5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Growing Your Business

Even though I don’t like to admit it, making mistakes is a sign of growth. I’m a type A and a perfectionist. I don’t like to make mistakes, I like to do things right the first time. However, that’s simply not how it goes when growing a business, hiring, and training staff.

(If you’d like to watch this content via video, click this link and it will take you to it! Maybe both – you can read and watch!)

Mistake #1: Hiring Skill Over Personality

When it comes to hiring, if the employee is going to be interfacing with customers, then always, always, ALWAYS hire personality over skill. You can train the skills, but it’s nearly impossible to train personality.

I was in a pickle, our busy season had picked up sooner than I had expected, and I was shorthanded. I desperately needed a front desk staff. I had a friend who  was organized and available. The organization piece was incredibly important when managing the front desk at our Boutique Hotel. The availability piece fit perfectly into my need for staff! Even though this person could be a little prickly, I ignored the nagging doubt in the back of my mind.

As a friend and then as a boss, I didn’t see that prickliness often, and I blew it off as a sharp sense of humor. Well, you can bet your boots that my customers and my staff felt differently. I should have trusted my gut. Hire personality over skill.

Hire Personality, Train Skill.
(Not the other way ’round.)
This is a “must do” when hiring staff that will interface with customers.

Samantha Irwin

Owner, Kaizein Business Coaching & Consulting

Mistake # 2: Brushing Off Employee Feedback

Regarding hiring my “skill over personality” (Mrs. Personality – said with a sarcastic tone) person, my seasoned and trusted staff started to drop some hints. I was so busy and desperately in need of a warm body so that I could have some time off that I initially dismissed my most trusted Staffs hint dropping. I concluded that “Mrs. Personality” was just having a bad day and I could retrain her . I felt that when she was more confident in what she was doing then her personality would shine.

Thankfully my seasoned staff persisted, and I came to realize that this person was actually hurting our business and not helping it. I should have acted much faster.

Horror Note: After she was let go a repeat guest who had become a friend told me that if Mrs. Personality had been their first impression as a guest, that they would not have returned. These particular customers ended up being in our top 20%! They were HUGE supporters and valued clients.

Mistake #3 Reactive – Not Proactive – Hiring

Waiting until I was given notice to start to look for someone to hire was a slow learned lesson for me. It took me years to move from reactive hiring to proactive hiring.  In Topgrading by Bradford Smart PhD, he talks about finding “A” players. In a nutshell, an A player is much like you. If you look in the mirror and you’re an entrepreneur, that’s the picture of an A player. An A player has initiative, drive, integrity, and is responsible. These are the type of people we want to hire! They don’t job hop, they give notice, they contribute, and they help our business grow. Most likely these A players already have jobs.

My hiring was in reactive mode instead of proactive mode. It’s unlikely that I was able to find an A player in two weeks. Once in a great while I got lucky. After reading Top Grading, I realized that the people I really desired to hire already had jobs. They also weren’t going to just drop the ball on their current employer and jump over to my team. Besides, if someone did that, I wouldn’t want them anyway.

Mistake #4, Stop the Micromanaging

I admit, I had a tendency to micromanage when I first began to grow. This is normal because I was transitioning between doing so many things on my own to now having other people work for me, execute plans, interface with customers and vendors, and help to grow my business. By the time I was hiring and training staff, I had developed SOP’s, training manuals, onboarding plan, and a staff meeting schedule. I needed to trust my staff to do a great job. Which they always did!

Mistake #5: Not Investing Sooner in a CRM System

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system. When I was growing our clientele from zero, I could keep all these fun details in my brain. However, as we grew, expanded our open days, gained more guests, and then as I pulled staff in to help, it became ever-so-clear and important that if we were to continue to create excellent customer service experiences (and not have everyone expecting ME to greet them), then we needed a way to manage all that important information.

These details about our guests were key to our high customer retention and to our growth. We kept details about anniversaries, birthdays, favorite rooms, events, pets, and even, in one case, notes on a divorce and girlfriends’ name. Talk about egg on the face if a new employee were to greet the girlfriend by the ex-wife’s name! Horror of horrors.

Knowing these details are what made our guests feel important and special. It works! Heck, I feel important when I call one of my favorite restaurants and they call me by name or remember my birthday! (Andina in Portland OR.)

Finding out about these details and then acting on them was one of THE MOST FUN parts of growing our business. It motivated our staff to be “hunters”. We used Odysys. (If you’re an owner of an Inn or Boutique hotel I strongly suggest you check them out.) It was always fun to see the joy on someone’s face when you remembered it was their anniversary and left a love quote in their room. And it helped the staff tips too!

Tool to Jump Start Your Training

One of the foundational things our team practiced with one another, with vendors, and with customers, was to put them as a priority over any task they were doing. Everyone, from front desk staff to housekeeping could always look a guest in the eye, give them a smile, and a friendly greeting. The greeting differed by department. If you were checking someone in, your greeting was different than if you were part of the housekeeping team and needed to hustle to clean a room. Regardless though, there was ALWAYS a greeting.

There were three things (I call them the Trifecta) we trained and practiced over and over that solidified our company culture of placing people first. Below is a resource tool/digital workbook you can use to equip your staff on the “Trifecta”.  I’m happy to share!

Just click this link below to download. I promise you, it creates a solid foundation for creating excellent customer experiences.

"An eBook AND a digital workbook training tool? Yes please!"

First Impressions Matter

3 Practices That Make Your
Customers Stoked to Return

Samantha works with business owners helping to ‘tame the overwhelm’, assisting with customer acquisition & retention, employee training & retention, and honing your Customer Experience so it kicks butt.

She conducts workshops and training in hospitality, Customer Experience, and creating a culture in the workplace that inspires and motivates employees and customers.

There's untapped, untrained power in your staff just waiting to be unleashed to help grow your business! Grab a copy of the eBook and Guide: First Impressions Matter to equip staff and grow your business today.

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