Longevity of ownership and staff service are two main keys to building customer retention and loyalty

Breakfast on a bed in a hotel room
Creative Commons License photo credit: s_falkow

In late 2010 I wrote a book: RARE Business which was a collection of thoughts, ideas and strategies to help businesses ‘build better relationships with their customers and their people’. To supplement my own thoughts and experience, I was able to interview a number of CEOs of leading, established SMEs. In the interviews, I asked them what they have done to drive their business’ success, customer focus and how they have built their employee and customer engagement.

This is the first in the series of interviews that I want to share with you as out-takes from the book.

First up is Beales Hotels (http://www.bealeshotels.co.uk), an independent, family-run hotel company that can date its origins back to 1769. Andrew Beale, the Managing Director, is the 8th generation of Beale to run the business which runs the two highest rated four star hotels in North London and Hertfordshire – West Lodge Park in Hadley Wood and Beales Hotel in Hatfield. The business has 170 staff and a turnover of just over £5million.

Andrew agreed to talk to us and share some insights about what has made his family’s business so successful in retaining customers, building a great team and driving repeat business and growth.

One of the key strengths of the business, he believes, is the long-service of many of the team, some of which have been with the company for over 20 years and the longest serving member of the team has been with the business for over 37 years!

Moreover as testament to their success, one of Andrew’s proudest moments was when Beales Hotels won the National Sustainable City Award at Mansion House in London in 2007, which he believe rewarded and recognised the whole team at Beales Hotels and their approach and commitment to sustainability in business.

In our interview, Andrew went on to share some insights on what he believes they do, at Beales, that has helped them build a truly customer-focused business and team. Here are some of his insights:

  1. Longevity of ownership and staff service are two main keys to building customer retention and loyalty. This is evidenced by the fact that many of their guests have been customers for decades. This is a fantastic example of a long-established and thriving business that focuses on its customers and their team.
  2. Quiet focus. They quietly get on with the job of looking after customers – not making a song and dance about it. Trying to be all things to all people sometimes rather than accepting what we can and can’t do. Lesson learnt stick to the knitting and concentrate on what you do best.
  3. Loyalty starts at the local level. They believe that aiming local, rather than nationally, builds key loyalty and respect. They do that by doing lots of good in the local community through fund raising, offers of free overnight stays etc.
  4. Continuity of management. They believe that by not chopping and changing the ownership every few years it helps them build the long-term culture and values they believe underpin their success.
  5. Respect. Treating the staff with the respect they deserve for the hard work they do.
  6. Do what we do best and only that. They concentrate on what they do best and don’t try to be all things to all people.
  7. Tight team. They build a very close knit company by ensuring there is a lot of contact between directors, management and staff.
  8. Show commitment to staff. Despite the recent recession, Beales did not make a single person redundant although sales shrunk in the recession. Why? Because, guests like the authenticity that comes from dealing with real people who are long serving and know what they are talking about. The result was that sales were not as badly hit as many other hotel chains.
  9. Always promote from within. Beales believe it is essential to give opportunity to your existing staff and is a vital way of maintaining the company values and culture whilst also providing continuity of service to their guests. They have learnt this the hard way by bringing people into the business who’s values didn’t match their own.
  10. Everyone shares the same values. Some of the things they do to make sure that everyone is part of the team and shares the company’s values/philosophy include:
    • Constant feedback from the senior team.
    • Respect for everyone in the organisation.
    • A genuine opportunity for all to progress.
    • Extras that, naturally, include staff parties, but also boat trips, dinners out, staff incentive schemes, awards, extra holidays etc

Can you learn anything from their approach?

I hope you enjoyed the insights from Andrew and his experience with Beales Hotels. If you want to read more of the interviews then grab a copy of the book for free by clicking on the button below.




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13 comments On Longevity of ownership and staff service are two main keys to building customer retention and loyalty

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  • Hello Adrian
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. My thanks for writing it. There is a great deal of common sense and business sense. Playing for the longer term and building a company on sound values, product, service is a world apart from ‘pitching’ (in a variety of ways – honest, misleading and dishonest) to get the sales and makes the quarterly / yearly numbers.

    Maz

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  • Hi Adrian,

    Very interesting post, though I am not sure I believe all of it.

    I am a big believer in the Pareto Principle, some of what you say I think is gold dust and the rest, maybe, just noise.

    For me, the gold dust is longevity of ownership, it is amazing how chasing short term targets and goals causes poor outcomes

    The noise? Always promoting from within, how much talent does the organisation miss?

    I guess it is dangerous to apply my frame to their business, but I would love to know, of the ten points listed which are the two or three that Beales would really be prepared to die in a ditch over.

    James

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment and perspective.

      I would suggest, like you, that there are some core principles within their list of ten. From my perspective, I would suggest the top 5 are:
      1. Longevity of ownership and staff service are two main keys to building customer retention and loyalty.
      2. Quiet focus.
      3. Respect.
      4. Show commitment to staff.
      5. Everyone shares the same values.

      What do you think?

      Adrian

  • The key for any business to be successful is to know that their customers are the number 1 priority. You have to realize that whatever business you are in, you are not alone. Others are out there trying to steal your customers and get their money into their bank accounts! Once you get customers, the story doesn’t end there! You need to strategize a plan to get their loyalty. Loyal customers equal constant income!

    • Hi JM,
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. You are right that loyalty requires a strategy or needs to be included in the overall business’ strategy. Do that and do it well will help improve and secure future income. Well said!

      Hope to see you here again soon.

      All the best,

      Adrian

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