On any given morning, you can typically find me running from kitchen to bedroom to bathroom to kitchen again in order to feed 7 hungry bellies (I included myself and the dogs), clothe 3 little bodies (I didn’t include myself 1 because I’m not little and 2 because sometimes I run out the door in an outfit that does not really count as “being dressed”), and get my oldest to preschool along with all the other half- dressed, half-made-up mamas in our area. Let me walk you through the process –
We pull up
I unstrap myself and three children from carseats
I carry one while the two oldest bolt…or walk at the speed of sloths (they apparently only have two speeds) to the front door. There is no automatic door, so I maneuver us in and proceed to check in and drop my son off across the school to his classroom. As I said, it truly is a process.
This past Friday, after the maneuver step, something glorious caught my eye – Coffee. Not just coffee. Hot coffee, Hot tea, a morning treat of some sort, and a hand written sign saying “Thank you for letting us serve your children”. And guys, it wasn’t the best coffee, I didn’t eat the treat, and the sign was anything but aesthetically pleasing, but even so, my morning, my day, and my mood were all impacted.
The simple act of hospitality caused me to pause and connect with the school, the administrators, and the teachers. I didn’t connect with them in any physical way. There was absolutely no one manning the table. Just the note and the thought process that followed.
Hospitality is vital in any business. I would dare say that I am more likely to buy a product from someone who is hospitable than someone who checks all the boxes, but does not offer a smidge of hospitality.
Maintain Foundational Relationships
Before, we as a company, a couple, a family can even think of serving someone else, we must have built a foundation of kindness, loyalty and servanthood amongst ourselves. Did you read that? Kindness, loyalty, and servanthood. Kindness, loyalty, and servanthood to my spouse and children and from my spouse and children (think probabilities and combinations in math class). Everybody must be giving and everybody must be receiving. I offer you this conclusion. In order to maintain genuine hospitality in business, one must maintain foundational relationships in their personal life. For us this looks like maintaining our personal relationships with God, relationship as husband and wife, and self (self care ya’ll!). Foundational relationships are just as, if not more important than relationships with potential clients.
Its as Simple as a Smile
Now onto something a little lighter and practical. Hospitality driven business can start with a simple smile. Smile at your clients or customers. Make it a real smile too. I know I am guilty of “brain smiling” – sometimes my smile gets lost somewhere between my brain and my face (all my fellow RBF victims said amen). Just be intentional about smiling (with your actual face).
Hospitality is not about being fake. It is not even about gaining business. It is a foundation rather than an end result. If your business is built on hospitality, yes people will tend to like you, tend to trust you, tend to build relationship with you, and tend to use your business. However, disingenuous hospitality cannot replace genuine hospitality.
Shana Rader of The Kitchen Table says “While food is ultimately about survival, it’s also about connecting with others. Coming together to share food is a practice that’s been used throughout history to forge relationships, share stories, provoke laughter and celebrate blessings.” Literally anyone with a heartbeat can relate to this. There is something about food and beverage that ease the barriers of anxiety, discomfort, and apprehensiveness. Coffee is coffee. But, coffee with another person is conversation, comfort, and connection. So, break out the coffee pot, grab some treats, and set the tone for making genuine connections with your clients. Plus, on the practical side, refreshments can make way for small talk if you are into that kind of thing. (how do you like your coffee, any favorite shops, omg where are these scones from, wow these cannot be gluten free,….)
Go Old School
When I arrived at my son’s preschool on Friday, the note was not extravagant. It was not even pretty. But I liked it. It was genuine and it was old school. In case you haven’t noticed, there is an old school revival happening right under our noses. All you have to do is pop on over to the Indie Market, any coffee shop, or simply scroll through Pinterest to see a plethora of hand lettered signs/cards/prints, felt boards, and hand stitched embroidery hoops. So, send your client a note or card thanking them for their business. Type it, print it, email it. Whatever you do, make it genuine.
Sometimes hospitality does not come natural and that is ok. It does not make you a bad person or terrible business owner. Hospitality may not be your natural gifting, but it can still be a goal. So download our hospitality checklist and practice!