THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Creating your brand standard

Over lunch at the Belfast Hilton on Wednesday, I was chatting with Sian, the young lady who had checked us in to the hotel the previous evening. I asked her what training Hilton had provided when she joined the company as a receptionist. “The first week was at a central training location in Wembley” she replied “I attended a residential course where we spent our time role-playing customer registration at a mock-up desk and we were also given a laptop computer that contained the 20-steps in the registration process that make up the Hilton Brand Standard.” “I was then to spend the next 3 years working at a Hilton Hotel in Bucks, where I did on-site training with experienced staff. After that, I returned to Belfast to take up my post.” I asked her to explain a little more about the “Hilton Brand Standard”. “Every department has it’s own brand standard – a protocol that we are expected to follow. At reception, we have our 20-step process, which includes making eye contact, checking to see if the customer has stayed at the hotel before and, if so, welcoing them back – and making sure we use the customer’s name at least 3 times during the registration process.” “The concierge team have their own brand standard. So do the conference team, restaurant team, housekeeping and everyone else.” I asked whether this brand standard was available in printed form. “Yes – every department has the brand standard manual to refer to.” And that, of course, is why we use Hilton for most of our workshop venues, why I use Pizza Express when I eat “on the road”, why I have my hair cut at Tony & Guy. Because franchise businesses offer a consistent customer service experience – I can trust the brand. I’ve been thinking about this conversation all week. In dentistry, there are very rarely any training manuals or practice protocols – and there can be resistance to ceating them because it just seems like more paperwork. Often the response I hear is: “why do we need to do this – Mary has been on reception for years and she knows what to do – we just ask new team members to stand next to Mary and observe” Problems:

  1. the system Mary uses may be the system that worked 10 years ago – but not now – the market changes;

  2. Mary is resistant to change – because she likes things just the way they are;

  3. Mary has the wisdom of experience to deal with the odd questions and events but hasn’t written them down;

  4. Mary gets sick;

  5. Mary leaves;

  6. Mary loses her mojo;

  7. Mary doesn’t get along personally with the new receptionist.

Solution: Create brand standards for every department in your business. Just like the big boys. It’s a subject I’ll be addressing with my own team. And I already know that the howls of protest from clients who say “we haven’t got the time” will create a business opportunity for me. If new hairdressers go to a Tony & Guy Academy – why don’t new receptionists go to The Dental Business School Academy? Hmmmm…..

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