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Want to Drive Great Service? Then Own Your Dirt!


So it’s clear that delivering great service, mastering the details, and delivering on the promise of a great experience is crucial to success. That said, there is a wide margin between what we all know to be the right thing to do and actually executing on those values and ideas.

So what is the big secret?

The good news is that it isn’t as complicated as many make it. It’s easy to get bogged down in creating an 287 step plan to Customer engagement and satisfaction. The problem is that the more complicated we make the process, the less the Guest ends up in the center of what we do. It seems to me that we can boil this down to something much simpler.

Two Steps to Inspire Great Service:

  1. Walk Your Dirt

  2. Repeat until you Own it

Now that begs the question – what does it mean to own your dirt? Simply put, it’s an extension of the management by walking around maxim. Let’s face it, there is very little leadership happening from behind an office desk. Leadership is a contact sport and begs for in-the-moment management that models the appropriate behaviors.

Again, this can’t happen from your swivel chair.

Being visible in your business – particularly if you have multiple sites which are you leading – can pay dividends in a variety of ways.

It inspires better execution. Actively engaging with your team improves performance, increases employee engagement, and helps turn up the volume on Customer service. All this said, the ultimate goal is to train and inspire your team to provide this high level of service whether you are there or not; but in the beginning, your presence helps develop the muscle memory which leads to great performance.

Spending time out in your dirt makes it so much easier to coach in real time. If some of your associates need additional attention you are right there course correct and give direction.

This is a great way to drive recognition.  You can’t catch someone doing something right if you aren’t there to see it. So while you are out touring your locations, you have to keep your eyes open for great work that you can reward and celebrate.

It gives you the chance to hear feedback directly from your Customers. Comment cards are great. Surveys are useful. And relayed information from your teams is invaluable. But there is no substitute for looking your Customers in the eye and listening. Plus people sense when you own your space and are willing to listen – and they will reward you with the gift of feedback to help you improve.

You can model desired behaviors. When you spend time with your team it gives you the great opportunity to experience front line roles first hand. Take the time to work in these positions, as it gives a great chance to demonstrate your values in real time. You can show your teams that you truly believe in clean locations and great service by actually doing those things. The other great payoff here is that by performing front line roles yourself, you can empathize with issues your team may be experiencing and work directly with them to craft solutions.

The key here is commitment.  Make time every day to walk your dirt and treat it as the most important part of your day.  Put it on your calendar and don’t let the other demands on your schedule squeeze it out.  Take notes during your visits and when you sit down to summarize your day and plan tomorrow, be sure that you including your findings.  If you don’t use these as opportunities to drive improvement, you might as well have stayed in your office counting paper clips.

How will you engage your teams daily and be even more visible in your business?

Best wishes,

Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader-


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