Hospitality goes long way with business
May 07, 2012
BUSINESS TIPS ARTICLE
By Cindy Hartin, ASU-SBDC Assistant Director
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Hospitality is one of those terms that means different things to different people.
The dictionary defines hospitality as, “cordial and generous reception of guests.” In our hospitality seminars at the Small Business Development Center, we broaden the term to include the appearance of a retail shop or public establishment and the overall experience for the customer.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit Charleston, S.C. This was my first visit to Charleston and I was extremely impressed with the excellent hospitality. As a customer, I can say hospitality is a critical component of a retail or restaurant experience.
My visit to Charleston was enjoyable because of the cordial and generous reception I received. It was obvious the retailers and restaurateurs of Charleston are comfortable catering to tourists and guests of their city. For example, one store owner was a pleasant woman who loved her products, and was genuinely interested in where I was from and what brought me to Charleston. She treated me like I was her only customer that day. When I return to Charleston, I will most likely visit her shop again because my experience with her was so pleasant.
I also experienced that kind reception from the waitstaff and restaurateurs. One young waiter was very enthusiastic about his job and the service he provided, and even asked the kitchen to prepare a special item that was not listed on the menu. His goal was to go above and beyond the typical serving requirements. Afterward, the restaurant manager stopped by the table to check in on my experience and he mentioned the young waiter would soon be promoted to management.
What is interesting about hospitality is the finesse required to give your customers a positive experience without obvious effort. Unfortunately, soon after returning from Charleston, I had lunch at a San Angelo restaurant and had a very different experience. Even though the waitstaff was doing their best to provide service, hospitality was lacking. Our food was delayed and one meal did not arrive because it was no longer available and the waitstaff failed to notify our table of the change.
Even with the best intentions, there is no substitute for training and mentoring front-line employees in providing good service.
At the SBDC we work with all types of businesses, retail and restaurants included. If there is one message to business owners, it is to be focused on the level of hospitality offered to your customers.
Hospitality applies to all types of businesses far beyond retail shops and restaurants. If you provide services and products to customers, hospitality is necessary for your business, because a good customer experience is a key ingredient in getting repeat business and good word-of-mouth publicity.
If you own a business, an attitude of servitude can be the first step to excellent hospitality. Some businesses give me the impression that I am interrupting their day. Greet your customers when they come to your business. A polite hello and a short, “How can I help you?” can go a long way with a customer.
In today’s world where everyone seems to be in a hurry, it is important to meet the needs of your customer efficiently. And, if you can’t, apologize. Let your customer know that you want to meet their needs and explain how and when you can help them.
My visit to Charleston will be memorable for a variety of reasons but I can honestly say the hospitality from the people of Charleston made the visit even more memorable, and made me more likely to return. Hospitality is the key that makes a city, and a business, enjoyable.
“Business Tips” was written by Cindy Hartin, CEBS Fellow, Assistant Director and Certified Business Adviser III, of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Cynthia.Hartin@angelo.edu or 325-942-2098.