Archive for February, 2012

Holding Your Team to the Highest Standards – A Manager’s Code of Ethics

Monday, February 27th, 2012

In an ideal world we could trust everyone to do the right things, but such a world does not exist.  The unfortunate fact is that if we don’t train our management team to a common standard of professional behavior, some will transgress.  And this is of primary importance because if we as managers and leaders don’t set an unimpeachable example, we can expect our employees to cut ethical corners as well.

Here is a list of professional expectations for managers and supervisors at all levels of club operations:

  1. As a representative of the club for whom I work, I understand that my actions and behavior, both at and away from work, reflect on the organization that provides my employment.  I will, therefore, do everything in my power to represent them faithfully and professionally in all my dealings with members, guests, employees, vendors, and the community at large.
  2. I will organize the work areas for which I am responsible and thoroughly train the employees I supervise to ensure the most efficient operation with the highest levels of service possible.
  3. I will not use or remove club property for personal use and will protect the assets and resources of the club as if they were my own.  My vigilance and example will ensure the employees I supervise do likewise.
  4. I understand that my leadership and example set the standard for my employees.  I understand that a manager who shirks responsibilities, cuts corners, fails to give an honest time commitment, pilfers food and supplies, fails to secure inventories, or is not personally productive in time or commitment, can expect his or her employees to do the same.
  5. I will not exchange club goods or services for personal favors or services from members, non-members, or vendors.  Further, I will not accept personal favors, gifts, or rebates from vendors in any form.  Such items benefit me at my employer’s expense and are appropriately considered kickbacks.  My only interest is to get the best price for my place of business and I will make every effort to do so by seeking competitive pricing from several vendors.
  6. While I may direct employees’ work, their productive effort and well-being serve the interests of the client or club who employs them.  Therefore, I must work hard to ensure their maximum contribution to the mission and goals of the club.  I can only do this if I value each employee as an individual whose contribution to the collective effort is directly dependent upon my leadership, as well as the tools, training, resources, and support I provide them.
  7. I will never use my position or authority to request or require personal services or favors, sexual or otherwise, from employees.
  8. I will never enter into personal or intimate relations with any employee who works under my direction or is directly or indirectly supervised by me.  Such an inappropriate relationship damages the organization by implications of favoritism and clouded judgment.  Ultimately, it irretrievably harms both my ability to lead and my personal and professional reputation.
  9. While maintaining a positive interest in and influence over the efforts of my employees, I recognize the importance of maintaining a professional distance from them.  I will not socialize or party with those I supervise, except while attending club-sponsored social events or in the furtherance of club business.
  10. Finally, I recognize that my integrity is at the core of my personal and professional standing.  It is the most important ingredient of my leadership and is the foundation for any success I will achieve in my career and life.  I will never be tempted to squander this most precious possession for the sake of expediency or inappropriate gain.

These basic standards should be used to indoctrinate all new members of your management staff.  I personally like to have each manager sign and date a copy that is placed in their personnel file.  I also like to review the Code of Ethics at least annually with all managers.

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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Improve Quality – Lower Costs

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Common wisdom tells us that quality costs more, but according to one of the foremost experts on quality this is not the case.

W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, consultant, lecturer, a man who made significant contributions to Japan’s reputation for high quality products and its rise to an economic power in the latter half of the 20th Century, wrote extensively about how a focus on quality and the use of statistical process control actually reduces costs while providing a number of other benefits. Convincingly, his ideas and methods were proven true by numerous success stories – most dramatically the rise of Japanese manufacturing to world class status after World War II.

On page 3 of his 1982 book, Out of the Crisis, written as he said with the aim of transforming American management, he provides a chart that shows the logic of his methods.

  • When you improve quality,
  • Your costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays and snags, better use of time and materials.
  • This improves productivity,
  • Which drives increased market share with better quality and lower prices,
  • Which allows you to stay in business, and
  • Provide more and more jobs.

He also clearly states that quality is not the job of production (or line) workers, it is the job of management. To this end he stipulates the 14 Points for Management which he describes as the “basis for transformation of American industry.” They are:

  1. “Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service.
  2. “Adopt the new philosophy that comes with the new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. “End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price. Instead minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. “Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. “Institute training on the job. Training must be totally reconstructed. Management needs training to learn about the company, all the way from incoming material to the customer.
  7. “Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. “Break down barriers between departments.
  10. “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. “Eliminate work quotas. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. “Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride in workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Remove barriers that rob people in management of their right to pride in workmanship. This means abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. “Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. “Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.”

While his life’s work was primarily with manufacturing industries, he categorically states that the principles of statistical process control that produce quality in manufacturing and “all that we learned about the 14 points and the diseases of management applies to service organizations.”

Deming goes on to compare and contrast the challenges of manufacturing a product and delivering a service. These are instructive to anyone in service who wants to improve quality. As an example he provides an observation contributed by William J. Latzko, a consultant who works with clients on quality and service:

“One finds in service organizations, as in manufacturing, absence of definite procedures. There is an unstated assumption in most service organizations that the procedures are fully defined and followed. This appears to be so obvious that authors avoid it. Yet in practice this condition is often not met. Few organizations have up-to-date procedures. Consider a manufacturer who has full specifications for making a product, but whose sales department does not have guidelines for how to enter an order. A control on error on placing orders would require procedures for the sales department. I have seen numerous service-oriented operations functioning without them.”

How does a company measure or quantify the cost of confusion, mishandled or incomplete information, time to investigate and correct errors, and customer dissatisfaction? Without well-defined procedures how can a company consistently train its workers to do quality work?

The bottom line is that poor quality and disorganization is a major driver of costs in manufacturing and service organizations. In the service industries an improvement in quality not only lowers costs but also improves service. The combination of lower cost and better service makes the business more competitive and successful in the marketplace – and isn’t this the very job that management is hired to do?

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: Mandatory Club Membership – Strategies

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Mandatory membership is one of the most significant trends in the club industry during the last 15 years.  Mandatory membership is a community structure whereby residential property owners all contribute to the payment of expenses for and have access to recreational facilities associated with the residential community.  Mandatory Membership has significant benefits for the community:

  • Feasibility. Mandatory membership provides a guaranteed source of dues funding, plus additional revenue from owner spending.
  • Affordability of Club Membership. Mandatory membership helps a club keep dues affordable.Fairness. Mandatory membership ensures that all property owners who benefit from the recreational facilities share in their costs.

Property owners in some communities have challenged mandatory membership.  Mandatory membership should be structured to minimize the risk of a challenge and strengthen the club’s position.

  • Relationship Between Club and Community. The relationship between the residential property and the club should be highlighted in the mandatory membership covenant or implementing document.
  • Easement.  Easement language can be incorporated into the mandatory membership covenant to give property owners a real property interest in the club.
  • Grandfathering-In Owners. Success of defending a challenge to mandatory membership is enhanced if current owners are not required to be club members, but their subsequent purchasers would be required to join the club.
  • Approval of Purchasers. There should either be no application approval requirement for property purchasers or there should be a mechanism to allow the selling owner to secure a property sale if a purchaser is rejected.
  • Amendment to Governing Documents. If an amendment to the community governance documents is planned in order to implement mandatory membership, such documents and applicable case law should be reviewed to assess the risk of a challenge to the association’s power to amend the documents.   In some cases, avoiding an amendment would be recommended, in which case,  the community membership may be structured by agreement between the club and the community association without amending the community governance documents.
  • Fairness and High Owner Approval Goal.  It is important for the success of defending a challenge to a mandatory membership program that it be perceived as a fair program, which is desired by a large segment of the community.  A high owner vote approval should be sought.  Property owners who do not use the facilities should pay no more than a fair amount commensurate with the club’s benefit to the owner.  The membership program should include benefits for owners who do not golf or play tennis.

Mandatory membership is one of the most important tools to enhance the viability of a club in a residential community, and is also one of the most controversial both politically and in the courts.  Clubs and communities can structure mandatory membership to reduce the risk of the successful challenge

Glenn A. Gerena

Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at http://www.gtlaw.com/People/GlennAGerena, and read more club related articles by the author at http://www.hospitalitylawcheckin.com.

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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Teaching the Subtleties of Service

Monday, February 6th, 2012

High levels of service in a club environment are so much more than knowing service techniques, smiling, and greeting guests.  To do service well requires people who are sensitive to the needs and desires of others and who understand a wide range of the customs and courtesies of human interaction.  They need to recognize the subtleties of service.  But what do we mean by subtleties?

Dictionary.com defines subtlety as an “acuteness or penetration of mind; delicacy of discrimination; a finely-drawn distinction.” A synonym is nuance which means “a subtle difference or distinction in expression, response, etc.” In other words, subtlety is the awareness and ability to make fine distinctions in how one engages with others or a well-calibrated sense of how to respond to a particular person in a particular situation.

In short, it’s the sense to recognize and understand how to appropriately engage others in a variety of situations and scenarios.

So, as leaders how do we go about teaching our employees the subtleties of service?  It certainly takes more than telling them to smile and be nice to members.  They need to have a basic understanding of the underlying customs and practices of service, manners, and gracious behaviors, as well as an awareness of the signs and signals of unspoken needs.  Not only do they need to know what to do, but they need to have the sensitivity and perceptiveness to recognize members’ needs even before these are expressed.

Such sensitivities improve with knowledge and experience, but unless a new hire naturally possesses these abilities (which experience has shown that few do), club managers have to start somewhere in training employees in the subtleties of service.  Here’s my list of requirements:

  • The club must have well-defined organizational values and a constantly reinforced culture of service.  When employees are immersed in such a culture, service becomes second nature to all.
  • Daily engagement and consistent example of service-based leaders.  Without a appropriate examples of the subtleties of service from club leaders (i.e., all managers), don’t expect employees to possess and provide it.
  • Empowerment training that spells out the limits of employee initiative and discretion in resolving issues and problems.
  • Club etiquette training – employees must understand the appropriate behaviors expected in a club setting.
  • Dining etiquette for servers – the same applies to servers understanding the basic manners and service behaviors expected during dining.
  • Making employees aware of the rules of engagement.  Different members will want to engage differently with employees at different times and in different settings.  Understanding the issues of engagement are critical to service and service delivery.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the mental environments for each area of the club.  Different areas have different mental environments at different times of the day.  Being aware of the concept of mental environment and recognizing member moods and desires is an important part of providing appropriate levels of engagement.
  • Teach service recovery and how to apologize.  This is so basic it hardly needs stating, but experience has shown that a consistent approach must be taught to ensure club employees understand the importance of recovering from bad situations and the need for a sincere “we accept all responsibility” apology.
  • Make sure employees understand the importance of the Three A’s of Service – that is:  “Be Alert, Aware and Anticipate member needs.”

As with everything else demanding quality, service behaviors and delivery must be defined and taught consistently to all employees . . . otherwise how would they know what you and your members expect?

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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