I have to admit I tense up whenever someone begins using the Ritz Carlton as an example Funeral Service should use to fashion its own customer service profile.  Not that we can’t learn some things from the Ritz.  We most certainly can!  But it is a dangerous recommendation when we fail to “Go Deep” on the pain and effort it took for the Ritz to get to that level of service.  Another example of mistaking form for substance.

I have now lived in North Carolina for almost 28 years.  Within a year or so of arriving I noticed that the state motto is “Esse Quam Videri” which is latin for:

“To Be Rather Than To Seem”

I can’t find anyone who knows the genesis of that motto but I like it and have adopted it for my own.  It’s a good standard and it’s good to have a standard.  Especially when you fail to meet it. And that is really the story of the Ritz Carlton.

All too often we see something that works somewhere and we adopt what we see without really understanding the substance behind it.  For the past 20 years I have witnessed many main line denominational churches send committees out to study the exploding megachurch movement.  All come back with the outer cosmetic trappings. They change the music and often the ambiance but they never get to the deeper essence of what is really causing those churches to grow the way they do.

In the mid 1980’s, on behalf of my clients, I made a case study of the Ritz Carlton.  They were then, as they are now, extremely gracious.  It was entirely open book.  I was introduced to the whole story of blood, sweat and tears or rather the herculean 10 year single-minded effort of Horst Schulz and his merry band of executives as they set about changing the culture of the Ritz.  No small effort.

And that is really my point.  Adopting “country club manners” was only the visible part.  The focus and intentionality of achieving their vision was, by far, the most impressive.  You see, it is not enough at the Ritz Carlton to ACT like a lady or a gentleman.  You must actually BE a lady or a gentleman.  And that is the key to any successful organizational change.

Your DNA must change

My wife and I have become addicts of Masterpiece theater’s “Downton Abbey“.  In the presence of the Lords and Ladies the “help” puts on their best face.  But downstairs in the servant’s work area they are as dysfunctional as any funeral home staff I have ever met.  At the Ritz that would not be tolerated.  The turnover rate at the average hotel (luxury or otherwise) is startling high.  The Ritz turnover is a fraction of the industry average but it is still about 25%.  That is partly because at the Ritz if you can’t BE a lady or gentleman…you simply can’t stay.

Click here for a copy of the Ritz Carlton Values Card

Click here for a copy of the Ritz Carlton Baldridge Award Application