Michel started out as a frontline employee, working in a call center and earning $10/hour. In a handful of years, he has leveraged customer experience, employee engagement and company culture strategies to build an eight-figure hospitality business, advise some of the most recognizable companies in the world and has become an international keynote speaker.
Michel Falcon is an entrepreneur, advisor, and international keynote speaker who leverages customer and employee engagement strategies to grow businesses.
As an entrepreneur, Michel has grown a hospitality company with over hundred employees and tens of millions in yearly revenue. The strategies and tactics he shares with his clients and audiences are the exact ones that he has successfully used in his businesses – you can trust these programs because they are tried, tested, and true.
At any given time, he is advising at least a dozen multi-million and billion dollar companies across dozens of industries, ranging from tech start-ups, home service businesses, quick-service restaurants, banks, telecommunications giants, biotechnology firms, and more. He passes along his customer experience and employee engagement strategies to these companies to help them grow revenue and profitability, all while becoming admired brands.
Companies like McDonald’s, Verizon Wireless, Alfa Romeo, Lexus, Illumina, Electronic Arts, and BlueCross BlueShield have called on Michel to work with them on their strategy or speak at their company events.
Michel has traveled throughout the world, visiting Canada, USA, Israel, Austria, Australia, Germany, Nigeria, and others to speak at conferences ranging in size from 25 to 1,200 audience members.
His thought leadership has been included in Entrepreneur, Inc, Time, Forbes, Digiday, and Yahoo Small Business Advisors.
A PERSONAL ANECDOTE
I’m not an academic – I’ll be the first to admit that. However, I’ve always been interested in how businesses grow. Naturally, I enrolled in a university. I struggled for two years. I didn’t have a focus or an idea of what I wanted to specialize in. Was it sales, marketing, PR?
It wasn’t clear to me.
In 2006, I was on the court playing basketball with a friend who had just got a gig with a company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK? It was a medium-sized business based in Vancouver that grew quickly from a $1000 investment and into a $150 million dollar international company (today’s revenue being $250 million+).
I was intrigued.
They had grown into an entrepreneurial success story – and had recently won The Best Workplace in Canada award.
I hurried home and began to study the company. I was glued to the screen – learning as much as I could about what made it a success. I was confident that I could learn more from this company than from any lecture at my university. I was hooked – and wanted to understand what it really took to grow a business so quickly and with this sort of success. I sent off my resume and waited. Now, came the difficult part – breaking the news to my traditional South American parents. It was time to call it quits with school and work for a company that hauls junk. I knew I was too old to be spanked with a wooden spoon, but I got an earful for what felt like an eternity. The conversations weren’t easy – but my parents began to buy into my idea.
Now, I just needed to secure this job.
$10/hour Call Center Era
Growing up, kids don’t aspire to be a call center agent. No disrespect – it’s just not up there with athlete or doctor. My game plan was simple – get hired and work my ass off. Learn, absorb and use my call center role as a springboard to launch my career.
I submitted my resume and received a call. They wanted to interview me – the game plan was in motion. It was the first time that I’ve ever been in a group interview with multiple candidates tackling the same questions. But I was uber competitive and out to crush my competition. I had to shine to secure the job and begin my career. Shortly after, I was contacted.
The job was mine.
At the call center, I learned how everything operates. But I also learned the value of company culture, workforce management, service level agreements, producing KPIs and much, much more. The greatest gift I was given was working alongside Patrick Louis. He’s the man who expedited my career – he questioned me, challenged me and shared abundant opportunities with me.
To all those working in a call center – I appreciate you. I understand what it’s like to speak to a 100 customers a day and be expected to deliver amazing service on every single call. It’s a grind – and it’s not easy. You’re the face (or voice) of the company. You speak to more customers each day than the CEO will in one year. I tip my hat and I salute you!
In my first year with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I discovered something called Customer Experience Management. This was another turning point in my career. I wanted to specialize in customer experience – but, first, I needed to study its value.
Finding my expertise
I read an article about an entrepreneur named Tony Hsieh and learned about his company – Zappos. They had grown from $1M to $1B in revenue in 10 years and he attributed its growth to company culture (something I was experiencing at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?). Customer experience was another factor affecting his success. I understood company culture, but what exactly did he mean when he said “customer experience”? I was eager to learn more about it and my boss planned a trip for me to visit their head office in Henderson, Nevada (this was before the formal Zappos tours). For the entire day, I had one-on-one meetings with their senior leadership team. I asked dozens of questions and got to sit in on calls in their call center.
My visit to Zappos reaffirmed my beliefs. A focus on customer experience and employee engagement could grow any company – and I wanted to become an expert. I turned the internet inside and out studying the subject. I wanted to bring new strategies into the company that I was working for.
My customer experience education
After discovering customer experience, I began to think long-term. One day, I wanted to be an advisor and deliver keynote speeches to 100’s or 1000’s of people.
I also needed to be realistic.
I was in my early 20’s with only a small amount of experience and with no credibility. I recognized that I needed to gain experience and build that trust. I needed to become a practitioner.
Every day, I studied my craft. I read case studies about customer-centric companies for up to six hours – while still maintaining my job. I reached out to people who worked for customer-focused companies – Apple, Amazon, Zappos, Westjet and Southwest.
It was this self-imposed education that allowed me to reach my goal of becoming an advisor and keynote speaker.
After three years of working in the call center, I transitioned into an Operations Management position. It was here that I learned the systems that go into creating a customer-centric organization – Net Promoter Score, CSAT, complaint management systems and social customer care programs. We built training systems for frontline employees.
1-800-GOT-JUNK? was the best place to learn and understand customer experience. At the time, the company had a NPS score of 85. We reduced customer complaints by 33% in one quarter through a Complaint Resolution System and built customer-centric training material for frontline employees system wide. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was my university. I value the time I spent there – it prepared me for what was to come next.
Entrepreneurship & keynote speaking
I took an unconventional path to entrepreneurship. First, I learned how systems are built so that I could increase the likelihood of my success. But, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.
There were times when I doubted myself, but I remained true to my end goal – to help companies around the world improve their customer experience and increase their employee engagement.
Today, I advise leading and emerging brands to improve their customer experience and employee engagement. I provide strategic advisory and host workshops for companies that want to improve their customer experience, increase their employee engagement and build their company culture.
My speaking services are represented by the National Speakers Bureau. Having traveled throughout North America and to countries like Nigeria, Israeli, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Australia and many others, I’m very fortunate that I get to live my career and see the world. My opinions have been included in Time magazine, Inc magazine, Digiday.com, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Small Business Advisors.
I’ve made a couple of investments with companies that I truly believe in. I’m by no means an angel investor, but I do like supporting entrepreneurs that are customer and employee-focused.
I strongly believe that all “about” pages on personal brand websites should have a page that lists failures.
Because it shows that you’re human. Too many people try to fluff their bios and put themselves on a pedestal.
Here are the times that I failed as an entrepreneur:
- I received the licensing rights to all of Canada to sell voice of a customer software for a company based in Europe. This relationship should have made me a lot of money. If only knew how to properly sell premium software. I ended up making zero dollars and secured no clients in three months.
- I thought that real estate agents should gather customer feedback from their clients. Along with two friends, I built software to make this happen. We called it Instamonials, but later found out that name was taken. Oops! So, we changed the name to Instareferral. This venture made me money – a few $1000 – but fell far short of the $10,000/month I had forecasted. Turns out, gathering regular customer feedback is not a high priority for real estate agents (even though some did love the idea). We abandoned the product and the company.
- I’ve tried to write a book multiple times.
How I got into hospitality
My friend and I, Brandon Farmer, always wanted to work together because we are so closely aligned behind what truly matters in businesses; people.
In May 2016, Brandon welcomed me to Toronto to advise a restaurant and venue he was building. This was not like any venue you’ve ever seen before because: it was being completely renovate (it was a vacant textile factory before), 16,000 sqf (four floors) on the most comeptitive street in Toronto, would open with 100+ employees and would do $10,000,000 in the very first year.
I knew this would be the most challenging engagement of my career so I packed my bags and was off to Toronto. After a few months, lots of hard work in building the right customer and employee-facing systems I was asked to become a partner in the business.
On December 7th, 2016, Baro, our Latin-themed restaurant and venue, was open to the public to fanfare we could have only hoped for.
2020 and beyond
I love what I do! I wake up every day excited to help the people I’m working with – but I also can’t help but envision the future. Planning my next steps is what keeps me sharp, engaged and motivated. My intention is to build a career like Chip Conley’s and Danny Meyers – two entrepreneurs that I really respect – and own boutique hotels and restaurants around the world and provide guests with an unparalleled experience. This is an industry that needs to have world-class customer experience and employee engagement to be successful.
Thanks for scrolling and learning more about me. If I can serve or support you, please reach out. I’d love to talk.