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We need standards so that we can forget them

In our industry, the main difficulty will be consistency.

It is as valid in first class cabin of an airline as it is in your preferred fast food eatery.

Standards are a guarantee that someone will have actually given it some thought about what it is a customer may want and what it is that they are going to deliver to him.
And how can you even think about consistency, if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do?

Standards cannot be seen separate from the vision and the values of the company.
The standards are the levels at which the company wishes to fulfil its vision and in full respect of its values.

Once one has decided what it is he wants to do or deliver, he can go the next step, setting the methodology for doing this. Having delivered conform to standards a couple of times, this needs to be set as the minimum to be achieved, not as the ultimate objective.

That is when you will be perceived as delivering more than expected. That is where your customers will start to appreciate your efforts and will recognise that their expectations are met.
That is where your customers will be able to understand the promise you made them.

But that, again, is not enough.
We need to become so good at delivering the minimal requirements, that we forget about these, as they are a given, and concentrate on what it is we can do to do more.
We all understand that standards are there to provide our guests with certainty, with service they can understand and compare against previous experiences.
Different brands make different promises and all set different, yet sometimes similar, standards. It’s their way of differentiating themselves and talk to different audiences. 
Of late we see that these guest promises become narrower, i.e. a multiplication of brands, a decrease in the width of the different segments.

Some companies will concentrate on the procedure before setting the standards, the almighty SOP’s.
Spending time to decide upon the standards one wishes to achieve or deliver and set these as the minimum is the first step, defining the procedure (keep it simple) has to be the next step.

However, that is still not the end of it.
The cycle is not complete, the delivery phase is but one of many phases, but not the first and probably not the last phase.

In our business the delivery phase includes the human factor. It is the essence of our industry.
We have to decide who it is we want in our organisations, we have to set the employee profile.
We then have to properly explain these standards and our promise to our customers. 
Our obligation includes training the employees continuously and to keep them relevant in a changing environment.

If standards have been set, communicated and trained upon, an organisation will have to set up proper tools to measure if the expectations of the customer, and therefore the organisation, have been met.

Don’t forget to reward the employees when they have delivered what it is you wanted. From a well meant thank you to more elaborate celebrations, we all want to be recognised for what we do or assisted in doing things better still.

For more information www.lhcconsulting.com






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Pierre Verbeke Senior Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Pierre Verbeke is a Senior Consultant at LHC. He has an extensive career in hotel operations, pre-openings and re-brandings. He is first and foremost an operational person having managed several hotels in Belgium and having set up many pre-opening teams in different countries. He also has gained a wealth of experience opening hotels for a large Hotel Operator in various European, North African and Eastern European countries. He is particularly at ease with project management and knows how to deliver the highest quality of service within the agreed timeframe.

Pierre has experience with leased, managed and franchise properties and undserstands the various demands from owners, investors, and operators within the different projects. Pierre is an alumnus of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. He speaks Dutch, German, French and English, with some notions of Spanish.