Archive for November, 2009

Two Initiatives to Improve Your Club’s Performance

Monday, November 30th, 2009

In these difficult times Club Managers are anxious to find ways to improve their club’s performance.  While there is no magic pill to enhance service and the bottom line, there is the discipline of two time-tested ways that will make a huge difference in how your club performs.

1.  Work Planning for Club Department Heads

The job of General Manager is challenging, requiring a broad-ranging skill set covering a variety of management disciplines and operational experience to do well.  Yet, too often General Managers get overly involved in day-to-day operations and fail to meet their strategic responsibilities.  When this happens, the club limps along, reacting to the crisis-of-the-day instead of proactively addressing issues through long-range planning.

In some cases the underlying cause of this involvement is weak leadership and managerial development among subordinate managers.  The best way to overcome this weakness is to develop subordinate leaders through training, mentoring, and establishing “stretch” work plans.  Though it is initially time-consuming to do so, developing club department heads into strong leaders and managers will allow the club to routinely function at high levels and the General Manager to focus on long-range matters and strategic issues.

While ongoing training of subordinate managers will improve their skill set, they must also develop the essential discipline of establishing and meeting goals to improve their operations.  The General Manager can foster this discipline by doing the following:

  • Preparing detailed, formal Work Plans with timelines and milestones for each department head.
  • Requiring department heads to prepare departmental goals and plans for their departments.
  • Ensuring that department heads benchmark their operations to provide objective measures of progress.
  • Giving honest performance reviews based upon measurable, objective criteria.

When the General Manager takes the time to develop formal work plans for each department head, both the General Manager and the department head know what the goals are and when they are to be accomplished.  Establishing timelines and milestones allows the General Manager to monitor progress toward completion of goals.

2.  Tools to Beat Budget

The club’s accounting staff prepare monthly financial statements for each month of the fiscal year.  Statements are distributed to department heads around the middle of the month for the previous month’s activity.  Unfortunately, this means that department heads do not know how their departments performed until at least two weeks after the end of the period.  When a department’s performance does not meet budget, the department head does not know until after the fact and cannot intervene in a timely manner.

Ultimately, department heads are responsible for the financial performance of their departments and are accountable for those results.  Since they are responsible for everything their department does and fails to do, they cannot rely solely on the accounting office to provide them with the timely information they need to properly monitor and take action to ensure they meet their budgets.

Tools to Beat Budget is a program designed to help department heads monitor key elements of their budget in a more timely manner.  Further, it requires department heads to monitor revenues and expenses on an ongoing basis, which keeps them in closer touch with their actual performance compared to budget.  Finally, the data accumulated during the course of the year using Tools to Beat Budget makes department heads more knowledgeable about their operations and makes establishing future budgets far easier since all the historical information is in one place – the Tools to Beat Budget binder.

These two initiatives when fully implemented and conscientiously and consistently followed by club department heads will make a significant difference in the performance of your club.  And the sooner you implement them, the sooner you’ll see the results.

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!

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Leadership on the Line – The Workbook

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Clarity Publications is pleased to announce the publication of Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, the perfect program to train junior managers in the basics of Service-Based Leadership.

“Hard to believe, but The Workbook is even better than the book!  Taken together they form an incredibly useful tool to help train my managers and supervisors to a consistent conception and application of leadership at our club.”

Chris Conner, General Manager, The River Club

Why Leadership on the Line?

Most leadership books are written for mid-level managers aspiring to senior positions.  Few are written to address the challenges of first-time or front-line managers and supervisors; those that do usually focus on technical skills, not leadership.  Yet it is the junior manager who so often directs a club’s member-facing employees.  Without strong, consistent leadership at this level to direct, motivate, and inspire employees, a club’s member service efforts are at risk.

Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners, and Emerging Leaders, a book specifically written for first time and front line managers, was first published in 2002.  Due to demand the expanded second edition came out in 2006.

theworkbook_cover-4Now we have brought out Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, a companion piece to the book that reinforces and expands upon the requirements of Service-Based Leadership in simple, easy-to-understand terms.   Its focus is on building strong relationships with followers and serving the needs of all constituencies – boss, members, peers, and employees.  With Service-Based Leadership members are treated well because employees are valued, trained, supported, and empowered by their leaders.

The Workbook  provides a framework of Service-Based Leadership for those just starting on the path to successful leadership.  As such it is the perfect training tool for young managers and those who must direct them.  The most frequent comment heard from senior leaders about Leadership on the Line is, “I wish I had read something like this years ago.”

“This workbook is a great complement to the original Leadership on the Line.  It reinforces comprehension of the book’s guiding principles while assisting the student in practical application of leadership skills.  I will use The Workbook, as I have used the book, to build strong service-based leadership in our management ranks and to strengthen our culture of service to members and each other.”

Rob Duckett, General Manager, Mountaintop Lake and Golf Club

Leadership on the Line and The Workbook, both authored by Ed Rehkopf who writes this weekly Ideas and Information blog, are available at www.probizcom.com.

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!

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Personal Responsibility and the Will to Lead

Monday, November 16th, 2009

The Freedom of Taking Personal Responsibility

Personal freedom is often thought of as the absence of responsibility.  In this respect, no one is free.  Everyone is responsible for and to someone else.  There is, however, a freedom that comes from accepting personal responsibility for oneself and one’s sphere of influence.

When you blame no one else for the challenges you face, when you realize that where you stand today is the result of all your past decisions and indecision, you look to the true source of any difficulties.  It is never the undefined “they.”  It is always the ever present “I.”

Realizing this is the true source of your freedom.  Instead of being buffeted to and fro by uncontrollable forces, you accept the power of your own authority.  For good or ill, you are the one in charge of your life.

For the supervisor, this means that, as you seek opportunity, you also take responsibility for all aspects of your duties.  Size up those around you, your superiors, peers, and employees.  If they demonstrate responsibility, learn to depend upon them.  If they don’t, find ways to compensate for their inadequacies.  In the case of your employees, take action as necessary.

In the end, you are the only one responsible for your success or failure.  If something goes wrong, there is always more you could have done.  In the case of the truly unexpected event, it’s not so much what went wrong as how you respond to it.  Instead of blaming circumstances or others, take responsibility to make things right.  By accepting this degree of personal responsibility, you free yourself from the unpredictability of life and those around you.

The Will to Lead

Taking personal responsibility equips you to assume a leadership role.  But the will to lead is a far cry from being willing to lead.  A good number of people are willing to accept positions of leadership.  But accepting and exercising leadership are two very different matters.

Having the will to lead implies a commitment to face whatever challenges may present themselves.  Simply put, it’s the will to make things happen.  Consider this example.

Bob was the front desk manager of an older hotel.  Hospitality was his profession, but running was his passion.  Each day at lunchtime, regardless of the weather, he took a five-mile run.  After running he used the employee locker room to change and shower before returning to work.

The poor sanitation and maintenance of the locker rooms disgusted Bob, but for a long time he said nothing.  Finally, he had had enough and announced at a staff meeting that the employees deserved better and that he was going to petition the General Manager to clean and fix up the locker rooms.

One of the other supervisors commented that it would be a waste of time and that they would quickly return to their former condition.  He said that the employees didn’t care and wouldn’t keep them up.  Bob responded that it didn’t matter whether the employees cared or not – he did!

Over the next few weeks with the General Manager’s blessing, Bob organized the maintenance and housekeeping staffs to scrape and repaint walls, strip and refinish the floor, replace broken and unserviceable lockers, and improve the lighting.  Then he got the General Manager to assign different departments the rotating duty of keeping the locker rooms clean.  Finally, he checked them daily for several months to ensure that they were being properly maintained.

The end result was improved employee morale and a changed attitude about their locker rooms.  Employees did care – they just needed someone to lead the way and to overcome the erroneous notion that they didn’t.  They needed Bob’s “will to make things happen.”

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners, and Emerging 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!

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Make It Sparkle!

Monday, November 9th, 2009

When one considers all of the things that go into making a club distinctive and appealing to its members, one of the most visible is its cleanliness.  Whether a club has its own housekeeping staff or contracts with a cleaning service, cleanliness is an essential element of a quality club operation.  As with any other aspect of quality, standards must be defined and ensured.

The following list includes some of the essential areas that must be monitored for a high level of cleanliness:

Entryways are one of the most visible areas of the club through which every member and guest will pass and often make the first impression of any visit to the club.  Sidewalks and pavers must be constantly blown or swept.  Cigarette butts must be policed continually; trash or butt cans must be cleaned and emptied frequently.  The entry door must be appealing.  Smudges and handprints on glass doors or sidelight windows are unsightly and require constant wiping.  The doorsill or plate has edges and grooves that collect dirt and debris and is often overlooked.  Entry walk-off mats need to be removed and cleaned daily.

Restrooms are areas where members expect the highest level of sanitation and cleanliness.  They are used constantly and need constant attention.  Sinks and counters need to be wiped down.  Mirrors get spattered and must be cleaned.  Trash cans, particularly on busy occasions, can overflow with hand towels and waste.  Supplies must be checked and replenished as usage levels dictate.

Dining Rooms and Bars, because of the food and beverages served, must be kept clean and “appetizing” at all times.  Trash cans must be emptied frequently, wiped down, and sanitized to avoid offensive odors.  Carpets around tables and chairs receive spills and dropped food items.  They must be vacuumed thoroughly on a daily basis and shampooed with some frequency.  The furniture itself must be cleaned daily to prevent food buildup.  Young children can make a mess of highchairs.  These must be cleaned and sanitized after each use.  Menu covers can quickly get smudged and grimy and should be cleaned or replaced often.

Lobby or Seating Areas often have large overstuffed furniture.  These should be vacuumed daily, particularly the cushions which collect dust and debris, under cushions, and along raised seams.  Tables and bookshelves need to be dusted daily.

Picture Frames, Paintings, and Window Molding need frequent dusting and are often overlooked, particularly if high on a wall.

Windows allow light to enter and Mirrors reflect that light.  Often one doesn’t notice how dirty they can get until light hits them in a certain way and this will most certainly to be noticed by members and guests.

quote-call-outs1-3High Ceilings, Chandeliers, and Ceiling Fans give dramatic effect, but are the perfect place for cobwebs and dust to collect.  Inspecting with a keen eye and the use of a telescoping duster should be a daily habit, particularly in food service areas.

Verandahs and Porches require the same discipline, but even greater vigilance given their exposure to the elements and outdoor bugs and spiders.

While not as visible, Sanitation is of even greater importance given the health and hygiene implications.  A recent television report claimed that tests had shown that the handles on grocery carts harbored more germs than toilet seats.  While clubs don’t use grocery carts, the undeniable implication of this story is the near universal transmission of germs by people’s hands (and this takes on even greater importance in light of the current Swine Flue pandemic).  A further story had a doctor saying that the most effective habit in avoiding the flu was constant hand washing.

These two stories combined point out the necessity of using disinfectant cleaners on any surface touched by human hand.  Some surfaces that readily come to mind are door knobs and handles, banisters and railings, flush handles on toilets, sink handles, golf car steering wheels, armrests on chairs, bar and table surfaces, water fountains, ice machines, dish or glass washers, or any other surface or place frequented by members, guests, and employees – particularly those employees who handle food and drink.

Paying attention to these issues of cleanliness and sanitation will go a long way in creating the very real impression of a quality club operation.  While the housekeeping staff or contractor is charged with the tasks of cleanliness and sanitation, it is still the managers’ responsibility to establish the standard and to ensure it is met.  Making all employees aware of the need for a clean and sanitized operation, and providing the necessary tools and training for each department to clean whenever there is spare or down time, will ensure that everyone recognizes the shared responsibility of keeping your club clean.

And giving it that extra sparkle will help your operation and reputation shine!

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!

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Guiding Principles and Operating Standards

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Back in June I blogged about a Culture of Service and the need for constantly reinforced organizational values.  Among those values I suggested the need for principles and standards to guide the enterprise.  Here’s one attempt to define the underlying values of an organization:

GUIDING PRINCIPLES: Principles that guide the conduct of our business!

  • Proactive leadership with service-based philosophy. Our leadership is active and engaged, while strictly adhering to service-based leadership principles (per Leadership on the Line).
  • Forward-thinking, professional expertise. Our professional knowledge should not only be up-to-date, but should be constantly looking ahead for cutting edge concepts and practices.
  • Proven management and operating systems. We utilize proven management practices and operating systems to efficiently organize and operate our club.
  • Sound planning and effective implementation. All of our projects and tasks must be planned thoroughly and implemented completely.
  • Innovative programs, continually reviewed. We offer innovative programs and we continually review them to make improvements.
  • A commitment to staff development and empowerment through formal, ongoing training. We operate in a detail intensive business and can only achieve excellence by thorough training and retraining.  Employees must be empowered to succeed and to solve member/guest issues whenever encountered.

OPERATING STANDARDS: Standards that form the basis for our operations!

  • Our vision and goals are articulated.  Our Club Strategic Plan lays out the long term goals for the operation.  Club Annual Goals are prepared as guides and targets for accomplishment.  We put them in writing to formally commit ourselves to their accomplishment.
  • We are uncompromising in our commitment to excellence, quality, and service.  To serve the highest echelons of our community, we have to set and commit to the highest standards.
  • Authority and responsibility are assigned and accountability assured.  Managers are assigned both the authority and the responsibility to direct their areas of the operation according to our highest standards.  These individuals are held accountable for their results.
  • We embrace innovation, initiative, and change while rejecting the status quo.  We seek continual improvement in all aspects of our operations.
  • Standards are defined, operations are detailed in written policy and procedure, and we seek continual improvement of products, services, programs, and operating systems.  Written standards (or the expected outcome of our “moments of truth”) for our products and services are detailed in written policies and procedures.  We seek continual improvement in these.
  • Member/guest issues are resolved politely and promptly to their complete satisfaction by our empowered employees.  No explanation needed.
  • Constant communications and feedback enhances operations and service, while problems and complaints are viewed as opportunities to improve.  We can never communicate too much or too well.  Informed employees are better employees.  Problems brought to our attention allow us to focus on solutions.
  • We benchmark revenues and sales mixes to evaluate members’ response to products, services, and programs, and we benchmark expenses, inventories, and processes to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness.  We must pay close attention to what our members are telling us by their spending habits.  Benchmarking and analyzing expenses, inventories, and processes help us be more efficient.
  • We ensure clean, safe, well-maintained facilities and equipment while safeguarding club assets.  A good bottom line is only one measure of our effectiveness; we must also take care of all club facilities and safeguard their assets.
  • We acknowledge each operation as a team of dedicated individuals working toward common goals and we recognize the ultimate value of people in everything we do.  While each employee has his or her own duties and responsibilities, every member of our staff is important and works toward the common goal of understanding and exceeding the expectations of our members and guests.  Ultimately our business is about people and they must be valued and respected wherever and whenever encountered.

By themselves such statements have little value.  But by the  consistent example of management and the constant reinforcement to all employees these values are elevated to an animating spirit that permeates the organization.

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!

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