Freedom and Responsibility within a Framework

February 1st, 2016

Throughout my career I have struggled to balance the competing needs for entrepreneurial thinking, innovation, and initiative and the necessities of organization, structure, consistency, and control.  How does one create and sustain a nimble organization that can quickly respond to new technologies, changing member wants and desires, and the competition of the marketplace while maintaining an efficient operation and conscientiously meeting regulatory requirements?

No thinking business person wants to saddle their operation with a bureaucratic mindset, yet efficient operations need systems to function properly and avoid risk, liability, and regulatory problems.  The very word “bureaucracy” carries the negative connotation of inefficiency and stultifying processes where crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s become an organization’s reason for being.

In examining this never ending challenge for businesses, Jim Collins and his research team at Stanford University found that the good to great companies they examined gave people the freedom to do whatever was necessary to succeed within a highly developed system or framework.  Then their people were held strictly accountable for their results.

The analogy that he gave was a commercial airline pilot who works within rigid air traffic control and safety systems on the ground and in the air, but who has the ultimate responsibility for success – that is, the safe delivery of plane and passengers from location to location.  That singular responsibility allows a pilot, at his or her discretion, to remove unruly passengers, abort landings, fly to alternate airports, and take any other action deemed necessary for the safety of the flight.

But essential to bestowing such freedom and responsibility is the necessity of defining the system and clearly identifying constraints.  In the airline industry the Federal Aviation Administration establishes all standards, policies, and procedures for both commercial and private pilots and ensures their ongoing understanding of the system through licensure, certifications, simulator and cockpit training, as well as continual flight and safety bulletins.  To quote from the book:

“The good to great companies build a consistent system with clear constraints, but they also gave people the freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system.  They hired self-disciplined people who didn’t need to be managed, and then managed the system, not the people.”

As a club manager at any level of the organization, you cannot do it all yourself.  Holding the reins tightly creates a bottleneck where all decisions have to come through you, thereby stifling the initiative and creativity of your subordinates.  It also puts a tremendous burden on you to perform, requires you to be on property at all hours, and leads to burnout.

The only way to be truly successful in any complex enterprise is to empower those under you and give them the freedom and responsibility to succeed in their portion of the operation.  But to do this successfully you need to fully develop the framework for their empowerment and a means to hold them accountable.  This means you have to have well-defined organizational values and written standards, policies, and procedures.  Lastly, you need measurable accountabilities for performance.

With these in place you have started on the path to greatness in your enterprise, but it’s only the start – Collins offers much more proven guidance for those willing to invest the time in this well-researched and written, as well as entertaining, book.

The book is Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Harper Business, New York, NY, 2001.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 


 

Running a Profitable Food Service by the Numbers

January 18th, 2016

Most hospitality managers would agree that food service is the most challenging part of their operations, but recognizing that knowledge is power, there are a number of management disciplines that will enhance any operation’s bottom line.

  1. Benchmarking revenues, cover counts, and average check by day of week and meal period.  This will help you schedule staff more efficiently, monitor sales trends, and allow you to track the success of new menus and efforts to upsell.
  2. Benchmarking payroll cost, hours worked, and average hourly wage by pay period.  This essential discipline will allow you to stay within budget, monitor overtime, and control your most significant expense.
  3. Formal forecasting by using historical cover benchmarks and knowledge of upcoming events, external factors, and optimum staffing levels, you can ensure expected service levels in the most cost-effective way.
  4. Timely and accurate inventories and benchmarking of inventories.  This will ensure budgeted cost of goods sold and identify any adverse anomalies or trends for investigation.  A further discipline that will yield significant benefits is to identify and inventory high value items weekly.
  5. Sales mix analysis.  This discipline will help you understand your customers’ dining preferences while protecting profit margins.
  6. Basic dining policies.  Well-thought out and advertised dining policies will give all customers/guests/members an equal opportunity to enjoy the dining services while ensuring the highest service levels for all customers.
  7. Consistent pre-shift meetings with a purpose and continual On the Go Training.  There is no better way to prepare and train your staff for service.
  8. Product knowledge and upselling training for servers.  They can’t sell what they don’t know and servers well-trained in upselling techniques will increase your operation’s average check while enhancing your customers’ dining experiences.
  9. Upselling feedback.  If servers are provided daily sales goals and feedback on their efforts to upsell, they will be far more engaged, enthusiastic, and effective in increasing their average checks.  You just need to provide the numbers to them on a daily basis.
  10. Tools to Beat Budget.  This powerful discipline of tracking revenues and expenses in real time will ensure your bottom line, make you more knowledgeable about your operation, and make preparing future budgets a breeze.

Food service managers must make these disciplines part of their daily and weekly routines.  Once these disciplines are instituted and mastered, a number of them can be delegated to properly-trained and motivated subordinates.  When consistently applied, these basic and commonsense disciplines will ensure both profitability and customer service.  What more could you want for your operation?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Cost of Chaos

January 11th, 2016

Common wisdom tells us that quality costs more, but according to one of the foremost experts on quality this is not the case.

W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, consultant, lecturer, a man who made significant contributions to Japan’s reputation for high quality products and its rise to an economic power in the latter half of the 20th Century, wrote extensively about how a focus on quality actually reduces costs while providing a number of other benefits.  Convincingly, his ideas and methods were proven true by numerous success stories – most dramatically the rise of Japanese manufacturing to world class status after World War II.

How does a club measure or quantify the cost of confusion, mishandled or incomplete information and orders, time to investigate and correct errors, and member dissatisfaction?  The bottom line is that poor quality and disorganization is a major driver of costs in club operations.  Conversely, an improvement in quality not only lowers costs but also improves service.  The combination of lower cost and better service attracts more member patronage which improves the club’s bottom line.

Detailed organizational systems and processes allow the operation to function efficiently.  When things happen consistently and routinely in all areas of the operation, employees have the time and the inclination to focus on quality and service.  When everything is messed up all the time, employees will find it difficult to care.

So help yourself and your employees by structuring the routine to happen routinely.  This takes both the will and the organizational discipline to make it happen.  When 80% of the details happen routinely, everyone can focus on the 20% that will wow your members.

So what are some of the things food service managers can do to better organize their operations.  This short list is pure common sense:

  • Prepare written procedures for all routine tasks – opening, closing, and cleaning procedures, conducting inventories, replenishing par stocks, making coffee and ice tea, and on and on.  Since your staff does these things on an ongoing basis, take the time to write them down in detail so they can be used for consistent training and task completion.
  • Prepare and use checklists for both training and accountability.
  • Prepare room diagrams of all dining and event spaces.  These will save time and avoid misunderstandings when it comes to room set ups.  Prepare and save set up diagrams for all types of events – receptions, carving stations, buffets, wedding receptions, etc.
  • Organize a filing system for each of the above so you can find them quickly when you need them.
  • Anytime you hold a training session, organize and save the material.  You’ll certainly be using the same material again . . . and again!
  • Review all activities and events after the fact and record your observations.  You will undoubtedly hold the same or similar events in the future.  Your notes for improvement will help continually improve the quality and execution of all you do.
  • Prepare written standards and guidance for such basic matters as background music selections for differing meals, activities, and times of day.  Make the same effort to define appropriate lighting for differing events and time of day.
  • Prepare and use an ever-updated list of project work that can be used to assign to staff in slow moments when you’re not prepared to send anyone home early.
  • Train yourself in the techniques and disciplines of time management.  Time management is not really about managing time, it’s about managing those task that use up your limited time.  When you waste your time, you can’t help but waste your employees’ time as well.

Bottom Line:  No one wants to work in a chaotic environment.  If your department or section is well-organized, if everyone knows where things are, if employees are well-trained in opening and closing procedures, if everyone knows their responsibilities and is held accountable, the workplace runs almost effortlessly.  Don’t run off good people by putting them through the hell of a disorganized operation.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Book Every Hospitality Manager Should Read

January 4th, 2016

Once in a great while a book comes along that is so timely, relevant, and important that it should be read by all business leaders.  One such book is Jim Collins’ Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t.  This book, first published in 2001, became a massive best-seller (selling over 4 million copies), has been translated in 35 languages, and continues to sell briskly to business leaders around the world.  What makes the book so unique is that its findings are based on solid research, analysis, and empirical findings, not management theory and anecdotal evidence.

The book examines what 11 Fortune 500 companies did that made them so successful on a sustained basis compared to similar competitors (the comparison companies).  The insights gained from this book are just as applicable to enterprises of any size and any industry.  Stressing this point, Collins says, “We believe that almost any organization can substantially improve its stature and performance, perhaps even become great, if it conscientiously applies the framework of ideas we’ve uncovered.”

In the process of the good-to-great research, the author and his research team from Stanford University’s graduate business school, identified seven primary concepts that were identified 100% of the time in the good-to-great companies, but less than 30% of the time in the comparison companies.  These seven concepts are:

1.   Level 5 Leadership.  “Every good-to-great company had Level 5 Leadership during the pivotal transition years.  ‘Level 5’ refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top.  Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.  They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.  They are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results.  They display workmanlike diligence – more plow horse than show horse.”

2.   First Who . . . Then What.  “The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.  The key point is that ‘who’ questions come before ‘what’ decisions – before vision, before strategy, before organization structure, before tactics.  First who, then what – as a rigorous discipline, consistently applied.”

3.   Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith).  “All good-to-great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts or their current reality.  When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self-evident.  It is impossible to make good decisions without infusing the entire process with an honest confrontation of the brutal facts.  A key psychology for leading from good to great is the Stockdale Paradox:  Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

4.   The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity with the Three Circles).  “To go from good to great requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the Hedgehog Concept).  The key is to understand what your organization can be the best in the world at, and equally important what it cannot be the best at – not what it ‘wants’ to be the best at.  The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal, strategy, or intention; it is an understanding.”

5.   A Culture of Discipline.  “Sustained results depend upon building a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles.  A culture of discipline involves a duality. On the one hand, it requires people who adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system.  A culture of discipline is not just about action.  It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.”

6.   Technology Accelerators.  “Good to great companies avoid technology fads and bandwagons, yet they become pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.  The key question about any technology is:  Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept?  If yes, then you need to become a pioneer in the application of that technology.  If no, then you can settle for parity or ignore it entirely.  The good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.”

7.   The Flywheel and the Doom Loop.  “Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough.  Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.  The comparison companies followed a different pattern, the doom loop.  Rather than accumulating momentum – turn by turn of the flywheel – they tried to skip buildup and jump immediately to breakthrough.  Then, with disappointing results, they’d lurch back and forth, failing to maintain consistent direction.”

Stressing the importance of these primary concepts, Collins says his book is not about the economy, nor is it about the companies identified as good to great, “It is about one thing:  the timeless principles of good to great.  It’s about how you take a good organization and turn it into one that produces sustained great results.”

The research produced insights that run counter to conventional wisdom, but again these are based on empirical evidence.  Examples include:

  • “Level 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated.  In contrast, two thirds of the comparison companies had leaders with gargantuan personal egos that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.”
  • “The comparison companies frequently followed the ‘genius with a thousand helpers’ model – a genius leader who sets a vision and then enlists a crew of highly capable ‘helpers’ to make the vision happen.  This model fails when the genius departs.”
  • “Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than with specific knowledge, background, or skills.”
  • “Spending time and energy trying to ‘motivate’ people is a waste of effort.  The real question is not, ‘How do we motivate our people?’  If you have the right people, they will be self-motivated.  They key is to not de-motivate them.  One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.”
  • “The good-to-great companies are more like hedgehogs – simple, dowdy creatures that know ‘one big thing’ and stick to it.  The comparison companies are more like foxes – crafty, cunning creatures that know many things yet lack consistency.”
  • “You absolutely do not need to be in a great industry to produce sustained great results.  No matter how bad the industry, every good-to-great company figured out how to produce truly superior results.”
  • “The good-to-great leaders spent essentially no energy trying to ‘create alignment,’ ‘motivate the troops,’ or ‘manage change.’  Under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change largely take care of themselves.  Alignment principally follows from results and momentum, not the other way around.”

I cannot recommend this book enough!  If you are trying to lead a hospitality organization to quality and service, even greatness, do yourself a favor and read this book.  It’s an interesting, informative, thought-provoking, and enjoyable read.  Get your entire management team to read it, confront the brutal facts of your operation, and then set a course to greatness.

The book is Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Harper Business, New York, NY, 2001.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

On the Go Training

December 14th, 2015

Hospitality operations face a challenging training burden if they are to deliver the high levels of service expected by their customers/guests/members.  Yet with tight budgets how can managers meet their training obligations while controlling costs since every hour of training is a payroll hour for each employee being trained?  Add to this the difficulty of getting all of your employees together at one time for a formal training session.

The answer to these challenges is to build your training programs around the “on the go” concept where ongoing training material is formatted in brief – no more than five to ten minute – sessions.  In every shift, in every department, there are spare moments, time when employees have finished their shift preparations, time when employees are socializing among themselves or awaiting instructions from supervisors.  Since you’re already paying for this time, plan on putting it to good use.

In every department there are hundreds of operational details that employees must learn and refresh themselves with some frequency.  This is just as true in front office operations, housekeeping, laundry, and sales and marketing as it is in food and beverage.  All that is necessary is for the department head to outline training requirements in brief doses and format them so they can be pulled out at a moment’s notice for either group-led or individual instruction.

With today’s ability to find anything on the Internet with just a few keywords and keystrokes, all the information you need to teach your employees values, etiquette, product knowledge, safety, security, sanitation, HR requirements, responsible beverage service, or how to operate or maintain any piece of equipment is readily available.  You just have to format it for easy use.

Hospitality Resources International has developed a number of On the Go Training programs for leadership, values, service, food and beverage, human resources, accounting, and safety.  These offer a proven model of how easy it is to format material and train your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, abilities, and service techniques.  For example, check out the Training on the Go material on the HRI website.  I’d also recommend you read Chris Conner’s excellent article on his club’s experience with Training on the Go – Training on the Go – A direct line to restaurant profits.

Then get to work developing your own On the Go Training material.  Set a goal of developing two classes per week and then stick to that discipline.  In a year you’ll have a hundred ready to go classes for staff training.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Value of Super Service Employees

December 7th, 2015

For those of us who eat out with any regularity, we’ve all had the experience, unfortunately too rarely, of being waited on by what I call a “super server.”  From the moment she approaches the table we know we’re in for a treat.  Sparkling with personality, she overflows with knowledge about the food, beverages, and accompaniments.  She immediately sizes up our interest in engagement and calibrates her contacts accordingly.  She speaks with confidence and authority, questioning us regarding our preferences and without hesitation recommending what she thinks we’ll enjoy.  The best of the best can even unerringly take and serve orders without benefit of pen and dup pad – an ability that never ceases to amaze me.

Such extraordinary individuals are worth their weight in gold.  Not only do they serve with flair and expertise, but they sell, thereby increasing the average check, while making a distinctly favorable impression of competence and professionalism that brings diners back again and again.  This is true in restaurants as well as private clubs where members appreciate the recognition and special touches that a super server adds to the dining experience.

Far more frequently, we’ve experienced the norm of service – undertrained, inexperienced employees who may understand the basics of service, but little more.  Often lacking in knowledge, personality, and attitude, their service may meet minimum expectations but seldom inspire the diner to sample the extras – appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks – that the kitchen works so hard to create and which enhances the dining experience.  If truth be told, these employees are doing no service to their employers and in many cases are doing outright harm by driving customers away.

The often repeated maxim for employers “to hire for personality and train for technique and competence” encompasses a basic truth.  Attitude, personality, and engagement seem to be inborn skills and are difficult to teach.  While training can provide service skills and knowledge, thereby increasing a server’s confidence and maybe even engagement skills, the best service employees posses an indefinable quality that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

Given the dearth of these extraordinary service employees, they should be recognized and compensated for the rare skills they possess.  Too often though, their presence on an employer’s staff is viewed as simple good fortune with little or no effort made to differentiate them from the common herd.  The result is that in short order they move on to greener pastures where their talents are more fully appreciated.  When this happens the loss to the establishment is often more than can be appreciated at the moment.  Not only has the employer lost a super server, but a money-maker, an ambassador, and an example for other less accomplished workers.

And everything said about food servers applies as much to super service employees in lodging, retail, recreation activities, golf, tennis, administration, and other areas of hospitality.

So why don’t we recognize and reward super service employees for their special abilities.  I suspect it’s a combination of cost consciousness, an unwillingness to go beyond the status quo, and a fear of exchanging known costs for unmeasured benefits.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

How Fares the Genius with a Thousand Helpers?

November 30th, 2015

I return once again to the profound and proven wisdom of Jim Collins’ Good to Great.  In his study of immensely successful publicly-traded companies and what made them great, he contrasted their performance to comparison companies – those of the same approximate size and markets in the same industries that did not achieve or sustain greatness.  Collins’ findings are all the more compelling because they are based on empirical evidence, not management theory or untested hypotheses.

Among his many findings (see the article The Book Every Hospitality Manager Should Read on the HRI website) was the prevalence of Level 5 Leadership in the good to great companies.  Many of the comparison enterprises, in contrast, followed a “genius with a thousand helpers” model.  These companies attained success, in some cases spectacular, based on the unique gifts and will power of the organization’s leader, but in the end were not able to sustain that success when the leader moved on.

The same pattern is often seen in small organizations such as private clubs where a new general manager is hired to make dramatic improvements or to turn the club around.  Because of the ever-present time factors and impatience of the Board and members, the leader by force of will implements the necessary changes but without investing the time to strengthen the subordinate management team.  While progress is made, the foundation had not been laid for long-term success.

When the “turnaround specialist” is hired away to a more prestigious position based on his or her accomplishments or when boredom sets in after the major initiatives are accomplished, the organization is left with a weak management team that depended too much on the genius’ direction and forceful personality instead of developing their own management disciplines and leadership abilities.  The end result for the club is an inability to consolidate their gains and an inevitable slide back into mediocrity and inconsistency.

In some situations the Board and membership inadvertently create the limiting environment where only the genius with many helpers model can be used by mandating such low compensation and benefits packages for the club’s department heads that a strong team cannot be built and maintained.  In other instances there is a failure of the General Manager to establish clear expectations and hold subordinates accountable for their performance that gives rise to this fatally flawed management model.

So what is a club Board or General Manager to do?

First:  In selecting a new general manager the Board should focus on a candidate that can produce long-term gains by building a disciplined organization and developing his or her subordinates.  As a member of the search committee, I would focus on the specifics of how to go about doing this and dig for satisfactory answers.  Facile responses and evasions, no matter eloquent or smooth, would disqualify any candidate.

Second:  As a potential general manager I would develop an explicit game plan to develop the necessary organizational building blocks for success (see The Quest for Remarkable Service for an example).  In interviews with search committees or headhunters I would explain in detail what is necessary, how I would proceed with implementation, and provide sample timelines with explicit deliverables or measures to chart and monitor progress.  Finally, I would ensure the search committee understands the requisite and realistic time and resources necessary to implement the plan.

For an incumbent general manager intent upon organizational turn around or renewal, I would use the same criteria to “sell” my plan to the Board.

Third:  Once hired or the plan approved, I would interview each department head in depth to ascertain background, experience, skill set, leadership abilities, and management disciplines for their position.  Then I would lay out in some detail my expectations (see What I Expect from My Club Management Team) for these key managers and establish a written work plan (see Expectations, Work Planning & Performance Reviews) with measurable accountabilities, timelines, milestones, and deliverables.  Over time I would hold them ever more strictly accountable for their performance.

Fourth:  I would expend significant effort in training, coaching (see Coaching Your Way to Excellence), and mentoring my subordinate managers.  The overall purpose of this is to identify who has the necessary desire to learn, will to succeed, enthusiasm for change, and work ethic.  Those that don’t demonstrate this level of interest and commitment should be encouraged to move on.

At the same time, I’d stress the need for all department heads to develop their assistants who show promise for greater responsibility and contribution.  The time and effort spent in developing the organizational depth of talent will yield both immediate and long term results.  For those departments without promising assistants, I would question the hiring rationale and methods of the department head.

Fifth:  Begin implementing the necessary management disciplines to better organize the operation.  See 10 Disciplines that Will Transform Your Operation for an overview of these.  Implementation will take time and a particular club’s needs will impact the priority of effort, but with steady focus, turn by turn of the flywheel, the club will achieve the breakthrough that will fundamentally transform the operation and achieve levels of quality, service, and success that, in retrospect, might have seemed unattainable.

In Good to Great Collins tells the story of Henry Singleton who, with single minded determination, founded and built Teledyne Corporation into a Fortune 500 company in five years based on his undeniable genius and drive.  Yet when he stepped away from the day-to-day management of the company, it began to fall apart.  Within 10 years without his guiding hand, Teledyne’s stock value had collapsed.  As Collins said, “Singleton achieved his childhood dream of becoming a great businessman, but he failed utterly at the task of building a great company.”

So what type of leader would you prefer to be – a Level 5 Leader or the Genius with Many Helpers?  The choice is yours – and you also own the results!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Meeting Your Communication Needs with Meetings

November 23rd, 2015

Common wisdom says that everyone hates meetings.  But what everyone really hates are pointless meetings that drag on and on.  Beyond such mismanaged gatherings is the absolute need to communicate, pass on important information, and keep all managers and staff informed.

This is especially critical in the hospitality business where there is so much detail for everyone to know and communicate, yet with the press of operations, long hours and days, and multiple shifts, it is difficult to gather staff, exchange ideas and information, and get the word out.

The first and most basic step in improving communications is a consistent service-based approach to leadership among the General Manager and department heads with its emphasis on the open flow of communications throughout the organization.  This alone will uncover issues, keep the staff better informed, and ensure that everyone knows what’s expected and what’s going on.

The second requirement is that everyone responsible for holding meetings understands and consistently applies proven meeting disciplines to ensure meetings are on time, on topic, on purpose, and efficiently run with the minimum investment of everyone’s precious time.

With these two requirements in place, the following is a list of ongoing operations meetings (excluding club board and member committee meetings) that are considered essential to a well-run organization.  While there may be other meetings the general manager would like to see from time to time, these may be scheduled as necessary with desired attendees:

1.   Weekly General Manager’s Staff Meeting.  A weekly update meeting for the General Manager and department heads, including the Controller, HR Manager, Facility Manager and heads of all operating departments.  The purpose is to bring everyone up to speed on what is going on in their areas of responsibility and to give the General Manager an opportunity to give group direction, discuss issues and concerns, and review any significant club events and activities for the coming week.

2.   Weekly Food and Beverage Meeting.  This meeting goes over all F&B activities and events for the coming week and is usually held early in the week to allow time for menu changes, revised guarantees, and any last minute details that will affect the smooth functioning of the F&B department.  The meeting is usually chaired by the Food and Beverage Director or Executive Chef and includes the Catering Director or Manager, Dining Room Manager, and any other F&B managers or supervisors who have a need to know.

3.   Monthly Golf Operations Meeting.  This meeting allows the GC Superintendent, Head Golf Professional, and General Manager to discuss any issues relating to the golf operation and ensures the General Manager is well-informed on events, issues, and concerns relating to the players’ golfing experience.

4.   Departmental Daily Huddles.  These brief meetings at the beginning of the day or before each shift give the department head or supervisor the opportunity to meet briefly with staff to discuss the day’s business, review activities and events, reinforce the organization’s culture and service ethic, go over member preferences, recognize outstanding performance, and remind staff of important service issues.

5.   Monthly Review of Operating Statement and Department Work Plans.  When the monthly financial statements are completed, the Controller will schedule a series of meetings for each department head to meet with the General Manager and Controller to review departmental performance and progress toward work plan milestones and completion.  Department heads will bring their Tools to Beat Budget Binders to the meeting, along with their departmental benchmarks, and be prepared to respond to any questions from the General Manager.

6.   Monthly Facility Maintenance/Housekeeping Meeting for the Facility Manager and/or Executive Housekeeper to brief the General Manager and discuss any and all concerns relating to his or her areas of the operation.

7.   In Private Clubs, the Monthly Membership Marketing and Relationship Management Meeting to allow the Membership Director and General Manager to review marketing efforts and any member issues.  In other operations the Monthly Sales and Marketing Meeting with the Sales Director and/or Marketing Director and General Manager.

8.   Periodic All Hands Departmental Meetings held monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly as the need requires and the pace of operations allows.  These meetings allow department heads to inform all staff of important issues and concerns, reinforce mission and vision, clear the air, and give staff the opportunity to ask questions.

The bottom line is that in the detail and labor intensive business of hospitality management, thorough communications among management and staff is a must to promote the quality and efficient operations expected by customers/guests/members and the owner(s).  Without ongoing meetings, these expectations are seldom met!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

What I Expect from My Club Controller

November 16th, 2015

The controller fills an extremely important role in any hospitality operation’s management hierarchy.  In addition to performing financial accounting, management, and reporting functions, he or she is the subject matter expert for the owner(s) and general manager on all matters relating to sound fiscal policy.  As such the position of controller has specific responsibilities and requirements relating to every area of the operation and provides key information to decision-makers.  Here is a summary of my requirements for the position:

1.  Written standards, policies, and procedures (SPPs) for all aspects of the accounting function.  Not only is this important for consistency sake, but also to make all managers and supervisors aware of their responsibilities.

2.  A written internal control plan that stipulates key fiscal practices, identifies areas of potential problems, and specifies necessary separation of duties.

3.  Coordinate and supervise the annual budgeting process.  This requires establishing the necessary timeline and deliverables in the budgeting sequence.

4.  Implement Zero-Based Budgeting throughout the club.

5.  Establish a system of real-time accounting club-wide.  The Tools to Beat Budget program is an excellent example of how this can be done in all departments.

6.  Assist department heads in implementing departmental benchmarking.  Prepare the Executive Metrics Report and include it with the monthly financial statement.

7.  Coordinate and attend the monthly review of operating statements with each department head and the general manager.

8.  Conduct a review and analysis of one major cost category each month with the aim of constantly reviewing the enterprise’s cost structure and taking steps to reduce costs when opportunities present themselves.  Report findings to general manager.

9.  Routinely prepare the following reports:

  • Weekly Revenue Report for the general manager and heads of profit centers.
  • Pay Period Summary Report for the general manager and all department heads each pay period.
  • Monthly Aged Accounts Receivable Report for the general manager.
  • Updated cash flow projection on a monthly basis for the general manager.

10.  Training of managers and supervisors in all fiscal responsibilities and requirements, including:

11.  An outreach program whereby the controller visits each department head on a monthly basis to discuss needs and issues.

12.  In private clubs, serve as the club’s representative on the finance committees, attending meetings, providing information as requested, making professional recommendations regarding fiscal issues, and keeping the general manager fully informed on all significant matters addressed by the committee.

A smooth accounting function requires that all members of the management team understand and meet their responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner.  It is essential therefore that the controller engage with the full management team to ensure this happens.  The benefits to the operation include greater real time knowledge of the enterprise’s financial performance, more timely information to support decision-making, and the full confidence of the owner(s) or board that their significant capital investment is in good hands.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

 

Overcoming the Barriers to Quality

November 5th, 2015

The bottom line for any private club is to consistently meet or exceed the expectations of its members.  Given that the members of clubs typically come from the affluent and elite segments of a community means that their life experiences have accustomed them to superior levels of quality and service.  To exceed their expectations, therefore, the management and staff of a private club must be committed to quality in all aspects of its operations.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, American businesses and industries became obsessed with understanding and implementing the necessary initiatives and processes that led to the astonishing Japanese dominance in quality manufacturing.  American academics and business leaders, building on the pioneering work of Dr. Joseph H. Duran, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, and others, embraced the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) as the answer to improved competiveness.

In 1988 a major U.S. government agency defined TQM as:

“a strategy for continuously improving performance at every level, and in all areas of responsibility.  It combines fundamental management techniques, existing improvement efforts, and specialized technical tools under a disciplined structure focused on continuously improving all processes.”

While many businesses and organizations embraced TQM, not all attempts were successful.

As often stated, much can be learned from failure, which demands close examination, while success is celebrated but often less well understood.  In 1996 Robert J. Masters published an article in Quality Progress magazine entitled, “Overcoming the Barriers to TQM’s Success.”  In this paper Masters listed eight obstacles to efforts to improve quality (shown below with our comments and resources relating to private club management in italics):

1.  “Lack of management commitment.  Management must commit time and resources and clearly communicate the importance and goals to all personnel.”

Service-Based Leadership places a primary focus on providing all the tools, training, resources, daily engagement, and example to provide high levels of quality and service to members.  Constant communication is an essential element of such leadership, while open and Unimpeded Communication ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page.

2.  “Inability to change the organizational culture.  Change takes time and effort.  In order for the culture to change, the employees need to want change and be willing to participate.  This requires reasons that management must convey.  The change will only occur if the employees trust the management.  It cannot occur from a state of fear.”

Well-defined and continually reinforced Organizational Values and a culture of service are essential to club operations.  Whether you need to start from scratch to develop such a culture or you want to change an existing culture, you cannot achieve quality and service without it.

3.  “Improper planning.  Planning must involve all parts of the organization and be communicated clearly to employees.”

A Discipline of Planning on all levels of the organization is crucial.  As we say, the importance of disciplined planning cannot be overstated.  Haphazard planning results in haphazard operations and equally haphazard performance.

4.  “Lack of training.  The most effective training comes from senior management.  Informal training needs to occur on a continual basis.”

Lack of formal and consistent training is the Achilles Heel of Hospitality OperationsOn the Go Training is an effective way to continually train without breaking the bank.  The club’s management team must provide a consistent message of quality and excellence and be actively involved in training.  Ensuring the management team is properly and thoroughly trained is even more important than training line employees as pointed out in Management Training is an Essential Part of a Quality Operation.

5.  “Organizational structure problems and isolated individuals or departments.  Multifunctional teams will help break down some of these barriers.  Restructuring is another method.”

Structure and organization are fundamental in any complex enterprise, as is the discipline of utilizing industry best practices on a consistent basis.  The Remarkable Service Infrastructure is offered as an overarching plan for structuring club operations for quality and service.

6.  “Ineffective measurement and lack of data.  Effective decisions require that the employees have access to the necessary data.”

Benchmarking club operations in detail will provide the data to keep stakeholders informed and focused on continual improvements.  Judicious sharing of the data with line employees will furnish the necessary feedback and incentives to excel in their efforts.

7.  “Inadequate attention to internal and external customers.”

The feedback loops in The Remarkable Service Infrastructure graphically represent the need to listen to both internal and external customers.  Knowing and addressing the concerns and challenges of employees is just as important as providing for the needs and desires of members.  Are Your Internal Customers Also Being Served? speaks to the need for attending to your internal customers.

8.  “Inadequate empowerment, lack of teamwork.  Teams require training.  Their recommendations should be followed whenever possible.  Individuals need to be empowered to make decisions.”

Note the requirement for employees to be willing, committed, AND empowered on The Pyramid of Successful Service.   This powerful tool of quality and service is described and explained in The Power of Employee Empowerment.

The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to identify it; once identified you can formulate initiatives to address it.  Hospitality Resources International provides a wide variety of resources to put your club on the path to improved levels of quality and service.  Whatever success you’ve achieved in your own quest for high levels of quality and service, reviewing the HRI materials may inspire or materially assist in your efforts towards excellence.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!