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Nothing is more important for success than making sure that everyone who interacts with you comes away happy. Often it’s the difference between success and failure. A happiness-focused owner enjoys torrents of repeat and referral business. Over time, they can reduce their dependence on first-time visitors. The opposite of a happiness-focused owner is not someone who has a mission to make people unhappy. They’re just not being proactive about making people happy.

The Library Hotel Collection holds the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 9th positions on TripAdvisor(opens in a new tab). In New York. Adele Gutman, their marketing director, had this to say(opens in a new tab):

‘The secret is our people. We hire happy people who love to be of service, and we train them and coach them to create a sense of pride in people pleasing.

‘If you do your bit to help them develop their skills and give them all the tools, plus the freedom to use their imagination and creative problem solving skills, needed to make people happy, you will be inspired to see how far they are ready to go for guests.’

Right now, that could be you. Most mistakes in business are not deliberate — they’re accidental. If people leave unhappy, it could be there’s something that you’re overlooking without knowing. While your branding(opens in a new tab) and website(opens in a new tab) is what will get your customers through the door and what we do best, their experience is entirely on your team.

We get the idea of making people happy intuitively when it comes to our guests, but did you know this is even MORE important for your staff?

Treat Your Staff Like Gold

Your staff will treat your guests more or less exactly how you treat them; your job isn’t complete once you’ve hired the right one(opens in a new tab). If you do have staff, your #1 purpose in life needs to be making their life great, while your customers are falling in love with them.(opens in a new tab)

Do you bend over backwards to make sure your guides are well equipped? Trained? Well paid? Rested? Empowered to make decisions without having to ask you? Happy?

I’ve talked to business people who complain that they ‘find it so hard to get great people.’ This is nonsense. Your staff are more or less a direct reflection of you. They are the most honest mirror you can ever hope to look into.

Do you have a genuine, beating desire to be the best boss they ever had? The proof is that your staff tell you.

Your Guests Feed Off Your Staff’s Energy

Your guests can feed off the energy you and your staff send out. One sharp word can reduce an entire experience into nothing.

A single moment of bloody-minded inflexibility is all it takes to destroy your ranking on TripAdvisor.

One of the biggest causes of negative reviews is where the operator refuses to take responsibility for things out of their control. This puts it onto the guest’s shoulders and ultimately their staff who have to deal with an unhappy guest.

Do companies with over a thousand 5-star reviews and just one or two 1-star reviews achieve this by accident? Their cars never break down, they never have rainy days, their guides never get sick, they never arrive at a restaurant which sends out bad food from the kitchen?

These businesses put aside short term profits in favor of a bigger vision.

It’s easier said than done, and if you haven’t laid out a plan to ensure this is the case you’re going to get hurt at some point.

Basic causes of employee unhappiness:

1. Lack of training and processes. If someone makes a mistake in your business, it could well be your fault. Think about it: could the issue be for lack of process or training? Take responsibility for your employee errors — if you know how to do it, why don’t they? There’s only one person who can wear the blame for that.

2. Lack of trust and empowerment, where even the best-hearted people can go wrong. People HATE working for worriers, even if they are great people when they take off their ‘boss’ hat. Let go and trust your employees. Give them the independence to make decisions up to a certain value ($500, $1500) without having to consult you. Allow them to figure out their own way to solve problems. This last point is where I trip up most as a boss.

3. Lack of perceived fairness in policies. If your employees feel that your policies are unfair, they will never respect you as much as they could. They hate being in a position where they have to explain to the customer why they can’t get a refund on their cancellation.

Most policies in a business have one purpose: to protect the business. This is counter-productive. Design your policies to protect your employees and customers. Stop worrying about small hits to your petty cash, and think about the long term.

4. Lack of feedback and praise. You might love your employees, but do they know it? Maybe you have a hectic business where you don’t have much time to breathe. I get that. We have super busy times, and I understand. You just need to be mindful of this and show your appreciation of your staff on a much more regular basis than you might think. If you work hand in hand, I’m talking several times a day. Compliment them in front of your guests. Praise them on your social feed and on your website. Even if you don’t work happen to work alongside them, always be looking for opportunities to encourage.

5. The owner doesn’t take responsibility for things that happen outside their control. Just because it’s not your fault doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility to fix. Do everything to make things right for your clients. Be the happiness champion of your business.

Be proactive in making sure your guests and staff are happy. You may not become a millionaire overnight, but you have just set a wonderful foundation.

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