Creating an outstanding service-based business is tough. Customers are difficult and hiring the right staff and managing them well can be hard to get right. But, IF you get it right then the rewards are very very fruitful.
Let’s get one thing straight, your staff are your most valuable asset. Your product may be amazing but without awesome people to sell/showcase/run it, it’ll be a flop. Oddly, for such important assets, they are often overlooked when it comes to care and attention. Many business owners are more than happy giving customer discounts and their venue a new lick of paint while their staff are on low wages and working in difficult conditions.
Here’s an idea, don’t discount your amazing product. Give that money to your staff instead.
Radical though it sounds, giving your staff more will probably make them happier. BUT, and it’s a big one, just paying them more can have an overall negative effect if you don't get the rest right. Putting it down in its simplest form, if you’re stuck in a job you hate and someone gives you a little more money to bare with it… yes, it’s better for you but the actual job (or conditions) are still the thing you hate.
So… instead of simple blanket wage rises, where should this extra investment go?
What are we trying to achieve? What’s important to our business?
We’re always trying to bring our staff on board with the ethos of our business. Help them buy into the product we sell and feel proud to be a part of it. They are the front line. They are the first meaningful interaction a customer will have with your business. Simply giving them more money will not raise their game when it comes to building pride in the business. Instead, we have to show that we appreciate their importance. If they understand and are told that they are a crucial, valuable member of the business then they are far more likely to become close with (and have pride in) the product they are selling for you.
It’s simple: Treat them well. Tell them they are important, Surprise them, Be their cheerleader. Give them the ability to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to let them handle things. If you’ve empowered your team and allowed them to build huge pride in what they do then they’ll soon become a better advocate for your product than you are!
I recently saw two interesting things happen in a service based business I was visiting. I’ll leave you to analyse these and think about how you’d feel if you were the owner in these cases.
I was interacting 1 on 1 with a member of staff who was complaining to me, the client, about the lack of communication with his boss and how he’s now working extra hours today for no extra money. He was fuming and was telling me all about how the boss of the business (whom I interact with too!) just snaps orders and expects things done, no questions asked…He’d not even had lunch that day yet, it was 2:30 pm. Not the best front line interaction but NOT his fault.
A member of staff was talking to another about how it would be awesome to learn a new skill but they’d have to do it themselves. From the context, this new skill would fit very well with the type of business but wouldn’t be directly useful for the role she was filling (I won’t give the exact thing but think cleaner in an office doing a computing course). They dreamily discussed how that sort of thing would be really interesting and how they’d love to do it. Then the dream floated away as the phone rang and they continued with their job.
They were both extremely interesting moments to be a part of, especially when thinking about how just a small change in the way they were managed and looked after could make a VERY big difference to the how valued they felt as a team member.
So, with that info in the bank, one last little thing to reflect on. You’ve paid them really well, you’ve given them treats and surprises, you’ve over-delivered on the job and they’ve had a great and rewarding time working for you… and then they leave. All that money and time wasted? No? … NO. They may leave but they’ll leave happy to have worked for you, they’ll speak of this awesome place to work and others will want to work for you. Those amazing people will come knocking for jobs and you’ll have more valuable team members. The investment is well worth it!
Invest heavily in your staff, they are your most valuable asset.
Don’t just pay them more, show them you appreciate their importance to your business. Over-deliver and work hard for them. After all, you’re expecting this in return.