Archive for June, 2011

Showtime

Monday, June 27th, 2011

“Show Time” – The time at which a catered event is to start, or when guests start arriving for the event.  More importantly, from our perspective – The time when all set up must be completed and staff standing tall ready to “rock and roll.”

A great deal of planning and organization goes into the preparation for each and every catered event at our club.  The Clubhouse Manager or Catering Manager has already met with the event host, selected or designed menus, reserved space for the event, ensured that all necessary equipment, supplies, and beverages are on hand to support the event, and scheduled the staff necessary to carry it off.

The Chef and his staff have planned the production of all food ensuring sufficient stock is on hand to meet the needs of the event.  The food has been carefully prepared with great attention given to event timing ensuring that food is ready to be served at its peak of flavor and freshness.

Guests are assembled, some coming many miles to attend the event.  The host is understandably nervous that all go according to plan.  Much planning and expense are on the line.  Everything is ready.

How do we make sure we meet everyone’s expectations?  Basically, there are four things we must do to meet the expectations of our members and guest.

  • We must be organized in both our planning and execution of the event.
  • We must be well-trained to deliver high quality service in all aspects of the event.
  • We must work as a team. Kitchen and service staff must understand their responsibilities, execute them efficiently, be prepared for the unexpected, and help each other out whenever necessary.
  • We must have positive attitudes and a strong commitment to service. We should smile easily and often, and look for ways to be helpful to members, guests, and fellow employees.

The tables are set, the room decorated and lights dimmed, the food ready to go, the music just right, the guests are expectant, looking forward to the occasion.  The staff is prepared – standing by, ready to give remarkable service.  The doors open.  Here they come.  It’s Showtime!

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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The Shift Log

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Because clubs are open 6 or 7 days a week for extended hours, it is a challenge for supervisors to consistently communicate important information to employees working varying shifts.  In addition, things that happen on one shift frequently need to be passed on to those working later shifts.  Too often someone doesn’t get the word resulting in service breakdowns, missed instructions, and the perception that service staffs don’t know what they’re doing.

All of this can be avoided by using the simple expediency of shift logs.  These are nothing more than a notebook where the supervisor or employees record information that must be passed on to each other and to later shifts.  Entries can include:

  • Information or instructions from the supervisor that all staff need to know, such as a new policy or procedure, announcement of a departmental meeting or training session, or reminders to close out all POS tickets before leaving.
  • Information that needs to be passed from one shift to another, such as Mr. Smith’s party coming in tonight has ordered a special birthday cake, or Mrs. Jones called to say she left her umbrella on her golf cart and will be by to pick it up tonight, or John can’t work his Friday night shift and can anyone cover for him.
  • Information that employees need to pass on to their supervisor, such as Dr. Williams stopped by to say that his is now expecting 18 people for his private dinner tomorrow night, or Mary called in sick, or a package was delivered for the supervisor and is behind the pro shop counter.

The key to success in using a shift log rests on the following practices:

  • The log book must always be kept in a designated location where the supervisor and all employees can find it quickly and easily.
  • The supervisor and all employees must read and initial all entries in the log since they last worked.
  • While the log is not an appropriate place to complain about management, members or other employees, problems encountered by employees should be recorded so that the supervisor can contact upset members, discuss matters with involved employees; take care of any unresolved issues, and design policies and procedures to systematically address problems. Often, it is a great source for issues that need to be discussed at departmental or shift meetings.

Formatting the shift log is simple.  Enter today’s date on the first page.  The supervisor and employees make any necessary entries on the page.  The next day, the first person to open the log book draws a line across the page under the last entry from the previous day and enters the new day’s date.  After reading all entries since last working, the supervisor and employees initial each day’s entries to indicate that they have read the material.  This pattern is repeated until the notebook is filled and replaced by a new book.

Shift logs work best in departments with extended hours and multiple employee shifts.  Such areas in club operations would include:

  • Food and beverage operations
  • Pro shop or retail operations
  • Cart barn operations
  • Lodging front desks
  • Concierge desks
  • Housekeeping and maintenance departments

Supervisors who institute shift logs will find departmental communications to be easier, more thorough, and more consistent.  It also is an excellent way to encourage employees to suggest ideas to improve operations (though such entries will quickly dry up if the supervisor never discusses or implements these ideas).   Given that communications is such a critical element of leadership and setting up a shift log is so easy, supervisors should waste no time in instituting this best practice in their operations.  They’ll find it a great tool for better communications, improved leadership, and the efficiency of their 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!

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Directing Employees

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Directing employees is one of the hardest and most time-consuming things a leader does, particularly in a labor-intensive business.  It is also the most important.  Unless you work totally alone and have no contact with others, in which case you wouldn’t be a leader, you must develop the leadership skills to work with and direct others.

A number of years ago I hired a brilliant young chef to run the food service of a club I managed.  The members had been clamoring for high-quality, innovative food, so when the opportunity presented itself, I brought Tony on board.

True to expectations Tony produced awesome food.  The members were blown away and the rave reviews poured in.  While I was thrilled with his food, it wasn’t long before I sensed that all was not right in the kitchen.

The Dining Room Manager came to me several times to tell me that Tony repeatedly blew up at the wait staff.  It finally got so bad that waiters were afraid to go into the kitchen.  There was even a case of his blowing up at a housekeeper who was getting her employee meal.  I also noticed that the kitchen seemed to be a revolving door for cooks and dishwashers.

I finally called one of the recently resigned cooks to find out what was going on.  He said that Tony never trained his kitchen staff and rarely communicated his goals or requirements.  He also said Tony was a hard worker, but was often moody and didn’t seem to trust his employees.  As a result, Tony felt he had to be in the kitchen at all hours.  His temper became shorter and shorter as he understandably began to burn out.  While I repeatedly encouraged him to take time off and to soften his approach to his employees, he was clearly unreceptive to counsel.

Less than six months after he was hired, Tony suddenly quit.  The job had taken a tremendous toll on him physically and emotionally.  While Tony’s cooking was spectacular, his leadership and interpersonal skills were sadly lacking.  He had alienated other departments and his own staff was happy to see him go.

In many ways Tony’s story was a tragedy.  He was incredibly talented, yet had a serious overarching flaw.  He could not direct or even get along with others.  Repeated counseling could not help him see the light.  I could only hope that someday his disappointments would cause him to examine this failing.

People are complex and unique.  They have their own ideas, experiences, and problems.  As a leader you have to get them to accept the goals, standards, procedures, and culture of the company.  If you do nothing else well as a leader, you must manage people well.  The following ideas will help you to direct your employees:

  • Telling an employee to do something is only the first and smallest part of the job.  Constantly remind your employees of the important things.  What is seen as important to you becomes important to them.  Never give the excuse that you told an employee to do something – check to ensure that it was done and done right.  Check and double-check.
  • When you tell employees to do something, set a deadline or give priorities, so they have some sense of how important or urgent the matter is.  If you have a deadline or require a response, say so.
  • Get out and move about.  If you are in your office all day, you are not doing your job.  You should be “out and about” 60-70% of your time – checking and double-checking.  Being actively involved in your operation sends a powerful message to employees.  It says you care about what is going on.
  • Explain the “big picture” to your employees.  They need to understand how their efforts contribute to the larger goals of the company.
  • Never raise your voice or lose control when directing employees.
  • You may correct employees’ work or behavior, but never be demeaning or criticize them personally.  Employees’ self-esteem is essential to their success and yours.
  • Never correct employees before you have determined all the facts.  Don’t allow your biases and assumptions to blind you to other perspectives.  Consult with other leaders to gain fresh perspectives on particularly difficult situations.
  • Rules and standards should be spelled out in detail, talked about often, and enforced.  If you don’t enforce them, you might as well not have them.  Nobody likes to play the bad guy, but it’s preferable to being wishy-washy.  If your employees know where you stand and you’re consistent, there is no confusion.

While you will undoubtedly have some problem employees whose dedication, skills, attitude, or enthusiasm are lacking, these must be treated as the exception.  If you have many such employees, it may be a reflection of your leadership.

Ed Rehkopf, excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, 2nd ed.

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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Guest Blog: The Future of Club Programming

Monday, June 6th, 2011

There is a tremendous population shift underway in our country with the various age and cultural demographic changes that will modify the way we do business in our private clubs well into the future. Studies have shown that our 65 year old age group will double from 40 million to 89 million and from 13 percent of the population to 20 percent by the year 2050. While this seems like a long way off, the impact that this means to our economic outlook, and how we do business in our clubs will be impacting and must be dealt with today.

A recent study from Stanford University on the longevity of Americans living longer in our society states that Americans will continue to “Age Up” for decades into the future. With medicine and wellness practices, Americans are living much longer. With this change, there will be a transformation of organizational psychology and club programming concepts that will have a major impact not only with government policies and programs like Social Security benefits and Medicare but us as club managers and CEOs of our organizations with how we conduct business.

The realization of what this means to the business of private clubs is significant. Our entire market is changing clubs across the country. As we experience continued growth of our “Waiting to Resign Lists” with members wanting to get out of the club, for various reasons, we must begin to pay attention to how we deal with this problem. As we all know, our clubs operate with dues as our primary source of income. Without this revenue stream, we will not be able to operate. Last year alone, over 400 clubs closed their doors for various reasons. This is an alarming rate of closures in which we need to be concerned about.

The aging demographics of our membership coupled with the current global financial crisis, along with our member’s investment portfolios shrinking by 25 percent or more is causing a major transformation of the wealth distribution in our clubs. The way we are conducting business today will be outdated in the very near future. Our senior members are living longer and are spending more time at our clubs, but they are spending less money.

Several clubs have discounted their dues for seniors in an attempt to keep this age group active at their clubs and off the waiting to resign list. The reasoning is that this membership group has already paid their dues so to speak, but as younger members soon realize that the senior group is using the club more than they are, there begins to be resentment among the membership creating different factions. The younger members are feeling like they are paying the way for the senior member.

We need to ask ourselves if discounting the dues for senior members is the business practice or not or are there other measures we can take to better deal with this concern. What programs do you have in place to meet the needs and demands of this aging group? Are these programs sufficient and do they add value to the lives of our senior members, giving them a reason to continue being members of your club? A term “Productive Aging” is becoming the buzz word amongst our aging members 50 years and older.

Many clubs are being proactive and are already planning for the next few decades and how to better serve their aging membership, while still recruiting younger members, which are the future of our clubs. There is no doubt that we have age and cultural differences in our clubs. Our senior members do not desire to dine or be near the younger members and their young children, so we must develop seating areas or dedicate specific dining rooms in our clubs to accommodate this need.

What other programs are we developing to better serve our aging membership? Below are several programming ideas for you to consider implementing in your clubs for this age group.

  • Investment groups made up of members
  • Book clubs – many clubs are creating their own personal libraries that are situated in unused areas of their clubs, which has become popular with members
  • Wine clubs
  • Travel clubs
  • Hiking or outdoor recreation and fitness programs
  • Cooking classes – heart healthy cuisine
  • Organic gardening – several clubs are providing areas on club grounds for those members to have their own personal garden that they maintain
  • Self-defense training – how to avoid an attack in the mall parking lot (hopefully not your club parking lot)
  • Writing and poetry groups
  • Member focus groups – to share cultural and local lore
  • Hobbies and craft groups
  • Health, nutrition and wellness classes
  • Classes on how to retrofit your home to prepare for aging
  • Outdoor stargazing events
  • Fly fishing classes
  • Cycling groups
  • Card groups (besides bridge)
  • Storytelling and oral history presentations – lecture series
  • Mental exercise groups – crossword puzzle competitions
  • Philanthropy groups – big brother and big sister groups
  • Community outreach groups
  • Volunteer groups – to clean up neighborhoods a side streets and waterways around your club
  • Club historical preservation societies to gather your club’s history / archives
  • Technology – computer classes
  • Mystery theme dinners
  • Comedy night
  • Movie nights for families
  • Pet grooming classes
  • Pet obedience training (along with member’s and their kids as well)
  • Care giver programs
  • Club concierge services
  • Car wash – on site to wash, wax and detail members cars
  • Relationship building programs – (matching single members together)
  • Etiquette and formal dining classes
  • Retrofit your club with handicap accessibility
  • Sport shooting – clays events
  • Kayak and canoe clubs
  • Bus trips to local museums, art exhibits and sporting activities
  • Coffee shops – Wi-Fi Internet access in your clubs
  • Music lessons – how many members would like to learn how to play the piano but feel they are too old to learn but are capable?
  • Discovery nature center in your club
  • Nature walks on club property – with signs marking plants and trees along with a nature walk book to identify foliage
  • Natural healing and wellness classes
  • Business center to include access to a club computer, fax machine, photo copy machine and so forth
  • Genealogy research classes
  • Recipe book – your club members personal recipes
  • Club history book
  • Club member personal history book – let your members tell their stories
  • Shopping trips
  • Photography clubs

Adding these types of programs for your entire membership to enjoy will support their need to remain as members ensuring the future of your club.

Don Vance, CCM, Master Club Advisors, Club Leadership Digest

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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