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David FullerWe were walking by the Vancouver airport recently and an employee was standing outside of the Plaza Premium Lounge greeting passersby and encouraging them to try the service.

More akin to the credit card hawkers you typically find in an airport than a lounge greeter, this woman was engaging and aiming to please. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought she actually owned the restaurant.

The service didn’t end at the front door. After we decided to enter the establishment, this greeter escorted us up the elevator, to the front desk and then seated us. During our stay, she checked on us numerous times and ensured we were completely satisfied with the service and our meal.

This employee created such a memorable experience that I would be happy to revisit and recommend the lounge to others. She actually suggested we leave a Google review if we were happy.

Comparing that experience to one a couple of days before at a Browns Socialhouse is like comparing a Ferrari to a Lada. At Browns, the food was about the same as the lounge and the prices were similar, but the waitress left us wondering for extended periods if she was still on shift.

The next day we were in the same area looking for somewhere to grab a bite and, with few options, we considered Browns. Talking it over, two of us noted that we might have to wait a considerable time before being served, which we couldn’t justify. We walked on since the brand had a reputation for being slow in our minds. The business lost our business due to substandard service by an employee.

Employees play an integral part in the success or failure of a business. They’re critical to how our customers experience and interact with our brand and our business. Great employees build our brand, enhance our customers’ experience, and drive repeat business.

Having the wrong people in the wrong jobs – engaging with customers – is a risk that’s hard to justify. If we compute the lifetime value of a customer, we recognize that the profit we make from a one-time purchase is small compared to the value of a long-term relationship with a valued customer.

So how do we find great staff to build our brand?

It starts with your core values

Most companies haven’t defined what their core values are and, as a result, leave it to their employees to define what’s important in the business. If taking care of people is one of your core values, you better take care of your employees. They’re going to treat the customers just as well as you’re treating them.

When we’ve defined our core values, we need to bring those values into the hiring process and define our ideal employees based on how they fit those values. If taking care of people is our core value, then we want to hire people who take care of people and love doing that.

You would think this would make sense, but more often than not, companies hire people for skills and aptitude instead of their attitudes as they relate to our values.

Keep employees accountable to what you value

When you hire and train people according to the company values, it’s essential you keep them accountable to those values.

If, for example, one of your values is honesty but you turn a blind eye when one of your star employees steals a few minutes of time at the beginning or end of each day, you’re in trouble. You’re also in trouble when you ignore a salesman who takes advantage of a client, or you take a few packs of printer paper and supplies home for your kids to draw on because you feel no one will miss those items.

Accountability starts with us as leaders and it filters down through our actions and our ability to manage our teams and keep them true to what we’ve stated is important.

More advice on running your business

If you feel some of your values are outdated and not important anymore, change your core values or define them differently. While difficult to do in larger organizations, if you can’t live with the defined values, perhaps it’s time to move on.

Our brand is what people think about us when they consider our company. While there are numerous aspects to branding that are better explained by the likes of Matt Wood (in the book Don’t Wear White in a Blizzard), your brand represents considerable long-term value to your company.

In order to mitigate any threat to our brand by the actions of wayward employees, or to develop the enormous goodwill that well-trained employees can create, it’s important we choose the right people and place them in positions that let them fulfil their potential.

We do this by understanding our core values and hiring and training to those values. When we’re successful, we have little to worry about and much to gain.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in Pivotleader Inc. Employee issues? Email your challenge to [email protected]. For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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