Some of the Ritz-Carlton’s key success factors include:
- Uphold the motto — We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. “When people are about to spend $3-$4 million to build a home, how do you present yourself?” Siegel says.
- Select, don’t simply hire, employees. “We maximize talent in our company, because our employees are the ones who will deliver excellence,” Siegel says. To make the first cut, candidates must smile and maintain good eye contact during the interview. “If they can’t do that with an interviewer, how will they do that with our guests?” Siegel says. “We look for empathy.”
- Give guests a warm, sincere greeting. Ritz-Carlton employees are trained to use guests’ names whenever they can. Encourage your employees to do this, too.
- Anticipate and comply with guests’ needs.
- Note guests’ preferences. You can do this by making note of the types of beverages your customers like (excluding alcohol, of course) and having them available in the office. “Then they’ll know you know them,” Siegel says.
- Note and track the source of guest complaints. “Unless you do this in your company, complaints and errors will occur again and again,” Siegel points out.
- Never pass the buck on complaints or problems. At the Ritz-Carlton, whoever receives a complaint from a guest “owns” that complaint. It’s the employee’s responsibility to resolve it to the guest’s satisfaction, Siegel says — and to record the problem and the solution.
- Escort guests instead of giving them directions to another part of the hotel. “When you take your customers somewhere, that demonstrates care and concern,” Siegel explains. “If someone needs to look at freezers, take them to your appliance supplier’s showroom instead of giving them directions across town.”
- Watch your nomenclature when communicating with guests. “The term ‘no problem’ has become an insincere, meaningless phrase,” says Siegel. “When your salespeople use the term ‘no problem’ with customers, it translates into ‘no profit.’ ” As with everything else you do, train your employees to use language that sets you apart from other builders.
- Give guests a fond farewell. “Walk your customers out to the car,” Siegel suggests. “A memorable farewell when they leave your office is an extra touch that sets you apart from other builders.”
- Survey guests after their stay. The Ritz-Carlton has a 92% customer satisfaction rating and strives for 96%.
Putting its customers first is one way the Ritz-Carlton justifies its expensive room rates. “Giving more and charging more is part of our philosophy,” says Siegel. And it works. As the company has discovered, when customers are satisfied, they stay with you longer and spend more.
Mark your calendar for the 2005 Custom Builder Symposium, which will take place Nov. 11-13 in New Orleans. For more details, e-mail the NAHB Business Management Department, or call 800-368-5242 x8388.
'Customer Relations Handbook for Builders' Available at BuilderBooks.com
The "Customer Relations Handbook for Builders", available at BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, two-binder handbook that covers every aspect of customer relations and how it relates to your business. Topics include company philosophy, staffing, service procedures and reports, quality management, buyer expectations, product presentation, use of a home owner manual, financing, selections, change orders, site visits, home owner orientation, warranty service, trade contractor service, communication skills, customer feedback and more.
More than 100 forms, checklists and figures drawn from both volumes of the Customer Relations Handbook are provided on diskette so you can immediately begin to customize and apply the materials to your own building business. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
University of Housing Offers Courses on Customer Service and Business Management
The NAHB University of Housing offers a course on business management designed to help builders improve their business and profitability. To seach for current offerings, click here.
NAHB Has More Than 160 Resources to Help You Run Your Business More Profitably
Go to NAHB's Business Management Tools Web pages for instant access to more than 160 timesaving, moneymaking and cost-cutting business resources to help you run your business more profitably. Get guidance on accounting and financial management, business strategy, computers and information technology, customer service, human resources and more.
Resources are added weekly, so bookmark www.nahb.org/biztools to go directly to these vital business management resources.
Local and state home builders associations can link directly to www.nahb.org/biztools from your Web site and give your members instant access to these resources. It will make your HBA's Web site the place to go for the information and guidance they need to succeed.
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NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source is your monthly electronic guide to the hot issues and emerging trends in home building business management. You’ll find practical advice, tricks of the trade and sound business guidance — all delivered monthly, straight to your desktop, in a quick and easy-to-read format. Business of Building e/Source is available free to NAHB members and their employees. To subscribe, click here on the members only side of www.nahb.org.
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