In fact, the great majority of people in the workforce are actually looking for a company worthy of their loyalty! From my experience in building or turning around over 1,000 client companies in 29 years, this statement is very true.
You want to improve your profit? Cost cutting only goes so far. Building sales is where exponential profit resides. Vital to exceptionally dynamic sales increases, as well as anticipatory cost cutting, is staff retention. And retention comes from staff that feels accepted, supported, and successful---employees and managers alike. Here are five steps to achieve loyalty and dramatically improve profits:
1. Remember the literal definition of the words restaurant and restaurateur: “A place one goes to be restored” and “restorer of soul.” From these two word pictures of the real work of a restaurant comes an opportunity for any service business: a clear sharing of higher purpose.
Shift the focus of “work” from being a busperson to being a guest connector, connecting with guests by bussing tables; from a line cook to being a guest connector, preparing great food (no matter the check average or concept) in a way that intentionally supports the best day possible for that guest; from a drive-through server/cashier to being a guest connector, creating what may be the first actual warm greeting during a harried day at work; and the list goes on.
Suddenly, and quite easily, employees and their employers or supervisors are not merely filling restaurant job slots; each staff member has a higher calling---guest connection---not in servitude, but in true service.
2. Define excellence and support it. Take the time to define your “brand.” The size of your company or the nuance of concept specifics doesn’t matter; your service delivery experiencedoes. Your brand experience is whatever the guests’ definition is from their experience, not yours. Define excellence in performance, and celebrate that excellence the second you see, hear, or feel it from your staff.
3. Recognize and reward performance and initiative. Minute by minute, second by second---not quarterly or semiannually---celebrate anything you see that is positive in staff behavior. And when you don’t witness performance excellence, find the positive in the negative. Rather than have managers be cops, have them coach. Steps one and two are the foundation of loyalty and retention; coaching minute by minute is the primary support. Soft skills of communication can be tracked and recognized. Track fiscal goals daily, weekly, and period to date. Clearly strong fiscals are part of excellence; celebrate those, too.
4. Invest in retention rather than turnover. In my experience, turning poor performance into excellence is not an employee problem; it’s a leadership issue. Define excellence clearly, invest in training to support the achievement of excellence, and coach for excellence minute by minute. Have definite expectations on a daily basis in communication and guest connection, just as you do in fiscal matters.
5. Create a “choiceful” environment. By step three, applicants have enough information to know whether to choose to work for you or not. By raising your own performance criteria for hiring, you do something counterintuitive. In every one of my client cases, even in the worst job markets, choiceful businesses end up with a waiting line of applicants. No one wants to play on a losing team or in a half-baked business.
In raising your hiring criteria---by defining, training, and honoring excellence---you support great performance. Create interviews that have applicants share their definitions of excellence with you. Compare their answers with your own company’s definitions. If there’s no match in the interview, it won’t happen during the job. Folks that meet your criteria will appreciate excellence, as well as being accepted, supported, and successful. If you walk your talk, loyalty shows up, retention soars, and so do profits.
Loyalty isn’t dead. It’s a winning choice for you and your employees.