Employee Empowerment– What is your employee’s role?

 In Business Operations

  I met the other day with an airport fixed base operator (FBO).  He was extremely frustrated by the challenges he continues to experience with “service providers” in his community, especially regarding catering for aircraft that purchase fuel and then continuing on to their ultimate destination.
  The FBO manager told me a story about a deli that he prefers to use and has had excellent service from in the past.  However, last week, he called, on short notice and asked that 7 complete sandwiches, i.e., sandwich, chips, apple, drink be made for an inbound aircraft that needed fuel to continue on their journey.  The clerk at the deli told him that the “grill was off” and the sandwich  preparation area was being cleaned before closing.  The FBO manager asked, “What time do you close?”  He was told the deli would close in an hour and a half!
   Now, no matter of reasoning with the clerk to get the sandwiches made did any good.  In the end, the manager ended up “working the phones” trying to find someone or some cafe to make his 7 sandwiches for him to fulfill the incoming aircraft’s meal needs.
   As we talked about this, the FBO Manager told me that cost was no object.  He did not care what the cost was, the client wanted the sandwiches and was willing to pay whatever!  Wow, when/where do you ever hear that, in today’s constrained market?
   As business owners, it is important for you to insure that your staff is empowered to make decisions that will enhance/increase your business sales and business opportunities.  This requires that you provide your staff with the requisite training and understanding of their role in the overall operation of the business.  After all, you cannot be there 24/7/365, however, if you have trained your employees well, they will know exactly what they are authorized to do and how you expect it to be done.
   In the example above, we don’t have enough information to ascertain what the deli cleaning  and closing policy was.  However, shutting the grill down and cleaning the sandwich preparation area 1.5 hours before closing does not seem to allow for “last minute” calls that can be very profitable.  In today’s environment, one wants to insure that your business is taking advantage of all available opportunities, no matter how they are presented.  In this case, this was a lost opportunity that resulted in profit going down the drain.
   Have you trained all of your employees to be “customer service friendly?”  Do your employees know how much latitude they have in making decisions when you are not physically present on the premises?  Do your employees know that the customer is the individual who pays the bills?
   Although this may seem somewhat simplistic, it is not.  Each employee should have an “Owner” attitude– insuring that they run the business just like you, the owner, has taught them to do.  Of course, if you have not taught them, then they have no idea of what is acceptable or unacceptable.
   In the case of the FBO Manager, I suggested to him that he visit with the deli owner and explain what happened and how he ultimately resolved his dilemna— he ended up using a competitor that was not as good as his original deli choice.
   Employee empowerment is the key to great customer satisfaction.  The Ritz Carlton hotel chain empowers their employees to expend up to $2,000, no questions asked, to insure total guest satisfaction.  It makes no difference if the employee is the chamber maid, the bellman or the cocktail waitress, customer satisfaction is the key to Ritz Carlton.
   Although your business may not be in hospitality, the customer service attitude that your firm embodies will tell alot about how you do business.
   Give your staff the tools and training needed to insure that they are able to fulfill any customer requests, within reason, of course!  This is another way in which your business can enhance profitability!

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