentum builds that positively impact your team’s energy and engagement. These are the behaviors you want to “cement” in your team. So leaders, be the “duct tape” and ensure your team comes together on a regular basis (in person or virtually) and talk about what is working and not working in the team. Most importantly, give them what they need from you (information, time, removing barriers) to sustain that momentum.

I encourage you to visit your nearest hardware store and buy a can of WD 40 and a roll of duct tape. The visual (dirt and grime on my car) reminded me it was time for a little maintenance. That visual did the trick for me. Who knows, perhaps these two items will do the trick for you too.

How Leaders Can Take Advantage of Cupid’s Holiday

Posted February 14, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Culture

Tags: ,

valentinesFebruary 14th heralds in chocolate covered hearts, flowers and heartfelt appreciation for those special people in our lives. It’s a day many people either anticipate with excitement or dread to struggle through.

Perhaps it is an overrated holiday or a day to simply appreciate others. But for your workplace, Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to simply say thanks to your employees.

So, if you are thinking, “Oh great, I haven’t planned for this day and it is occurring now!” Here are some simply ways to “show the love” on February 14th.

1. Make it a point to speak to every person on your team today and wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day and say
thanks for being a part of our team.
2. Stop by a local grocery or convenience store today and buy candy hearts (those sugary candies 2nd graders
trade in school) and pass them out to your team. (Hint: make it fun by doing something silly as you
distribute the candy).
3. Make your team take a surprise break during the day and do the “Hokey Pokey”. This has nothing to do with
Valentine’s Day but will make your team smile.
4. Invite your team to lunch…and pay for it!
5. During a staff meeting, have a “positive affirmation” exercise. Ask each employee to write a positive
attribute or appreciation about each team member.

And here’s the really cool part of today’s message. Aside from themed candy and recognized holidays, the tips we mention today can be done any day of the week…just because. Your team will love it and in the end, you will too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Random Acts of Kindness: What if this happened in your workplace?

Posted January 17, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Culture

Tags: , ,

ripple effectIf you are on Facebook, you have likely seen this viral post appear from one of your friends in the last few weeks: The first 5 people to comment on this post will receive, within this calendar year, a gift from me – something like a book, baked goods, something handmade etc. It can happen at any time during this year…so a surprise! Who doesn’t love a surprise! The only catch is, you in turn must pay-it-forward and do the same for the first five comments you receive on your post. What a great way to do something fun for our friends and family. Happy New Year!

To be honest, I haven’t acted upon any of these posts online, but the idea spurred some pondering as I think about the workplaces in which we “live” each day.

What if…as leaders we encouraged each employee to live out this mantra in 2013? What impact could those actions have on our customers, co-workers, volunteers, patients, congregation, etc? And the list goes on and on.

It’s the power of the ripple effect – a gradually spreading effect or influence. In our world as leaders, the impact begins with one person. A change in my thinking impacts my behavior. My behavior creates influence and inspiration to others to in turn, change their behavior. And as group thinking and behavior change, the organization changes, improves and grows.

So what could Random Acts of Kindness look like in your world? The list is numerous but here are few to get your creative juices flowing:
• Speak first and last to everyone you come in contact with
• Hold the door for someone else entering and exiting your workplace
• Pay for the person behind you in line at Starbucks
• Surprise a customer with a token of gratitude because it’s “Tuesday”
• Call a special person in your life and tell them what they mean to you
• Write a personal thank you note
• Compliment a co-worker on something he/she does well

And while January is slipping away, it’s not too late to start a resolution/revolution that could impact your organization in ways that are potentially too numerous to count.

What could this look like in your world? Post a comment so others can be benefit from your idea. Perhaps that’s your first random act of kindness…

Make your 2013 Count

Posted January 3, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Business Execution, leadership

Tags: ,

GoalsIt’s January. The holiday season has come to a close as 2013 bursts on the scene. I saw this post from a cool guy I follow on Twitter this week: “Is it really a new year if it’s the same us?” Wow. There’s a lot of depth packed into those 43 characters.

In our businesses (and well, life for that matter), how do we respond to that question? If we’re not careful, the real greeting for our customers and friends is simply, “happy year” for there really isn’t anything “new” about it.

So in the spirit of never settling for the status quo, I challenge your thinking and leadership to these three daily strategies that ensure there really is something new about 2013…for both you and your customers.

Fix or at best move the dial on the biggest irritant your customers (or employees) have.
Most customers (and perhaps your employees) put up with a “lot” before abandoning your company. It’s the little things that become the big things over time that customers can’t tolerate. So what are those little things – that attention to detail we are missing that will cause your customers to pause, smile and appreciate your service. How do you know what those little things are? Ask them.

Forget resolutions. Create action plans.
New years are so often flooded with our wish lists of doing more of this and less of that. And for most people, February 1 arrives and we have already drifted from those grandiose ideals. Why? Resolutions themselves don’t have any teeth. If I want to reach more customers, I must have a doable action plan (specific goal tied to time, metrics and accountability) to have any hope of growing my business. We talk a good game in January of most any year. Without a plan that we keep alive every day in our business those lofty goals gather dust as quickly as your bathroom scales (come on, who on the planet doesn’t have a losing weight goal each year?).

Just do it.
Nike made this phrase famous but in all reality, no truer words exist in business. Knowing what are going after is critical (ie: fixing our customers’ greatest irritant). We must have a real plan to get there (ie: more than a resolution). But without this third step nothing moves. What does “just do it” really mean? In the business world it means everyone in your business knows where we are going and their part in getting us there. That plan, whatever it is, is visible daily to every single person in the organization. As everyone involved knows his/her part (expectations) and does it (accountability), progress occurs (and we celebrate it).

What will 2013 hold for your business? We want to hear from you! My goal for you is the word “new” can honestly be said in your world. Happy NEW Year. Let’s make it happen.

Your 2013 Workplace Resolution List

Posted January 2, 2013 by impactyou
Categories: Business Execution

Tags: , ,

20132012 has come and gone. December 31st brings the tradition for parties with friends and family to officially ring in the New Year. And as the first day of a new year begins, countless resolutions are professed to focus on health, success and often some form of discipline in an area of life.

Personal resolutions are a wonderful reminder for the opportunity of second chances. Fresh. New. A do over. Hope. Whether it is the desire to lose weight and focus on a healthy lifestyle or master a new craft or hobby, the practice of starting anew is healthy.

So, what about the workplace? Can this same practice and opportunity exist as we think about our relationships with co-workers or the team we lead?

I say yes. Why not take this same approach in the workplace for a focus on fresh, new and perhaps even a do over in your workplace?

Deciding to make a workplace resolution and actually naming it are very different. And as with our personal goals, it’s much easier to state a resolution than to actually keep it. So, to encourage your success, consider these three tips:

What “one” thing would make a difference to your team?
One job of any leader is to remove the barriers that hinder our team from being able to effectively do their job. Expectations may be clear and the team members may have the skills needed to be successful but workplace dynamics or policies hinder progress. For the coming year, consider focusing on removing at least one obstacle so your team (you and the organization) can move forward.

Stop pushing “buttons”.
We’re human and let’s face it, everyone has pet peeves or “hot buttons” that drive us crazy. Want to improve relationships with your team? Stop pushing their buttons! The truth is, everyone has at least one button. Find out what that is and make an honest effort to be sensitive to those “little things” that drive the team crazy. Some examples often include: micro-management, surprises, little interaction, no direction, and failed promises, etc.

Be a dependable team player yourself.
How would your peers describe you? Two categories often emerge: competence (what you know) and character (do what you say you will do). How do you measure up? When your name is mentioned, do others have confidence in your ability to get the job done? If not, the coming year offers a great opportunity to change those perceptions.

Resolutions are much more than a sentence on a piece of paper. The real work begins in trying to accomplish them. To ensure success, create a strategy that will keep you accountable. Involve others in your process and keep track of your progress throughout the year.

The reality is most people make lofty resolutions on January 1st and by February 1st they are long forgotten. Don’t become a statistic. The time you invest in your career is too valuable. Here’s to making 2013 count!