Archive for January, 2011

So You Want Your Club to Be a Service Leader

Monday, January 31st, 2011

What’s the first step?  Teaching employees service skills, techniques, and attitudes?  Nope!  This approach will have only a limited, short-term effect on some of your staff . . . and even these will give up pretty soon if they don’t see a consistent service ethic and example from their leaders.

Becoming a service leader requires a long-term, sustained effort from a management team committed to a consistent service-based approach to leading their service teams.  The ultimate goal of such an approach is to empower employees to think and act like managers — to take the initiative and ownership to resolve service issues wherever encountered with the sure knowledge of their leaders’ backing and support.

Simply put, the requirements and priorities for becoming a service leader are:

  • Establishing a consistent, club-wide service-based leadership style with its emphasis on serving employees by providing all the necessary tools, training, resources, support, and example to provide high levels of service.
  • Establishing a consistent, club-wide culture of service continually reinforced by all managers.
  • Creating a highly organized operation where expectations and standards are understood by all, and managers and employees are held strictly accountable for conduct and performance.
  • Ensuring that managers at all levels of the organization understand and consistently employ the many disciplines and best practices of operating a well-organized club.  This requires that all managers are trained to common standards and performance expectations.
  • Hiring well and training thoroughly so that the club employs the best people with the right personalities for the positions they hold and that every employee is trained in the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the jobs they perform.
  • Providing personalized service to your members, requiring that you and your employees know what your members want and their names, interests, and preferences.  This requires the system and organization to discover, organize, and disseminate such information to your employees so they can use it in their daily interactions with members.
  • Empowering your employees to take the initiative, make decisions, and take actions to “wow” members and resolve any and all service issues.  Such empowerment requires that employees are well-trained not just in the how’s of service, but also the why’s.  Finally, you must carefully define the parameters of employee empowerment and decision-making and create a supportive environment that never blames employees for their decisions and actions, only looks for better ways of doing things.

As can be seen from the above requirements, becoming a service leader is not an easy undertaking or one to be approached lightly.  On the contrary, it requires the management “will to make it happen” and the service-based leadership to create the environment that naturally promotes service.

But regardless of the effort involved, the bottom line is, as John Tschohl, president of the Service Quality Institute, says — “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader.”

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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Various Training Initiatives

Monday, January 24th, 2011

One of the key tenets of teaching is that different people learn best in different ways — some by seeing, some by hearing, and still others by doing.  Another key point in learning (and marketing) is that most people need to be exposed to information a number of times before it really registers with them — hence the need for reinforcement of key material.  Lastly, given the immense amount of information club employees need to master, there is an ongoing need to continually remind employees of basic workplace knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  The problem for club managers is the sheer size and scope of undertaking a thorough training regimen for employees.

Recognizing this challenge, here are some tools and ideas that will help teach and reinforce key information:

  • Checklists.  Checklists provide a reminder to employees of tasks to be completed during a work shift or on a periodic basis.  They also ensure accountability for completion of key tasks by employee signature on the checklist.  Examples are Opening Checklists, Closing Checklists, and Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cleaning Checklists.
  • The Daily Tip are daily pointers or quotes to reinforce service principles and techniques.  These brief reminders are printed on 8½ by 11 inch card stock, placed in document protectors, and posted by time clocks, on bulletin boards, or any other prominent location.
  • Training on the Go materials.  These are short training topics on a variety of subjects.  Printed out on 8½ by 11 inch card stock and placed in document protectors, they can be pulled out by managers to review with employees whenever a brief period of time opens up, during pre-shift meetings, and other opportunities when employees gather.  Club Resources International has prepared Training on the Go topics for Food and Beverage, Organizational Values, Human Resources, Leadership, Management Disciplines, and Safety.
  • The Year of . . . — taking a cue from the United Nations and other large organizations, select an important topic or task and focus the entire club staff on it for a year.  Focusing on a topic for a full year takes some effort and should be reserved for major campaigns of strategic value for the club.  Examples might include The Year of Personalized Service, The Year of Formal Training, or The Year of Improved Club Safety.
  • The Weekly Focus.  There are fifty-two weeks in a year and literally hundreds of details and tasks in any service business.  By focusing on one specific detail or task for a week, such as suggestive selling or club policies, management can give detailed standards, instruction, and emphasis for a particular item.  When the employee moves on to a new topic the following week, they will still retain much of the previous week’s emphasis.
  • The Monthly Focus.  This is the same as the Weekly Focus, but stresses a larger and more important issue to the success of the business, such as employee courtesy or getting orders from the kitchen to the table quickly.

The end result of these initiatives is to bring club values, organization, discipline, and execution to an enhanced state.  Over time, the focus and repetition will institutionalize key success factors.

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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Culinary R&D

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Almost all clubs except those in the Sunbelt and tropics have a winter-related slow season.  For most clubs that season falls after the end-of-year holidays and continues for several months until the weather improves and outdoor activities pick up.

While seasonal employees have usually been laid off for this period, the kitchen will have full time, year-round employees who may be underemployed.  Sure, this is the time to rest, recuperate, and take well-earned vacations, but I would like to suggest another activity to recharge the kitchen staff — Culinary R&D.  Since many clubs have a fairly static, or at least predictable, dining fare, I would encourage the executive chef and sous chefs to use the down time to enhance their kitchen’s skill level by taking on some creative tasks they may not have the time for during the more hectic pace of the busy seasons.

Depending on the club’s usual menus and kitchen skills, the amount of available time, as well as cost considerations, I would propose the chefs explore some of the following skills:

  • Baking unusual artisanal breads, and making made-from-scratch desserts such as tortes, pies, or cakes.  Another thought would be to create fresh made gourmet pizzas.
  • Pickling and preserving.  These skills and techniques offer limitless opportunities to create out-of-the-ordinary offerings for club members.
  • Exploring the art of charcuterie — again, the opportunities to make some really interesting creations is immense.
  • Focusing on a specific cuisine such as Asian Fusion, Indian, Caribbean, Middle-Eastern, or vegetarian, or even regional American cuisines such as Cajun, Low Country, or Tex-Mex.  The skills learned offer some new possibilities during the busy season.
  • Making homemade ice creams, ices, and puddings.  With today’s emphasis on comfort foods, members will appreciate the creativity and effort.
  • Preparing unique, interesting, and even exotic canapés and appetizers.  These may become regulars on your menus or offered for high-end catered events.
  • Exploring the products offered by local artisanal cheese makers or the many uses of yoghurt in various world cuisines.

Some of the skills mentioned here were more prevalent in restaurants and homes of the past but were overtaken by industrial production, time and labor consciousness, and menu standardization.  But if you watch any of the TV food channels you will find that more and more restaurants are making their own items from scratch on premises.

In investing in culinary R&D, the general manager and executive chef can expect some level of higher food costs during this off-season period of experimentation, but the additional skills mastered by the kitchen staff will enhance the club’s capabilities, reinvigorate the culinary curiosity and interest of the staff, and may even add some new and unusual offerings for members.  The additional cost of ingredients, and maybe even specialty cookware and utensils, may be better justified if some of the experimental efforts are used for “wow” factor offerings in the lounge on typically slow nights.

When well-conceived, planned, and executed, the club can build some slow season specialty nights into the club’s calendar of events that may attract additional dining business during the traditionally slow period.

The end result of off-season culinary experimentation is a more talented, versatile, and reinvigorated kitchen team, a more creative year-round food service, and appreciative members who recognizes the off-season efforts of the club’s culinary team to give them the very best.

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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Details and Quality

Monday, January 10th, 2011

How often have we said that clubs are a detail-intensive business?  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of details that must be attended to daily to provide the high levels of quality that members expect.  It’s also easily understood that the general manager and management team are incapable of checking each detail every day.  So what are the necessary strategies to achieve the requisite levels of quality?

  • Ultimately a robust program of employee empowerment will encourage employees to think like the general manager, be aware of the manifold necessities of quality and service, be ever alert for problems and issues, and demonstrate the ownership to correct problems wherever and whenever they find them.
  • Thorough communication of values, standards, and expectations to employees so they understand what, why, and how it must be done.
  • Comprehensive initial and ongoing training to ensure employees have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and appropriate attitudes to render consistently high quality service.
  • Detailed organizational systems and processes to allow the operation to function efficiently.  When things happen consistently and routinely in all areas of the club, employees have the time and the inclination to focus on quality.  When everything is screwed up all the time, employees will find it difficult to care.
  • Consistent service-based leadership which requires managers to provide employees with all the necessary tools, training, resources, and ongoing support to do their jobs efficiently and effortlessly.  The underlying premise of such leadership is the ultimate value of people in any endeavor and the need to serve all constituencies, but particularly the employees who render service directly to members.  Such a leadership approach creates and sustains the strong bonds of personal pride and team effort.

While creating the necessary club environment to provide each of the above requirements is neither rapidly nor easily accomplished, it ultimately is the ONLY way to build enduring quality in a service 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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New Year’s Resolution: Better Time Management

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Another New Year and time for my annual resolution to be more effective in the often hectic environment of club management.  First and foremost we must understand that time management is not about managing time.  It’s about identifying time-wasting personal habits and changing them to be more efficient.  Here are some ideas that will help:

  • Ensure your department or section is well-organized with detailed operating systems, standards, policies, and procedures.  Without these, employees “freelance,” requiring continual supervision and  intervention to do things properly.  This will eat up more  of your time than anything else.
  • Plan ahead.  Always be looking ahead for upcoming activities, events, projects, and tasks.  Planning is near impossible if a manager always has his head down.  By identifying upcoming tasks, the manager can review what needs to be done to prepare.
  • Make to do lists.  Not only do lists help on a day-by-day basis, they should be made for upcoming events and tasks.
  • Establish priorities and continually review them.
  • Develop routines.  Daily, weekly, and monthly routines help sort out what has to be done and when.
  • Use checklists for routine tasks.  Tasks such as monthly inventories, new hire onboarding, and benchmarking summaries should be detailed on checklists that can be used as necessary.
  • Develop and use meeting disciplines when planning and holding meetings.
  • Delegate routine tasks to properly trained subordinates.
  • Organize work space, files, and records.  An immense amount of time can be wasted by looking for misplaced items such as: personnel files, departmental benchmarks, contact information for frequently contacted individuals, training materials and checklists, and room and space diagrams
  • Use a personal computer to create important information, particularly those items that will be used again and again.  Save and organize these items so they’re easily found.
  • Use a Day-Timer or Personal Digital Assistant to organize contacts, emails, and schedule.
  • Set office hours to avoid excessive interruptions.
  • Set and keep a routine schedule as much as possible.
  • Keep track of those things that waste time.  Review this list periodically and brainstorm ways to avoid “time wasters.”

Just as conservation is the easiest way to reduce energy cost, time management is the easiest way to give yourself more time for all the things you want to do.

Thanks and have a great year!

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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