Keep an Eye on the Details


We’ve all heard that old adage – take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.  Most clichés are well-worn sayings because they are true, and this is no exception.  This also brings another cliché to mind:  Some things are easier said than done.

If taking great care of the details were easy, then everyone would do it.  The fact that you see so many places that do a terrible job with the small things is even more an indicator that this is a fabulous place to shine.  The truth is that many leaders just aren’t concerned with the details and manage in broad strokes that are too blunt a tool for the job.  That creates a tremendous opportunity to leave the competition behind simply by managing these things that others can’t or won’t.  So keep in mind that this will take constant vigilance and a critical eye, as well as the force of will to validate quality daily.

Restaurant plates are a great example of attention to detail – so much goes into the presentation.  Assume for a moment that the correct food was ordered, it was prepared by skilled cooks as per the recipe, and that it was all done safely.  Then comes the moment of truth – plating.  Many things can go wrong here, but a skilled chef running the pass will insure that nothing is left to chance.  The food will be at the proper temperature, the plates will be pre-warmed, the food attractively arranged and garnished, and the rim of the plate will be wiped clean before heading to the table.  The plate above is a great example of this and is courtesy of the fantastic folks at Monsieur Paul in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort.  I have had this delicious dish several times and it always comes plated the same way, every time.

So think about how you can apply great attention to detail in your business.  Remember that everything tells the customer a story about how you manage your location and your team – so make it a great story.  Here are some places to look:

  • How clean is your parking lot?  This is many folk’s first impression – don’t make it one of potholes and cigarette butts.
  • Have you walked your lobby or entrance way?  Are your mats clean?  Do you keep it safe during rainy days?  Do you have dead or dusty plants?
  • How are your windows?  Keeping all glass clean is a great sign of attention to detail and will make it easier for your guest to see your product or staff.
  • Finally, take a long look at your team.  Are they dressed appropriately?  Are they crisp, pressed, and professional looking?  And finally, are they wearing a name tags and smiles?  By the way, a note on name tags; please invest in printed badges for your team.  Creating name tags with blanks and a label maker says that your front line teams are disposable – please don’t send that message.

Walk your dirt and keep a close eye on the million little things in your customers’ line of site everyday.  It doesn’t have to take up much of your time and can pay dividends quickly (it may take more time at first, but soon your folks will walk the line).  Be sure you start by reviewing your expectation with your teams and discussing the best way to attack the problem.  Taking the time to get their buy in is key to success – but don’t let them erode your commitment to excellence.  At first they may be resistant (who cares if the ceiling tiles are clean anyway?), but hang tough and inspire them to achieve new levels of execution.

Take a moment now and make that list of items you want to address first.  Use this as a jumping off point to engage your team and start knocking down those little things that will delight your customers and inspire loyalty.

Until next time,