Shake shack is going public. The “better burger” chain, from humble beginnings as a food stand 14 years ago in New York City’s Madison Square park has inspired incredible customer loyalty and explosive growth. You can find Shake Shacks in Dubai, London, and Istanbul today.
Its founder, Danny Meyer, was quoted in the New York Times on January 30, 2015. “The thing I learned growing up in St. Louis was the power of hospitality. The enormously warm feelings of loyalty that come from feeling welcome and being recognized and having the sense that the restaurant is happy to see you”.
Do your products and services need to deliver on your promises? Absolutely. Every time. But that just gets you in the game. Competitors can quickly copy your goods. To win, you must excel at the intangibles. You must create – and sustain – a mood that puts a smile on your customers’ faces. That lifts their spirits and inspires them to invite all their friends to enjoy your hospitality.
True hospitality cannot be faked. Authentic warmth and caring comes from the inside. The mood of an organization starts with the mood of its leaders. As a leader your job is to first choose a positive mood — and sustain it — all day long. Every day. Such mood mastery is a sign of great leadership. The kind that turns a food stand into a global brand. Such “exuberance” draws people in every country. Each culture may express such love of life a bit differently but as human beings we all crave connection. We love to be welcomed and appreciated. We want to smile and laugh. To feel ‘at home’.
My good friend, Mark McKergow, has just written a marvelous book called “Host” with Helen Bailey. It’s a unique guidebook to this ancient and ‘oh-so modern’ form of leadership. They offer many examples of host leadership; I.e., creating welcoming spaces, rituals, engagement, and services that have employees and customers alike feel like guests at our dinner tables. Such leadership cannot be easily ‘cloned’ by competitors when it is deeply embedded in the culture of an organization.
It all starts with you, the leader. Wherever you are and whatever your role in the organization, master your moods. Be a wonderful host. Tap into the power of hospitality.
And watch your profits grow.