Business Etiquette Tips & Advice for Welcoming Customers

Mangia! Mangia!

I’m Italian. As a kid I remember that my parents would never have a person enter our home without offering them some food or drink. Then my parents would encourage them with the phrase “Mangia! Mangia!” exhorting them to eat, eat!

Business etiquette tips and advice Italian style for welcoming and hosting customers

Showing respect.

We called that showing respect. Which was a very big thing in our Italian Canadian household. All guests were treated with respect, which meant not just welcoming them warmly but also anticipating their needs and taking care of those needs.

Fast forward to today

Recently I was invited to deliver a lunch seminar for a business. I arrived early to set up but there was no one at the front desk. There was a sign posted to ring the bell for attention and so I did.

My contact was not in the office and the employee who eventually came out to see me had no idea why I was there. She helped me set up the training room and then left. Soon after the employees arrived for the training session and began to eat their lunch.

No Mangia! Mangia!

No one introduced themselves to me or offered me a coffee, let alone a glass of water. I had to ask for it. No “Mangia! Mangia!” for me. The topic of the training session was professional dress but I think they also needed our business etiquette training.

Sins of omission

It always amazes me when I go to a place of business where I’m not treated like a welcome guest. Do they do it on purpose? No, it’s an oversight or a sin of omission. In our business etiquette training we discuss treating clients the way we do guests in our homes. We call that, the Host Mentality and it’s all about showing respect.

People notice

Believe me people notice when the host mentality is displayed in an organization. And they notice when it’s missing. Businesses and professionals who want to standout and build strong relationships with clients need to be mentally saying “Mangia! Mangia!” in all their points of customer contact.

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Posted by Joanne Blake –  Canadian business etiquette expert and good mannered Italian Canadian

What host mentality tips have you got or “Mangia! Mangia!” moments have stood out for you?

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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  1. Hi Joanne and Terry,

    Last week I had to update my annual mandatory training held at my local head office. The facilitator, an outside guest gave a phenomenal presentation. I however found it quite insulting that my place of business had no refreshments on hand for either the facilitator or the trainees. I am finding that this is a recurring incident that is taking place at my place of business. For a company that has been around for at least 65 years I would think that they would have the ‘Host Mentality’ ingrained into their protocol when hosting a guest. Guess sometimes you cannot teach old dogs new tricks.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience J.B.
    Let’s hope this lack of basic hosting is a result of them not knowing any better, a sin of omission. Would it help if you gently suggested that they provide some refreshments for future instructors to prevent them from getting dehydrated from speaking for so long? That might act as a subtle hint for them to have beverages on hand for everyone. We always say that you can learn from bad practices and adopt good ones.

  3. Thanks for sharing Lorn. It demonstrates a willingness on WestJet’s part to build stronger relationships and enhances their customer service reputation. And it’s the right thing to do.

  4. Another example may be Air Canada wanting to charge for the registered service dog of the woman with post traumatic stress disorder. Westjet was happy to take both her and her dog at no extra cost.

    This is the very least they should be doing for members of the forces.

  5. Hi Joanne and Terry:

    I would like to add a few comments to your blog regarding your ‘Host Mentality Tips’ on your August 14, 2013 blog, ‘How to Succeed in Business the Italian Way’.

    I am a healthcare professional and recently had to update my First Aid and CPR. Both classes were held in the evening that being 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The facilitators, two fire firefighters gave a phenomenal presentation. Unfortunately the place of business where the two classes were held failed on many aspects as hosts. On both nights of our training there was no staff member to introduce the instructors to the participants. Then during our midpoint break the instructor had to leave the room to go and purchase a bottle of water. I may be wrong but I think that the place of business hosting the course should have had some refreshments on hand for the instructor as well as for the participants.

    Then on the second night of the CPR, the instructor was locked out in the cold. Since it was after regular office hours it was quite some time before a staff member came to his rescue. I felt that the hosting organization failed on both nights as good hosts.

    Regardless both instructors gave a phenomenal workshop and I passed with flying colours.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiences John. Clearly the host organization dropped the ball here, not once but twice. Unfortunately the bad experiences outweigh the good — and great experiences are becoming rarer. And that’s why people and organizations stand out when they go out of their way to make guests feel welcome.

  7. Exactly John, the “host mentality” is works in any business. I don’t like to make hasty hair decisions either, otherwise when I get home Joanne will tell me to go back and get it cut “properly”. 🙂

  8. I remember years ago, I used to have my hair cut at a place called Picassos in St. Catharines Ontario. While waiting for my stylists, I was offered a cup of gourmet coffee along with biscotti. The owner of that business knew how to attract and keep his clients’. He knew that his clients’ lead very busy lives and that they often did not have time to stop for a Java. This small gesture of his appreciation for his clients’ made them feel relaxed and at home. Personally when I am relaxed and my sugar is in balance I am able to think clearly and make rational decisions. You do not want to be making hasty decisions about your hair when you are hungry and feeling fatigued.

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