Who Comes First?â€œThe Customer Comes Secondâ€ is an account of the management and leadership style of Hal Rosenbluth, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rosenbluth International, a global travel management firm that was founded in 1892 by Marcus Rosenbluth, Halâ€™s great-grandfather.The premise of Hal Rosenbluthâ€™s management style is just as the title of the book suggests; concentrate on your employees first and your customers second.I found the management practices outlined by Mr. Rosenbluth to be innovative and applicable to all types of business, not just the travel industry.I was also very intrigued by some of the creative employment practices used by Rosenbluth International as well as their fight to stay alive in the travel industry following the tragic events of September 11, 2001 (9/11) (Rosenbluth, Prologue xi). The majority of the book focuses on the process of hiring good people, treating them right, and letting their love and dedication for their company translate into premier customer service.
The idea of putting employees first seems simple enough, however in todayâ€™s corporate environment it is easy to get caught up in the traditional measures of corporate success and lose sight of taking care of a companyâ€™s most important asset, its people. It all starts with hiring the right people, and the book outlines some great strategies for doing just that.Rosenbluth contends that the most important approach to hiring is to find nice people.Their selection process focuses on finding kind, caring, compassionate and unselfish people as opposed to people with impressive resumes that tout multiple degrees, years of experience and impressive salary histories.It is customary for Rosenbluth International to interview eight to ten people for a position, especially leadership positions.
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Above all, look for nice people that care, because in most cases everything else can be taught (Rosenbluth 29). It is interesting how Rosenbluth connects peopleâ€™s driving habits and approach toward team sports to be good litmus tests for finding the right people.Driving habits can say a lot about people.One who does not drive decisively and look for alternative routes in a traffic jam may lack initiative.On the other hand, one who is easily distracted, reckless or willing to put â€œgetting thereâ€ before the safety of their passengers and other drivers could be a loose cannon.Taking a potential new-hire to lunch and asking them to drive can reveal a lot about a person that translates directly to the workplace.Sports can also be a good test.
It is good to hire competitive people who are driven to do their best, but not at the expense of the team.A true team player should be selfless and secure enough to contribute without having to always be the star player of the game (Rosenbluth 31). One of the more interesting chapters in the book detailed an innovative approach that Rosenbluth International used to find good people by tapping rural communities.The idea started in 1988 with a conversation between Hal Rosenbluth and some of his associates about a terrible drought that was hitting the Midwest and what the company could do to help.After some initial research to see which state had been the hardest hit, Rosenbluth decided to open a temporary office in Linton, North Dakota, a small farm community of about one thousand people who were almost totally dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
A make-shift office was set up in an old tractor implement shop, and forty part-time employees were hired to do data-entry work.Within a few weeks, Rosenbluth saw a pattern of quality work with no absenteeism or turnover.Additionally, the office in Linton had great morale and a dedication to teamwork that led to increases in the scope of work performed as well as productivity (Rosenbluth 210). After just six weeks, the can-do attitude and enthusiasm of the workforce in Linton led Rosenbluth to turn the temporary rural office into a permanent office.Today, the company employs over two hundred full-time associates in the Linton office, and has opened additional offices in four more rural North Dakota towns.Theyâ€™ve successfully opened additional rural offices in Campbellsville, Kentucky and Killarney, Ireland (Rosenbluth 210).
Rosenbluth suggests that companies should consider looking to farm towns to find available quality people, which is still a largely untapped resource. Once a company finds the right people, they have to keep those people, which is a major focus and key to success for Rosenbluth International.It starts with a new-hireâ€™s first day on the job, which Rosenbluth suggests can have a major impact on the success of the employee.Most people do not sleep well before the start of a new job because they are so excited with anticipation.The.