What your team say about your business

In your absence what are your team saying about your business?  We recently made a trip to Blackpool to see the lights.  Having never seen them before, we wanted to make the most of it, so we booked into a hotel in the centre that also had sea views.  We booked through booking.com (this bits important) 2 doubles and a twin, all with sea views no problems.

The problems started when we arrived at the hotel (The Grand Metropole – Brittania Hotels Group).  We tried to get into the hotel car park past the barrier, but it resolutely stayed down, and wouldn’t let us in.  My wife went in to see what the problem was, as we had a disabled aunt with us who needed to get out of the car and into the hotel to be informed they wouldn’t (not couldn’t, wouldn’t) open the barrier and that we would have to get her out where we were.  Part in the road and part in the driveway!

Having driven for 7 hours this was not the reception we wanted or expected.  Check in – surely nothing can go wrong there, after all it was all confirmed.  Wrong!

They had three rooms, but not the rooms we had booked – the twin became a single and no longer had a sea view.  The response?  “Sorry, we can’t do anything about it we double booked your room.” – as they had done for several other guests.  It also seems that this was not the first time and I doubt it would be the last time.  We then found out and they were moving these guests to their other hotels nearby – call me cynical but was this there idea of getting more business?  Have people book into one hotel when space wasn’t available, and then move them to another group hotel when they couldn’t stay at the one they wanted.  Short term this might work, but medium term it’s likely to kill the business.

As this was supposed to be a trip to remember, at the moment it was being remembered for the wrong reason, we decided to look for alternative accommodation.  The hotel staff wouldn’t offer any assistance in this – “Sorry sir there’s nothing we can do!” – so back to the internet.

Using Booking.com again we found another hotel (The Marriot Hotel, Preston), it was 14 miles away so not ideal, but it had the rooms we wanted and was likely to give us a more pleasurable stay.  We booked, travelled to the hotel and what followed was light years from the first hotel.  Drive up to the door, disembark, book in and straight to our rooms, no fuss and in fact with a smile – it doesn’t cost anything but means such a lot.

This continued throughout the stay.  The staff were very helpful and they actually appeared to want to help make our stay as pleasant as possible.  Maybe this was part of their training when they joined.  If that is the case it is a lesson to all business as it made us as guests feel valued and ensured that we forgot all about our earlier experience.

I mentioned that booking.com was important, well we subsequently contacted them to let them know about the double booking.  Firstly they were apologetic that we had had an issue and then, even though they hadn’t made a mistake, without being prompted or asked they offered to cover the additional cost we had incurred.

In all instances it wasn’t the owner of the business that was dealing with us it was the staff.  As a small business owner you may be thinking I would never do that, but what are your team doing when you are not there.  Without good service, your customers will vote with their feet even before they’ve become a customer.  You need to ensure that your team do what you would do.  If that means training them, then train them.  If that means giving them the ability to make decisions then give them that ability.

Whilst you are on your own, the business is you and your customers only see you.  Once you have a team, the customer still needs to see you represented through your teams actions.

Get it right and your clients come back, and just as importantly they become advocates for you and encourage others to use you.

In the above, two companies did exactly that and one didn’t, in fact quite the reverse.  The first two companies we will definitely use again and one we will not use again and more importantly will actively discourage anyone from staying at the hotel or the other hotels in the group.

Gain Accountancy – more than just accounts