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The way you treat staff is the way they treat your customers

5 min read

10 November 2017

Director

Two tours of Bruges, 32 tickets to sell and a battle for the highest profit. Week six of The Apprentice emphasised how not to treat staff, as project managers Sarah-Jayne Clark and Elizabeth McKenna tried to guide their teams to victory with somewhat contrasting leadership styles.

Where Team Vitality promised guests a skin full of beer, Team Graphene guaranteed a Segway tour, with limited walking and hours of fun. In reality, Andrew Brady remained laddish throughout but lacked the quantities of beer to go with it, and Claude Littner didn’t enjoy his 15 minute Segway run up and down a side alley. Of more importance, the episode held a lesson in how leaders should treat staff.

Clear communications = No refunds

Both teams were warned by Lord Sugar at the start that they needed to operate and execute an enjoyable tour, otherwise disgruntled guests could demand a refund.

The main issue here, is that both sub-teams failed to communicate their sales strategy with the main team. Sarah Lynn and James White even discussed whether or not to call McKenna to confirm the time period guests would be using the Segway for. They chose not to, oversold, under-delivered and received refunds as a result.

In business, if you constantly over-sell your product or service, you’re going to fail – and do so quickly. Why? People talk, and if they aren’t saying positive things, other potential customers will soon catch on. No customers, no revenue – it’s that simple.

Don’t value your team? Don’t value your business

Despite winning, McKenna didn’t “treat staff” with respect, failing to listen to her team on a number of occasions. A key example being when Joanna Jarjue emphasised in the planning stages the importance of guests enjoying the tour. McKenna had rolled her eyes, ignored the comment and demanded they get on with their work quietly.

As Richard Branson famously says: “The way you treat staff is the way they treat your customers”. If your employees don’t value or believe in your business, the quality of their work will be poor. Finding and retaining the right people tis an extremely challenging and difficult task – so when you have them, value them and hold on to them.

Clever commissions

White and Lynn showed true initiative by making a deal with the chocolate shop to receive five per cent commission on any chocolate sold, in return for bringing tourists to the store. The commission may have been small (mainly due to the fact McKenna refused the group stay there for long), but it was a clever move, and as Littner put it, a “Good bit of business – rather tasty.”

They experienced the same level of success by taking a gamble on the higher priced souvenirs – leading Team Graphene to victory with higher profit as a result.

I say this time and time again, but in business you need to think smart and differently by generating a regular stream of new and innovative ideas. Without them, you will seriously struggle in today’s competitive marketplace, and will ultimately stand still.

Keeping up appearances

Team Vitality’s tour was just terrible. From Anisa Topan’s complete lack of knowledge and direction, to Brady moaning that it felt as though the group had been “walking for three days”, not forgetting his ongoing “banter” with Charles Burns. The whole thing was unprofessional, and there was no surprise when refunds were demanded.

In business, you won’t keep customers without any form of professionalism or business etiquette – and more to the point you won’t attract them in the first place. There’s a time and place for banter, and it’s not in the office or during business meetings and events.

Mark Wright is director of Climb Online and winner of The Apprentice 2014 – he’ll be back next week with lessons of the latest episode