Preparing to present to an awards panel interview is a great stimulus if you have to communicate something that you take for granted every day and don’t often sit back, analyse and try to explain.
This week was just such an occasion because Sundial Group are finalists in the Service Excellence category of The Family Business Awards.
The pre-interview briefing challenged me to explain to the panel how the values of a family business could impact on a culture of service excellence.
"All about stewardship"
Researching family companies, it surprised me to learn that 40% of UK private sector employees work in ‘family controlled’ businesses. However, in my view, the most successful family business are not just family controlled but also family managed and that the attitude of the best family owner managers needs be one of ‘stewardship’. That is to say a balance is found between ownership and duty.
A culture of stewardship enables non-family colleagues to share in the sense of responsibility for the welfare and success of the enterprise. I suspect that many ‘family controlled’ businesses would not pass my stewardship acid test.
The hospitality sector has a great number of family businesses but the bulk of these are small hotels and restaurants. To the best of my knowledge Sundial Group is unique in its niche where we find ourselves competing every day against venue groups that are owned by ‘investors’.
It seems to me that the interests of remote business investors and those of owner managers are quite different. Certainly in the case of Sundial Group my family and I are very proud of the standards we set ourselves for service. Our colleagues know that a Chudley on site would be the first to open the door and carry the bags of our guests. Other types of business owners are just not there to give this leadership.
We also take a long-term view of our success agenda and use a broader set of measures than financial investors do. Utilising a Balanced Scorecard, we set key performance indicators around customer feedback, employee engagement, environmental sustainability and brand reputation as expressed by our Net Promoter Score. We believe that profit is the reward for getting all these things right rather than profit alone being the reason for Sundial’s existence.
"It comes from the heart"
So how does this culture and belief system, which is shared by the best family businesses, convert to service excellence?
I believe that the concept of 'Family' is a fundamental of the human spirit. The best family businesses are able to expand their family to include all their team and all their customers. People care more and the hospitality and service is more authentic. It comes from the heart and really is better.
Long live family businesses.