New Hire Orientations – Getting Them Off on the Right Foot

July 28th, 2014

Hospitality operations in general and managers specifically go to a lot of trouble to find new employees – but not just any employee.  By using the principles and techniques of Disciplined Hiring, they make the effort to not only get the right people on the bus, but to get the right people in the right seats on the bus.  In making this effort they should have only one goal in mind and that is to find and hire people who will make a positive and continuing contribution to the success of the organization.

Keeping in mind that first impressions are powerful determinants in establishing any person’s attitudes about, and commitment to, a new job, it is imperative that the organization make an effort to welcome and impress the new hire.  But the consequences of not providing a warm, welcoming, and informative onboarding process go far beyond first impressions.

Understand that your establishment’s reputation as an employer in the local labor market is directly related to the work experiences of your employees.  When they are not properly onboarded and trained, when they are not given the necessary tools and resources to do their jobs, when they are not properly led, when their leaders do not set a professional example, you can be assured that your operation will have high levels of turnover and people in the surrounding community will know just what kind of employer you are.  With this kind of reputation you will have a hard time attracting dedicated and competent employees – the ones that every employer wants to hire – and you condemn yourself to unending personnel problems, lack of employee commitment, and famously poor service levels.

On the other hand, when you treat your employees with dignity and respect, when you recognize that willing, committed, and empowered employees make all the difference in service to your customers/guests/members, you know that how employees are treated from day one will go a long way toward demonstrating the organization’s commitment to its staff, thereby ensuring their commitment to the organization.

So the first step in the process of gaining the commitment of employees is a well-thought out and consistently executed onboarding plan for new hires.  This initial orientation to the organization is usually given by the HR Manager or the person acting in that capacity.  Here are some of the basic things to include:

1.   An Introduction to Organizational Values and Culture of Service.  Organizational values are the foundation for how you conduct your business and interact with your customers.  Every employee must be well-versed in these values and they must be constantly reinforced throughout every employee’s tenure.

2.   Etiquette and Service Training.  A brief introduction will set the foundation for these important topics, though they must be taught and reinforced at regular intervals during employment.

3.   Review of Uniforms, Dress Code, and Grooming Standards.  Employees in a professional service organization must understand and consistently abide by these requirements.

4.   Performance Expectations and Reviews.  Employees must understand basic expectations for their performance, conduct, and demeanor, and it is only fair to let them know when and how they will be reviewed.

5.   Work Week, Pay Cycle, Timekeeping, and Overtime.  Employees need to understand these basic matters relating to their compensation.  Spelling them out in detailed way consistently for all employees will answer a lot of their questions.  They also need to know who to see if they have questions or problems relating to their hours and compensation.

6.   Employment Status, Benefit Eligibility, and Benefits Enrollment.  Benefits are usually determined based upon an employee’s employment status (Full Time, Part Time, and Seasonal).  Each employee must know his or her status, what benefits they might be eligible for, and when they can enroll for benefits.

7.   Receipt of Employee Handbook.  Every employee must be given an Employee Handbook that provides all the information they need to know about employment with your organization.  Such information must be fully integrated with the Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures.  It’s also a good idea to have them sign a receipt for the handbook that includes an acknowledgement statement that the material in the handbook is extremely important and must be read and understood by all employees.  The handbook receipt should be filed in the employee’s personnel file as proof that they received the handbook and were apprised of its importance and the need to read it.

8.   Employee Work Rules.  Every organization has its own work rules covering all sorts of topics from where to park, use of personal cells phones on the premises, calling off, work schedules, availability of lockers, entrances to use, employee meal policy, etc.  These rules are usually included in detail in the Employee Handbook, but it’s a good idea to go over them in a face to face meeting, giving them ample opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification.

9.   Safety, Accidents, and Emergencies.   It’s important to give employees a basic overview of safety policies, what to do in case of an accident or emergency, and the operation’s emergency and evacuation plans.  While these should be covered in more formal safety training in each department, having a basic understanding from the very beginning of employment is essential.

10. General Manager’s Welcome.  Employees should meet and hear from the General Manager at the beginning of their employment.  This is a great opportunity to hear about the organization’s mission and vision from the chief executive or operating officer.

11. Tour of Property and Introductions.  New employees should be given a tour of the property and be introduced to each department head.  Department heads can welcome the new hires and give a brief overview of the department’s function.

12. Review and Retention.  The person giving the New Hire Orientation may also want to give a brief test to reinforce key points and to determine individual retention of this important information.

At the conclusion of the orientation, the new hires should be directed or taken to their departmental manager and the HR Manager should document the orientation in each new hire’s personnel file by using an Orientation Checklist, HRI Form 105.  I also would strongly recommend that each department head conduct a similar departmental orientation covering essential information specific to that department.  Some of the same information should be reviewed in this second orientation to reinforce the message and ensure comprehension.  As with the enterprise Orientation, Department Heads should complete and forward a Departmental Orientation Checklist, HRI Form 106, to the HR office for inclusion in the new hire’s file.

While all of the above requires time and effort, the results of a well-planned and executed onboarding scheme and the appropriate enterprise and departmental orientations will start the new hire off on the right foot and will establish the organization’s professionalism – both of which will make a strong first impression on all new hires.

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!

Benchmarking Your Way to Improved Performance

July 14th, 2014

William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, one of the leading lights of 19th century science said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”  While he was speaking of scientific inquiry and measurement, the same statement could be made regarding any desire to improve your company’s operating efficiency.

If you cannot accurately measure your current operating performance, how would you know where to best apply your corrective efforts?  Or even if those efforts were working or not?  This, in a nutshell, expresses the necessity of detailed benchmarking of all aspects of hospitality operations.

Every business operation monitors its performance by accounting for its revenues and expenses, thereby determining its level of profitability.  In the broadest sense the monthly financial statements are the measure of how the business is doing, but you must understand that the financial statements are summary numbers derived from the interplay of a large number of operational variables.

So if you want to increase your profitability, the numbers from your financial statements only allow you to say, “We need to increase revenues” or “We need to reduce our expenses.”  Without further detail as to where the problems are, you’ll never know where best to apply your efforts to increase revenues or cut expenses.

budget-4The key underlying variable for revenues in any operation is the number of customers patronizing the establishment, or volume of business.  This measure will be different for different areas of the operation – diners for the food and beverage operations, rooms occupied for lodging establishments, golf rounds for golf operations, retail transactions for the pro shops or other retail outlets.  The second and no less important variable is how much each customer spends on average while utilizing these facilities – the average check per diner in the dining room, the average room rate in a hotel, the green or cart fees per round on the golf course, and the average sale in the retail outlets.

The basic benchmarks of volume and average spend are computed by every POS system, but the real benefit of monitoring these benchmarks is in tracking them by day of week, week to week, month to month, and year to year.  This tracking over time allows the operator to monitor daily, weekly, and seasonal trends which is important because every area of an operation has its own variations based on time of day, day of week, and season.

Here’s an example of how benchmarks can help:

When dining revenues are down it’s important to know what combination of volume and average spend is causing the shortfall because the solution to one or the other is very different.  If volume is down, you need to figure out a way to bring in more customers more often.  If average spend is down, you need to figure out why – are they spending less because of the general economy, is your menu pricing appropriate to their expectations, or do your employees need more training in suggesting and upselling?

Other benchmarks can shed more light on the problem.  Are lesser priced menu items selling better?  If so it might indicate price sensitivity.  Are the cover counts down on Wednesday night when you offer your seafood special?  If so, this might indicate that customers are growing tired of this longstanding menu, or maybe another restaurant is luring them away with their own special pricing and fare.

Another example:  What if revenues are steady, but net income is down?  By benchmarking what menu items are selling, you might notice that you are selling large quantities of a low margin item from your menu.  By carefully tracking your food costs, you might discover that a key ingredient in your best-selling menu item has risen dramatically in recent weeks.  By benchmarking your labor hours and comparing it to revenues or cover counts you might find that your net is shrinking due to low productivity or over-scheduling.

What these examples demonstrate is that the more information you have about the details of your operation, the better able you are to analyze operational weakness and implement corrective action.  This premise of benchmarking key operating statistics is basic to any business, but in order to be most effective benchmarking must be a routine process with data being compiled, monitored, formally reported, and acted upon.  Only then can you use this wealth of information to proactively address emerging issues.  Without a formal system of benchmarking you will forever be reacting to the bad news from last month.

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!

 

Never Complain

July 7th, 2014

John was the longstanding controller at an exclusive private club.  When the new General Manager made the rounds of department heads to assess the state of the operation, John had a long list of complaints about the other department heads and their failure to meet accounting deadlines for payroll, inventories, and accounts payable.  In particular he said that invoices were not coded correctly requiring an inordinate amount of his time to research and correct before he could pay them.  Lastly, he said that a number of department heads and supervisors seemed to have no understanding of basic accounting and financial management . . . and trying to get them to prepare proper budgets was a nightmare!

The new GM listened patiently to this litany of problems and then responded, “So what are you going to do about it?”

Taken aback by this response, John mumbled, “What do you mean?”

“You’re the controller – the club’s subject matter expert on all matters of financial accounting and management – so stop complaining and do something about it.  For starters, do you have written standards, policies, and procedures for accounting?”

“Uh . . . no.”

“Well then get busy writing them and don’t forget to include detailed instructions of how to properly code invoices and develop an expense dictionary.  And it wouldn’t hurt to start holding classes to teach the other managers how to do things and what your expectations and deadlines are.  You’ve got my complete support, so let’s get to it.  Just keep me informed of any issues and problems . . . and oh . . . make sure you invite me to all your classes.  I need to learn too.”

Accounting Manual1At first John was offended and irritated that the entire burden for straightening out this mess fell on him.  But the more he got into it, the more he realized that he could either complain or fix the problem.  So, over the course of the next six months John outlined and wrote a comprehensive series of accounting standards, policies, and procedures; met with department heads to better understand their concerns and issues; and taught a series of 15-minute classes on accounting at the weekly staff meeting.  Eventually, he incorporated all the class materials into a workbook entitled Basic Accounting and Financial Management for Managers, which was used to train new managers and supervisors.

By year’s end the majority of John’s issues were resolved and the entire accounting flow was smoother and more efficient.  During his performance review for John, the GM commended him for his initiative, hard work, and execution of the project.  Not only did John get a major pat on the back, but the GM gave him an unexpected and substantial bonus for the improvements in all areas of the club’s accounting function.

John’s lesson learned:  Never complain; always occupy yourself with solutions.

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!

 

Knowledge, Leadership, Discipline and Consistency

June 30th, 2014

I was asked the other day by a young hospitality manager what I thought were the key elements to building a successful club career.  With a little thought I responded, “Knowledge, leadership, discipline, and consistency.”  Here’s why:

woman-manager-3Knowledge.  First and foremost a manager must understand all aspects of the business.  This means understanding human resources, finance and accounting, legal and liability issues, risk management, lodging operations, food and beverage, golf operations, activities and aquatics, facility maintenance and housekeeping, and safety and security.  If you’re a golf professional or food and beverage manager and aspire to the position of general manager, you need to get out of your own area and learn as much as you can about the other areas of the operation.  To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “The more that you learn, the farther you’ll go.”

Leadership.  A manager must become an effective leader by building strong relationships with all constituencies and determining how best to serve their needs.  A leader must have a vision and set a course of action, while demonstrating initiative and competence in all she does.  In whatever circumstances she finds himself, she should seek out responsibility and solve problems.  Recognizing that she cannot do it all, she needs to develop strong and consistent leadership in subordinate managers.

Discipline.  The hospitality profession is not rocket science, but it’s detailed and fast-paced.  Success comes from knowing what to do and having the discipline to do it every day.  Not only must the leader be disciplined, but he must demand the same of his subordinates and hold them accountable for their actions and performance.  Nothing worthwhile is easy.  Walmart achieved its retail dominance by fanatical dedication to basic disciplines.  A leader can achieve similar success by a singular “no excuses” approach to the basics of the business.

Consistency.  I never ceased to be amazed at the continual stream of “new” ideas that are put forward regularly as the means to improve businesses and organization.  As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  What passes for innovation is often old truth restated in a modern context or catchy phrase.  Owners and managers would be better served just to pick one approach and stick to it than to be constantly embracing the “latest and greatest” concept.  Legendary NFL coach Tom Landry said, “Setting the goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and sticking with that plan.”

By focusing on these fundamental areas any hospitality manager can best prepare himself for greater responsibility and career success.

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!

 

Selling an Experience with Knowledge and Enthusiasm

June 23rd, 2014

Wedding food being servedSome years ago my boss and I were on a trip to Nevada to visit our newest property.  During the visit, we had an opportunity to eat at a cozy Italian restaurant by the name of Luciano’s.  While the food was great, it was the service that blew me away.  Let me tell you why.

After we were greeted and seated, our waiter, a middle aged man, approached the table.  He immediately sensed our good mood and engaged us in a pleasant and humorous banter.  While presenting the menu, he described the daily specials in a graphic and mouth-watering way (with excellent Italian pronunciation) and ended by saying we should try the mussels as they just came in fresh that afternoon.  Of course we bit and ordered a couple of dozen steamed in wine, garlic, and butter.  After taking our dinner order, he suggested a superb Chianti that was the perfect complement to the meal.

As I observed our waiter, he moved from table to table with a wonderful ease, engaging the patrons in conversation, suggesting appetizers, entrees, and wines.  He seemed to wait on every table and was supported by a crew of young assistants.  He was so good at what he did and seemed to know so much about the restaurant’s offerings that I assumed he must be the owner. Certainly, he took a proprietary interest in every table and his many tempting suggestions probably boosted every check by 30-40% – what better way for an owner to ensure his restaurant’s success!

After dinner, he again worked his magic by suggesting and describing the fresh, made-from-scratch Cannoli.  His coup de grace was to suggest Lemoncello as an accompaniment for the dessert.  Thankfully, my boss was picking up the check!

As we left, I complimented him on his service and asked his name.  It turned out he was Irish and was the waiter, not the owner.  I was stunned, not just that an Irishman could be so Italian, but that he was so effective based upon his knowledge of the restaurant’s offerings and his obvious interest in and enthusiasm for the food.

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

June 16th, 2014

The controller fills an extremely important role in a club 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:

budget-41. 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 the Tools to Beat Budget program so that all department heads record and monitor their revenues and expenses in real time.

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

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

  • Basic Accounting and Financial Management.
  • Tools to Beat Budget.
  • Benchmarking.

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

11. 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!

 

Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations

June 9th, 2014

Wedding food being servedAll 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.

There are a wide variety of topics that must be taught to both managers and employees to fully prepare them for their jobs.

  1. Leadership Development Training for managers and supervisors—designed to foster consistent, enterprise-wide leadership skills, which are the driving force behind the organization’s success.
  2. Organizational Culture Training for all employees—designed to foster a thorough understanding of the enterprise’s values and service ethic.
  3. Organizational Systems Training such as Human Resource and Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs) for managers and supervisors, as well as departmental SPPs for employees—all designed to teach the underlying systems that permit the enterprise to operate efficiently.
  4. Legal Compliance Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to provide all required training in matters with legal implications for the operation such as Equal Employment Opportunity, Fair Labor Standards Act, Sexual Harassment, and others.
  5. Liability Abatement Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to limit the enterprise’s liability exposure for occupational safety and health, food sanitation, public health, and responsible alcoholic beverage service.
  6. Departmental SPPs, Organizational Systems, Job Skills and Service Technique Training for employees—designed to give each employee the knowledge and skill set necessary to perform his job and meet standards of service.

Items 1 through 5 above should be developed by the enterprise and provided across all departments for consistency sake; item 6 is specific to each department and should be developed and taught by individual department heads.

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!

Marketing Your Operation

June 2nd, 2014

Jay Conrad Levinson has built a multi-million dollar publishing franchise with his Guerrilla Marketing line of books.  A brief survey of Amazon.com finds the following titles:

Guerrilla Marketing (249x320)Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing:  Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business

Guerrilla Marketing for Free:  Dozens of No-Cost Tactics to Promote Your Business and Energize Your Profits

Guerrilla Publicity:  Hundreds of Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Maximum Sales for Minimum Dollars

Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days Workbook

Guerrilla Retailing

Guerrilla Marketing for the Home-Based Business

Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success

Guerrilla Marketing:  Put Your Advertising on Steroids

He has a number of other titles for any conceivable enterprise or need and obviously has found a real hunger for marketing tips in the marketplace.

Having read several of his books, I would strongly recommend them to any business leader regardless of industry or profession.  Though not all ideas will apply to your particular situation, there are enough good tips to get your creative juices flowing no matter what your need.

While many of us in the club business think that marketing is the exclusive province of our membership directors, this is clearly not the case.  We all market ourselves and our ideas on a daily basis, often to our internal customers – our members.  Just think of the Activity Director, Golf Pro, or F&B Manager who is planning a fun event.  What is the best way to get the word out and ensure a good turnout?  We all use the member newsletter, flyers, posters, and word of mouth, but Levinson’s books will give you some great “outside-the-box” ideas.

While reading Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success, I came across a chapter entitled:  Proving You Care.  The rule is:  More companies will fail than succeed in business, and the ones that succeed will be the ones that prove they care.

“You can say all the fancy phrases, spice up your offer with the proper words, and pepper your mission statement with statements of customer love, but your dedication to service does not come to life until you prove to your customers – and your prospects that you really do care about them.

To quote Levinson, “You can use some or all of these 20 ways guerrillas prove to their customers and prospects that they sincerely care:

  1. Have a written document outlining the principles of your customer service.  This should come from the president.
  2. Develop support systems that give clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.
  3.  Develop a precise measurement of superb customer service, and reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout the company, not just at the top.
  5. Do all you must to instill in employees who meet your customers a truly deep appreciation of the value of service.
  6. Be genuinely committed to provided more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.
  7. Be sure that everyone who deals with customers pays very close attention to the customer.  Customers should feel this.
  8. Ask questions of the customers, then listen carefully to the answers.  Ask customers to expand upon their answers.
  9. Stay in touch with you customers:  by letter, postcard, newsletter, telephone, trade shows, and questionnaires.
  10. Nurture a human bond as well as a business bond with your customers.  Do favors for them.  Educate them.  Give gifts.  Play favorites.  Take them to a ballgame or the opera.  Your customers deserve to be treated this special way.  If you won’t do it, someone else will.
  11. Recognize that customers have needs and expectations.  You’ve got to meet the first and exceed the second.
  12. Understand why huge corporations such as #M define service quality as “conformance to customer requirements.”
  13. Keep alert for trends, then react to them.  McDonald’s operates under the axiom “We lead the industry by following our customers.”
  14. Share information with people on the front line.  Disney workers meet regularly to talk about improving service.
  15. Because customers are humans, observe birthdays and anniversaries.  Constant communication should be your goal.
  16. Consider holding mixers so that customers can get to know your people better and vice versa.  Bonds form.
  17. Invest in phone equipment that makes your business sound friendly, easy to do business with, and professional.
  18. Design your physical layout for efficiency, clarity of signage, lighting, handicap accessibility, and simplicity.
  19. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness, and competence.
  20. When it comes to customer service, Nordstrom department stores may be doing the best job in America, though Disney is giving them a run for their money.  The Nordstrom service manual is eloquent in its simplicity:  “Use your good judgment in all situations.  There will be no additional rules.”

Levinson gives other important tips:

  • “Proving you care is paying attention to the details.  There are a slew of them . . .”
  • “Think in terms of educating your customers . . . “
  • “When things go wrong, prove you care by seeing to it that the customer comes out on top . . .”
  • “. . . smart companies prove their mettle in the way they treat complaining customers.  They solve the problem first and deal with the red tape later.  They also know that complaining customers can be assets to guerrilla companies . . . [they] pay close attention to complaints.”
  • “Be sure to apologize when something goes wrong . . . apologies don’t cost you anything.”

Reading this chapter puts me strongly in mind of two important things:

  • Hospitality Resources International’s Operating Standard that we recognize the ultimate value of people in everything we do.
  • The Golden Rule.

Following these two guides in the service business just about covers it all and are clearly essential components of successful marketing!

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!

 

7 Steps to Improved Club Retail Operations

May 26th, 2014

Many club retail operations are managed by golf or tennis professionals who may have an incentive opportunity based upon gross sales and cost of goods sold.  While such incentives may only be part of the professional’s overall income, there are some things that can easily be done to improve the financial performance of the operation.

retail-325x2761.   Use an Annual Buying Plan – What and how much inventory you buy each year should be carefully planned.  Your plan should be in writing and be revisited at the end of the year to see how well you did in buying and selling various categories of merchandise.  Revisiting you plan at year’s end will help you improve next year’s buy.  Good buying decisions are the most important thing you can do to be a successful retailer.

2.   Benchmark your Operation – Retail operations must be benchmarked in detail to learn as much as possible about what sells and doesn’t sell.  The more you know about your customer’s buying habits, the better your future buys can be to serve your market.  It’s also important to analyze the results of buying and markdown decisions.  What and how much you mark down represent your buying mistakes.  You should always learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them.

3.   Use a Merchandiser’s Book – Proper management of retail inventories and good business practice require that retail managers maintain close scrutiny of their buying decision, retail benchmarks, inventory purchase orders, and a log of their major merchandising decisions such as markdowns, sales, inventory discrepancies, write-offs, and any member feedback about the retail operation.  By maintaining this information in one location, retail managers have a convenient method of continually analyzing their buying and merchandising decisions with an eye toward continual improvement.

4.   Know your Customers by using a Membership Retail Book – Each retail interaction with a member buying merchandise reveals something about his or her buying habits and preferences.  A Membership Retail Book is simply a place to organize and record the information learned about each member.  It is as simple as recording member information in an alphabetized ledger book under each member’s name or utilizing the member preference feature of your retail software.  Once information has been entered for a particular member, it is easy to add more information each time that member shops.  In time the Membership Retail Book will accumulate a wealth of information about members buying habits and preferences.  This information can be used to better serve members and increase retail sales.

5.   Have an Established Discount Policy – Inevitably some merchandise will not move quickly and will sit on shelves or racks for some time.  Such slow-moving merchandise should be made more attractive to members by reducing the price through a series of pre-defined discounts.  Tracking such discounts in the Merchandiser’s Book may help the retailer understand what didn’t sell at full price and this understanding will help improve future buying decisions.

6.   Use a Sales and Promotion Calendar – An annual sales and promotion calendar should be developed to help the retailer market promotional and discounted sales.  The more members that know in advance about promotions and sales, the more foot traffic you’ll have in your shop.  It can also be used as an opportunity to learn more about your member’s buying habits.

7.   Rotate Stock and Change Displays – Move merchandise around daily or frequently to keep the shop interesting and fresh.  Use props and displays to showcase merchandise.  Seasonal decorations offer many opportunities to make the shop attractive and inviting.  Ensure shop clerks are familiar with all products in the shop.  Staff must be familiar with their inventories and knowledgeable about products carried in inventory.

None of the above steps are rocket science.  More than anything they are the organizational habits of a professional retailer.  Implement any or all of these practices and watch your business and annual incentives grow.

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!

Onboarding Managers – An Often Overlooked Best Practice

May 19th, 2014

A long-recognized best practice is to develop an onboarding plan for your operation’s new hires.  The purpose of such a plan is to ensure that new employees are welcomed to the enterprise, receive the appropriate orientation and introductions, and are indoctrinated into the organizational culture, as well as receiving a basic review of enterprise information, employee benefits, operating policies, and work rules.  When the onboarding process is formalized and consistent, all employees have an appreciation for the story of the organization, an awareness of their job requirements, and a common understanding of expectations for their conduct and performance.

meeting-3While there is no denying the benefits of a thorough onboarding process for line employees, it is even more critical that the enterprise put a similar effort into onboarding newly-hired managers and supervisors.  Regardless of education, work history, and experience, these individuals act as agents of the enterprise and set the standard for everything their employees do.  With so much riding on their leadership and example, ensuring they convey consistent direction and standards to their employees cannot be left to chance.

My optimum onboarding process for managers and supervisors includes the following:

  • The same onboarding process as line employees receive so that they hear and understand what line employees are told.
  • A copy of the Employee Handbook provided for the same reason.
  • A thorough indoctrination in organizational values, presented by the General Manager for maximum impact and effect.
  • Leadership guidance from the General Manager to ensure that all managers have a common understanding of service-based leadership and their critical role in communicating with and motivating employees.
  • A copy of a Managers Handbook, written specifically to spell out expectations for those who direct the line employees with emphasis on employment law, legal and liability issues, work rules, fiscal responsibilities, safety and security, as well as an in-depth discussion of counseling, conduct, discipline, and performance requirements.
  • A detailed review of job description and performance expectations by immediate supervisor
  • A copy of the operation’s Strategic and Annual Plans so they understand its direction and trajectory.
  • In concert with immediate supervisor, the development of an individual work plan with first year reviews at 30, 90, and 180-days.  Early engagement, counseling, and intervention as necessary are critical to the long-term performance and success of any newly hired manager.
  • Introduction to and review of personnel and accounting standards, policies, and procedures by Human Resources Manager and Controller, respectively.
  • Introductions to key management staff.
  • For managers of private club, presentation to board and key committee members.
  • A first-year reading list of management and leadership books to include Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You, and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  To be most effective, these books and other periodically assigned reading material should be discussed on an ongoing basis at weekly staff meetings.
  • Office or work space set up, fully prepared, and waiting for the new hire.  Minimum support requirements include a personal computer or laptop, cell phone or PDA, a list of key phone numbers, a listing of department heads and managers with land line and cell numbers, security codes for work areas, and a set of keys for all necessary spaces.
  • After several weeks the General Manager will set up a one-on-one meeting with the new hire to see how he or she is settling in, to answer any questions, and to once again reinforce basic leadership concerns, organizational values, and enterprise goals.

While this level of effort to onboard management staff seems like a lot of work for something that may only happen a couple of times a year with normal turnover, the potential repercussions of not providing consistent information and expectations to new managers and supervisors and continuing to reinforce it on a regular basis can have a significant and long-term impact on the quality of the operation.

While there are many important and valuable HR best practices, I don’t believe there is any as important as establishing the basis for how your organization runs with those who must lead employees.  The time and effort put into individually developing your management staff and forging them into a team with a common understanding of purpose and means is the single most critical driver of an enterprise’s success, yet how often is it overlooked in the ongoing press of daily operations?

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!