Service: Farm raised or store bought

Last week, Linda and I had the great opportunity to visit Nashville… aka Music City, USA.  For ANY music lover, this is a must-visit destination.  We had a great time with some great friends, and of course my blogging brain could not rest – even on vacation!

Although geographically incorrect, I would say that Nashville is a little more “southern” than Central Florida.  The term “southern hospitality” is more alive there, and overall there seems to be a general genuineness to the service experience.  Case in point – Lyn at the Farm House Restaurant.

Lyn was the host who welcomed us, talked to us, made us laugh, gave us tips, and generally treated us like a member of the family.  She wasn’t afraid to come out from behind the host stand to make the interaction more personal, and even sat down on the bench right next to us.  It was a great start to our dining experience. Lyn is the type of person we’d all like representing our businesses.

Of course me being me, I wonder how this happens. Where does the desire and willingness to openly talk to people, welcome them, and treat perfect strangers as if they were long lost friends come from?

Most people I tell about Lyn agree that this behavior did NOT come from training.  I would concur.  I think Lyn believes in what she is doing, has the opportunity to do what makes her feel good, and probably has the support and freedom to be herself.  Maybe she needed to be trained on the procedures of the restaurant, but the service is genuine.  So genuine in fact, that I can’t really even call it service.  Service seems too cold of a description.  Hospitality?  I think that’s closer.

So what does it mean when a product is marketed as “farm raised”?  I think the advertisers are counting on an inherent feeling that anything raised on a farm is going to be more natural, wholesome, and just plain better for you than something produced in a factory sold in a store.  By comparison, farms are warm and inviting.  Stores can be cold and sterile.

Two questions then come up… where does YOUR service fall, and can you duplicate the Lyn’s of the world?  The first question you’ll have to answer on your own.

The second question is yes and no.  Yes, by hiring people who genuinely want to serve and help others and giving them the freedom to be themselves, you can allow someone to use their talents to represent your company well. But no, you will never duplicate Lyn or her behavior, because Lyn is unique and what she does works for her.

Often, though, that’s what we try to do.  We see Lyn doing all these great things and we say, “That’s our standard.  Let’s write it in a book and make everyone do what Lyn does”.  While that may work for some tasks and industries, it usually isn’t as effective when it comes to service.  Essentially, you’ve just homogenized your farm raised natural goodness, rather than letting someone else bring THEIR personality and talents to the table.

Your employees have natural talents – talents that may not have even been realized yet.  Your job as a leader is to let them use and develop their own talents and passions, so they will be a productive employee.

Don’t have time for that?   Do you have time to hire and train twice as many people to account for the turnover?  I’ll let you decide how you would rather spend your time.

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Service: Farm raised or store bought

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Service: Farm raised or store bought « LeaderTips --

  2. So true! I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone run a business where they try to make everyone great with the attitude of “Be more like Lyn. Do exactly what she does.” It never works.

    I hope these same people read your blog and learn to let go a little, to let their staff be the great people that they are and to support their employees in being the best that they can be (in their own way).

    • I agree with you Jessica! I wonder, though, if this comes down to trust – especially in the service industry? For a business owner, it takes a lot of trust to hand over the reputation of their business to a front-line employee – particularly when the owner doesn’t have 100% confidence in that employee. Maybe that’s where the urge to control the experience comes from. In many ways, it’s hard to let go.

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