Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines – Service Avatars

I arrived in New York coming back from Naples a couple of hours ago and am sitting in the Virgin lounge at JFK International Airport, Terminal 4 waiting to board my first class flight to Franfkurt with Singapore Airlines. Checking in, the ladies at the reception desk told me that the lounge will be closed early today, because the last Virgin flight was cancelled. I said that I am disappointed, but what else could I do? So I prepared myself mentally to sit in a crowded hall for almost an hour.

Now I was told that Virgin synchronized the closing of the lounge with the boarding time of my Singapore flight. I consider this as a role model for customer service. It can be so easy to stand out.

Virgin Lounge JFK

Virgin Lounge JFK


Singapore Boeing 777-300


























(c) 2013 Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

Streamline Your Routine Processes – Ritz-Carlton Naples

I am at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida for the fourth time since 2008. This is one of the best hotels in the world and although we are working here, I have time to spend some hours a day outside at the beach, on the balcony or at the property to enjoy the nice weather with temperatures in the mid to high 80s (25 to 28 degrees Celsius). It is high season here. The hotel is almost 100 percent booked which means that there are 450 rooms and at least 700 guests—not counting private parties and business meetings—who want to be taken care of, every day, 24 hours,.

From my room I can overlook a large part of the property and the gulf of Mexico and I recognize that a couple of things repeat every day:

  • When it is supposed to be a sunny day, about 200 or so deckchairs are brought to the beach every morning and are collected every afternoon (see picture)
  • Specific beach entertainment equipment is installed every day and is brought back every afternoon.
  • In the evenings, the pool areas are prepared for the next day so that they look the same each day.
  • And, of course, there are all the repetitive activities that happen in every hotel: preparing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, check-in, check-out, and so on.

Acknowledging that the hotel business is not a high margin business (except for high season) and that it depends on people—Ritz-Carlton’s “Ladies and Gentlemen are Serving Ladies and Gentlemen”-philosophy is known all over the world—routine processes need to be standardized to a very high degree in order not to lose time and money on repetitive operations. The efficiency I can observe is remarkable: There is no time wasted by unnecessary loops and the people still stay very friendly. There is no time wasted, because the time is needed to deal with processes that are not or can not be standardized; processes one need to put some thinking on.

To what extend have you standardized your routines processes? Are they as streamlined as they could be? Or are you talking about deviations in routines over and over? How often do you do something we call “failure work,” which means correcting things at management level that could have done correctly at an operational level? Do you feel you spend too much time on this?

Stop it. Standardize and streamline your routine processes, make people responsible, and make sure your routines are executed properly. You can’t afford using your profit to subsidize failure work in routines. You need your creativity, your time, and your money for more important things in order to grow your business.

Gulf view

Gulf view

(c) 2013 Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

“Profitable Growth”: Spanish Press Release

My new book “Profitable Growth” was just promoted to Spanish media. For the first time ever we have distributed a press release in Spanish. To download the press release (PDF, 58 kB), click here.

(c) 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group / Mandat Managementberatung GmbH

We Are The Economy

I had planned a trip to London for Tuesday with three appointments. Security staff at a couple of airports was on strike last week – they want to get up to 30 percent more money – and the union announced to extend and intensify the strike without any warning.I took preventive action and just cancelled my Tuesday trip in advance in order to not let someone wait for me in case of the strike.

That means:

  • No meeting with one of my colleagues
  • no meeting with a service provider I consider to hire
  • no meeting with a cooperation partner

Here’s an excerpt of the direct economical effect:

  • Lufthansa: I return the full fare flex ticket.
  • airports Dusseldorf and Heathrow: no handling fees, no starting fees, no landing fees, two times if the flight will really be cancelled
  • no first class ticket at Heathrow Express
  • no revenue for taxis and limos
  • no revenue for the hotel room where my cooperation partner and I would have met
  • no revenue for the restaurants we would have had lunch and dinner at
  • no fees for Amex
  • no fees for the bank where I would have gotten GBP from
  • a lot of taxes that are not being paid

Do I hear anyone complaining about “the economy”? We ARE the economy. Already forgotten?

(c) 2013 Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

Growth Challenges

One of our US colleagues, my friend Chad Barr, recently asked in an international forum what the key challenges of our clients are. I thought this was a superb question to think about. Here is my answer that results from our current projects:

Low or medium growing companies:

  • Lack of differentiating from the competition.
  • (Not) attracting the target group exactly enough (if they even know what their target group is).
  • Ego trumps long-term strategy.
  • Archetypical growth brakes institutionalized in companies departments.
  • Not knowing where they are on the growth curve and take inappropriate action therefore.

High growth (or  companies with a high growth attitude):

  • Handling high growth with the existing systems / processes.
  • Transferring people from “normal growth thinking” to “high growth thinking”.
  • Getting the right people on board.
  • Convincing their shareholders that the management isn’t doing a kamikaze ride.
  • Thinking long-term.

What are the key challenges you are facing trying to grow your business?

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

The Art of Listening and The Art of Answering Questions

I usually stay in the Virgin Atlantic Lounge at Terminal 4 of JFK International Airport in New York in order to wait for my Singapore Airlines flight from JFK back to Frankfurt. Since the lounge has moved close to the gate it is really convenient to stay there. Last Saturday on my way back home I had plenty of time and I asked the lady at the front desk if from her experience of the last couple of days Singapore Airlines will board on time.

Her: “We will call the flight.”
Me: “That’s fine, but that was not my question.”
Her: “You asked me if Singapore usually boards on time.”
Me: “Exactly.”
Her: “It varies: sometimes yes, sometimes not.”
Me: “Really?” – Since this discussion led to nowhere, I waited until the flight was called (on time by the way).

Leadership lesson: Listen to a question and don’t just give someone an answer. Give someone an answer to a question they really asked. And, please, don’t say something like “it could be that way or it could be the other way.”

Big Boxes Need Big Staff

The founder, former CEO, and former Chairman of the Supervisory Board of one of the most important Germany-based DIY retail chains with today more than 40,000 employees running a 6.4bn Euro operation in more than a dozen countries once told me that you need to build “big boxes” in that business in order to stay competitive. This conversation took place several years ago and he was right. DIY markets are getting bigger and bigger and smaller “boxes” are being closed. If you want to survive in this business – not talking about growing – you need what retailers call “big boxes.”

The point here is, that big boxes may be a necessary condition for remaining an interesting player in the market in the eyes of the customer. However, this is far away from being a sufficient condition. To grow profitably in retail – not restricted to DIY – you not only need a big box, you need a big staff. And we are talking about “big” not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. Customers want to find an employee when they have a question. Customers don’t want to be send to a couple of different employees in order to find the “real expert” for their problem. Customers want to be served as a valuable counterpart in a business. Customers expect service.

Since controllers dominate a lot of discussions about how to grow profitably, we don’t need to be surprised that one of the first means to grow the bottom line is to cut costs. What controllers in retail operations are not often aware of is the fact that cutting cost in purchasing will end in dissatisfied customers because of poor product quality and that cutting costs in salaries often ends in dissatisfied customers due to no – or, even worse, poor – service.

Retail C-suite: Don’t let controllers tell you how to grow profitably. Don’t just build big boxes. Build big staff. Do it like the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article and hire enthusiastic people who want to serve and who are able to serve. That’s a good step on your way to profitable growth.

Guido Quelle

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

“Profitable Growth” – Upcoming In The Fall

My new book “Profitable Growth – Release Internal Growth Brakes and Bring Your Company to the Next Level” will be published in October by Springer. Foreword by Dr. Alan Weiss, President, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., author of “Million Dollar Consulting” and “The Consulting Bible.”

Here’s the text from the back cover:

Almost every company wants to grow – at least officially. Shareholders are demanding further growth and no management team would deny that the growth of their company is one of the top issues they are working on every single day. However, there are barriers to growth, and these are not only external barriers. Most often it is not the economy, not the market and not the customer who just “hasn’t got it.” The main barriers can be discovered inside every company, because growth always comes from within. If the organization is not ready to grow, initiatives to increase market share, to enter new markets, and/or to increase profitability are destined to fail. This book systematically addresses the main internal barriers to growth and provides practical guidance not only for discovering these barriers, but to systematically overcoming them.

Here’s what readers say:

“The nuance that distinguishes this book is the orientation that growth is measured, planned, and pursued in an orderly fashion, never growth for growth’s sake. Guido wisely takes the reader through a strategic approach which leads to intelligent tactics, not a frenzied tactical charge that undermines strategy.”
Alan Weiss, PhD, President Summit Consulting Group, Inc.

“Growing a company needs more than just a theoretical concept and even more than just a strong commitment, it needs practical and proven ideas that can be implemented in the corporate environment. With this book, Guido Quelle not only provides the theoretical basis how even growing companies can evolve but also provides practical advice how to release internal barriers to grow profitably on the long-term. A must read for all executives.”
Ted Breyer, Deputy CEO, SGL Group – The Carbon Company

ISBN 978-3-642-32786-5
Pre-order your copy now at Link to book page at


Unsere E-Books zu Wachstum – Our E-Books On Growth

In der letzten Zeit sind einige unserer Bücher auch als E-Books erschienen, sämtlich bei (und, wie uns versichert wurde, auch bei iTunes) ladbar. Hier folgt eine Liste. Die Links führen zu den entsprechenden Seiten auf und
Recently a couple of our books have been published as e-books as well. They can be downloaded at and—as we were told—as well at iTunes. Here’s the list.The links lead to the book sites at and

Deutschsprachige Bücher:

Planen Führen Wachsen – Mit Methode zum Erfolg

Growth Tweets – 101 Twitter-Tipps für profitables Wachstum

Growth Tweets 2 – 101 Twitter-Tipps für profitables Wachstum Band 2

Das Wachstum führen – Das Buch zur 7-teiligen Mandat Telekonferenz Serie

English Books:

Plan Lead Grow – Systematic Approaches To Success

Stay tuned, more to come …


How To Surprise A Customer

On this blog I recently wrote about a situation where two cultures collided: Singapore Airlines vs Frankfurt Airport Staff.

I think it’s just fair to give you an update: Being back home I asked my assistant to claim the damaged baggage which was instantly picked up by DHL. A couple of days later, the bag returned and it was repaired. My assistant said to me, “They told me they couldn’t repair it good enough, so you’ll get a new one.” I checked the bag over and over and thought it was perfectly repaired. I thought it was a communication error.

Sure enough, another couple of days later, a new bag was delivered to my office. It was the identical bag – and this was really not a cheap one from probably the best German travel cases brand. I was not only pleased, but surprised. I sent an email to the guy at Frankfurt Baggage Service and to the lady at Singapore Airlines who were responsible for the case, telling them they didn’t need to substitute the bag since the reparation of the old one was all I expected. They told me they are happy to have a satisfied customer.

Well, I am not only satisfied, I am thrilled. It’s good to know that there are people outside who take care of you especially when an accident occurs. This makes thrilled customers. The two persons went the extra mile and made me write this blogpost since going the mile extra is exactly what we advocate. Thanks so much.

Guido Quelle

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group