Archive for July, 2011

Time Management Disciplines

Monday, July 25th, 2011

In the often hectic environment of club management, managers must use their limited time efficiently to be effective.  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 disciplines 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.
  • 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.”

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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Get Your Employees to Think Like the General Manager

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Imagine a club operation where all the employees think like the General Manager.  Imagine what the operation would be like when 100% of the staff is focused on the details of the operation.  Imagine the impact on the bottom line if the entire management and service team are dedicated to maximizing revenues and controlling costs.

Most club managers would scoff and say that such an operation can never exist – that it’s as unlikely as Mideast peace.  Yet the path to that dream is based on one simple premise – getting all employees to view their club through the eyes of the General Manager – that is to think and act like the General Manager in all they do.

Since the “dream” is to get employees to think and act like the General Manager, they must be trained intensively to understand the full dimensions of their jobs, including the nuances of service as well as the techniques of their position.  They must understand how their daily functioning impacts and impresses members; that they must think outside the limits of their job descriptions to recognize that service entails an all-encompassing responsibility regardless of position or function.  They must know that they can take the initiative to solve problems knowing that they’ll have the support of their leaders.

The military has long recognized the importance of soldiers taking the initiative to exploit battlefield opportunities.  In the flux of combat, commanders know that their initial orders cannot cover all possibilities.  To overcome this deficiency and to imbue their fighters with the confidence to act as the situation dictates, the military includes a statement of “the commander’s intent” in its field orders.

Professor Milan Vego of the U.S. Naval War College says, “The main purpose of the intent is to provide a framework for freedom to act.”  He goes on to say, “The intent should allow the subordinate . . . to exercise the highest degree of initiative in case the original order no longer applies or unexpected opportunities arise.”

In the highly fluid world of club operations, managers can take a lesson from the military and ensure that their employees fully understand their “intent” – the desired outcome in all service situations.  The way to do it is to empower your employees.  Willing, committed, and empowered employees will make a world of difference in delivering remarkable service levels to your members.  Recalling the words of John Tschohl, founder of the Service Quality Institute, “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader.  Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”

But just how do you go about empowering employees?  Management consultant Susan M. Heathfield in an article on the principles of employee empowerment listed the following:

  • Value your people
  • Share your vision
  • Share your goals
  • Trust you people
  • Provide guidelines and information for empowered behavior
  • Provide frequent feedback
  • Focus on problem solution; not placing blame
  • Recognize and reward empowered behavior

In a white paper entitled Employee Empowerment this author laid out the necessities for empowerment:

First and foremost, strong leadership is an absolute necessity.  Leaders must:

  • Be open with their employees.
  • Be trusting and trusted.
  • Be secure in themselves, their position, and their knowledge; not threatened by knowledgeable employees or those who show initiative.
  • Be willing to share praise and shoulder blame.
  • Be good communicators.
  • Place a positive emphasis on problem discovery and solution.
  • Allow their employees to demonstrate initiative and innovation, while giving them the “freedom to fail” without repercussions.

Secondly, the necessary disciplines and systems must be established to continually review work processes while involving employees.  It’s also important that procedures be in place to keep the General Manager and other department heads fully informed of any resulting changes.

Next, the club must be committed to and deliver extensive, ongoing training to its employees.  Untrained employees cause confusion and the resulting chaos will drive good employees away.  Employees must also be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions.  This recognition will further cement the partnership.

Lastly, employees must respect their leaders and willingly follow them.  They will only do this when they see their leaders’ passion for excellence and personal commitment to success.  There can be no substitute for this example.

The dream of employees thinking and acting like the General Manager is one that can be realized, but only through a commitment to employee empowerment and all that it entails.  When employees understand their “manager’s intent” in all situations and know that the exercise of initiative will be valued and supported, the dream can become a reality.

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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Engaging Members with Confidence

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Most club employees will interact with members on a regular basis as part of their jobs.  There a number of things they must do to ensure that they engage members properly and successfully:

  • Be Prepared.  No matter what their job they must be prepared to meet, greet, and serve members professionally and efficiently.  This requires that they be prepared for each and every encounter with members.  For food servers this means that they know and efficiently execute all requirements of their positions and that they are thoroughly familiar with all food service techniques, as well as the food and beverages the club serves.
  • Mental Mise en Place.  Mise en place is a French phrase defined as “everything in place.”  The phrase is used in a culinary sense to refer to organizing and arranging all ingredients that a cook will require to prepare menu items.  In a broader sense it can be taken to mean that all food service employees, both front and back of house, have done all the work necessary to be ready to prepare and serve food.  But being prepared mentally is just as important as gathering all ingredients and completing all sidework.  Mental mise en place means that servers are familiar with all food and beverage products the club offers and have the right attitude and enthusiasm to deliver high levels of service to members.
  • Smile and Desire to Help.  A winning smile and  desire to help are bedrock requirements of service.
  • Names and Preferences.  As we have said repeatedly, knowing members’ names and dining preferences is a major reason people join clubs.  As the theme song for the hit sitcom Cheers said, “A place where everybody knows your name.”
  • Stand Erect.  Posture and body language say a lot about employee confidence and service attitude.  When interacting with members, they must stand confidently erect with head held high.  Providing quality service is something they should be proud to do.
  • Be Confident.  Members are not impressed by retiring, servile (submissive, subservient, fawning, obsequious, toadying [look these words up in the dictionary]) people.  They’d much rather interact with confident and competent individuals who take professional pride in what they do.
  • Make and Keep Eye Contact.  Servers must make and keep eye contact while speaking with members.  They are not impressed by shy, timid, and insecure employees.
  • Speak Slowly, Distinctly, and Confidently.  When speaking with members, particularly when reciting daily specials, servers must speak slowly, distinctly, and with confidence.  While they may refer to notes, they should not read them verbatim.  By spending some time rehearsing the particulars of each special, they can describe them confidently while making eye contact with everyone at the table.  Speaking too fast is a clear sign of nervousness and will often require members to ask servers to repeat what was said because they didn’t understand.
  • Gauge Level of Engagement.  Servers should always take their cue from members as to how much engagement they want.  Servers should never presume familiarity no matter how often they’ve served a particular member.
  • Demonstrate Knowledge and Competency.  When servers demonstrate both knowledge and competence in all they do, they favorably impress those with whom they interact.  This is true not only at the club, but also in life.

How club staff engages with members will determine the quality of service and members’ attitudes about the club and the service they receive.

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!

How Secure is Your Club?

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Security is the overall responsibility of the club General Manager, but is usually delegated to department heads in various areas of the operation.  These individuals have close contact with and daily supervision of their areas and are in the best position to ensure their security.

Areas of Specific Concern

The following areas, because of the value of items maintained therein, should have assigned responsibility for security and written opening and closing procedures to ensure that they are properly monitored or secured at all times.

Retail Shops and Storage Areas.  Retail shops have large, expensive, and desirable inventories and should be closely controlled.  Closing employees must be trained and held accountable for properly securing the retail and storage areas.  Because of the value of the inventory, retail outlets will normally have security systems to include door contacts, motion sensors, and video cameras.

Food Storerooms and Walk-ins & Alcoholic Beverage Storage.  The same applies to any areas that contain food or alcoholic beverage stocks.

Kitchens & Bars.  Kitchens and bars not only have stocks of food and beverage, but also valuable equipment and supplies.  Also, they are among the last of club facilities to close for business.  Assigning responsibility and accountability for security of these areas is of paramount concern.

Cart Barn.  The cart barn or storage area contains high value equipment and supplies and is usually open later than the golf shop.  Often, line employees are left to close up without management supervision.

Bag Storage.  In some cases members have thousands of dollars invested in their golf clubs and bag.  Further, the club charges an annual fee for storing the members clubs on the premises.  Theft of members’ equipment is extremely embarrassing to the club and warrants extra efforts to protect the members’ investment.

Pools.  Swimming pools represent both a security and a safety hazard.  While there is some danger of theft of pool equipment and seating, the larger concern is of unauthorized use and vandalism.

Golf Course Maintenance Shop.  The Golf Course Maintenance facility is filled with high-priced equipment.  Add to this its usually remote (and often concealed) location, and it can be a tempting target for thieves.  Having an appropriate and monitored security system is essential to protect the club’s large investment here.

Summary

The effort of all security practices and devices should be the prevention of loss and the safety of members, guests, and employees.  While well-designed security systems can go a long way to limit the club’s risk, it is for naught if employees are not properly trained to operate the system, do not have assigned accountability for security matters, and are not vigilant regarding security matters.  In the final analysis, technology can be a great aid to ensuring security, but ultimately the security of a club rests upon the interest and vigilance of its management.

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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