How putting people first improves profits

Anyone can cut costs to improve their profit but once it’s cut it’s cut; it requires greater expertise, courage and a particular culture to be able to deliver sustainable profit improvement.

Cliche it may be but “you are only as good as your people”.

The essence of a good business is having good people; support your people and they will support you or as the multi award winning media company Mediacom proudly promotes on their door plate “People first, better results”.

80 years ago The John Lewis Partnership got it right when they wrote their purpose statement: “The partnerships ultimate purpose is the happiness of all its members – through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business”. Today this business employs over 90,000 people between the ages of 18 and 83; and has (profitable) annual sales of £11 billion.

Put simply, you could have developed and invested thousands to have the best proposition in town but if your people don’t believe in it or feel part of it, then your customers are never going to get it, understand it, feel it or importantly buy it.

Cliche warning: “the profits in the people detail”.

I recently spent a weekend in a 4 star London hotel owned by “the global leader in hospitality”, hospitality which extended to informing me via an acetate guest notice blue tacked to the inside of the lift about my weekend breakfast – you know late, lazy and relaxed over coffee and the papers: “we suggest you enjoy our breakfast before 8.45hrs as our restaurant gets extremely busy between 8.45hrs and 11.00hrs”, and it only got better.

Briefly and I mean briefly…

On getting to my room I asked for the shower screen to be cleaned- this was not done. At the breakfast podium I was informed breakfast was not included and was sent to reception to sort it out myself by the “podium police”. I brought the receptionist back with me to prove it wasn’t a system error but a stressed staff error along with the suggestion that they provided their staff with more training and support. (No I wasn’t pitching)

In the afternoon I phoned the “spa” and ended up speaking to someone at reception, (as they no longer staff the spa area), who didn’t know if lockers and towels were provided, and failed to tell me to take a pound coin with me. Once there and changed I found the steam room was out of service and the sauna was OFF, in my shorts and flip flops I set off to find the duty manager, who offered to have the sauna switched on.

In the evening  I was running late, the invite said 7.00 somehow I had got it in my mind it was 7.30 and it was now 7.10 so I phoned the concierge and asked him to secure a taxi and hold it on the meter.. I would be 5 minutes I was there in 3 minutes to watch him open the taxi door for someone he had mistaken for me – it took 10 minutes to get another taxi.

The following morning I was woken by housekeeping at 10.15, check out was midday!!

The highlight of the stay was being pulled out of the privileged members queue by Veronica, who accelerated my exit but not before I answered her question “have you enjoyed your stay?” … I even rejected a complimentary night, because I don’t want to stay there again!

Clearly in this particular business the decision to protect the profits by cutting people costs has resulted in “some” being extremely disappointed with their customer experience, that they can’t even give rooms away free of charge!

What a different story it could have been had the management grasped the culture of “people first better results”, instead they have fewer people, who were busier covering tasks others used to perform, having lost sight of the very reason they are there – HOSPITALITY.

And the Result – people costs down, service standards down, customer satisfaction down , brand value down, future profits down… if only they had put their people first.

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in Company Culture, Engagement, Increasing Profits
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