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Lahaina’s Michael Moore shares successful business strategies

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | May 11, 2017

Michael Moore, Lahaina businessman and co-owner of Hoaloha Na Ekolu Ltd., teamed up at the first annual Hawaii Small Business Conference with Maggie Bayless, co-founder and managing partner of ZingTrain Inc. They discussed how strong focus on training and leadership development is key to employee satisfaction and retention, as well as exceptional customer service. PHOTO BY CASEY NISHIKAWA.

KAHULUI – Lahaina businessman Michael Moore, co-owner of Hoaloha Na Ekolu Ltd., shared some of his successful business strategies at the first annual Hawaii Small Business Conference held May 3-4 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Presented by Maui Economic Development Board in collaboration with Maui County’s Office of Economic Development, the conference provided approximately 200 business stakeholders the opportunity to network with local and national experts on customer service, marketing, data security, risk management, tax strategies and human resources.

Attendees took advantage of workshops and exhibits to discover current and relevant insights and practices to help advance their business.

Moore teamed up with conference keynote presenter Maggie Bayless, co-founder and managing partner of ZingTrain Inc., to explain how strong focus on training and leadership development is key to employee satisfaction and retention.

“My business partners, Robert Aguiar and Tim Moore, and I have been partnering with ZingTrain for many years now,” said Moore. “We discovered Zingerman’s Deli, and his other businesses, when we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan and noticed it had so much in common with our Hoaloha ‘ohana businesses.”

“Zingerman offered a course called ZingTrain, with a philosophy of commitment to community engagement and employee empowerment that we also share,” Moore noted. “We have brought Maggie Bayless here to Maui on a number of occasions and have sent our teams to Ann Arbor to work and experience the ZingTrain philosophy in action.”

Bottom Line Change (BLC), the company’s training framework for teaching key principles of business, is a simple and clear method for adapting business practices to new situations. At the conference, Moore and Bayless discussed the elements of leadership and employee behavior that improve the performance of an organization. BLC is a simple and clear practice for creating positive and productive change.

“At ZingTrain, we show how to strengthen every aspect of the business based on five key elements: teaching, defining, living, measuring and rewarding,” Bayless explained. “Then we show the steps to great customer service: find out what the customer wants; get it for them accurately, politely and enthusiastically; and go the extra mile. Outstanding methods are central to our own businesses and are the template for much of our training work.”

“You can’t over-communicate,” Bayless added. “People need to hear something many times to really take it in. All this communication pays off when employees understand what to do and are able to make good decisions based on new and shared information. The better we get at managing change, the better we get at running a business.”

Throughout the history of Hoaloha’s businesses, Old Lahaina Luau, Aloha Mixed Plate, Star Noodle, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, and Hoaloha Farms, Moore, his partners and staff have striven for excellence in customer service. In today’s business world, they believe that “excellence is almost the price of entry.”

“While I have some issues with Yelp and social media, if you’re not getting stars and if you’re not getting good response from your customers, it’s really hard,” Moore noted. “However, if you’re embracing continuous improvement and wanting to always be better, wanting to exceed your customer’s expectation, then you’ve got to also embrace change. A lot of people say they love change, but I find that’s not always really true. People get comfortable in their situation.”

Moore finds that in his particular business, diversity, synergy and finding the value in different opinions and skills is essential. “Bringing the ZingTrain method to Maui has brought incredible results for our ‘ohana,” he said.

“We actually began working with ZingTrain on Leadership Development workshops years ago. We felt we would need leaders and advocates if we were to create an effective, dynamic workforce. Naturally, ZingTrain’s BLC process was an important next step. Our committed leaders would need some tools to assist in making important business decisions together. I think everyone would agree that organizational change can be a huge challenge. The BLC process really breaks it down to some well-defined steps and incorporates a lot of other ZingTrain concepts, too.”

BLC has become part of the rhythm of Hoaloha, whether for a small operational process that needs a fix or for major shifts of strategy. “For me personally, the idea of articulating a compelling reason for the change was a critical part of this training and something that is often overlooked in our daily work lives,” Moore said. “It’s pretty convenient to say, ‘because it’s easier,’ or ‘because I said so,’ but a lot more powerful and inspiring if everyone understands the ‘why.’ “

He confidently said that good organization has gotten Hoaloha closer to great through their relationship with ZingTrain. “We want to continue our high staff-retention with employees that truly like working for us. Investing time, money and energy to nurture your workforce brings a huge return on that investment.”

Moore concluded, “Understanding your obligation to the greater community results in benefits for the community, the business, your employees and their families. We believe the focus should be on service and quality, and then the profit will come naturally. With an environment of high trust and integrity, anything is possible!”