Your most valuable assets are your people

John McGrath, founder and chief executive of McGrath Estate Agents.

John McGrath, founder and chief executive of McGrath Estate Agents.

I BELIEVE one of the greatest delusions business owners and managers operate under is the belief that they are the company, or that their logo or latest marketing campaign dictates how the world thinks of their company.

It's true that people take note of how business leaders operate, are attracted to cool design and even get hooked by interesting marketing campaigns.

But really, there's one thing that really matters to every consumer engaging with your company: what was their experience like the last time they dealt with you?

Was it memorable? Hard? Or a truly remarkable experience that reinforced or changed their image of your business?

Did the phone get answered promptly by someone with energy and excitement in their voice? Did they get transferred to someone who gave a damn about them and what they were trying to achieve? Did promises get fulfilled faster than expected, or at all?

This is what really compels a consumer to become a customer, and a regular one at that. It also sparks word-of-mouth referrals as they tell their colleagues what it was like to deal with you.

And with today's prevalence of social media, good or bad news travels faster and further than ever before.

Your most valuable assets lie not on a balance sheet but in your people.

When legendary retailer Sam Walton was asked about his most successful marketing initiatives he answered: "Our greatest marketing is when the guy in parcel pick-up gently places the parcel on the back seat of the car with a smile."

When the great hotelier Conrad Hilton gave his retirement speech at a ball, he shared some insights from his illustrious career. Standing at the lectern, with a room of luminaries awaiting his pearls of wisdom, he said: "Always remember to tuck the shower curtain inside the bath."

One of our franchisees recently travelled to Sydney for a meeting. He brought his spouse and decided to arrange a special night out at one of the country's most renowned restaurants, Tetsuya's, for a meal that they had long been wanting to experience.

Through no fault of the restaurant, his wife became ill with a stomach virus. Despite their delight at making it to Tetsuya's, they were forced to abandon their degustation meal.

Sheepishly, he apologised to the waiter and explained that they would have to cut their visit short, and asked for the bill.

Before long the manager appeared and said he had called them a taxi to their hotel. He declared that the meal was "on the house" and that they would look forward to a return visit when his wife had recovered.

So not only does Tetsuya's have world-class food, but also a culture that understands that, when it comes to restaurants, food is just one ingredient to create a lasting impression.

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