The “Ten/Five Concept” of Guest Service (A Parody) by Jay Larsen

The “Ten/Five Concept” and The New and Improved Advanced Ten/Five Concept of Guest Service

(A Parody)


Jay Larsen

The guest service company I worked for during the summer of 2009 had a good concept called the Ten/Five Concept. From that concept, I have felt the need to create a more advanced approach to that concept.

If a manager asks you to explain the “Ten/Five Concept”, simply ask them if they want you to explain the “Basic Ten/Five” or the “Advanced Ten/Five”. That’ll leave ’em scratching their heads.

The “Basic Ten/Five Concept”: When a customer/guest is within ten feet, smile at them. When the customer/guest is within five feet, say “Hi”.

The “Advanced Ten/Five Concept”: Requires a tape measure, an understanding of “skeet” and “trap” shooting and a degree in counseling. See Notes 1-4. Also, the advanced part of the “Advanced Ten/Five Concept” is where the tape measure comes in.

When you and the customer/guest are within five feet of each other, take out your tape measure, hold it to your nose and ask the guest to hold the other end to their nose just to make sure you’re both within the requisite five feet. Make sure you are both still smiling. If either one of you are not smiling, cease this process immediately and turn in your resignation papers. If you are both still smiling, interview the guest using some or all of the questions below: You may even add some questions of your own. Note: Do not try this if you are not smiling. Also, WARNING: Do not try this at home, or at work, or even in religious setting. In fact, unless you’re trained in the ways of counseling, and have the robes and sheepskin scroll to prove it (Ya know, those fancy robes, that the stiff-shirt potentates wear at graduation rituals), do not try this at all. Actually, even “trained” counselors mess people up with this stuff.

Where are you from?

How long have you live there?

What kind of work do you do?

How long will you be here?

How is your family?

How many in your family?

Did you come from a large family?

Are you and your spouse getting along?

How are the children?

How many children do you have?

Do you want more? Why? – or – Why not?

How is your mother?

Did you send her a “Mother’s Day” card?

Did you even call her?

How much fuel did you use getting here?

Don’t you feel guilty for your contribution to the pollution problem?

etc, etc, etc. These questions may go on and on.

Note 1: Skeet and trap shooting: is used with a shotgun and a round clay “Frisbee” looking thing about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. This clay thing is called a clay pigeon. For this description, the pigeon is called a “bird”.

The difference between “skeet” shooting and “trap” shooting is: With skeet shooting, the bird is flung across, in front of the path of the shooter. With trap shooting, the bird is flung straight out away from the shooter. When skeet shooting, to hit the target, the shooter must shoot in front of the bird as it travels across in front of you. Often this is referred to as leading your target. Conversely, with trap shooting, the bird is usually flying up and away from you, so you must shoot slightly above it. However, in guest relations, the customer/guest will usually be walking toward you, not away from you. Therefore, the term “reverse trap” approach is used. Wow! this is amazing!

So, In other words if a person were walking towards you, you would use the “reverse trap” approach.

Conversely, if a customer/guest is walking across infront of you, not toward you, you would use the “skeet” approach. In the “skeet” approach, just as with shooting, you have to “lead” your intended target; shoot your smile in front of the customer based on how fast they are walking.

Note 2: Is it a concept? Or a rule? If it’s a rule, then, we may need a ruler, referees or perhaps we could call them the Pickle Police. (For an understanding of “Pickle”, contact Bob Farrell, the founder of Farrell’s Ice Cream) Also, a concept worthy of practicing, is called a practice, because no-one is perfect at it. Like the practice of medicine or law or any sporting event. Even though each has rules and laws that must be complied with, notwithstanding, applying them is a practice.

Note 3: Often times if the “ten/five” approach is viewed as a “rule” and the “skeet” approach is needing to be applied, the customer never comes within the five foot range, so you can’t say “Hi” to them. That’s the rule! However, if the ten/five rule is viewed as a concept, you can say “Hi” to them. See how fun this can be. Also, in the skeet approach, if the customer/guest is traveling across your path at about ten feet, you smile at them and they smile back. You say “Hi”; if they say “Hi” in return, you get extra credit because they are outside of the five foot perimeter. Wow, this is fantastic! You can be shooting smiles and “Hi’s” at people all the time.

Note 4: The “reverse trap” approach was mentioned above; yet, there might be a very few times when the “trap” approach is used. The customer is walking away and you are saying Hi, then he goes outside five feet, so all you can do is smile, but he’s walking away and can’t see your smile. Keep shooting smiles, because one is sure to hit him unless he is dodging them. (Notes 2, 3,and 4 sound way too serious for a parody; we can’t have that.)

The Advanced Ten/Five Concept is Copyright July 2009 Jay Larsen. Any reproduction without written permission from Jay is prohibited. Contact Jay with email to page


One thought on “The “Ten/Five Concept” of Guest Service (A Parody) by Jay Larsen

  1. Jay, I finally read these on 12/1 after all your talk about them! I can hardly believe you thought up all this “crazy” Literature?? Have you sold any of it? Hope you are busy at Deer Valley and having snow already. Hello to Ernie and Rebecca (if you should see her there). I had a good trip home and have been very busy since arrival getting resettled and seeing friends and family and celebrating lots of occasions.


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