How Are You Showing Up?

By Sharon Worsley

With my self-admitted super power of being a people and business watcher, I have come across so many examples of where businesses ‘Show Up’ exceptionally well and where they unfortunately fail. I say unfortunately because there is often much that they could have done to look better in the eyes of their customers.

For a number of years I worked at the Pantages Theatre in Toronto during the long running hit ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ as a front of house supervisor. This theatre was opened in 1920 and went through many renovations and configurations but by the time I started working there had been restored to the way it looked in the 1920s.

One of the important things that our maintenance team was charged with was to continually keep a look out daily for signs of wear and tear inside and outside the building and take care of it immediately. I remember asking one of the managers why maintenance was always walking around with things like small paint brushes and tins of paint touching up small marks. I was told it was for the patrons that came to each performance, that they had the best experience of not only the play but the theatre too.

I noticed the same thing when I started working as a senior sales manager at a 4 diamond/4 star hotel in downtown Toronto. Our maintenance crew were always going from floor to floor to check the suites, meeting rooms and public spaces and making small repairs wherever necessary. I suppose it taught me the importance of the small things in business that might not stand out to the business owner but certainly does to the customer.

For many years prior to working at the hotel I was a professional buyer for a meeting planning company. I was fortunate to travel the world on what was often called a ‘Fam’, which generally stands for familiarization tours. This is where a tourist bureau or board, hotel chain, cruise line, airline etc would bring potential buyers for their tourism services on a free trip. It might sound glamorous but it was hard work inspecting sometimes 8-10 hotels a day. This is where I would notice how the hotel or resort was kept in shape. I often noticed the rooms or public spaces in great need of some maintenance and a few coats of paint. It definitely affected my choices when I was to recommend a location for a client.

So what does this have to do with your business you might be thinking, after all you might not be a tourism business or a theatre. Well, these are just a few examples I have witnessed of the many I have seen in a large amount of sectors, from retail stores, health care practitioners, banks and restaurants to name but a few.

For example, I was at a meeting in a professional businesses head office and I kept noticing black marks on the white walls, the boardroom when we entered it for the meeting had chairs strewn around the boardroom table like people had to rush off without returning the seats to their place. There were extra chairs and tables in this supposed professional space that gave the impression of disorganization. And I wasn’t the only one to notice it as it was mentioned in the elevator after I left with some of the people who had attended the meeting.

It’s unfortunate that this professional organization would leave this type of impression on potential business partners. The thought that was brought up by the others was that if this company can’t take care of their offices in a professional manner what might they be neglecting in other areas of their business.

Now some of you reading this might be thinking that this doesn’t really matter, but fortunately or unfortunately first impressions do matter; whether consciously or unconsciously, the customer is noticing.

I once went to a new naturopathic doctor and before my appointment I asked if I could use the restroom. When I entered I noticed how disorganized it was and besides containing dirty towels there were dishes in the sink where I was expected to wash my hands. If something as simple as keeping a clean restroom seems a challenge to this healthcare professional what else might she miss related to my healthcare? Needless to say after that one appointment I never went back.

It doesn’t even need to be a physical space either. It might be how the business owner or staff is showing up outside the office. On one occasion I was asked by a book publisher to meet them at a Starbucks in the downtown area as their office was far away and I lived close by. I certainly appreciated the consideration of finding a place we could meet that would work for both of us.

Once I got there this person was sitting at a table and I noticed he didn’t have a drink or anything in front of him. So I thought that maybe he was waiting for me to arrive before ordering anything. We sat there while he started his pitch, but I stopped him and asked if he would like a drink as I would go up and order both of us something to drink. He said no and continued on, but I stopped him while I went to purchase a tea. My thought while waiting for my order was here is a guy pitching me to spend $10K with his company to be published but he can’t even offer to buy me a drink. And more importantly he is using up space at Starbucks for their paying customers when he has no intent on buying anything and instead is using their space for free. What is that telling me potentially about his services and how he might treat me as a client?

During my time working for Qantas Airways in Sydney, Australia, I worked in the downtown travel centre and not onboard the planes. We were always encouraged to keep all parts of the travel centre clean and organized so that passengers would start to have a great experience with the airline even before they boarded their planes at the airport.

Points to Ponder:

• Examine how you might be Showing Up to your customers/clients and then make a plan to improve the experience wherever possible.
• Next time you walk into an office, retail store, restaurant etc., take the time to look at the surroundings and notice how they make you feel. Then bring this back to your business if there is something you can improve upon.
• Be daring and ask your customers/clients what they think of your business space. Getting their feedback shows you care about them and their experience.

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up’. She also consults and coaches peak performers to excel as leaders. To learn more, contact Sharon at [email protected]