Customer service is the bedrock of any retail operation. Monty Pereira, from Watanabe Floral, gives his take on how guest service has made Watanabe one of the most successful flower shops in the country.
At Watanabe Floral, Inc. in Honolulu, Hawaii, our Mission and Core Values provide the foundation for how we run our business. Serving the people of Hawaii since 1946, Watanabe Floral has been recognized as Hawaii’s Best Florist for a remarkable 16 consecutive years! How is this possible? Well, let us go back to our mission:
The Hawaiian term, E Ho’omau Pono, is the foundation of who we are. Ho’omau means to continue to last, to perpetuate and change. Pono means to do things the right way, with morality. So together, the phrase means to continue to last by conducting business with morality and righteousness. From this Mission, comes our Core Values.
When placed into action, these values guide all our decisions:
- First, is the Spirit of Aloha – with love. Our team members treat each other and our guests as if they are members of their own families. We are in the floral business, with the opportunity to help guests express their feelings through flowers. There is no better way to do this than with a loving heart.
- Our second core value is Keeping People First. You may assume that we mean the “customer is always right”. While that is often true, what we mean here is to be selfless. Selfless in your actions, always thinking about how you can make things better for our team and our guests.
- Finally, we strive for EXCELLENCE in Service: not “good”, not “great”, but “EXCELLENCE“!
Today, we live in an age of Amazon, where consumers expect businesses to exceed expectations with their service. As an example, I recently bought a camera set from Amazon for my daughter. It was a full set with bags, camera, extra lenses, tripod, etc. When we got the package, there was no tripod. We contacted Amazon and with no questions asked, they not only refunded the portion for the tripod, but they also sent a new one; that really made an impact with me! At Watanabe Floral we hone into our team members that our job is to make sure that our guests have a positive experience EVERY TIME.
As we deal with perishable products, is it realistic to think that everything will be perfect? Of course not! But, that does not mean our guests cannot have a great experience. If a guest unsatisfied with our product – whether it is quality-related, service-related, or is simply unhappy – we will, with no questions asked, send a replacement or refund their purchase. In some cases, we may even do both. Our thought is that it is far more important to have a satisfied guest for life than it is to maximize the profit on a single purchase. This is the epitome of People First and Service Excellence.
“With all the competition we face as florists such as supermarkets, big boxers, national order gatherers, and international companies like 1-800 Flowers, we have to make sure our guests understand that they are important. That appreciation will go a long way towards forming a lasting relationship.”
People First and Service Excellence
Here at Watanabe Floral, you should NEVER hear our team refer to guests as a “customer”. We expect our team to treat everyone as family and as a guest in his or her home, showing Aloha (love), compassion, excitement, and most importantly, expressing sincere gratitude for the opportunity to serve them. With all the competition we face as florists such as supermarkets, big boxers, national order gatherers, and international companies like 1-800 Flowers, we have to make sure our guests understand that they are important. That appreciation will go a long way towards forming a lasting relationship.
Finally, with service, one BIG misnomer is the thought that to serve our guests well, we must offer the cheapest options. While this may work for some, most senders want the best value rather than the cheapest option. We teach our team to close their eyes and envision themselves receiving the arrangement they are selling. Would they be ecstatic to receive this piece? Is this floral arrangement providing the sender with the best value? This exercise helps our team realize that if they received a $100 arrangement versus a $50 floral piece they would be more excited. Yet, we too often take that opportunity away from our guests by suggesting our lowest priced items. If we are dealing with a guest with a limited budget, they will let us know that and we can always come down, but let that be their choice.
We have served an abundance of people since our inception in 1946, but one thing has never wavered – our commitment to providing service excellence. Led by our Mission and Core Values, we understand to prosper we must commit to providing our guests with value unmatched in the market. That should be the goal for all of us in the floral industry because our individual level of service impacts how our entire industry is perceived. We need each other to be at our best to help our industry be the best!
For the next 70 years, Watanabe Floral remains committed to treating people with love; focusing on what is best for others, and striving for excellence!
About Monty Pereira: In 1997, Monty came to Watanabe Floral as their Accountant. After a few years, Monty migrated away from Accounting, becoming the Sales & Marketing Director and, later, General Manager. In 2009, Pacific Business News recognized Monty as one of the 40 top Businesspeople under the age of 40.