If I say that a business owner’s job is to be of service to his/her team, will you agree or disagree? Maybe to some, this sounds backward, but hopefully, you’ll change your mind! Why? Because if you serve your team by giving them all the training, tools and support needed to do their jobs well, they will, in turn, be of service to your guests. By working this way, everything comes full circle and ultimately supports your entire business. So, how exactly can you nurture a culture of service? It’s deceptively simple! Just practice doing these 4 things:
Choose to be of service
One morning this summer I was in the middle of digesting a pretty heady article on value and power dynamics in the coffee industry when a phone call came in from one of my managers. Our new espresso machine was leaking water all over the floor! This may be an extreme example, but I generally respond the same way whether they need equipment help or an extra hand behind the bar. Without delay, it’s… face washed, street clothes on, and bam! out the door to be of service to my crew.
Mechanical issues are not my forté, but as a small business owner, you have to wear many hats and face challenges head-on. This time, I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was 🙂 When I arrived it was apparent that we had a blocked drain tube. It was a pretty simple fix: Remove the side panel from the machine, clear out espresso grounds and rogue coffee beans blocking the drain, run a bunch of water down, and replace the panel. That last part is where it got dicey! Our new machine has a more complicated side panel assembly than our previous model, and if it is removed completely as I unknowingly did, it can be a bear to put back on. So, after trying various tactics and searching the online manual, I had the phone in my hand to call for support.
Accept help graciously
That’s when one of our regulars – who just happens to be an engineer – wanders in. This guy is a true coffee aficionado; someone who has modded out his home espresso machine and plays with coffee equipment for fun. “What’s going on?” he asks. After giving him the rundown, he quickly assesses the situation and guides us along. About 20 minutes later, we’re back up and running. He says he’s happy he could help. We hand him his cold brew, and then he steps up to pay. Incredulous, I say with a genuine smile “Get out of here!”
Over the years, the vibe of positivity & kindness that we put out at our shop has been returned many times over but acts like this never cease to amaze me. Not only do they leave a heartfelt impression, but they cause me to want to pay it forward and keep the ball rolling…and that’s exactly what happened next.
Share the service vibe with others
It was time to run an errand in town. On the way back as I passed the bridal shop, I remembered the Lead Stylist there is always looking for regular gals to photograph in gowns for the shop’s social media. “I should stop in soon to ask him if I can help out”, I thought as I walked by. The following week I had an appointment to get my hair and makeup done anyhow. As I walked back into my coffee shop and looked toward the counter, who do you think was standing there? What timing! Dominique! Hey, if you need a dress model next week, I’m happy to help.” He was thrilled. I was thrilled. What woman doesn’t want to have fun trying on pretty clothes?
We were on a roll! A while later, I thought it would be even better to invite a coworker! I knew that one of my managers would enjoy getting dressed up, and she would be lovely in the photos. So, Dominique got two “brides” instead of one, my manager and I had some fun bonding time, and we were able to be of service to a neighboring small business.
Give without expectation
Serving, without expecting any immediate return, always seems to bestow a tremendous amount of personal wellbeing, business goodwill, or both. Yes, we all need to earn a living and charge what we are worth, but the benefits of giving are super undervalued. In the simplest of ways, you can make a huge difference to someone else by just asking “What’s going on?” or saying “I’m happy to help.”
Model a service mindset by 1) choosing to be of service, 2) accepting help graciously, 3) sharing the vibe with others, and 4) giving without expectation. Others will notice and you’ll start to nurture a culture of service within your team.