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Training your staff to care, part 1: Inspire them

Training your staff to care, part 1: Inspire them

Welcome back to my blog, which was on hiatus due to responsibilities in both business (new clients!) and my personal life (a new baby!!). Thank you for your forbearance. I am very pleased to be back, and I look forward to connecting with you on a regular basis.

My last post was part of a series on creating great guest service where I made the distinction between the concepts of service and caring. I made the point that ?chain? competitors in your markets, both luxury (a la Ritz-Carlton) and upscale (Westins and Hiltons), talk about and train ?great guest service.? According to Webster?s dictionary, service as a noun is: employment as a servant, the act of serving. Another definition of service as a noun is: a helpful act or useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity. This defines the problem for chains aspiring to provide service and the opportunity for boutique hotels to deliver caring, which is a step up from service.

To serve according to the ?big guys?? hospitality model is, primarily, to provide prompt, accurate, friendly service upon request. To truly care for your guests requires anticipating and thoughtfully providing for them, often before they even know their need! This quality of care is best achieved in smaller, intimate, boutique-style settings, and delivering it is what will differentiate you from the competition ? even from other boutiques ? by doing it better! Boutique properties are in a perfect position to embrace the kind of caring that creates lasting, positive memories for guests, inspires them to tell their friends about their experiences and draws them back again and again.

The key to providing care to guests rather than mere service lies in inspiring staff to care genuinely about the property, their work, fellow team members and, ultimately, the guests. Assuming that each hire is, by nature, a caring individual, the goal is to unite staff members through training to provide a consistent brand of care to guests.

At Mirbeau Inn & Spa, our 34-room retreat in Skaneateles, located in New York?s Finger Lakes Region, an effective staff-training program grew out of our brand promise of ?Life. Classically Balanced.? Its structure and tenets may have application to you. In our case, given Mirbeau?s Monet-inspired theme, we decided to dub our staff members ?Impressionists? and created a training program that teaches them to interpret the brand through delivery of caring service.

The program was launched last year through a two-day presentation of Mirbeau?s brand platform and the Impressionists concept for all employees. The training?s theme is: ?You are an Impressionist.? The first part of the training has inspiration as its goal. We give staff members a perspective on their respective roles within the operation. We want each individual to understand how important his/her contribution is. We imbue staff with the following messages:

  • People travel far and wide to see your work ? to see how you will inspire them to take in more of the vibrant palette that makes for a good life.
  • As impressionists, you bring light to day-to-day conventions that can be somber, suppressed and unemotional.
  • You are colorful. Bright. Candid. You provide balance and personality to modern living. This is not a lofty comparison to an artistic movement. You are extremely talented at leaving lasting impressions on your guests. And you?re known for doing so every day ? that?s why you have the following you do.
  • Monet-inspired gardens are not enough ? neither are our French country touches, as warm as they are. Just like the paintings of the time, through your movements, a single stroke of light and color come together and create a captivating whole.
  • You are a team.
In my next blog, I?ll explain the second part of the training.
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