The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

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Leaders in Service: Barbara Johnson

 

Our next feature of the Leaders in Service series is Barbara Johnson, Stewarding Supervisor at one of our casino properties in Shreveport, Louisiana. Barbara has been with the Service Companies for over 10 years, and has shown endless dedication and remarkable leadership.

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How long have you been with The Service Companies?

I’ve been with the company for 11 years, working at two properties in the Shreveport area since I was first hired.

What role(s) have you had here and what is your current position?

I started as an EVS Attendant and was promoted to Supervisor. My background includes working on EVS and Stewarding teams and I work closely with The Service Companies’ customer’s Food & Beverage team here in Shreveport.  

What does your job entail?

My job entails making sure my team is able to do their job, from roll call and pre-shift meetings at the beginning of the shift to making sure my team members are where they need to be and has what they need. I provide my team with everything they need to succeed each day.

How do you stay motivated or how do you motivate your team members/coworkers?

I make sure my team knows that the most important part of their job is about respect for themselves, their team and their guests, and I respect them. I motivate them by making sure they have what they need to do well, and also recognize associates with giveaways and announcements to let them know they are appreciated. This past holiday season, we all pitched in for a Christmas celebration, and I made sure everyone felt included and ate well.

What do you like most about your current role?

I love my team and being around people. I enjoy communicating with them about their jobs and training, making sure they have everything they need to succeed.

You have been with The Service Companies for over 10 years. What has kept you on our team and what do you like most about the company?

I love doing my job and I like my bosses. I enjoy the environment of The Service Companies and being a part of the team.

We are thrilled to have such a tenured member on our team. Through the years, we imagine you have experienced and learned a great deal. Is there any advice you’d give to a team member who has joined The Service Companies?

I would tell them to have a positive attitude, by happy and cheerful, and get comfortable with their job.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not working?

I like spending time with my friends and family, and being there for them when I’m needed.

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All.

No matter what level, property or department, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Building healthy relationships with clients

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By Chip Parmelee

In this current business climate, establishing a healthy relationship with your potential and current customer is paramount since we do business with those we trust.

Creating and fostering relationships with customers takes time and excellent customer service. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years with a number of luxury brands like Marriott International and currently overseeing AAA Four and Five Diamond properties in Southern Florida for The Service Companies, I have developed tips and recommendations on how to go about building these healthy relationships.

  • Know the position/responsibilities of your main contact. Having a thorough understanding of their needs ensures you are providing them what they need to succeed.
  • Learn what you might have in common that both of you can speak to and relate to.
  • Seek to establish a business friendship. Find out what interests them. Reference those interests in conversation, when it makes sense. Does your customer like the local baseball team? Engage them in conversation about a thrilling game or news.
  • If a mistake is made, always professionally apologize for the inconvenience. Take responsibility and assure your customers you will do research to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. For any promises or assurances you make, ensure you follow up.
  • Be genuine. If you are unsure of something, ask questions to clarify your uncertainty and to be sure you and the client are on the same page
  • Insist on inspections. They are healthy for both a vendor and a client. They allow you to identify potential issue before they become larger problem.
  • Get to know all department leaders of those areas your teams service or work closely with. At The Service Companies, one of the teams we work closely with at each property is Maintenance or Engineering. It is important to be known among these departmental leaders. Ask your client to facilitate introductions if there are leaders he or she believes it is important you meet and get to know.
  • Always express your appreciation to the client for giving you their time when visiting or following a meeting.
  • Learn their business. Various departments have distinct business outlooks. Understanding how their department functions will enable you to tailor your service to best fit their needs.
  • Acknowledge your customers by sending greeting cards. It’s a nice gesture for these to include as many as your team members’ signatures as possible along with your business card. Some ideas for when to send a card are:
    • Congratulatory card for a promotion, the birth of a child, or to acknowledge your client’s accomplishments
    • Thanksgiving is the perfect time to thank your client for their business
    • Birthdays
    • New Year

While these tips contribute to building a strong customer relationship, the most important one to remember is email and text are always needed; however, nothing replaces the personal visit or phone call. The more you are able to have a conversation, whether on the phone or in person, the better your relationship will be.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

How to develop great customer relationships

As we begin 2017, it’s important to remember the value of developing good customer relationships and providing exceptional customer service. At The Service Companies, one part of our Service Code is “Service is not what we do – it is who we are” and we are always focused on providing the best service possible to our hotel, casino and vacation ownership customers and their guests.

As we provide primarily “back-of-house” services, our customers are not only the guests of the property, but also of the various operational departments we work closely with throughout the day and night. I’ve found that good customer relationships stem from delivering good customer service. If your client is happy and satisfied with your work and response, then it is a sure way to not only grow your business, but also to maintain a lasting customer relationship. Here are some tips to accomplish this:

  1. Develop relationships with front office staff. Invite them to a pre-shift meeting so they see and understand your services and operations. Consider sending the front office staff treats during particularly busy times. Being in the hospitality industry, we are all working long and hard hours. It’s nice to show your customers your appreciation for their partnership.
  2. Remember special occasions that are important to your client. Keep track of your clients’ birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays, etc. Send a note on these dates. It will let your customers know you care and that they are important to you.
  3. Communicate with your clients on a regular basis. Even just a short note or, better yet, a call to see if they have any feedback and discuss upcoming busy dates and important group and guest arrivals; this communication is critical to providing the service they need and expect from us.
  4. Make great first and lasting impressions. First impressions are important because a lack of familiarity can raise anxiety and heighten emotions. In the beginning of a relationship, your customer may feel sensitive or tentative. Give them a warm greeting every time you see them. This often translates into a lasting positive memory. Over the course of your relationship, the pleasant, short contacts you have with your customer and the service you provide will increase the perception of friendliness. In addition to this, always be thinking how you can provide a lasting impression, which comes from creating a memorable ‘moment of difference.’ Associates who are always ‘looking to help’ and proactively take action to assist or give information will create the moments customers remember. The lasting impression is the goodbye and, unsurprisingly, a person seems to recall these interactions later in the experience more readily than those earlier.
  5. Create Moments of Difference. For The Service Companies, our customer’s guests and their experiences are incredibly important. To make sure their stays are memorable, create at least one special memory that they will remember after they leave. For repeat guests, aim to build on their memories. Allow staff to be inspirational, help, give information and make recommendations to guests. Give or do something unexpected (for instance, Housekeepers leaving extra tissues or delivering hot soup for sick guests). Give staff enough freedom to be able to provide exceptional service. Finally, have fantastic, friendly and easy receptions with great goodbyes.
Having a distinguished 35 years of experience in all facets of hotel development and operation, Victor Lopez is a true hospitality expert. Before joining The Service Companies, he held leadership roles at Hyatt, overseeing the operations of 32 properties from South America to Hawaii, including all resort properties in North America. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Camp Hyatt, Spa Hyatt, Golf Hyatt and learning vacation programs, as well as the gaming operations attached to Hyatt Resorts.

A Great Service Example

stewleonardsrockA few weeks ago I had the chance to visit a special place that was a prominent part of my childhood. It was a dairy store. That’s right, a dairy store, but it was not just any dairy store. It was the world’s largest dairy store; however, it didn’t start out that way.

The name of the store is Stew Leonard’s and it opened in 1969 selling bottled milk with 7 employees. Today, Stew Leonard’s has annual sales of over $400 million and more than 2,000 employees. The genius of Stew Leonard’s wasn’t selling bottled milk; it was the unrelenting commitment to customer service and the customer experience.

As a kid, we couldn’t wait to go to Stew’s to watch, through the big glass window, the milk actually getting bottled while jamboree music was being played by Disney-like animated farm animals (the real farm animals were right outside). Today, Stew Leonard’s is more like Whole Foods meets Costco and Disney World.

Why has this dairy store idea been such a success? It is because of their customer service culture that was established one day 47 years ago and has never wavered. As you enter Stew Leonard’s, there is a huge granite rock engraved with:

Rule 1 – The customer is always right!

Rule 2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1.

As I think about The Service Companies, I believe more than ever that our commitment to our brand, service code and Service. Above All is the engine that drives our success. Just like Stew Leonard’s customer service-oriented culture, our brand and service code put our customers first:

Service is not what we do – it is who we are.

We come to work to make our customers shine.

We are guests in our customer’s ‘house’.

We trust our co-workers, in all ways.

We leverage our expertise to solve problems.

Companies become successful and grow by providing either great services or goods to their customers. That is why we, The Service Companies and its 10,000 employees, strive everyday to live our service code and provide our customers and their guests exceptional service.

To learn more about our service code and who we are, visit our website here.

 

Steve Wilson is the President and CEO of The Service Companies, the leading provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry. With over 30 years of experience in service and hospitality, he flies more than 200,000 miles per year (all domestic) and spends over 200 nights per year in hotels visiting the company’s associates and customers, located in 44 states across the country.