Steps to Management Success – Step 123: Strive to Be Different

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 15th, 2010


Strive to Be Different

Customers and employees alike have certain base expectations about your business—that you’ll be open during your posted business hours, that your roof won’t leak, that their paychecks will clear, et cetera. Meeting these expectations may not always be easy, but they only get you to par. To really stand out from and above your competition, you have to be delightfully different—memorably distinctive in small (or not so small) ways that enable customers or employees to sincerely say, “Wow, no other company has ever done that for me before!”

WHAT IT MEANS: The first hotel to put a mint or chocolate on its guests’ pillows was on to something. The one-thousand-and-first hotel wasn’t. In other words, once a “delightfully different” service or employee perk gets emulated by everyone, it is no longer so different. That doesn’t mean that you have to be absolutely unique to be delightful—it’s all about style and providing that precious “pampered VIP” feeling. For example, some companies offer weekly massages, and I seriously doubt that any of your employees would complain if you did likewise. The goal is to try to do something enjoyable and wonderfully unexpected to demonstrate how much you value these two groups that are so critical to your company’s well-being. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but creative little flourishes add to the wow.

ACTION PLAN: Find out what other companies are doing and up the ante. Chocolate on the pillow may be a hotel industry cliché, but what if it’s a handmade gourmet chocolate? Free coffee is ubiquitous—but free cappuccino or free muffins and bagels on Fridays are not. It’s easy to add your own delightful twist—and it doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. For example, I know of one company that provides its employees with hot or cold towels to refresh themselves. Can you imagine refreshing yourself with a cold towel after a “hot” stressful meeting? Delightful!

EVEN BETTER: Mix it up. Even the most posh of perks can get old after a while, so keep thinking of little ways to wow workers and customers. Invite suggestions. Do some “market research” to see which of several possible perks would be most appreciated. P.S.: There’s no [CN]RULE that says a perk has to happen regularly or even be announced beforehand. You could order dinner in for those working late to complete an important project . . . or spontaneously treat everyone in the company to ice cream . . . or give away tickets to a local sports event in a random drawing.

Have fun!

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

Roger Due

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