Make me a Servant!

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I got my first shot of CCCA sectionals this week. My wife and I were weary from Iowa cold and snow so we travelled south to participate in the Deep South Sectional. It was worth the 14 hour trip.

One of the reasons we went was to present a seminar on Service and Hospitality; I felt like a man trying to tell his wife how to put on her makeup; these folks knew more than I did. Our conference was at Camp Bethany in Bethany Louisiana; a camp with 400+ beds and a staff of 4 full timers. Robert and Joan Cole along with Renita and Trey. Without them actually knowing it, they led their own seminar; they each lived a life of a committed camp worker.

They gave tours, checked people in, prepared meals, did dishes, gave directions, cleaned floors and bathrooms, they smiled and loved on people; they were the complete package. The entire camp was ready for us to use and enjoy; they exuded with hospitality- they were masters of the love and care department.

Much of what we do at camp is pure grunt work: cleaning, cooking, mowing, laundry, wood chopping, fire building, side-walk sweeping, and doing dishes. Sometimes the days can be long and we collapse into our bed knowing that the routine will start all over again the next morning. Some days we wonder if our service was even appreciated; some days we wonder if it is even Kingdom work.

Let me tell you Robert and Joan and Renita, and Trey… it is; it was; and it will be. You make Camp Bethany a place for the weary to rest, the needy to recharge, and the lonely to re-connect with brothers and sisters, but also a place for each of us to have and “encounter with Almighty.”

Well done good and faithful servants! Well done indeed!

A place to sit!


A Place to Rest

I followed my wife while she shopped

From store to store she went

I the great man was spent

The flesh pulled on my bones like two bags of cement

At last I found a chair

Of all the stores, Nordstrom was best

They gave a husband a place to rest.

The poem above was written by J. Glenn Evans, and was sent to Nordstrom’s home office.  Nordstrom’s comment was: “When your customers are writing love poems to you, you know you are doing a pretty good job.”

When was the last time you received a love poem from a recent guest?  Or even a letter that thanks and commends your staff for bending-over-backwards with outrageously, wonderful service.  Or how long has it been since you received a letter of praise for how they found your camp and how they felt loved and cared for?

Been a while?

Expectations:  Every person, every guest group has them.  They come to your camp expecting to receive a certain level of service and care.  If the camp or the staff does not meet these expectations, the guest group leaves camp and usually does not return; they know there are options for next year’s retreat.  Your business struggles and you are forced into putting more money into marketing in order to fill the empty slot in next year’s calendar.

The husband in the above poem finally found a store that understood “hospitality.” The extra care provided by Nordstrom, allowed the man to relax while the wife continued to shop and shop.  He was wowed by their thoughtfulness.

Your guests will feel the same.  Under-promise and over-deliver; you will create loyal guests who want to keep returning to your camps and conference centers year after year to receive a huge dose of your care and love.

“We are a theme park of retailing in a sense.  We are about food, fashion, and fun.  The whole point of everything we do is to make the customer happy for the long haul.  You have a good experience and you want to do it again.  If people are satisfied and excited about the experience of shopping at Nordstrom, they will come back.  And if we haven’t created that atmosphere, they won’t come back.  It’s just that simple. “   David Lindsey, vice president of store planning at Nordstrom.

Though we are not a store; the same principles apply to the camping culture.  Happy guests return again and again and again!

Quote and poem is from the book below.  A great read in understanding outstanding hospitality and attention to details that create guest loyalty.