A weekend trip to New Orleans reinforced to me how the moving parts of a business – the employees – usually define a customer’s experience more than any other factor.
The hotel my family and a few friends stayed in was one of the busier in town. On top of that, there was a college football and NFL game in town.
I learned there were three wedding parties and a group of European tourists booked at our facility. So… a normal weekend in N’awlins.
Trying to check in to our hotel could have been a reality TV show. Traffic blocked the valet area to the point that I found myself circling the hotel via Bourbon Street…with my wife telling my sons to keep their eyes closed. (Yeah, right.)
The chaos of the street closely mirrored the activity in the lobby. It was hard to figure out where the “official” line for the front desk formed.
Once I figured that out, I assumed my place in line and observed some of the most disinterested folks I’ve seen in some time working the check-in desk. Once the customer in front of them stepped away, they kept their heads down, delaying calling the next customer over.
Customers became openly annoyed with the lack of engagement on display.
It was no shock that our rooms were not yet ready. We needed to check our bags, and no surprise, the storage room was overflowing.
The bellhops had begun bringing bags to a temporarily unused meeting room. These guys were facing the same (now annoyed) crowds and truly having to hustle to keep the entire lobby from backing up.
Yet, with all of the chaos, they were smiling, welcoming, and joking with customers.
Customers who seconds before were ready to throw things at the front desk were now smiling and interacting with the folks tagging and storing mountains of bags.
I struck up a conversation with the gentleman helping us and learned he had been on that job for 11 years. He laughed, “I’ve never lost a bag. And don’t worry my friend, my streak ain’t ending today.”
We walked away with an entirely different feel for that hotel. Nothing about our wait time or the chaos had changed.
But those bellhops made us feel like we were actually welcome and appreciated.
There are things we cannot control over the course of our days, but some that we absolutely can. Our engagement levels with the customers we interact with is one.
What will yours look like today?
A recent backyard basketball game with my 16-year-old son had me laughing and kidding that I was going to give him life and business lessons along with a basketball lesson.
At least one of us thought that was funny.
I have joked that it’s both a proud and depressing moment when you realize you no longer need to “go easy” on your kid for him to beat you at something.
We may have reached that point in basketball. The jury is still out. (Don’t tell him.)
While we were banging around on the court, I kidded him about becoming a little too physical. I smiled and told him he needs to be careful if he is going to get rough with old guys. We’re more than willing to take a hit if it means we get to give a hit.
He said, “That’s dumb. Young guys can hit you harder than you hit them.”
I smiled, “Maybe…but how many times are they willing to take a hit? It stops being fun pretty quick. They end up on the sidelines.”
He laughed, “Okay, good point.”
As we continued playing (and in between deep breaths) I reminded him that the world is full of people with natural talents and abilities. But many people waste them by never developing the work ethic or resilience it takes to reach their full potential.
We may not take the kind of physical hits in the business world that folks take on the basketball court. However, if we’re out there putting ourselves on the line, our egos will likely take hits aplenty.
Long-term success in growing our businesses isn’t simply built upon how good we are on our best days. It’s as (or even more) dependent on how engaged we can remain through our slower days.
Anyone can keep their spirits and efforts up when the planets line up and everything seems to be going their way.
It takes real professionals, however, to weather the hits to their egos that rejections (even friendly ones) deliver during their slower times.
And, yes, those out there talking to more people, shaking more hands, visiting more businesses, making more calls, asking for more business... are taking more hits than their peers are.
That does not mean that they are failing at their jobs. It means they are actually out there doing their jobs.
Our greatest successes are often found on the other side of ego hits that less-determined folks allow to take them out of the game.
Will you be on the sidelines or in the game this week?