Ensuring customers have the same experience every time

When managing a business across multiple locations, consistency is key, says Damian Cosby, PGA, director of golf operations, Cleveland Metroparks.

“The most important thing is to be consistent — consistent across guest expectations and quality of service, and consistent in your actions and values,” says Cosby, who oversees Cleveland Metroparks eight golf courses. “Consistency creates buy-in so your guests, customers or clients know exactly what type of experience and level of service they can expect.”

Smart Business spoke with Cosby about how to create consistency across multiple locations, ensuring your customers have the same excellent experience every time — regardless of which location they visit.

How do you begin to create consistency across multiple locations?

It’s difficult and it takes a lot of time, but it’s like water dripping on concrete — sooner or later it’s going to get through. Everyone on the team has to understand and buy into the organization’s goals and values, committing to stay accountable to both. As a manager, you can’t let things slip. It can be as simple as someone showing up and not wearing a required name tag. You need to address issues immediately, because it can make a big difference from a guest perspective. Details are important to the big picture, and that can be a challenge.

It’s equally important that managers across locations are aligned, making sure they understand and align with the goals and core values. For instance, ‘Guest Focus’ is among Cleveland Metroparks’ six core values. Every touch point with a guest matters, from the first phone call or website visit, for the duration of their stay at your business, and continuing after the guest leaves. Hiring a strong leadership team across locations is critical. Having managers who understand that they set the tone and lead by example will trickle down to your staff and ensure everyone is singing from the same sheet of music. We preach that day in and day out.

Trust your managers. Hold them accountable, but you can’t be effective at your own job if you’re trying to micromanage across multiple facilities, answering every question and solving every problem. Allowing employees the freedom to make mistakes allows them to learn from those errors and opens the door for conversations about how to raise the bar. Being a micromanager does not work.

How can you ensure things are running as expected across locations?

Visit each location as often as possible. That way the staff knows you’re going to be around, not to check up on them but to check in. If there’s a problem, let’s address it immediately and not let it fester. Don’t come in as a manager wiping down window sills looking for dust. Instead, talk to employees, and if you see something that is not up to the quality and goals the organization strives for, bring it to their attention, explain why it is important and clearly explain or demonstrate how to meet (or exceed) expectations. Make sure everything is written down. If someone is unsure about something, they have it on paper to refer to, so they can’t say they didn’t know.

Ask for staff feedback, and make engagement a two-way effort. Everyone has a different perspective they can bring to your mission. Most employees want to create a great experience, and listening creates buy-in and allows them to be part of the process.

How can you deal with a location that is not meeting standards?

Identify weaknesses as soon as possible, and be open and honest about the skillsets your manager is lacking. Ask what you can do to help them improve, making it clear you are there to assist them in areas where they need improving. Offer coaching, but sometimes that doesn’t work out and you have to make a change. Not everyone is built to be a manager.

However, once you have the best possible managers in place, stress that the entire organization is a team, regardless of location. Creating that feeling of team will motivate people to reach out and help, across departments and across locations. There is one goal — teamwork — and on the best teams, people will be willing to jump in and help, regardless of the request or the location.

Insights Customer Experience is brought to you by Cleveland Metroparks