Voice Lessons

Mind Their Manners

The quality of the daily contact your employees have with your customers can be one of your strongest marketing tools. That's why Ron Lutwen, president of SFT Inc., an engineering consulting firm in Toledo, Ohio, provides etiquette training for every employee in his company.

"Everyone in our company is selling for the company when they're with clients, and our clients are watching [them] all the time," says Lutwen. "It's important that all our people be able to properly present themselves."

Etiquette lessons ranging from basic table manners to contemporary business protocol are part of SFT's ongoing employee training program. The training is typically provided at noontime sessions (the company provides lunch), where employees watch educational videos on various topics.

Lutwen says the importance of good manners and social skills cannot be stressed enough. "We teach our people general courtesy, including how to eat properly, how to talk and listen, and how to ask questions," he says. "Our clients aren't hiring a company, they're hiring our people, so we have to be the kind of people our clients want to be with, work with and have as part of their operation."

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This article was originally published in the April 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Voice Lessons.

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