From time to time, I’ve told you stories of my adventures, both business and personal, with our family friend and fishing partner Sheldon (Shelly) Smith. He and I first met when his company purchased the nursing home of which my Mom was the Administrator and I was just a young teen. It wasn’t too much longer afterward, though, that my Dad died from cancer, and “Shelly” stepped in to help me navigate the rocky waters of adolescence and young adulthood. That was no easy task, but he became more like a big brother to me. I even worked for him when I first got out of school. (Let’s be polite and say that, in my early 20’s, I needed exceptionally strong leadership.) When I left his employ to go off on my own, Shelly was the loudest cheerleader, and I am certain that he breathed a huge sigh of relief that he was no longer responsible for my foolishness.
With perhaps the exception of my very German Mother, nobody has had a greater or more lasting influence on my beliefs about unmatched customer service and how to achieve it than Shelly. To this day, over 40 years after I worked under his direction, he still sends me (and now Shannon) excerpts from articles and books about how to go past “good” and become consistently “great” in the service industry.
We have an amazing culture here at Züp, demonstrating loyalty and respect both to our patients/guests and to each other. That’s going to be even more important as we face more “copycat” competition coming at us rapidly from different directions. As Ann Turner wrote in Bet on Talent, however, “Organizations with remarkable cultures outsell, out-service, and outperform their competition.” I am not worried.
For today, I want you to think about two things. The first is by the well-known successful author Zig Ziglar, who preached, “You can get everything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.” But, do we know what our patients/guests actually want? For that matter, what might they want and not even know that they want it? Like a bouquet of flowers, you might receive on a day that’s not even an anniversary or birthday, surprising our patients/guests with an unexpected act of kindness or service can be the “secret sauce” of our Züp success recipe. Loyal customers who leave impressed will market Züp better than the most expensive ad campaign!
The second idea supports the first. According to writer Seth Godin, “If you have to put it all in a manual, the chance of amazing customers is actually quite low.” Each of you has been selected, in addition to your many talents, for your heart of kindness and service. When a guest arrives at your home, expected or not, I know beyond any doubt that you will welcome them in, provide the most comfortable seat in the house, offer something to drink, serve that on your good china (napkins included), and put away your laptop and phone to give them the attention that any friend deserves. You don’t need a checklist, nor do you need to ask anyone’s permission. You just do it.
Know what our patients/guests want. Act reflexively to treat them each with the greatest kindness and respect. And celebrate your coworkers, because you are indeed a remarkable bunch!
With thanks and great admiration,