Newsletter – July ‘14

Posted by | June 29, 2014 | Newsletters | No Comments

A few bite-sized insights from current engagements and downtime…

Going the extra mile…it can make your business


Whilst sailing around the Ionian Islands last year I came across the perfect example of going the extra mile – in this case 200 metres – for your customer.

We entered Kalamos harbor – a sleepy little inlet with fishing boats and other charter yachts – to find we had left it too late to get a berth. All the berths had been taken. Many yachts were rafted up – two or three at a time – and all the stern-too positions along the harbor wall were fully occupied. It was another two to three hour sail to the nearest alternative overnight stop and we berated ourselves for staying so long on the beach before seeking a safe haven for the night. As we turned the yacht – having spent time milling around and looking lost in the middle of this small harbor – making way for the exit and open sea, a dinghy rapidly approached with Georgias.

Georgias was the owner of a taverna in Kalamos, of which there were some six in total. He waived cheery hello’s, asked if we wanted to overnight and explained that he could fit us in easily if we wished. We wondered how he was going to manage such a feat as the place was brimming over with yachts of various sizes. In the following minutes all became clear. He asked a fisherman to move his mooring lines, bade us drop an anchor, reverse towards a slipway, took our mooring lines ashore and made fast. It was done in a flash – still can’t believe how skillful and expertly managed.

We thanked Georgias profusely and offered some recompense. No need, it was always good to see new faces – he said. He also dropped into the conversation that fact that he owned the pretty little taverna called (yes you guessed it) Georgias, situated at the end of the harbor. Of course we popped ashore and our first port of call – having walked past the other five tavernas – was to pay a visit to Georgias place to have a cold beer. We were welcomed in as if we were guests in their home. The beers/wine and tapas were delicious and served with a friendly smile and some local advice of places to visit. We enjoyed the experience so much that we returned later for dinner. Only to receive the identical great service and wonderfully fresh food.

As I mentioned Georgias owns one of six almost identical tavernas in Kalamos – a truly competitive market. He has differentiated his offering by going the extra mile (OK…200 metres from his taverna to our boat) to gain our custom and then following through with an excellent service offering. The reward…well he had our custom (five adults and two children) for the duration of our stay. And of course we mentioned the great service to other yachties on our travels.

I forgot to mention….Georgias taverna was full with customers clearly having a good time all evening long whereas the competitors were merely either ticking over or struggling. He clearly understands what customers want and how to deliver a great experience.

The message is clear for us all. Choose your market segments, understand their needs better than anyone else, develop a customer journey which meets their needs and an experience which ensures they come back for more.

Shame we don’t have five competitors, the confines of a harbor and a dinghy to practice getting it right…

Winning culture…seven attributes

A recent article in HBR suggests that winning cultures are comprised of two interrelated and reinforcing elements. First, every high-performing company has a unique identity—distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other organisations. These characteristics give employees a sense of meaning just from being part of the company. They also create passion for what the company does.

Secondly, the best performing companies typically display a set of performance attributes that align with the company’s strategy and reinforce the right employee behaviors. Research revealed seven of

  • Honest. There is high integrity in all interactions, with employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders;
  • Performance-focused. Rewards, development, and other talent management practices are in sync with the underlying drivers of performance;
  • Accountable and owner-like. Roles, responsibilities, and authority all reinforce ownership over work and results;
  • Collaborative. There’s a recognition that the best ideas come from the exchange and sharing of ideas between individuals and teams;
  • Agile and adaptive. The organisation is able to quickly adjust when necessary and adapt to changes in the external environment;
  • Innovative. Employees push the envelope in terms of new ways of thinking; and
  • Oriented toward winning. There is strong ambition focused on objective measures of success, either versus the competition or against some absolute standard of excellence.

Few organisations exhibit all seven of these attributes. But high performing organizations typically spike on the three or four that are most critical to their success.

Culture plays a vital role in performance. Winning cultures treat performance as an explicit output and foster an environment that is conducive to generating the best possible results — not just for employees, but for customers, suppliers and shareholders…

A tad prescriptive perhaps but we think this adds clarity to a subject area which by its very nature is difficult to pin down.

Kind regards
Paul Foord