Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Giver, Taker, Matcher – Which One Are You?

9780670026555H[1]I recently came across a video interview with Adam Grant who talks about his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Adam Grant is a Wharton School of Business professor, a very young and popular one, a sort of rock star professor. You may have seen him being interviewed on the Today Show recently. Let’s look at how his concept can relate to the business of hospitality and your success as innkeepers.

His theory is there are two personality extremes: the takers and the givers. The takers are the people who; “Get as much information from you as they can get without contributing anything if at all to the interaction. The takers will take the most direct path to achieving their own goals. The givers are always looking to give advice, provide mentoring or sharing knowledge without expecting anything in return.” He goes on to say that there is balance between these two extremes that we should try to achieve. He calls these people matchers. Most of us fall into this category. A matcher is somebody who tries to maintain an even balance of give and take. “If I help you, I expect to be helped in return. They keep score of exchanges, so that everything is fair and really just.” Now the important question, who among the two extremes tend to be more successful in business?

I´m not hungry - I´m just greedy

A real greedy taker

The professor did extensive research and came up with some very interesting conclusions. “Givers are overrepresented at the top as well as the bottom of most success metrics. But they are also overrepresented at the bottom.” Reason? The givers put themselves at the risk for burning out. Ahh, does this sound familiar? Professor Grant says; “Many givers confuse being helpful or being generous with being available for every person and every request all the time.” We all know innkeepers like that; you may be one of them. I know I fell into that extreme end of the giver spectrum in my first months of innkeeping. We physically cannot be available 24/7 and be everything to every guest. This is the perfect recipe for burn out. Many of The B&B Team’s “Better Way to Learn Innkeeping” seminar attendees often comment, ‘I hear that innkeeping is a 24/7 job.’ We tell them that if that is the case, those innkeepers that tell you that are not running a successful business. So the next question is how do you erase the 24/7 mentality and balance your business to avoid burn out?

It really comes down to protecting your time and yourself. Your guests, your partner, your Inn are important and so are you. If you are constantly giving all your time and energy to your guests there will be nothing left for anyone else, including the business of running your Inn.  You can be helpful and generous of your time and still have time for yourself. Really!

Professor Grant says; ”I think that we need to work with people who fall in the giving end of the spectrum to help them set clear boundaries and determine, ‘Okay, how am I going to help most of the people most of the time?’ He came up with what he calls the “the five minute favor’. “ Instead of just helping everyone all the time, ask, “Can I offer something of unique value to this other person that will take me five minutes or less? It’s basically about finding high benefit to others, but at low cost to the self.”

Example: Try making a game of it. ‘The 15 Minute Turn Around’. Can you turn a grumpy guest into a satisfied guest in 15 minutes? Rick and I used to bet each other to see which one of us could turn a guest around the fastest during the check-in process. It was fun and it usually worked. But we all know that some guests are high maintenance and whatever you do they will never be satisfied. They are most likely the real greedy takers of the world. These guests are time suckers and will drain your energy and try your giving nature. Remember what Professor Grant says, they are people who will get as much information out of you without contributing anything in return. Not even a ‘Thank You’. The extreme takers are difficult if not impossible to win over and they will probably not be repeat guests. Acknowledge them, treat them well, smile and keep your cool.

Buddha dog

We all need some balance in our lives

I believe that innkeepers in general fall more at the giving end of the spectrum but must balance their time like a matcher to be truly successful for the longest period of time. “Oftentimes givers put themselves at risk in the short run. But in the long run, they end up building the kind of social capital that’s really important for success in a very connected world.” Yes you may have days when your guests suck all your energy out of you and you don’t think you have anything left to give. But then a guest you have connected with and have created a great relationship with calls and makes that repeat week long reservation for the fourth year in a row. Or one of your grumpy complaining guests you thought you would never see again calls and wants to get married at your Inn because they had such a wonderful experience. That’s what it’s really about isn’t it?

Thanks for listening

Janet Wolf


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One Response to “Giver, Taker, Matcher – Which One Are You?”

  1. George Lewis says:

    What a great article and summary Jan! And perfect for us right now going into our 4th year as B&B owners. We too have this challenge to warm up a cool guest. We realize we have no way of knowing what conditions precipitated their presentation to us. Sometimes it’s just fatigue from a long journey to reach us at the end of a very rainy drive. Others, well, perhaps just in their DNA and we try to do exactly as you suggest, acknowledge, treat them well and keep your cool – not much else you can do here other than that and keep a good business reputation intact.