I’m on my way home from Las Vegas, where I presented to hundreds of pizza operators who were hungry for advice on how to maximize their talent. I arrived fully stocked and ready to share my secret recipes on how to build a thriving business in a highly competitive industry. Here are five of the many take-aways that I shared along the way.
1. Your business will thrive or die based on service. How lucky for me to have the keynote speaker, Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible fame, begin his keynote with some startling figures that fed right into my presentations. To quote Irvine, 5,000 restaurants close their doors everyday. The killer? Poor service. Irvine went on to say that business owners would be better served if they paid attention to the people and the service, as patrons will deal with mediocre food but will not put up with poor service.
If you are in the service business, you better get really good at hiring people who demonstrate they have what it takes to deliver high levels of service or you will soon find yourself looking for someone to assume your lease. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds if you are prepared to invest in getting help to master the skill of employee selection.
2. You must continually invest in your business. Industryleaders can quickly fall from grace if they don’t keep up with the changing times. Set aside a certain percentage of your profits and reinvest this in your business to avoid becoming The Circuit City of your industry.
3. Social media rules. It’s all about the buzz today when it comes to attracting customers and clients. But you can’t do this alone with all the noise that is going on around the heads of those you are trying to attract. Forward thinking companies know this and they are leveraging social media to create buzz.
Case in point. If you’ve ever been to Vegas then you know how overwhelming the choice of shows can be. I turned to my Friends on Facebook for suggestions. The winner was Le Reve at the Wynn Hotel. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the theatre and there was a sign posted encouraging attendees to take photos and share them with others. Compare this to my experience at the Donny and Marie show where the sign specifically prohibited the use of cameras inside the theatre.
Now I realize these two shows are probably going for very different audiences. But then again, the Donny and Marie show encouraged people to follow Donny and Marie on Twitter and to Tweet a hashtag in order to win a meet and greet with Donny and Marie. I took one look around the audience and knew I stood a darn good chance of winning this. Let’s just say that most of the attendees were considerably older than me. I smiled with glee when my tweet came back with an invite! Of course I immediately shared my victory with my social network.
What are you doing in your business to create excitement among your guests or clients? If the answer is not much, then consider turning to those in your organization who have more experience in the area of social media and asking for their suggestions.
4. Delight your customers. I wish I could say my hotel stay delighted me but perhaps my expectations have risen because so many hotels these days have been working diligently to create a memorable experience. My stay was neither good nor bad. It was simply predictable in a 1970’s sort of way.
When it comes to spending money, people have a choice. They can spend it with you or they can spend it where they feel they’ll have an experience that will make them want to come back for more. Are you doing anything to delight your customers or is it business as usual?
5. Treat your staff right. While in Vegas we had an opportunity to dine at Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant Steak. The wait staff was among the most highly trained staff that I’ve encountered in any town. I couldn’t help but ask my waiter if this was his profession or if he was waiting tables until he secured a job in another field. He said he had been in service for over ten years, since graduating hotel management school, and that he intended to remain in this position for years to come. He also added that the management was doing a great job of treating their staff well. A lesson I shared with those in my audience. Treat your people well and you’ll be able to hire and keep top people in your industry. You’ll also get people like me talking about your business in a highly visible way.
As the economy continues to heat up, more businesses will open as capital continues to flow into the market place. Right now you have the hometown advantage, as people know who you are. But will they still remember you tomorrow when a more innovative or better operating company comes to town? Go ahead, try one slice of advice and then another and continue to improve your business daily.
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