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Book Report – Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze (Founder of Ritz-Carlton)

Favorite Quotes

We who lead businesses and organizations are not in the numbers game! We’re in the people game – dealing with customers, employees, colleagues, owners and all the rest for the best possible outcome.

Customer Service Starts the Instant you make contact with an individual.

Loyalty is dependent on continuing performance. The minute we start thinking and acting as if we own the customer we are nurturing a dangerous fantasy.

Managers push; leaders inspire.

Innovation is often squelched in the name tradition.

Key Takeaways

Getting Inside Your Customer’s Head – What do they want to feel? At Ritz-Carlton, the found people want to feel home. Go back to their childhood home where everything was done for them. Every need was taken care of. A place where they don’t have to worry about anything. People want to feel assured that everything is under control. What do you customers really want from your experience? Bananas Fans want an escape. A place they can have fun and not worry about what people think.

THREE Things the people you serve want. 1.) A product or service with no defects. 2.) Timeliness. 3.) They want the person they are dealing with to be nice to them.

Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point California – started getting complaints about the checkout time. They moved it to 3:00 and then they decided to eliminate the forced rule of checkout time all together. And people left early anyways. Don’t enforce policies and rules when you don’t need to. Trust people and treat them like adults.

Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations – Human Beings cannot relate to orders and directions. They relate instead to motives and objectives. “Employees respond to enthusiastically to motives and objective. They simply endure – put up with- orders and directions.

Listen Carefully, Respond Creatively. Housekeeping noticed nuts from the guests cookie in the trash can, so they started bringing cookies without nuts.

Customer Service Starts the Instant you make contact with an individual. Start with a Offering a Great Welcome.

Changed the language: Not Hi, or what’s up. Good Morning Sir or Ma’am. Not say Okay or Cool or Got It say “Certainly, my pleasure. I’m Happy to help you.”

Dig deep when trying to find out why something isn’t working. Why the food is served cold at the ballpark, may not just be when we cooked it, it could be staffing issue, it could be grill issue, it could be the type of meat ordered…keep digging. Ritz Carlton found out slow room service was happening at one hotel was because of an elevator problem, not because of anything involving the order.

FOUR SUPREME OBJECTIVES: 1.) Keep the customer. 2.) Get New Customers. 3.) Encourage the customers to spend as much money as possible without sabotaging Objective Number One. 4.) In all of the above, keep working toward more and more efficiency.

Every Brand is a promise to the public. If you buy this, you’re going get such and such, and you’ll be pleased by it. NEVER cut back on the promise of your brand.

Repetition is Key. The process of building great employees involves four things: 1.) Initial Selection. 2.) Inspiring Orientation. 3.) Initial Teaching of Specific Job Function. 4.) Sustaining What Has Been Taught. Hosted short stand up meetings at the beginning of every shift to focus on one of 24 Service Standards. Leader reads the standard, comments about what it means, tells a relevant story of standard in action. Every day it moves onto next standard.

Standar 23. All forms of written communciation (signage, letters, emails, handwritten notes, etc) reflect the hotel’s image. Everything communicates. From restaurant menu, to signage in front. If something is misspelled it shows carelessness. So important for us to continue think of every email, business cards, voicemails, invoices, letterhead, etc.

Leaders are dreamers. They set their sights on worthwhile goals that will be good not only for themselves but also for their families, their colleagues, their employees, their customers, their investors and society at large. If they aspire only to chase after person fame or fortune, life will probably knock them down. But if they set out to make a specific contribution to the world, they will go far.

Inspire people to find answers. Horst said “I don’t pay people to think up explanations; I pay them to find answers.

Leadership has a destination in view and is taking people along to that destination. Managers don’t do that. They only manage processes and force things to happen. Be a destination leader who enjoys the journey.

5 Step Leadership Journey 1.) Undestand the Vision 2.) Commit to It and Communicate It. 3.) Get Started and Do It 4.) Maintain Focus. 5.) Energize
Always focused on vision, communicate daily, energize daily, execute and take action.

Belief Statements are more powerful than slogans and vision statements.

If your processes are right, you don’t have to check everything.

Do what customers love and the money will follow. This is always worth repeating. He took it a next step. Do with excellence what the customer loves, and the money will follow.


What is something that you will implement?

1.) If you get a complaint, own it. Immediately say, I’m so sorry. It doesn’t matter whether you personally caused the problem or not. In that moment, no matter what your role in the organization, you are the face of the organization, and you speak on behalf of it.

2.) Don’t Just Hire – Select. Don’t follow your gut on bringing people on board. Ritz Carlton worked with Talent Plus and built a success profile for each position. Before hiring think about who would get up in the morning and want to do this and set criteria. What makes a good doorman? They interviewed their best doorman and revealed they all liked to be outdoors. For housekeeping, they asked questions about how do you feel about cleaning up after a party? For front desk receptionists, we wanted to know “Are you able to cheer people up?” When somebody is irritated, how do your respond? For salespeople, Have you been a part of a winning team? Do you like getting a person to do something they don’t want to do? How good are you at getting someone’s attention?

3.) THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEECH. The most important thing an employee can learn is who we are, what our dreams are, and why we exist as an organization. Day One is huge moment for every new hire. Needs to be an emotional moment. Horst opens every orientation and shares how important every person in the room is. How they are equally important as he is. If he doesn’t show up tomorrow, few people would notice. But if one of you in housekeeping don’t show up, the beds won’t be made and guests will know. The Key is make sure everyone feels valued and important. Then share mission of organization and why we do what we do.

Holds the group accountable to being the BEST. What’s the best mean to you? Cleanest, friendliest, most efficient, most fun. Introduces leader and says he will help you achieve the department objectives. And that means not settling for less. The key is to set the tone and expectations that first week.

4.) DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS. Never settle less for the vision. Keep moving forward and pushing with your expectations for yourself and your team. Need to push myself to dig in with my standards for our team and always be coaching. Not accepting average or normal. And let nothing cloud the vision. No matter how much we grow and accomplish, stay focused on clear vision.

5.) WHAT TO MEASURE. Horst says 3 Main things. 1.) Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty. 2. Employee Satisfaction. 3.) Leading Indicators. For hotels – looking 6 months ahead at advance bookings. For us, people joining wait list/priority list. “You won’t accomplish what you don’t measure.” Results don’t come from hiding ourselves from reality. They emerge as we measure our realities and make adjustments and then measure again and keep adjusting. No matter how good you are, you keep looking for hidden defects, and you keep moving a little closer to true excellence.


How does this fit with the Fans First Way?

“Because of a common commitment to high standards – reinforced on a continuing basis – the organization steadily moves forward.”

“Great leaders hold great expectations, which they will not compromise. But this does not deter their followers. They, too, want to be the best. And they want their family and friends to admire them as a result.” – Horst and Ritz Carlton had extremely high standards and high expectations. They wanted to be best and set the standard for service. We need to continue to inspire this from our group. Repeat the Fans First Way. Repeat what we stand for. And hold our group accountable. The goal is always not to make our people the best employees, its to help make them the best people and that will take care of the business.

Our people want to feel a part of something. They want to feel a part of the organizations dream.