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Mind Your Manners at the Spa

By James Knight

Having good business etiquette could be the make or break of having a successful business.

Recently on one of my visits to the states, I visited the home of good business etiquette and the home of good business manners, Charleston, South Carolina, which has won the prize for being the most polite city in America.

Where I met up with a lady who is a practitioner in the art, Cindy Grosso, who owns The Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette.  I discussed with her over a pot of English tea, why the spa market needs business etiquette not only in America, but most certainly in Britain.  Today, in business we have two very important parallels to be successful in our life, to be well educated and secondly to have the grace of good manners.

In America, manners in business are so vital, in achieving credibility in the competitive world and domestic markets.  How often have you waited for a return call or an e-mail response from people, I refer to our British readers for this bad practice.  In America business is geared-up to respond and it is regarded badly if business and individuals don�t.  It could be a loss of credibility and loss of business.  A form of business etiquette and protocol is a long last being recognized.

Cindy Grosso told me: �Business behavior is part of the image from eating properly at business dinners to dressing impressively for presentations and conduct during meetings is also part of acceptable business behavior.�  I have noticed recently the dressing down factor is fine, as long as the dressing down clothes are smart.  But I have attended meetings in Britain especially, where people have dressed down and looked untidy and not color oriented.  I have also noticed that social graces are a lost art, but slowly people are going to return to it.  They can see the benefits it can bring to their business and respect from fellow business people.

The general opinion in Britain and America is that through the fast pace of life, good manners as been left behind and are not taught in Universities and College or estheticians and beauty therapists courses. This most certainly applies to Britain.  In many families this is causing a deterioration of standards in the work place.

Cindy Grosso said, �Business protocol and etiquette is really about self-confidence and self-esteem, it�s all about how to walk in a room comfortably or being able to carry on a conversation, this also applies to networking events.  Many people who meet people over dinner are often unsure which fork to use.  I have been to many business meetings, where at the dinner table people are waiting for a lead from someone else, as to which cutlery item they pick up.  In America, the whole business of etiquette is being taught.  Today, I find business people are not measured on merely academic backgrounds, there is a new bench mark focusing on people skills, which is to a large extent learning how to behave.�

South Carolina is the home of good manners in business and social etiquette, it is the place where dressing down is not looked on favorably and they say a southern gentlemen�s position in society is always to open a door for a lady.  Manners are not forgotten.

It is also much nicer to receive a hand-written reply than an e-mail; it is just more personalized, which we have seemed to have lost in the modern world.  The skills today, include the lost art of listening, social graces, presentation skills, which in Britain, we are particularly weak at.  I also find that it is impossible to talk to anyone senior often in a company.  If you ring up to complain or even to congratulate a company, the official line is that he or she is too busy to come to the phone.  This is just a cop out!  Another feature is voice mail, with calls never being returned even after days.  I feel customer and staff like to talk with decision makers and the only way a senior executive or spa owner ever finds out about how their company is performing is by communications.  What is wrong with a senior director of a spa or business talking to customers? For example why don�t senior directors of banks visit branches and actually ask customers for the negatives and the positives, instead of leaving it to middle managers.  What the directors may find out may be of great interest and could prove a positive move for the company.

As directors, we owe it to our customers and staff to do this.  Business schools need to encourage this form of management.  This is because customer service skills are not just a department but an attitude.  As Cindy Grosso says, �Statistics suggest that business is 87% people skills and 13% product knowledge.�

Many problems which occur with customer care can be addressed if you install in your staff to help the customer in the reception area of the spa with problems.  The problems with the lack of protocol, is not just confined to one area of business personnel, bad protocol exists from senior directors of companies and this reflects in how staff react.  In all companies, it is a part of religion, I always say build in social and business graces, look after your customers and they will be loyal to you.  Could this be where we are going wrong?

Cindy Grosso, owns The Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette and is a leading professional in the field of social graces.  Cindy Grosso can be reached at    

Source: Article Published in Spa Management Magazine

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