Unni Astron, 43, has a mission. In her five years at the helm of one of Scandic's biggest and most profitable hotels — Hotel Slussen near Stockholm's old city — she has worked to take Scandic CEO Roland Nilsson's model of decentralized management down to the front lines. "What we're selling is service," she says. Here are Astron's four principles of outstanding service.
Mutual Values, Mutual Rewards
"By showing customers we care about the environment, we show them we're a caring company," says Astron. "If our managers care for our people, they in turn will show care and concern for our guests."
Astron created a course for the entire Slussen staff called Slussen Basic. It covers Scandic know-how, key business concepts like sales and marketing, food and wine, and world cultures. Says Astron, "Motivating staff to learn is easy. One reason people work for us is because they can see a future."
A Job a Day
At Slussen, all staffers must learn — and do — multiple jobs, from reception to reservation taking to organizing conferences. "We can't foresee events, like the number of guests," says Astron. "But if our staff has high knowledge of a variety of jobs, we can shift resources."
Benchmarking is a core value at Scandic — and Slussen. "If I compare myself to myself, I measure only what I already know," says Astron. "But if I measure Slussen against other hotels, I'll see how good we are."
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.