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Leadership Thought #296 – The Business Danger of Unrealized Potential

February 13, 2012

Free Palm Trees at Night Stock Photo

Nothing bothers me more than unrealized potential.

I am back from a weeklong business trip to the Bahamas at a famous resort.  It is a very impressive venue.  I cannot imagine how much money was invested to create the experience.  It is one of those rare “spare no expense” properties.   On television, you could watch a show documenting the attention to detail in the construction process and the vision and commitment of the main developer blew me away.  You don’t get to stay in many places like this in your lifetime. In addition, I haven’t met many people as nice as the local Bahamians.

All the above being said I was extremely disappointed by how poorly the operational side of the business was run.  There seemed to be a shortage of basic management common sense.  Instead of motivating me to come back and refer other colleagues, I left scratching my head about the unrealized potential of my experience.   Here are some general takeaways you may want to apply to your own company:

  • Do not “nickel and dime” your customers, especially if they are already paying good money to be there.   I’ve stayed in some expensive places in my life, but this was over the top to the point of being annoying.
  • Make it easy for your customers to do business with you.  I’ve never been to a venue that boasts of its conference meeting capabilities and that has a business office that is only open 8 am-5 pm.
  • Make sure your technology works!
  • The first reaction of your management staff should not be to say no or argue their position.  I’m an easygoing guy and can accept not always getting my way, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.  The customer may not always be right, but he/she can’t always be wrong either.  I also don’t believe that every problem should require me to spend more money to solve it.
  • Staff to your volume of business.   Too many people standing around with not enough to do are not only inefficient, but also eventually lead to attitude issues as staff gets used to inactivity.
  • Maximize client exposure to what makes your business special.  Limiting access to what drove your client to your business in the first place is a strange way to build customer satisfaction.  Who plans to go to a warm weather beach resort that closes its pool and outside facilities at 5 pm?  As a business traveler, this meant that I was assured of not enjoying one of the primary assets of the property.
  • One facility operating at full capacity is better than several operating at low or marginal capacity.  Why not upgrade your clients if it costs you nothing to do so?  In fact, it would cost you less money overall and lead to higher levels of satisfaction.

I’m sure there are many other customers who have had a better overall experience than me.  However, it was telling how low the occupancy rate was during my visit.  It’s worth noting that I still had a fun time, but this was more a function of the people I was with, the work I was doing, the nice climate, and the beautiful surroundings.  In business as in life, there are few things more frustrating and unnecessary than unrealized potential.   I hope my experience was an aberration and/or the organization gets its act together, because as I said initially, you’d be hard pressed to find nicer people anywhere and a venue as spectacular.