If you have worked in any sort of retail operation with a receipt printer, you have undoubtedly seen this…
And you know what those pink stripes mean… you are about to run out of receipt paper. In this case, they also sparked a leadership lesson!
After a glorious week at the IAAPA Attractions Expo, it was time to return my rental car and come home. I had rented from Alamo at the Sanford, FL (SFB) airport, and had noticed an “upping of their game” when it came to service lately.
Not only in Sanford, but in other locations, consistently getting friendly, genuine service when being checked in at the counter and equally hospitable attention when being shown to the car. Twice recently I rented cars that might have needed some explaining… a convertible and a hybrid. While I probably could have figured things out on my own, it was very helpful to have the finer points of operation explained to me by a knowledgeable employee.
Upon returning the car(s), not only was the process quick, I consistently heard these two phrases (or some variations thereof):
- “How was your service with us?”
- “Was there anything else we could have done to make the experience better?”
In my last few cases, the answers were, “Great”, and “Nothing I can think of”. Really, short of driving the car for me, I don’t know that there is anything else I expect from a rental car company.
And this brings us to the receipt tape.
On my most recent return, I pulled up and got out of the car. I was immediately greeted by a young lady who appeared to be a supervisor (based on her appearance and demeanor). Her greeting was enthusiastic and welcoming. She then asked the two questions above.
And my answers were the same.
She proceeded to walk around the car looking for damage while telling me that Ruben was just finishing up with the car ahead of me and would be right over to print out the receipt.
Her inspection complete, she then called to Ruben “this car is all set”.
With a smile, Ruben walked up to my car, scanned the bar code and asked me how everything was. I didn’t mind telling him that everything had been great.
Just as Ruben hit the print button on his portable printer, the supervisor came back over with a new roll of receipt paper.
“How did you know I needed paper?” Ruben asked.
“I noticed the pink stripe on your last printout”, she said.
“Thanks so much!” Ruben responded.
So is this really about receipt paper? Partially. But more importantly its about a leader who is setting the example, supporting her employee and proactively serving them at the same time.
- This supervisor set the example with her enthusiastic greeting. Ruben followed suit.
- The supervisor helped Ruben more efficiently check in the cars as she took care of the walk around inspection for him.
- The supervisor anticipated and filled a need (receipt paper) so that Ruben wouldn’t have to stop what he was doing to go find a fresh roll.
To me this all started with an observation. The supervisor observed that there were ways she could help, so she did. She observed that he was running low on paper, so she proactively went to get a replacement. We talk all the time about anticipating our guests needs… how often are we applying those same thoughts and actions to our employees?
Being realistic, do we think this supervisor is out there all the time performing these actions? I honestly hope not, otherwise you might as well just have two attendants. I would think she was out there checking on her team and decided to help out a bit while she was there.
We all know that our employees are watching everything we do. They notice when we help out, they notice when we just “stand around”, they notice when we aren’t there. This supervisor has taken it upon herself to make sure that her employees are noticing the right things, and that she is proactively serving and providing value to her teams at every opportunity.
This is not only important in the moment, but as a long term investment into the relationships you have with your employees. Fast froward 3 months from now, and this supervisor has to have a conversation with Ruben about performance or cost cutting or whatever. He will likely remember times like I’ve described above and have a feeling that at least she has his back. He may not like what she has to tell him, but he will likely believe that it’s coming from a good place.
Counter that with an employee who never sees their supervisor or when they do, they “stand around”, don’t contribute or only spend time criticizing. Now when bad news comes down the pike, and it’s delivered by someone who they don’t respect, they will more likely feel attacked and get defensive. Those conversations rarely go well.
So maybe it’s time to “Alamo” your leadership game? Maybe its time to not only proactively serve your employees, but also to proactively illicit their feedback and input about their experience? After all, isn’t your job as a leader to ensure your employees have the best experience possible so they will carry out your companies mission?
Let’s tweak these two questions a little bit to fit the leader/employee scenario:
- “How is your experience with us, and with me as a leader?”
- “Is there anything else we can do to make the experience better?”
Of course the follow-up to these questions is to A. LISTEN, and B. do something with the information. If you don’t do either, your employees won’t believe you are sincere.
Thanks for reading!
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