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Opinion: Pick your promise and deliver on it, CEO says

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The following is part of an occasional opinion series on BringMeTheNews in partnership with Jeff Prouty at The Prouty Project. It features insights from business leaders from a variety of industries.

Jeff Prouty: As part of a three-day strategic planning retreat for a client, I invited Bill Morrissey, CEO of Morrissey Hospitality Companies, Inc., to share in the wisdom he’s gained while working with hospitality businesses around the world. His 60-minute presentation offered numerous insights into building a business, offering five-star customer service and fostering a great team. After listening to Bill, who is a fire hose of insightful and humorous stories, it was readily apparent that his remarks could apply to just about any company in any industry. I’ve captured a few of these gems to remind us all of Bill’s tenets that create great employees and great businesses alike.

– Be a Family: I like the concept of family better than the concept of team. In a family, you care more. Be sincere. Say you're sorry. Say thanks. Cover for each other.

– Design the Experience: The best companies find a way to design the customer experience. Repetition is key every step of the way. Pretend we're inviting folks into our home. Preach it, and teach it. Define touchpoints and guard against potential failures. Do you have a vision of the guest experience in your business?

– Pick Your Promise: Pick your promise and deliver on it. Find your passion and follow it.

– Hold Your Standards High: We have a standard operating procedure on appearance. Take the time to create your standards and then teach every employee about the "why" of those standards. Hold your standards high, be visible as a leader, be approachable, set an example. You need standards and procedures for virtually every task, regardless of the business you're in.

– Avoid Hemorrhaging: Profits are the lifeblood of every organization. You can lose an "arm" or "leg" and still survive. You lose your "blood," and you are dead.

– Spend Time on Offense: Too many companies spend too much time on "defense”—regulations, requirements, bureaucracy. I want our team spending time on "offense." How do we sell $20 more each day to every customer?

– Demand Perfection: We demand perfection and settle for excellence. This is not a "percentage game." Expect 100%. How many of you would fly an airline that lands its planes safely only 94% of the time? We remind every employee, constantly, about their responsibility to grow as individuals. We also provide constant, honest feedback in a caring way.

– Fill your Stable with Stallions: I'd rather have a stable full of stallions. Hire talented people who are driven to succeed, and will push you to think. Hire happy people to engage happy customers.

– Be Ladies and Gentlemen: We want to be ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen. When you teach your employees, you are teaching them life skills. Just like the movie, “My Fair Lady.”

– Don't Screw it Up: Our customers generally show up happy. It's not like a funeral home or the health care field – our customers are generally happy when they check in. I tell our folks, "Don't screw it up."

– Be Accountable: When we make mistakes (which will happen), I ask the person who made the mistake to write an apology note to the customer. Service failures cause disappointment on both sides of the equation – the customer and the employee. When you write an apology note, you are showing accountability.

– Show Up: Show up like you want to be on stage or don't show up. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, put your makeup on, smile, bring your positive energy. Provide the extra touch. Teach your employees how to engage a customer: how to shake hands, how to look them in the eye, how to call them by name. Every employee has to feel professional and confident.

– If You Get Fired: Remember, if you get fired, your co-workers fired you and your boss delivered the message. Treat your customers and your fellow employees with care.

– Share Wisdom: Ask the elders, "How do we improve the employee experience?" Orientation and onboarding are critical. Listen. We want the employees to "raise their hands" with ideas and suggestions.

– Celebrate: We celebrate all mentions of employees: notes from customers, mentions in the press, everything.

If you'd like to learn more about Bill Morrissey, and Morrissey Hospitality Companies, Inc. check them out at Morrissey Hospitality.


Jeff Prouty founded the Prouty Project in 1987 after seven years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Minneapolis and New York City. He specializes in working with senior management teams and boards of directors on strategic planning and team issues.

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