What Are Your Staff Saying To People?

I’m on holiday at the moment and I got an important reminder of one of the fundamental business principles. That principle is that you MUST define what your staff say and how they should behave. Big companies understand this (although not all).

Anyway, here’s what happened on holiday, I got hungry. Yes at 9pm I went out to get some food. I’m living the Paleo lifestyle so I wanted some lean meat, I like grilled lamb and in Brighton where I’m on holiday it’s easy to find lots of places that grill lamb, but interestingly enough not everyone cares enough about their business to sell you some…

So first thing was to go to a Kebab shop where I was duly told “no lamb, chicken”. Seriously, you might have staff who don’t speak English well but don’t you at least want them to be polite?

Second stop was a Lebanese restaurant. I love Lebanese food, they make the best Humous and are usually great a grilling lamb too. It was about 9:15 pm and the restaurant was surprisingly empty considering the volume of holiday makers down here at the moment. I wanted to take the food home to the flat where I’m staying and at first the waitress was eager to get me the take away menu; but as she took some steps towards the bar where the menu’s were lying she turned around and said “actually we’re closed”…

Closed at 9:15 pm in a holiday town, maybe. But something else had gone on here. Whilst walking to the bar she was processing what she wanted to do, not what was best for the owner of that restaurant. She decided she wanted to close up, she was getting paid anyway whether I bought or not right?

The horrible thing is that this happens in all business, yours and mine too. Your front desk CA might not schedule a new patient because he/she is going home soon. They may turn away regular clients that turned up late just because we officially closed 2 minute ago. When I catch this in my business my staff get 1 warning, that’s it. Second time they’re gone!

As business owners we have to catch it happening and stamp it out, here’s how we do that:

1. Make sure your operating procedure is clearly set out in a written record.

2. Train your staff regularly on their operating procedure. Once a week in the beginning and once a month when the staff are established.

3. Mystery shop your own staff to make sure they are following the operating procedure.

4. Give them one chance only, if they break the procedure more than once FIRE them!

If you don’t tell your staff what they HAVE to say in any given situation, and check up on them regularly, they will say what they feel is right to say, or even worse they’ll say what they WANT to say.

In the beginning you may get some resistance, it’s common for staff to think they know better than their boos and secretly behind your back they think of you as an idiot. But the bottom line is that it is YOUR business, you call the shots. If you get attitude give them one warning…

They might think you’re an idiot but they are going to perform the way you want them to or they’re gone. Don’t try to be their friend, be they’re boss and you’ll get the best out of them.

Incidentally, I recently interviewed a 16 year old McDonalds girl, she blew both me and my manager away with her attitude. She understood working procedures and scripting better than anyone I’ve ever interviewed. She was just 16 – and now she’s my new staff member, she got the job on the spots. McDonald’s clearly takes this very seriously, and they obviously have the means to get a girl who is more or less still a child, to have better training and understanding of what makes a company work than 99% of other small businesses will ever achieve. So here’s the bottom line, we’ve got to get it done too!


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