Principles of Service

April 21st, 2014

The following principles govern the quality of the service we wish to offer:

  1. SERVICE is our only product. We aim to provide the highest possible level of service to our customers/guests/members.
  2. Attitude and a sense of enthusiasm are important ingredients in providing high quality SERVICE.
  3. The first step in providing SERVICE is to anticipate the needs and desires of our customers. To do this we must examine every area of our operation in detail to determine how we can give more and better service and value.
  4. To provide high quality SERVICE, we must know what our customers want and expect. Therefore, we should constantly seek their comments, criticisms, and opinions about our operation.
  5. If a customer perceives a problem, there is a problem. It makes absolutely no difference whether we think there is a problem or not. Furthermore, the problem is ours, not the customer’s. The burden rests entirely with us to change the customer’s perception.
  6. servers-2We should never be defensive when a customer comes to us with a problem. He or she is doing us an immense favor by bringing the problem to our attention. We must listen carefully to make sure we understand the nature of the problem and take action to correct it.
  7. Every problem has a solution. Placing blame for problems is not our concern. Solving problems and analyzing them to ensure they don’t happen again is our only concern.
  8. The SERVICE profession is a demanding one, but one that offers many rewards. There is nothing more demanding or more satisfying than accepting the challenge of turning someone’s anger and unhappiness into a smile.
  9. A true SERVICE attitude involves sincerely caring for our fellow man. The good feeling we get from helping others is proof positive that when we give to others, we give to ourselves.
  10. A sincere smile is the smallest yet most important element of SERVICE. Though smiles are formed with the mouth, when sincerely given, they come from within. Smiles are more than just lip service.

The Principles of Service and what they mean should be second nature to every hospitality employee.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

 

Guest Blog: It’s Not Just Dodgeball – The Claremont Club Case*

April 14th, 2014

This decision illustrates both the general risk of club liability when liability waivers are unclear and when a club does not follow its written management policies and the unique risk of club liability when a club offers child care. In this case, a member’s child was injured playing dodgeball in the club’s childcare program.  The trial court ruled that (i) a release signed by his father barred the claims, (ii) there was no evidence showing the club’s conduct amounted to gross negligence, and (iii) the injuries were an inherent risk in dodgeball.  A finding of gross negligence was relevant because in California, a liability release for gross negligence is generally unenforceable.  In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed and held that there were triable issues of material fact regarding each of the trial court’s findings.

Releases

The appeals court believed that there were triable issues of fact related to the release, because it was unclear whether the father released claims related only to the father’s facilities use or also the family’s facilities use and whether a release of liability for personal injury from “Club activities” included dodgeball, which was not among the list of activities in the membership information form.   The appeals court also believed that there were triable issues of fact as to whether a release with respect to child care was void against public policy.

Gross Negligence

The appeals court believed that there were triable issues of fact as to whether the club was guilty of gross negligence when (i) club employees knew racquetball courts were being used for dodgeball against club policy, (ii) the club did not implement safety rules for the game, (iii) the children were supervised by an 18 year old front desk clerk with no childcare training, and (iv) the 18 year old participated in the dodgeball game and played in an aggressive way.

Inherent Risk of Game

The appeals court believed that there were triable issues of fact as to whether the child assumed the risk in participating in an inherently risky activity because the club increased the risk normally associated with dodgeball by allowing the game to be played in an enclosed area not intended for dodgeball, allowed it to be played with a hard rubber ball and allowed an adult untrained in childcare to participate in the game and play aggressively.

The lessons of this case for club managers are to enforce club policies designed to protect members, especially children, and to review release provisions with legal counsel.

Lotz vs. Claremont Club, Court of Appeals, Division 2, California (August 15, 2013); reference:  www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/B242399.DOC‎

Author:  Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at http://www.gtlaw.com/People/GlennAGerena, and read more club related articles by the author at http://www.hospitalitylawcheckin.com.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

What I Expect from My Department Heads

April 7th, 2014

There are a number of things I expect from all of department heads regardless of their specific areas of expertise and function.

Leadership – I expect a consistent service-based style of leadership for all departments.  Service-based leadership naturally promotes employee empowerment which is absolutely essential to delivering remarkable service levels.

Organizational Values – Strict adherence to and promotion of the enterprise’s culture of service is necessary to ensure that all employees understand the values that underpin our business.  The consistent example of managers at all levels is a must.

mgmt-team-21Annual Departmental Goals – Each department head must develop departmental goals based upon the club’s annual goals.  These goals have an impact on department budgets.

Standards, Policies and Procedures – These are necessary for all areas of the operation to promote standardization and efficiency.  They are also the basis for developing pertinent training material for each department.

Tools to Beat Budget – The discipline of tracking revenues and expenses in real time makes department heads more knowledgeable about their enterprise and enables them to take timely action to correct deficiencies.  It’s also an incredibly effective tool for improving the ease of developing departmental budgets, as well as their accuracy.

Benchmarking – Every department head must benchmark their payroll expenses in detail.  As the single largest expense in most departments, it is essential that they track and monitor this expense.  In addition, they need to benchmark their respective operations to ensure they have a better understanding of their business.

Accounting Submissions – There are accounting requirements for all department heads and they are expected to meet these in a timely and accurate manner.

Human Resource Requirements – I expect each department head to have a thorough knowledge of all HR requirements and strictly adhere to these.  There are too many legal and liability issues to do otherwise.

Monthly Budget and Work Plan Review Meeting – Every month after the financial statements are distributed each department head will meet with General Manager and Controller to review financial performance and progress on work plan accomplishment.  Department heads must be prepared for this meeting by ensuring their Tools to Beat Budget binders and benchmarks are up to date, can explain any variances, and can offer plans to remedy revenue shortfalls and expense overages.

Departmental Training – Department heads are responsible for determining their individual department’s training needs and developing necessary training programs to meet those needs.

Disciplined Hiring – It is a requirement that department heads develop the skills and disciplines to hire well.  The quality of operation’s staff is too important to leave to chance.

Organization, Cleanliness, and Maintenance – All departments must be well-organized, clean, and well-maintained.  Department heads are responsible for their areas of the operation and must coordinate with the Facility Manager or Executive Housekeeper to ensure cleaning standards are established and met, as well as ensuring all facilities, furniture, fixtures, and equipment are properly maintained.

Safety and Security – Each department head must determine work hazards and security issues for their areas and develop the policies and procedures to address these.

Team Players – Each department head must realize that they are part of a team dedicated to the common purpose of providing a superior hospitality experience for customers/guests/members.  In order to meet the challenges of such an operation, they must be mutually supportive and work together as a team.

While there may be other things that I want to stress to my subordinate managers from time to time, these are my basic expectations.  Other general managers may have a different set of expectations, but in any case it’s good to provide your subordinates with a list of those requirements.  It becomes the basis for their efforts and focus to develop themselves as managers and leaders.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

The Full Golf Member

March 31st, 2014

In just four power-packed pages of his essential book, Club “It’s All About Golf” Book, author Mitchell Stump makes an overwhelming case for the value to the club of the full golf member.  Just as powerfully he points out that this premium member is often overlooked by a management staff focused on the larger membership and complexities of other areas of the operation such as food and beverage.

golfer-swinging-2In Romancing the Customer, Maximizing Brand Value through Powerful Relationship Management by Dr. Paul Temporal and Martin Trott, the authors make the obvious point that not all customers are equal and should not be treated equally.  While they don’t advocate slighting less profitable customers, they do stress the absolute importance of taking care of your best customers – in the club’s case the full golf member.  Incidentally, they also say that the rising tide of customer relationship management will raise some of those less profitable customers to the level of best customers – and won’t your Membership Director and General Manager be thrilled when some of your sports or junior members upgrade to full golf memberships or a guest decides to join after experiencing your operation.

So what’s the bottom line on this topic?  Take extra good care of your full golf members – know them like family, greet them like long, lost friends, and treat them like rock stars!

Here some ideas:

  • Identify them – make sure the entire golf staff knows who these members are and recognizes them by name – every time, everywhere.
  • Brainstorm with your golf operations team as to how you can go above and beyond for your full golf members and their guests.  Make a list of the best ideas and implement them.
  • Develop a “wow” factor list for your full golf members and surprise them with over the top service.
  • Review your current operational standards, policies, and procedures to find better ways to “honor” your full golf members with recognition and service.  And oh, by the way, improving your standards will benefit all golfers – possibly a way to increase the number of full golf members.
  • Periodically “walk the path” of your full golf members and guests with an eagle eye to enhance and improve your parking lot, bag drop, pro shop, locker rooms, shoe service, bag storage, detailing of golf carts, practice facility, etc.
  • Remind and reinforce the highest service standards to the golf staff – pro shop and outside and on-course staff.  Pick their brains for ideas to do more and better.
  • Learn as much as you can about your full golf members from beverage preference, favorite clothing brands, favorite colors, shoe, shirt and hat size, NFL team, birthday, anniversary, etc.  Then act on this “intelligence” to do special and personal things for Dr. Smith or Mr. Jones.  Get your staff to report every piece of intelligence they learn from their interactions with full golf members.  Use your computer to Google them – you’ll be surprised how much you can learn on the World Wide Web.
  • Never stop looking for ways to make the full golf member feel as special as he or she is to the club and your golf operation.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Two Critical Areas for Standards, Policies and Procedures

March 24th, 2014

meeting-2We have spoken repeatedly about the need for written standards, policies, and procedures in hospitality operations.  Beyond the basic need to define standards and efficiently organize operations, they provide the basis for creating consistent training materials for employees.  Common sense asks how can you begin to properly train your staff without defining the manner in which you conduct your business in all its details?  Following this rationale, every department of the organization should codify how all aspects of the operation are conducted by creating written policies and procedures.

But even more important than better organization and training is the need for written standards, policies, and procedures for all personnel and accounting matters as pointed out in The Quest for Remarkable Service.

“While a hospitality operations should avoid becoming overly bureaucratic, there are clearly areas where the repercussions of not following set policies and procedures present a significant risk.  Two of these are Human Resources and Accounting.  In the former, there are federal and state laws that dictate how employment and personnel matters must be handled and, if not scrupulously followed, they can create significant legal and liability exposure for the organization.  In the latter area where exactness is critical to financial reporting and performance, it is crucial that managers understand and meet their responsibilities in an exact and timely manner.”

In regards to accounting policies and procedures, one of the most frequent findings by auditors when performing annual audits is that a organization does not have written accounting policies and procedures – and often this finding appears year after year.  To help address this shortcoming, Hospitality Resources International has written a series of 175 Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs), along with 47 related forms, which it sells for $495 on a CD.  Each individual file is provided in MS-Word or Excel, allowing for customization by each operation.

HRI also offers a CD with 157 Personnel Standards Policies and Procedures and 45 related forms for $495.  As with the Accounting SPPs, these can be customized by each organization.

For those operations that have neither the time nor expertise to customize the SPPs, HRI offers writing and editing services for $30 per hour.  Most operations using this service find that after purchasing either accounting or personnel CD, they will spend an additional $1,250 to $2,000 for the customization depending upon the extent of the revisions – with the total cost in the range of $1,750 to $2,500 – certainly a small price to pay for professionally written SPPs formalizing your operation’s specific HR or Accounting functions.

Organizations interested in purchasing either CD can view samples of each by following these links:

Sample Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Sample Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Contact us at info@hospitalityresourcesinternational.com to find out more about HRI’s writing/editing services.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

It Ain’t the Employees

March 17th, 2014

deming-228x228If you want to improve quality and service at your operation, don’t start with your line employees.  According to the late W. Edwards Deming, one of the foremost authorities on quality improvement who helped transform Japan into a world-class industrial giant after World War II,

“The worker is not the problem.  The problem is at the top!  Management is the problem!” 

He further emphasizes the point by saying,

“There is much talk about how to get employees involved with quality.  The big problem is how to get management involved.” *

Among Deming’s many observations is that quality is achieved by a complex sequence of (manufacturing or service) processes and it is management that establishes those processes.  Until the barriers to quality inherent in ill-conceived and implemented processes (often created by management without a true understanding of what factors contribute to quality) are removed, the lack of quality or service is only the natural consequence of such poorly-designed, integrated, and applied processes.  Recognizing this, it is clear that quality improvement can come about only through the leadership and direction of management.

So what’s to be done about improving quality?

Leadership.  As usual, it all comes back to leadership – that often ill-defined quality that everyone talks about, but few truly understand.  Let us first of all be clear, leadership is not a position.  A position carries authority and responsibility, but as we say in Leadership on the Line,

“Exercising leadership involves building and sustaining relationships between leader and followers.  Without that bond or connection, there are no willing followers and, therefore, no true leaders.” 

In Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, we go on to say,

“The quality of your leadership is determined by the influence you have with your followers, which, in turn, is established by the quality of your relationships with them – and your relationships are built on a foundation of trust, of which integrity, competency, consistency, and common decency are primary ingredients.”

In speaking on the same topic, Roger Enrico, former Chairman at Pepsico, said,

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

But what are we really talking about when we speak of the ‘soft stuff’?  As we say in The Quest for Remarkable Service,

“In short, it’s the people skills – those aptitudes and abilities used to get the best out of our human assets.  It encompasses all those things we talk about when discussing leadership – the highly nuanced interactions with a diverse workforce that result in motivation, morale, enthusiasm, focus, commitment, productivity, teamwork, organizational cohesiveness, and group success.”

Finally, a prime ingredient of leadership is example.  As Albert Einstein once said,

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Without the disciplined direction and consistent example of management at all levels of the operation, quality and service will remain forever elusive.

Establishing Expectations.  You cannot expect that your line employees with their vastly different backgrounds, education, and life experiences will inherently understand what the quality and service expectations are for your operation.  These must be spelled out in great detail and reinforced continually.  The same is true for your management staff, but with far greater consequences.  Your management team sets the standard and the example for your entire operation.  Without consistent leadership, explicit communication of expectations, and reinforcement of well-defined values, expecting your employees to meet your standards of behavior and service is unrealistic in the extreme.

So the requirements must be to:

  1. Train both managers and employees thoroughly in your Organizational Values and Culture of Service, and
  2. Spell out in detail what your quality and service standards and expectations are for both managers and employees.

Employee Empowerment.  John Tschohl, founder of the Service Quality Institute, says,

“Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”

The major role that leaders make in empowering their employees is to create a culture where employees are valued and recognized as vital resources of the enterprise.  They must also understand that to be successful with employee empowerment, employees must fully sense the company’s commitment to such empowerment; simply saying that employees are empowered, does not make it so.  Leaders at all levels must do more than talk the talk.

While employee empowerment may be seen as a desirable practice by management, it ultimately comes about only with the recognition by employees that they are empowered.  This means that the focus of leaders must not be on what employees are doing to achieve empowerment, but on what they themselves are doing to promote and enable it.

Training.  All of us who work in the service business understand that operations are both people-intensive and detail-intensive.  It takes a lot of employees to provide the requisite levels of service and every aspect of service involves many details.  These two facts make detailed, ongoing training an absolute necessity for any successful operation.  For a list of those topics that must be covered in training for both managers and line employees, see the article entitled Training Requirements in Hospitality Operations.

Recognizing the high cost of training, Hospitality Resources International has created a number of On the Go Training resources for operators.

Your Employees.  How you treat your employees will have a great deal to do with their attitudes and dedication at work.  Read Give Them More Than Just a Paycheck for ways to increase their commitment to their place of employment and the quality of their service to your customers/guests/members.

Bottom Line.  None of the above is rocket science, but it does take a disciplined approach to your work.  At the end of the day, discipline is probably the most important ingredient for any efforts to improve quality and service.  As Jim Collins says in his groundbreaking book Good to Great,

“Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement in these.  It’s really just that simple.”

“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.”

So as you go about making your plans to improve quality and service, remember it starts and ends with your management team.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also train your employees in the finer points of service and your expectations for them, but without the active involvement of management at all levels, it ain’t gonna happen!

* For those interested in Deming’s logic in approaching quality improvement, read Improve Quality – Lower Costs

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Brainstorming Your Way to Excellence

March 10th, 2014

woman-manager-3Brainstorming:  a conference technique of solving problems, amassing information, stimulating creative thinking, developing new ideas, etc., by unrestrained spontaneous participation in discussion. (dictionary.com)

It is commonly accepted that two minds are usually better than one and that in the search for solutions, the free interchange of ideas among a group of people can often produce better results than one person alone.  Recognizing this phenomenon, hospitality managers should embrace the idea of periodic brainstorming sessions with all department heads to improve the organization, operation, and performance, department by department, and in toto.

The first and foremost time to do this is during the annual planning cycle prior to establishing annual enterprise and departmental goals and the coming period budgets.  Such a session can usually yield results in as little time a two days when properly conceived, prepared for, and kept on task by a clear agenda and the general manager to guide and channel discussions.  While two days sounds like a lot of time for busy department heads, in the larger scheme a well-conceived annual plan and budget is a bedrock requirement for successful operations.  Those department heads who say they can’t spare the time should take a hard look at how they’ve organized their departments, trained subordinate managers, and delegated duties.  If they can’t make time for a planning session, it begs the question what will happen to their operation should they get sick or suffer an accident.

Beyond the planning cycle, brainstorming is a healthy aid to reviewing each departmental operation – one at a time.  This can usually be accomplished in a morning or afternoon session with the subject department head briefing other department heads on the organization, operation, and challenges of the department.  After this general presentation, the department head can ask his or her peers to offer suggestions and ideas to improve the operation.  This will open the door to wider discussions involving standards, policies, and procedures; inter-departmental support and cooperation; quality of guidance or direction from above; a better understanding of individual roles and duties; and improved integration of support systems for operating departments.

While sometimes these discussions can become tense, everyone must understand that the purpose and benefit of the session is to uncover issues and find a better way to operate.  Given the potential for conflict and discord, the following rules must be spelled out and enforced by the general manager:

1.   Everyone leaves their egos at the door.

2.   Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.

3.   Each person’s ideas will be heard and valued for their unique perspective.

4.   The general manager must be present, engaged, and fully support the process, often making executive decisions to overcome obstacles and bottlenecks.

When properly managed by the general manager, brainstorming can:

  • Illuminate problems and issues,
  • Foster understanding through discussion,
  • Point to solutions,
  • Generate new ideas and initiatives, and
  • Create a sense of shared challenge and teamwork.

But all the above is simply time spent talking unless the brainstorming session generates decisions and a plan of action with assigned responsibilities and timelines to bring the ideas to execution.  To ensure this is done, the general manager should require a summary of decisions made and an action plan for each subject department head.

When this is done and followed through, much begins to happen.  With each successfully implemented improvement or initiative, a culture of success and excellence naturally develops and strengthens, carrying the operations and all its managers to greater challenges and even greater success.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Upping that Average Check

March 3rd, 2014

Every food professional knows that the primary way to increase revenues short of increasing the number of customers is by increasing the average check.  While this is important in all food service operation, it is particularly important in private clubs where each club has a finite number of members and cannot attract the wider audience of the general public.  But regardless of what type of food service operation you run, how does one go about upping the average check?

wine-glass-on-table-2If you consider most menus, diners have a choice of appetizers, entrees, desserts, wines, and specialty alcoholic drinks.  Most go out to eat with a particular entrée in mind – “Honey, I’m hankering for a thick, juicy sirloin tonight,” or “Gosh, I’m dying for the chef’s veal shanks in a cabernet sauce.”  What they have not thought about, and will not think about until they sit at the table is – what might go well with their entrée?  Here is the opportunity to increase the average check!  The server can “sell” customers/guests/members on the idea that this or that accompaniment will add to their dining experience.

But as any rookie salesperson knows, “you can’t sell what you don’t know!”  Given that we hire bright, outgoing, but often young and inexperienced people to work as servers, how do we give them the necessary knowledge to upsell the chef’s offerings?  Further, recognize that food and beverage is an inexhaustible fount of knowledge not easily mastered in a lifetime of concerted learning.  While this presents a challenge, it is not insurmountable with a little organization and effort.  The following steps, if implemented and persistently practiced, are guaranteed to increase your revenues through higher check averages.

1.   Benchmarking

Break your revenue projections for food and beverage down into volume and average sale.  For example, if you know from history that your average check for dinner is $18.53, you can divide your projected revenue for dinner for a given period by the average check to see how many dinners you will have to sell.  If your budget is $50,000 for February, then you must sell 2,698 dinners to reach your goal.  You can further break down the goals into weekly or daily targets.  By benchmarking your appetizer, dessert, wine, and specialty drink sales, you can likewise determine the current average sale for each and compute a target figure for the number of each you must sell in a given period. If you’ve not previously benchmarked, your first few months’ targets may not be very accurate or realistic, but you can adjust them as you gain experience.

2.      Establish Realistic Goals and Track Results

Use your benchmark numbers to establish goals for future operating periods for appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks.  Post those goals prominently in the pantry or other central location for your servers to see.  Break your monthly goals for each category into daily goals.  Then challenge your servers to surpass those daily goals.  Every day post the previous day’s and the month-to-date results so each and every server can monitor their success or lack of success.

3.      Teach Servers to Upsell

Use your pre-shift meetings (you should always have a pre-shift meeting!) to continually train your servers about the food and beverage products you serve.  This means appetizer and dessert tastings and teaching them about wines, liqueurs, and spirits in general and those that you carry in particular.  Equipped with this knowledge they will be far more comfortable in suggesting accompaniments to members.  Exhort them to use their new knowledge to sell, sell, sell!

4.      Provide Servers with Product Knowledge

Use Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, and Wine Selling Sheets, HRI Form 485, to educate servers about all items on the menu.  These selling sheets should include ingredients; flavorings (herbs and spices); cooking times; portion sizes; special distinguishing characteristics such as vegetarian, organic, farm fresh, kosher, heart healthy; country or locale of origin; presence of dairy products or possible allergens such as peanut oil, shellfish, etc.; method of preparation (e.g., sautéed, pan fried, roasted, deep fried, etc.); types and preparations of sauces; and any other pertinent information of interest.  Lastly, the Chef should include his suggested wine accompaniment for appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

5.  Continue Tracking Daily Sales against Goals

Design contests or offer prizes to those who sell the most.

6.  Continue Benchmarking Your Sales

Not only is this historical data helpful in setting goals and projecting future business, but the detailed benchmarks you keep this year will help you budget your sales for next year.  Lastly, there will be a clear record of the progress you’ve made in increasing sales – certainly a nice thing to have when you meet with your supervisor at your next performance review.

Charles A. Coonradt, in his wonderful book, The Game of Work, explains how people will work incredibly hard for no compensation to lower their golf handicap or beat their best time in a 10k race or improve their bowling average.  The same desire to improve oneself or improve one’s performance can be demonstrated at work if people simply get measurable feedback on their performance in a timely manner.  The key to measurable feedback is knowing past performance – easily acquired in a business setting by benchmarking – and setting challenging goals for future performance.

Increasing your average check is one of the easiest things a manager can do to improve his Food and Beverage bottom line.  The additional revenue helps overcome the high fixed cost in food operations and will bring more margin to the bottom line.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

If I were to recommend only one business book, this would be the one!

February 17th, 2014

collins-152x240Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t is a book that resulted from a study done by Professor Jim Collins and a group of graduate students at Stanford University’s Business School. The study aimed to discover what highly successful publicly traded companies did that enabled them to outperform their competitors and sustain those superior results over time. What makes the book so compelling is that its findings are based upon empirical evidence, unlike so many other management books that are based upon theory.

Summarizing the book’s seven major principles:

“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.”

“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.”

“Confront the Brutal Facts: “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.”

“Hedgehog Concept: To go from good to great requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles representing “What you are deeply passionate about,” “What you can be the best in the world at,” and “What drives your economic engine,” translated into a simple, crystalline 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“The Flywheel and 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.”

Good to Great is the most interesting and compelling business book of all the many that I’ve read.  It presents a model for any company or organization that aspires to success.  If I were to recommend only one business book to others, this would be the one!

The book is:  Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, Jim Collins, HarperCollins, New York, 2001

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Structure for “the Groove” and Avoid “the Rut”

February 10th, 2014

Every new General Manager has tackled the challenges of their position with vision, vigor, and enthusiasm to address the expressed concerns of the board or owners and the perceived needs of customers/guests/members.  It’s something we’ve all experienced – analyzing the operation, discovering the problems, formulating a plan of action, winning the support of employees for the new agenda, and executing to completion.

mgmt-team-21While there are few things as satisfying as overcoming obstacles to improve a hospitality operation, the larger challenge that never goes away is how to keep the spirit of renewal alive over time.  This is so because it seems that despite whatever progress is made, things still fall apart, old habits die hard and new initiatives, no matter how exciting, grow stale and uninspiring in short order.  It is just too easy for your “in-the-groove” operation to backslide into that same ol’, same ol’ rut.

So what is the conscientious manager to do to break through the seemingly endless cycle of groove and rut?  The simple answer is to instill a strong sense of constant renewal in the enterprise’s culture.  While this is easily said, the reality of making it happen is far more complex and challenging requiring a significant degree of organizational structure and focus.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Make ongoing renewal a priority in departmental expectations and departmental plans, ensuring that department heads spell out goals and specific steps to keep each operation’s events and activities fresh and compelling.  Tools:  Annual club planning, individual work plans, measureable accountabilities, and accountability for performance.
  • Focus on the fundamentals of service and service delivery with ongoing reminders to managers and employees alike.  As Mac Anderson says, “The three keys to inspiring . . . service – Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce.”  Tools:  On the Go Training, Daily Huddles, Notable Quotables
  • In each department encourage employee feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  As prominent technology and entrepreneur blogger Bill Robinson says, “To be able to regularly solicit, capture and execute upon the strong ideas of those on the front lines who really know what the customers want will be the panacea for the 21st century business world.”  Act on the information your employees bring you to continually improve all aspects of the operation – organization, planning, execution, training, service, and service delivery.  Tools:  Continual Process Improvement
  • Using the principles of Service-Based Leadership, work continually toward the power of employee empowerment.  An entire staff that understands what must be done, how to do it, and acts without fear of making mistakes and repercussions will bring far more to bear on success and renewal than the efforts of a handful of managers and supervisors.  Tools:  Leadership on the Line, The Power of Employee Empowerment
  • Use every opportunity of interaction with employees to reinforce organizational values and the culture of service.  Whether it’s pre-shift meetings, the habit of daily huddles, or casual conversations and direction throughout the workday, managers must constantly “spread the gospel” by word AND deed.  While the message is important, there is no substitute for example – not only in how leaders interact with customers/guests/members, but more importantly how they interact with their employees.  There is no substitute for the example of leadership.  “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”  Tools:  The Bully Pulpit, Daily Huddles, Notable Quotables, Service-Based Leadership
  • Seek the feedback of your customers/guests/members.  Ultimately it’s their perception of your operation that guarantees success.  Feedback comes in many forms – formal surveys, departmental comment cards, personal interactions, AND benchmarking customer spending habits within each department.  All of these will clearly point to customer boredom or dissatisfaction with your operation.  Tools:  Surveys, scored and benchmarked comment cards, daily interactions, monitoring and analyzing spending habits.
  • Take time for analysis, exploration, and reflection.  Most managers stay busy all the time.  Many simply react to daily and weekly crises.  Some only give infrequent and passing thought to the strategic direction of their operations as if everything runs well enough on auto-pilot.  Without blocks of time set aside on a regular basis to consider their operations and the ongoing or dominant issues that impact their business; to analyze the ebb and flow of their business; to read, research, and reflect on operational ideas and best practices; and to work continually to improve all aspects of what they do, the enterprise will reflect in systemic ways their disinterest and neglect.  Ongoing reflection, analysis, and engagement are essential.  Tools:  Benchmarking and review; structured set-aside time; professional reading lists; ongoing review of trade journals and other publications; adequate time off property for perspective; relationships developed with other managers to discuss, compare, and brainstorm issues and solutions.
  • Make wow factors a significant part of your team’s effort.  It stimulates the creative juices, breaks the tedium of habit, and can be fun for your staff while thrilling to your customers.  Tools:  Wow Factors – read What Have You Done for Me Lately?
  • Make time for constant renewal – Arrange and organize your operation to handle the fundamentals routinely.  The less effort you and your staff have to spend to execute the basics, the more time and focus you’ll have to conceive and execute the extraordinary.  Follow the Pareto Principle to organize your operation so that 80% (the fundamentals) happens routinely, allowing you and your staff to focus on the critical 20% of customer service and satisfaction.  Tools:  read The Quest for Remarkable Service

Bottom Line:  Get your operation “in the groove” with organization and structure.  Then focus on ongoing renewal with continual process improvement and wow factors to avoid being “in the rut” of stale, uninspired programming, service, and service delivery.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!