A couple of years ago I was teaching a class on stakeholder management and I asked each student what it was that made their stakeholders want to engage with their business. In response one of my students proudly referred to his business as having ‘The Cheers Effect’. This was a term I had heard a few times previously but had never taken the time to think about it in any great detail. It refers to running your business in a similar way to the bar in the popular US sitcom Cheers. In doing so you create an environment where you know and care about your staff and customers, people know each other and people want to be there. We discussed ‘The Cheers Effect’ as a group and found it to be very useful in drawing out some of the key principles associated with stakeholder engagement.
Cheers is one of my all time favourite American sitcoms. You only have to watch Cheers for five minutes before you find yourself wishing it was your local bar. You want to be there and be friends with everyone who works and drinks there. You care about the success of the bar owner Sam, you admire Carla’s feisty approach to customer service, you find Woody hilariously stupid and you would give anything to have a drinking competition with Norm and listen intently to Cliff while he explains the detailed historical process of Antarctic glacial formations. In other words, everything about the show desperately makes you want to be there.
I began to think about how ‘The Cheers Effect’ could be achieved, and ultimately it all boils down to two basic skills: manners and respect. If you are polite and respectful to everyone who associates themselves with your business (your stakeholders) you will easily be able to create ‘The Cheers Effect’. This may seem simple but unfortunately it is not always quite so straight forward. You are not the only person working in your business and unless the rest of your employees and customers adopt your respectful and polite manner you will sadly not success. In many ways it is similar to servant leadership whereby you serve others and others serve you.
I would like to highlight a few examples from the show to emphasis the power of ‘The Cheers Effect’.
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got”
Running a business isn’t easy! Even if you are a well mannered, polite and respectful individual with a desire to help people and create a business that is friendly and engaging for all involved, it will still take a lot of work to achieve it. This won’t just happen overnight and it will take “everything you’ve got” to make it happen.
“Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot”
We all have our bad days and low points but unfortunately you can not be seen to be this way in front of your staff and customers. Do your best to push these feelings to the back of your mind and “taking a break from all your worries” will definitely help to maintain the happy vibe you have created. It is obviously dangerous to bottle your feeling up forever but similarly don’t let them impact your work too much.
“Wouldn’t you like to get away?”
When your customers engage with your business they will often be doing so to relax, enjoy themselves and forget about their troubles. Create an environment that allows them to “get away” from the grind of everyday life.
“Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name”
Where would you prefer to go for a cup of coffee, or to get your hair cut or to train in the gym? Somewhere where you are just another stranger in the line or somewhere where you are known by name? It feels great when you enter a café and the barista says, “Hello Jonathan, usual?” Introduce yourself to your customers, introduce your staff to your customers and introduce your customers to each other. Try to create a positive and friendly mini-community around your business.
“And they’re always glad you came”
When you visit a business do they indicate in any way that they were genuinely happy you are there? I don’t mean the obligatory “Have a nice day” that you get when you leave but rather did they engage with you, ask you questions, go above and beyond and tell you they hope you will come back again soon? Take time to get to know your staff and customers, welcome them, thank them, help them, support them and do everything you feasibly can for them.
“You want to be where you can see, troubles are all the same”
Empathise with your staff and employees, show them you honestly understand their problems, concerns, troubles and issues. Offer support and care for their needs by relating to them in a meaningful way. This can be achieved through your services and products as well as in general terms via positive customer service practices.
“Go Red Socks!”
Although you are unlikely to be a famous ex-sport star like Sam, as a business owner you need to create a strong personal brand. Your customers will come to you because ‘you’ work there and run the operation. If you are well known and respected locally, regionally and/or internationally you will attract like-minded people who are hoping to work for you, buy from you, sell to you, invest in you and generally help you in any way they can.
When Norm enters the bar everyone shouts his name, “Norm!” This not only supports some of my previous examples but it also publically demonstrates to other customers that you are a friendly place who look after and welcome their regulars. Your customers will wish they had that reception when they entered and they will be more likely to engage with the business and involve themselves over time in order to become one of the regulars.
“Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience”
Furthering the previous example, you need to expose new customers to your cheers-like ways, publically displaying your business ethos and customer/staff care for all to see. If people see this in action, live in front of their very eyes, they will buy into you and your business and will desperately want to be part of it.
The Cheers Effect naturally fits social businesses such as pubs, cafes, barber shops, etc. but you should not be limited by this factor. It would be just as relevant to any business, even if you run a funeral parlour you could adopt the Cheers Effect. You don’t have to be humorous and joke all the time to achieve the Cheers Effect, it is more about meeting the differing needs of your stakeholders. You can still easily create a supportive, caring and friendly environment regardless of your business type, you would simply have to change how you implement it slightly to address the specific needs of your stakeholders.
I hope this article has done both the TV show and my readership justice in getting my point across. I thought this was an interesting and quirky topic so I hope you have enjoyed it. If you can think of any other examples from the show which helps to explain and highlight ‘The Cheers Effect’ in action I would love to hear them. Please share your additional examples by posting a comment and I feel it is relevant I will add it to my article. Thanks very much!