People

Manners Provide The Grease For More Business Revenue

Martin Romjue
Posted on March 21, 2018
(Pexels photo by Adrianna Calvo)
(Pexels photo by Adrianna Calvo)

We’ve either all been there, done it at one time, or both: Glancing at a smartphone mid-conversation. Before these new adopted appendages became commonplace, the biggest faux pas was scanning the room while talking with someone.

Now it’s often look up, down, around, and gaze everywhere except the person in front of you who should be the center of your attention.

Courtesy Crumbles
These smartphone reflexes are the most visible sign of an overall decline in courtesy and manners. Why is this relevant to us? Because luxury ground transportation belongs in the category of businesses that thrive on attentive customer service.

Manners are crucial to any luxury service or business, but they’ve become more of a novelty and casualty of our real-time, tech-driven culture. The worldly peer pressure to — be yourself, let it all hang out, take what you can get, it’s all about me, need a selfie — has taken a wide toll.

I talked with the industry’s leading expert on manners and business etiquette, Robin Wells, who owns Etiquette Manor along with publishing and marketing businesses. Robin is outgoing, effusive, and possesses a 360-omni-directional non-stop perception on body language and manners (hint to newbies: She would be a great mentor).

“Sadly, manners and etiquette are not a top priority for most companies anymore,” Wells told me. “Training their staff to remember the common courtesies has taken a back seat to learning new technology, multi-tasking, and making fast money instead of cultivating a long term relationship. It is amazing to me companies don’t know great business relationships are built on respect, good form, and civility.”

We chose Wells for our e-mail of the month on p. 6 because it speaks to the core of quality chauffeured service. She told me during the past six months about half of her rides ranked down at the Uber-level and the other half at the superb Disney level of experience.

“I noticed the poor rides were due to a much more familiar, lax, and unprofessional presentation by the driver,” said Wells, citing one who walked away after opening her door and who talked on his phone during much of the ride.

Profitable Pose
No amount of luxury amenities will compensate for a lack of old-fashioned manners. Contrary to what hipsters may tell us, it’s not an all-new world of communicating with “authenticity.” (Translation: I’m gonna be as nasty as I wanna be).

For chauffeured and motorcoach operators who want to see success skyrocket, invest in high standards of decorum, she says. “There’s no way to I.D. yourself better than to do something no one else is. Make the client the center of attention, be discreet and quiet, whether it’s a 20 minute or three hour ride. You represent your company.”

To evaluate job candidates, Wells advises operators to look for a pleasant demeanor, smile, solid handshake, eye contact, and waiting to be invited to sit down — all in the first seven seconds. “Resume and experience come second to quality of presentation and your natural ability to communicate,” she said. “You’d much rather have someone who is respectful, personable, and shows signs of independent thinking.”   

Wells mostly coaches her clients on fine business dining, including proper use of utensils and napkins, and how to greet and introduce people. Quick tips: Don’t order messy foods during a business meal, and follow the rule of look-in-eye-shake-hands-remember names. Both approaches come in handy at trade shows and industry networking events.

“When you meet someone for the first time, don’t think about witty or clever things to say,” Wells said. “Hear and listen to the person’s name, make eye contact, shake hands, and then ask questions. After you remember the person’s name, use it three times during the conversation. Listen first, be clever later.”

Smartphone Solution
So how would Wells handle the smartphone situation? “My mindset is the minute he (or she) grabs the phone, say “So good seeing you,” and walk away. Converse only if you get undivided attention. I usually end up exiting in a very nice way.” What if you must take a call or text? If it’s that important, excuse yourself and leave the room for a private area and close your posture, she said. Look like you’re doing business.

As for her phone, Wells turns it on vibrate and never lets her phone ring or ping. Another option is putting a do-not-disturb message on texts while socializing. “You can’t walk and text. It makes you look stupid. You need to walk with purpose. People are watching you.”

Related Topics: building your clientele, business trends, client markets, How To, LCT editor, Martin Romjue, networking, smartphones

Martin Romjue Editor
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