(Note from Mark: David Hoare is the Retail Director for Hall & Woodhouse. We first communicated by email when he contacted me about their use of The Fred Factor. Several weeks ago while I was in England, David hosted me at the Jolly Sailor in South Hampton for an afternoon of great food, beer and hospitality.
Hall & Woodhouse has a rich history in the hospitality business and I’m gratified by the use of The Fred Factor throughout their organization. I asked David to contribute the following guest blog. It demonstrates that business philosophy and service principles are truly universal. Thanks, David, and cheers to my friends at Hall & Woodhouse!)
I defer to few in my admiration of Amazon (the on-line 21st Century Sears, Roebuck) but there is great profit and joy in simply browsing the shelves and recesses of a second hand bookstore. If I hadn’t been passing an idle hour doing just this, I would never have met Fred. I was shuffling through a tower of unsorted books when I came across a well-thumbed copy of “the Fred Factor”. The words above the title – “how passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary” – seemed to be exactly the message I was trying to bring to the 1,400 team members who work in our 60 bar-restaurants.
For ten years I had been preaching a truth I had learned in my brief, and spectacularly unsuccessful, career as an actor – that you find the role from the outside in; that if you choose a positive attitude to your life and work you will become positive about your life and work. This ancient truth is reflected in the biblical sounding saw “act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you”. Or more prosaically “you get out of life, what you put in to it”. “The Fred Factor” – in a beautifully succinct 111 pages – seemed to provide me with an example and a roadmap of how to bring this message to my Team. Fred was a living, breathing example of how, by choosing to be exceptional in a routine job, you could make the routine exceptional. Mark Sanborn had distilled the lessons of his life and provided the roadmap for developing other Freds.
Hall & Woodhouse is a 234 year old family-owned brewer and bar-restaurant operator with the ambition to lead the British market in brewing and hospitality. From pot-wash to president, we have identified everyone in the company’s common purpose as being to “Make People’s Day”. We believe that this common purpose embodies Mark Sanborn’s Fred principles:
- Everyone makes a DIFFERENCE
- Success is built on relationships
- Continually create value for others and it doesn’t have to cost a penny
- You can reinvent yourself regularly
To deliver our ambition and common purpose we need every member of our Team to be a Fred. To do this we have set down in “The Ways of Woodhouse”, a small pocket sized Green Book, our History, Vision, Values, Common Purpose, Language and Sacred Texts (4 essential books – including “The Fred Factor”). Sent by Mark Woodhouse (our chairman) to every Team member within a week of joining, this book defines what our Company is. It provides frameworks that set out Hall & Woodhouse’s principles and the way we want to operate.
On Page 91 of “The Fred Factor” Mark Sanborn quotes Oliver Goldsmith: “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips”. We are acutely aware that we judge ourselves by our intentions; others judge us by our behaviours. We are now in the process of turning the intention in “The Ways of Woodhouse” into action. This is where the Fred Factor comes in – we are designing our Team Management philosophy and processes around the book’s principles.
We have decided to call our whole Team Management process simply “Fred”. We are in the process of explaining to our Team Members that “Fred” is a Symbol, a Process and A Person.
“Fred”, the mailman described in Mark Sanborn’s book, is our SYMBOL of perfect hospitality. His existence is evidence of what is possible in even the most repetitive and humdrum jobs and gives us a standard to which we should hold ourselves.
“Fred” is also the name we give to the PROCESS of selecting, training (“Fred-ucation”), caring for and communicating with our Team Members. Heavily drawing upon the guidance in Part 3 of the Fred Factor we are designing the four elements of the Fred process that help us develop Freds:
|Enrich||Reward & Care||To influence||Attitude and Loyalty|
Finally Fred is the PERSON who serves our Guests. He/she Makes People’s Day, every day, living the four Fred principles.
It is as simple and as complicated as that. We have no magic wand to convert a medium sized company, with a widely dispersed Team, instantly into a united collection of Freds. Overnight success takes a long time. But we have set down our intentions in “the Ways of Woodhouse”, we have given all our managers a copy of “The Fred Factor”, we are now designing our Fred processes and training courses and we will vigorously and systematically find, educate, care for and reward Freds from November 2011 onwards. All based on the principles set out in Mark Sanborn’s book.
In business and in life, universal truths are essential handholds in a turbulent world. When and wherever you find them grasp them with both hands to help you on your journey…even if it is in the basement of a second-hand bookstore. Why someone ever gave up their copy of “the Fred Factor” is beyond me but, as Psalm goes: “the stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone”.