The envelope please

The Star has been fortunate to gain some recognition lately, both provincially as a finalist in the Tourism Saskatchewan’s awards in the category Business of the Year (under 20 employees), and nationally as a Canadian Road Trip Top Ten Hotspot by Food Network Canada. This recognition has set me thinking about awards and their ultimate meaning in a business’s life.

While my first inclination at hearing the news was to turn all Sally Field (“You like me, you really like me!”), I immediately thought about what this would mean to the business and to the community.

Those of us in small towns who own restaurants know how hard a slog it can be to pay the bills and keep our teams together. Add global economic downturns, BSE, floods and cross-border shopping to the mix and you have a recipe for desperate days and sleepless nights. Nerves of steel and good support networks are what keep many of us going.

And then recognition comes knocking, and we think we can breathe a sigh of relief. Now we can relax a bit because customers will flock to our doors and money will roll in, right? Yeah, right.

First of all, any success we enjoy is a result of the efforts of the people who work at the business, and not just the owners. In fact, many times the owners are the least responsible for accolades; they hold the vision but the team carries through on it and works hard to translate it into reality. In our case this holds especially true. Every single member of our team works for the good of our customers, and values customers above everything. Every single member has a job to do and every job is crucial to customer satisfaction.

Second, no business exists in a vacuum. Just as it takes a community to raise a child, it takes a community of supporters to give a business meaning and success. Without our customers, we have no reason to be.

And that brings me to the real cruncher. We have to live up to any public praise we receive. Just as our Trip Advisor reviews define expectations, so does any other recognition we get. And right now, the pressure is definitely on. We have to deliver on the promises inherent in others’ judgement of us. We have to excel.

So, during the next few weeks we are going to be looking at how we can improve, how we can deliver consistent excellence. We are going to expand our frozen dinner business, refine our menu and try to do a much needed dining room facelift before summer. We are going to add members to our team (welcome already to Leslie Lamer!) and make sure we can meet all your expectations.

We are going to continue to support the community of Maple Creek and the Cypress Hills Destination Area, because we realize that we are nothing without the people around us, and what is good for us is also good for our community. By the same token, what is good for the community is also good for us, so we will continue to work with Maple Creek businesses to make sure we are all as good as we can possibly be.

Ultimately, accolades and awards open the door to more collaboration, greater effort and a more committed team. If a local business gets recognition, the spotlight always broadens its focus to include other businesses in the community and the community as a whole. We want to excel because of the community, not in spite of the community. When that is true, everyone wins.