Our mission at Colony is to change the experience at work. We envision the workspace of the future to be one not of bean bags and pool tables but of one with a lot of warmth. Like a home as opposed to the common fluorescent light office of the present.
Warmth isn’t just generated by lighting or the design of the space though. Home always feels warm to us because of the people there. Our family, who we know will always be there for us and we can count on. We wanted to replicate this at Colony.
So in Colony we have a Concierge and a team of people who are focused at doing nothing else but making sure all our guests are taken care of. Imagine going to an office where you have a team of people who are looking out for your every need. That’s something you’ll never get in the traditional office.
I have never worked in a hotel, a restaurant or anything in hospitality though. So the only way I could learn about hospitality was to read. Over a matter of weeks I picked up books about Ritz Carlton, Disney and the Four Seasons. How these great hotel chains do what they do.
The one thing I learned was how difficult it was. Great hospitality is going above and beyond what a guest wants so how do you train everyone to think above and beyond their specific jobs and go the extra mile?
I learned that the Ritz Carltons of the world do it by a culture they have built over decades. How do I even start?
I started with a few principles:
1. There is never NO complaints… our job is not just to receive them but to seek them out.
Every week the team has a huddle and we reiterate our mission of changing the work experience and bringing hospitality to the workspace. Then as part of each huddle we ask for any complaints anyone has heard from their guests. If I don’t get any, then I push harder because there ALWAYS is something to complain about, something we’re not doing right because we’re not perfect. If we don’t get these complaints, how do we know how else to improve?
2. There must always be a story to tell of how you’ve gone above and beyond for a guest in the past week.
Every single week, our Community Managers who man our Concierge are asked that one question. It’s just like the complaints, if there isn’t one, then that’s a problem. Seek them out.
3. Each Colony team member is empowered to go above and beyond.
Here’s something cool. Every single employee in Colony has an RM100 budget PER day PER guest to spend on anything they think might make a guest happy. No approvals needed.
I know what you’re thinking. Sounds like a lot of money right? Think about it. There are over a hundred people working in Colony each day now and in six months that number is expected to double to 200.
With 200 guests at RM100 per guest, each employee can spend up to RM20,000 per day. Or RM600,000 a month,
Some people ask me how we can trust our employees with this and what if it’s abused?
Well we’ve been doing this for 2 months now and I find that when you empower someone and trust someone with power, that person generally takes that power very seriously. None of our team members have spent anything outrageous.
Heck sometimes it’s travel adaptors for clients, sometimes it’s some Panadol, sometimes it’s just changing the colour of the office lights. Things that would never have been done quick enough in the name of great service if we had to go through management approvals for each one.
Sure maybe one day if we grow large enough it might be abused but we’re just going to have to deal with it then. In the mean time, the stories of great service and hospitality that Colony has brought have been amazing. Look at this for example.
This would never have happened if we didn’t place strong importance on hospitality and it would probably wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t empower our team with the budget to make these decisions on their own.
We’re still really far away from where we want to be hospitality wise… far away from the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons we aspire to be. Heck we often make mistakes too. But to be able to build this culture in 3 months… that amazes me in itself and it’s only possible because we’ve got such a fantastic team.