A few days ago I took a short break at a luxury five star resort on an exotic tropical Island. It was, as expected very nice, mainly because the Island itself is pretty extraordinary. But one thing really stood out and kind of bugged me.
In the main reception area, on the ceiling, were piles of cobwebs with dead (and decaying) insects in them. This was the very first thing I saw when I walked into reception. I wasn't looking for this kind of thing, but it was hard to miss. The reception area was a hive of activity, with both guests and staff coming and going all the time.
This reminded me just how easy it is for us to go a little "blind" in our business. We stop seeing things that others will notice, simply because we are not looking and we are busy focusing on what we are doing. The problem of course is that our customers notice these things and form an opinion accordingly. And it's the little things that form negative perception faster than we might think. We live in a world where negative perceptions become reality really fast, mainly through the power of social media.
I was staying at another hotel recently (yes I stay at lots of hotels) and as I arrived late one night, I noticed that the room next to mine had a food service tray outside. When I got up in the morning to go to my meetings, the tray was still there. And when I came back to the hotel at lunch time, the tray was still there. And I might add there were trays outside many of the other rooms.
Now I'm pretty sure that plenty of staff have walked by these trays but done nothing about them. That tells me that this hotel has a culture issue. It tells me that the staff who walk past a tray of dirty dishes and half eaten food make a conscious decision not to do anything about it, probably because it's "not their job". And that is cause for concern.
These are two examples that show possible problems within a business (well definite problems), but for different reasons. Both are indicators that there may be other issues that need to be dealt with. As business owners we need to be across things like this. We have to learn to look for subtle signs of bigger issues and we need to train our managers to do the same. Left unchecked and I guarantee bigger issues will arise. Take off those blinkers, learn to look for signs that everything is not as it should be and do something about it as quickly as you can.