Unreasonable Hospitality
Will Guidara

Unreasonable Hospitality - Book Summary

The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

Duration: 18:32
Release Date: November 18, 2023
Book Author: Will Guidara
Categories: Management & Leadership, Marketing & Sales, Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Culture
Duration: 18:32
Release Date: November 18, 2023
Book Author: Will Guidara
Categories: Management & Leadership, Marketing & Sales, Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Culture

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we delve into the captivating realm of "Unreasonable Hospitality". Penned by renowned restaurateur, Will Guidara, this insightful tome serves as an extraordinary guidebook for both veterans and novices of the service industry. Drawing from his rich experiences as the co-owner of the prestigious Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, Guidara imbues every page with real-life stories and invaluable lessons on customer service and employee management.

Named a Food Innovator in 2016 by the Wall Street Journal Magazine alongside Swiss chef Daniel Humm, Guidara's deep understanding and passion for hospitality shines through his writing. "Unreasonable Hospitality" does more than just inspire - it challenges its readers to rise above the ordinary, striving to surpass client expectations in all service-based pursuits.

Whether you're an established professional in hospitality, venturing into the thrilling world of the service industry, or a business leader striving to enhance customer satisfaction and employee morale, "Unreasonable Hospitality" holds transformative lessons that are certain to resonate and inspire. Join us as we unravel the wisdom woven into the pages of "Unreasonable Hospitality", and venture on a journey of elevating service standards to unparalleled heights.

Embarking on a journey towards unreasonable hospitality

Every business person dreams of creating a product that soars above competition and resonates perfectly with its target audience. Long days and nights are dedicated to the minute details, perfecting the new technology, the ideal culinary experience or the next must-have fashion item. The energy and passion in the quest for product excellence are certainly commendable, but there's a missing link that many overlook: the people.

Let's take a step back for a second. Yes, the quality of the product matters. But a business isn't just about what you're offering — it's about who you're offering it to. You might create the most revolutionary product, but without a prime focus on your customers, it could still come up short. In the grand scheme of business success, customer experience is just as important as the product itself.

But, how can you leverage this to give your business a cutting edge? Enter the concept of 'unreasonable hospitality', introduced by Will Guidara. It's not just relevant for those in the hospitality sector — anyone in a role that serves customers can benefit from incorporating this approach into their work, whether it be a car dealer, doctor’s office receptionist, or restaurant server.

In this narrative, you'll discover the fundamental principles of unreasonable hospitality and how you can incorporate it into your own business, paving the way towards superior customer satisfaction and, by extension, business success.

Decoding the beneficial impact of 'unreasonable' hospitality

The term 'unreasonable' often carries a negative connotation. An unreasonable demand, an unreasonable decision — it's usually tied to situations that leave a bitter taste. But what if there was a scenario where being 'unreasonable' could be a ticket to greater success?

In the realm of customer service, hospitality's main objective is to make customers feel valued and attended to. But when the term 'unreasonable' is added to this, it elevates the standard even further. Unreasonable hospitality is about offering a customized, bespoke service that doesn't just fulfill your customers' requirements — it makes them feel like royalty.

And it's not just about meeting their expectations — it's about blowing them out of the water. This extra mile approach fosters an unforgettable customer experience that lingers in their minds long after the encounter is over.

Now, imagine dining at a Michelin three-star restaurant. What stands out the most for you? The elaborate dishes with unpronounceable names or the impressive table-side preparations? Probably not. The real highlights often lie in the minutiae: the server who went out of their way to arrange a special dessert for you when they noticed you seemed a bit down, or the restaurant manager who personally fetched your forgotten shopping bag from a neighboring store. These seemingly insignificant gestures are the defining moments of unreasonable hospitality.

This approach isn't exclusive to the fine dining industry. It can be adopted in any service-oriented business, from retail outlets to healthcare providers. The secret lies in seeking out opportunities to exceed customer expectations and to offer them something more than what they came for.

When you successfully incorporate unreasonable hospitality into your business, the rewards can be substantial. This approach can cultivate a devoted customer base that will not just keep returning, but will actively promote your brand to others. Their recommendations can attract new customers, contributing to a growth in your revenue.

So, the takeaway? Dare to be 'unreasonable' in your approach to customer service. After all, it's a strategic investment that can offer impressive returns. But the question now is — how can one adopt an unreasonably hospitable approach in their business? Let's delve deeper to discover how.

Start by showering your team with unreasonable hospitality

The age-old mantra "customer first" has been the guiding principle in the service industry for decades. Employees are taught that the customer's needs and wishes take precedence over all else. While keeping customers satisfied is undoubtedly essential, it's time to shift some of that spotlight onto the real drivers of your business: your employees.

Cultivating an environment of unreasonable hospitality towards your staff not only shows them that they are valued but also equips them to extend the same extraordinary service to your customers. Employees who feel appreciated and cared for are far more likely to exceed expectations in their roles.

Practicing unreasonable hospitality with your team can be manifested in various ways. It starts with lending them your ear. Actively listening to individual team members conveys the message that they are important and their opinions matter.

Another aspect of this approach involves trusting your staff with increased responsibilities. Entrust them with key tasks, even before they think they're ready. Their performance might pleasantly surprise you.

An important component of unreasonable hospitality is the generous doling out of praise. As a leader, don't skimp on compliments for your staff. Recognize their contributions, highlight their successes in front of their peers to instill confidence and don't take credit for their achievements. For instance, if a customer commends Mandy's exceptional attention to detail on their order, let Mandy receive that praise directly from the customer.

Finally, unreasonable hospitality also means giving your employees the star treatment when they step into the role of the customer. Whether it's your chef dining at your restaurant or your sales associate purchasing a car from your dealership, provide them with exemplary service. Receiving this level of care and attention will inspire them to deliver the same level of service to your customers.

So before you start aiming for the moon for your customers, ensure that your employees are well taken care of. Sit back and watch how they mirror that same level of care and dedication to your customers.

Customizing your customer's journey

Imagine you just lost hundreds of precious photos from your broken phone. While purchasing a new phone, you casually share this incident with the salesperson. The sales rep surprises you at the end of the transaction with a complimentary premium subscription to a cloud storage service to prevent any future data loss. This is an exceptional example of unreasonable hospitality.

When you customize a customer's experience, you're not just giving them the product or service they paid for — you're showing them that you care about their needs and go above and beyond to fulfill them. Such customer-specific gestures give the customer a feeling of being valued, of being seen and heard, rather than just being another figure in your sales statistics.

Take for example, Guidara's experience while working as the general manager at Eleven Madison Park in New York. One day, he overheard a conversation among a group of European customers who were about to leave the city. They were lamenting about missing out on trying a New York street hot dog. Guidara seized this as an opportunity to display unreasonable hospitality and went out to buy them a two-dollar hot dog. Serving street food at a Michelin star restaurant may not seem like a big deal, but for those customers, it was an unforgettable experience.

Every business has countless such opportunities, waiting to be discovered. However, to seize these moments, you must be present, attentive, and focused on the customer. By listening closely and understanding their specific needs, you can create unique experiences for them.

Granted, this may sometimes involve additional expenses to fulfill a guest's unique desires. However, unreasonable hospitality doesn't always have to be extravagant or expensive. It just needs to be thoughtful and considerate. After all, it isn't the gift itself that creates a lasting impression but how it makes the customer feel.

Applying unreasonable hospitality to routine scenarios

While it's delightful and rewarding to offer tailored services to each of your customers, you'll often find common patterns within your industry. Perhaps you're a real estate agent who frequently works with newlywed couples seeking their first home. Or a pediatric dentist, frequently welcoming a young child for their inaugural dental visit. Or, as a hotelier, families with children regularly appear on your reservation list.

Yet, just because these customers represent recurrent scenarios, it doesn't mean they don't deserve a unique experience. The trick is to apply the principles of unreasonable hospitality even in these situations, using what we'll refer to as a 'tool kit'.

Think of the tool kit as a set of items you have ready to give to specific customer groups. But we're not talking generic, predictable giveaways here — no bottles of champagne that real estate agents give to every new homeowner, or robes and slippers that hotels provide to all guests. Your tool kit is designed for specific customers, but ones that recur frequently.

To illustrate, let's return to the dentist's young patient. The tool kit could include a cuddly, strawberry-scented teddy bear for the child to hold onto while the dentist examines their teeth. This comforting item isn't given to every patient who walks in — but it is shared with all the young first-timers, enhancing their experience.

By having a tool kit, you can scale unreasonable hospitality, adding that extra touch for more customers without starting from scratch each time. With a thoughtful gift instantly available, you can focus on creating more elaborate, individual experiences for certain customers.

However, while tool kits offer an effective way to personalize recurring customer scenarios, they need to be used judiciously. Avoid turning them into an expected part of your service, which would negate their personalization. Regularly evaluate if your tool kits are still creating that special spark for your customers. If they start to feel stale or overused, don't hesitate to freshen them up. The goal is to continually exceed your customers' expectations.

Redefining traditional norms for genuine interactions

Change can be daunting, particularly when it involves uprooting long-standing traditions and norms. The fear of toppling the status quo can be paralyzing, with most of us naturally gravitating towards what's familiar and comfortable.

However, resisting change can put a dent in your quest to deliver unreasonable hospitality and enhance your connection with customers. Consider the conventional restaurant podium, for example. While it plays the age-old role of welcoming guests, it also creates a physical barrier between the maître d' and patrons, hindering the warm, personalized greeting that each customer deserves.

Such conventional structures are often observed simply because "that's how it's always been done." While these rigid norms might guarantee technically flawless service, in the pursuit of perfection, we often overlook how some traditions can limit our ability to deliver exceptional hospitality.

Therefore, dare to challenge the status quo, modify the norms if necessary, and always strive for improvement. Take a step back, scrutinize your service procedures, and evaluate if each step contributes to your aim of offering unreasonable hospitality. If a particular norm doesn't add value, it's an invitation to refine and enhance it.

Moreover, encourage your staff to voice their observations and ideas. Their unique insights can spotlight aspects you might have missed, offering a broader perspective and possibly inspiring innovative solutions. Remember, a team's vision is always broader and deeper than a single person's view.

Deploying hospitality as a problem-solving technique

By now, you understand how unreasonable hospitality can contribute significantly to both employee satisfaction and customer delight. However, one often underestimated aspect of this approach is its problem-solving potential. Remarkably, being unreasonably hospitable can sometimes provide the key to resolving issues, converting a challenge into a positive experience.

Let's explore a scenario where a customer brings back a malfunctioning laptop they bought from your store. A basic resolution would be to process a straightforward refund. But by applying unreasonable hospitality, you go an extra mile for the customer. Rather than merely refunding the product cost, you might offer a free upgrade or include a complimentary one-year subscription to a popular photo editing software.

This problem-solving approach extends beyond customer relationships to managing internal business issues as well. Should an employee be struggling with their new role or feeling overwhelmed, providing additional support or resources demonstrates unreasonable hospitality. This could take the form of granting additional leave or enrolling them in a training program to strengthen their skill set.

Admittedly, devising a hospitality-based solution isn’t always straightforward. It calls for innovative thinking and a creative flair. But remember, at its heart, unreasonable hospitality revolves around surpassing expectations. Keep this fundamental principle in mind while crafting solutions to your challenges.

Wrapping up

Unreasonable hospitality transcends just the act of going the extra mile—it's a genuine commitment to sprinkle a little enchantment into someone's day. It's about nurturing your employees and customers, treating them with more than just basic courtesy, and making them feel truly cherished.

Expressing unreasonable hospitality towards your team involves attentive listening, unwavering trust, and regular recognition. As for your customers, it means offering them a bespoke, personal experience that they will treasure and be eager to share with others.

An integral part of realizing unreasonable hospitality involves questioning and reshaping conventional norms that may not serve your best interests or those of your customers. It's about having the courage to step away from tradition and established standards in order to create a more hospitable environment for the people you cater to.

When implemented effectively, unreasonable hospitality holds immense power. It can not only provide satisfaction to your team members and customers but also serve as a solution to various business problems—be it an unhappy customer or an overwhelmed employee.

So, go that extra mile. Infuse unreasonable hospitality into every fiber of your service-oriented business and observe how it propels your enterprise in ways you could never have anticipated.

Unreasonable Hospitality Quotes by Will Guidara

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