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For more information about this program and how to apply, visit blackeffect.com slash Nissan. And we continue with our American Stories. And up next, Mike Levin, who was the president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands, and an all-around hotel superstar, one of the great hoteliers of all time. More important, a personal friend and a wise man. And wisdom, my goodness, in short supply these days. And he transfers his wisdom through story.
A Jewish guy who loves storytelling like almost nobody else. Up next is Mike telling a story about how he puts his customers in charge. I can tell sales stories really for the rest of the time we have together. But at the end of the day, I really like the customers just like my father.
My best lesson was very early when, and I think it's in my book, it talks about the New York State Savings Association missed a guy named Bill Bodine. Bodine was his last name. It was my first booking. He says, funny you're in here, he said, because I need a lunch for 60 people. He said, can you find out?
I said, sure. It was around the corner. He was on Fifth Avenue too. On the corner, I went back, checked the book with a guy, banquet guy. And we had a space, we held with the Madison room at the Roseville, held 60 people for lunch. I went back to him, didn't use the phone, you know, hadn't cell phones or anything. Walked back, said, I got the room for you and whatever.
It's $4.25 for lunch or whatever it was at that time, plus gratuity. And he said, fine. He said, I need 10 tables of six. And I said, okay, well, I know 10 tables. I didn't know 10 tables of six. I didn't know 12 inch round, 12 foot rounds from 10 foot rounds. I didn't know and no one taught me anything.
So I go back and I say to Herbert, I'm in the banquet guy. I said, I need 10 tables of six. Can't do it. What do you mean you can't do it?
My first booking. I mean, you can't do it. What do you mean you can't do it?
You can't. You got to have tables of 10. I go back to see Bodine and Bodine says to me, I said to him, you got to have tables of 10.
He looked at me like I'm looking at you. He said, Mike, I'm the customer. I want 10 tables of six or you're not getting the business. I said, Mr. Bodine, I will try to work it out.
So I go back. I have to understand, I don't know anything. I go back to Herman and I said, Herb, I said, why do I have to have, why does the union want tables of 10 instead of tables of six? He says, because they have to get the gratuity from 10 people per table. I said, what's the gratuity? He says, 15%. I figure out 15% on $4.50 is 60 cents. So 10 tables of 60 cents on two extra people is $1.20, correct?
I don't know if I may ask, I'm doing it in my head. It's $1.20. I said, I'll tell you what, suppose I get the customer to pay $1.20 for every person, for 60 people.
Does it make a difference whether they have tables of six or tables of 10? He says, no, they'll take it for the money. The money's the same. I said, let's do that. He says, okay, I'll do it.
I go back to Bodine. I said to Bodine, listen, I can't short the waiters $1.20 or $2.40 a table. So if you pay me the extra, I can do the 10 tables. He said, it's a deal.
So I made my first deal to get my first book in. But here are the lessons that it's so easy for people to turn the customer down, to play the game their way, rather than to play the game for the customer. And I can tell you from my whole career, making it work for the customer came up almost all the time. Even later in the Holiday Inn days and the Days Inn days, the franchisee, I'd say to people, who's the customer in a franchise operation? And you know what they all say, most of them? Well, the person who buys the product in the restaurant or in the hotel is the customer.
Said, you're wrong. The franchisee is your customer. If you make that person happy, he or she will make the customer happy, if they're happy. And if they make the customer happy, the end user happy, then we're going to be happy because we're going to be collecting more royalties.
Isn't that the way it works? But that all came from trying to make it work in the first deal I ever made. And you know, after that, Lee, I always wanted to be in charge because the basic situation in business and in everything is the people who want top want it to be done their way. But when they want it to be done the customer's way, they are ultimately successful. I made some marketing decisions along the way that were sort of customer oriented.
I think I did that. But when I was fully in charge at the top of it, and then when I was executive EP of operations at Americana Hotels and had the whole company, I could make those decisions or at least teach people to make those decisions. You know, because they knew what my philosophy was. And then ultimately, as president of Days Inn and Holiday Inn and these kind of situations, I could eventually develop that particular situation. So I think I think that the the difference for me from what I see from many other executives or many other people is that my power, if you had power, was really to make it happen for the customer, not to make it power for power's sake for myself. Because the ultimate benefit of the company is to have satisfied customers. And if you don't have satisfied customers, you can't be successful for long. And what you see when you read and see what goes on in business in general or in life, even in politics, it's no difference. You know, I mean, how in politics do you service your constituency? The successful politician is the one whose constituents he makes happy. That can be positive or negative, depending on what makes it happy. But the point is making them happy means that they vote for him. And or her.
Or it. So my and you know, it's funny because I always treated suppliers the same way. And I always treated the hotel media the same way, even though we were buyers of their product. I always looked at them like, like, how can I help them to be successful?
I always treated employees the same way. And so I think I think that if you if you, you know, if you summarize all this stuff and roll it into a little ball, I think I think if my success, if I've had any, has been the number of people, both customers and employees that have gained an advantage or gained something because I was involved that benefited. I think gains maybe is a bad word benefited from the involvement with me. And you've been listening to Mike Levin, by the way, go to our American stories dot com, put in his name and either go to our American put in his name.
And I love so many of the things he shares with us so many of the stories about people. And in the end, businesses are about people, the local restaurant, like you go in two or three times to that local restaurant in a row and they serve you up a bad mood or they're rude. And 10 years of dedication to that restaurant are over. It is about the customer. And it's about choice.
And that is the free enterprise system. The customer gets to choose. Leave it to the guy at the top. He'll just say something like it's 10 tables of six.
That's just the way we do it. And it was beautiful that the guy, the customer said to Mike, I want 10 tables of six or you're not getting the business. This is what makes in the end, free enterprise home. The customer gets to choose.
Don't take care of the customer. There goes your business. Mike Levin's stories, like storytelling, a hotel legend, and in the end, a friend. And Mike will forgive this a real mensch.
His storytelling here on Our American Stories. Our 2022 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball presented by Capital One. Y'all ready to have some fun? Starring Zua Lipa, Lizzo, Charlie Puth, The Backstreet Boys, The Kid Laroi, AJR, and more. The biggest holiday party of the year. Jingle Ball. Our iHeartRadio Jingle Ball coming live from New York to the CW app and CWtv.com on December 9th. What up?
It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture, and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 04:15:43 / 2022-11-16 04:20:33 / 5