Monthly archives: September 2010

Lessons from…our journey into hospitality

Our company has just entered the hospitality business. Yes, we just started renting out our creative room. Here are some lessons that we learned from it.

1. Customer focus. Being a patron of the boutique hotels, I love the small things. Chocolates at dinner, an occasional tea/coffee on the house… these small things show that people care and provide a huge return on investment. Some of the guests at our creative room said that they wanted Milo and Ikea biscuits. Milo and Ikea biscuits weren’t in the contract. Actually, I overheard them say that they liked the biscuits and “it would be nice to have Milo”. Yes putting Milo and biscuits was an additional cost not in the budget. We made sure it was there. We also sought feedback on the tea breaks and made sure that we put in tea breaks that they liked. We monitored the tea breaks to see which ones had a lot of leftovers and which ones people enjoyed.

For the participant who was fasting, we gave him a pack of biscuits to take home for his iftar.

Trying to exceed customer expectations led to ice cream at tea breaks as well as teh halia and soya bean.

2. Processes and Planning. We made sure our partners worked according to our schedule. We made sure the internet provider, coffee suppliers, caterers, cleaners, water bottle suppliers, food suppliers knew our schedule and requirements. Being open with our partners helped them plan accordingly to ensure seamless delivery.

3. Backup. We have worked with a local restaurant to have a backup barista in case we need it. We also make sure we have spare suppliers of water and other essentials in case of glitches. You may not need your backup 90% of the time but you are really glad to have it for the other 10%.

We apply the three lesson for continuous learning and improvement. We constantly think about how to make things better for our customer – how to give them the WOW experience. By constantly keeping ourselves on our toes and looking for improvements we hope to stay ahead of the curve.

Smart Office Solutions – Whitespace International

This is my latest article on Whitespace International, a smart office solutions provider, published on www.liveandinspire.com.

A lot of people have asked me how to start your own business. In this case the Nike adage “Just do it” is probably the best advice. One of the first questions is on getting a business premise or office.

One of my friends was looking at getting a business address in Solaris Mont Kiara. Since my office was there, he came by to have a look. I was immediately impressed by the way this place looked. It was clean and uncluttered. What also impressed me was the way my call was handled. The business administrators were polite, spoke good English and referred me to the Director very quickly.

Whitespace international was founded on smart business sense. As a virtual office, it has the basics you would expect such as nice office space, meeting rooms for rental, fax, email and receptionist services. However, it’s more than just a virtual office.

Their tagline is “Business Space Redefined”. It starts off at RM99/month moving up to RM299/month. What I liked about the packages is that you are not tied down for any particular period and you upgrade/downgrade as required without penalty. The Business Administrators are friendly and intelligent and able to help with referrals for accounting/audit firms, legal firms and company secretaries. They can also courier documents, order food etc. Should you need a room, you can book the meeting rooms by the hour.

What lessons could we learn from Whitespaceinternational?

1. Process excellence – their processes are impeccable with constant training and a detailed operations manual to ensure that processes don’t fail.

2. Get the right people. The process of hiring the business administrators is not easy. They have a 10% hire rate (after screening people) as they need to hire the right staff. Enable them and allow them run with their own initiatives.

3. Establish your niche vs. the competition and communicate this. They don’t just sell virtual office space – what they do is that they offer a smart business solution with well-trained Business Administrators. They also offer training sessions for entrepreneurs to increase their value add proposition.

4. Focus on the customer and have customer friendly policies such as variable packages and no minimum sign up period.

Their business is expanding and they are looking at a nationwide presence in Malaysia for starters. If you are interested in starting a business, this is one way to keep your costs down. On a personal note, I have been so impressed by this business I am now exploring ways to work with them.

My interview on BFM

I was recently interviewed on BFM to speak about Generational Diversity. It was fun to talk about how we can learn and apply techinques to deal with the different generations in our everyday life as well as our professional life.

Juarez Lowe on the Bigger Picture

Attached is a link to an earlier interview on Negotiation Skills.

Juarez Lowe – Negotiation Toolkit