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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

Powerful Ways To Impact Culture and Customers



Have you ever had a friend bring you a gift that contained your favorite candy, candle, or blanket? Something that you love but that you never knew they were even aware of?


Has your favorite drink ever been served to you before you’d placed an order?



How did that make you feel?


It‘s moments like this that stop you in your tracks. How did they know this would bring you such delight?


This is what we’re talking about today: Creating a practice and mindset to serve others that surpass expectations and establish a team culture of excellence.


They knew because they’d listened and watched you with the hope of connecting on a deeper level, culminating in the creation of a spectacular moment.Interestingly, we’re talking about Unreasonable Hospitality, which is both a concept and the title of Will Guidara’s book.


In full disclosure, I’m obsessed with customer service and enamored with the potential ripple effects it has on developing a healthy team and an extraordinary work experience.


Becoming laser-focused on the human experience is the backbone and foundation of success. If people you work with, and for, feel appreciated, heard, and valued, almost everything else will fall into place.


I recently heard Will speak at a coaching summit, which prompted me to quickly buy his book, listen to a podcast with Karl Pister, and then tune in to an interview with Simon Sinek. I had to share him with you!


Will is known for two things: As Co-owner of Eleven Madison, a restaurant in NY that was named “Best in the World,” and for his relentless focus on “elevating ordinary transactions into unforgettable experiences.” Many great chefs serve amazing meals, but few marry the food with an extraordinary experience, attention to detail, and over-the-top anticipatory, unexpected customer service. It’s this combination that brought him enormous recognition.


Similar to Horst Schulze, who was the Co-founder and President of the Ritz Carlton, he attributes his success to the small moments, attention to detail, and the creation of unforgettable memories and experiences for his guests. Schulze leveled the playing field by saying, “We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.” He honored his employees, and high-paying guests, equally.


Some “unreasonable” examples: 


  • Servers bring a full bottle of cognac to the table as the check is delivered. This is a complementary gift for guests to share, as their night of dining winds down and they prepare to head home.

  • Staff members ask where you’ve parked so that they can anticipate when the meter is running low, then add more coins so as not to interrupt your meal.

  • At the Ritz, every employee is given $2K to use at their discretion, if it’s in service to the guest. This can be applied to upgrading a room, buying a metal detector to search for a lost wedding ring, or even replenishing a special toothpaste that may be running low.

  • In the hospital, we once visited a store to buy a patient a special type of drink, then served it to her at 4 PM, which was the time that she’d usually enjoy her drink with her husband, who’d recently passed away.


The examples go on and on, all of which are different in response to various needs, however, they all have three things in common: 


  1. Small moments of delight are recognized as powerful and transformative.

  2. The leadership trusts, and empowers, the staff to make decisions that align with their vision of success.

  3. There is a “lens of greatness” through which everyone looks. Seek opportunities, big and small, to WOW guests, and each other.


These opportunities to serve are contagious, delightful, and rewarding for everyone involved. As Guidara says, “Hospitality is a team sport.” As this culture is integrated, you’ll begin to notice how morale improves, how customer satisfaction spikes, and how teams start to converge around innovation and joy.


Each of us, after all, has heard that famous phrase: It’s more powerful to give than to get.


ROI: You may be wondering how you can afford these delightful surprises. Remember, at the end of the day, you’re a business, and your business needs to align with your P&L. So, don’t worry, because next week I’ll explain why this will fall into the “P” column!


The momentum will build and Unreasonable Hospitality will permeate your organization.


My Challenge to You:


  • Inspire your team, giving them permission to focus on, and find creative opportunities to delight and inspire others.

  • Ask your staff to put themselves in the shoes of your customers/guests. What are they worried about? What are their concerns or needs? How might you lessen their burden?

  • Create momentum: Make the concept of unreasonable hospitality a focus.  Integrate ideas, discussions, and celebrations of success into meetings and memos.

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