Archive for December, 2012

The Foundation of Service

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We have spoken before of the price of poor service, but the question arises for those intent upon establishing a strong and consistent culture of service at their clubs, “What are the underlying necessities or foundation of service?”

In The Quest for Remarkable Service we made the following service comparisons:

  • Service is a state of mind, defined and reinforced by a Club’s culture.
  • Consistent Service is a state of mind plus thorough organization and systemic training.
  • Remarkable Service is a state of mind plus organization and systemic training, with well-hired, trained, and empowered employees responding to accountable, service-based leaders – all participating in a rigorous discipline of personalized service and continual product, service, and process improvement.

In this hierarchy of service quality are the following necessary foundational elements:

Leadership.  Nothing happens without strong, consistent club-wide leadership.  The mass of detail and nuanced complexities of providing service to a large group of members, each with their own expectations, can only be achieved by Service-Based Leaders who know they must provide all the tools, training, resources, as well as daily example, engagement, and support to the line employees who deliver the service.

Beyond this service commitment of the club’s leaders, it takes a strong and persistent “will to make it happen” from leaders at all levels.  Like pushing on the giant flywheel of Jim Collins’ good to great companies, “it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all,” and requires “persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time” to build momentum and achieve breakthrough.  This persistence to push in a consistent direction can only come from the club’s leadership.

Values.  Recognizing that service is, first and foremost, an attitude or state of mind, it takes well-defined organizational values and a culture of service that is consistently and continually reinforced in both word and deed by the club’s leadership team.

But leaders must realize that the development of this culture is not some organic entity that arises on its own or from the inherent values of a diverse workforce.  To ensure it meets the needs and desires of the club’s membership, it must be defined and modeled by management.  When employees see their leaders living the values they preach and supporting the employees in their daily efforts, service becomes second nature to all.

Organization.  A major obstacle to providing service is poor organization.  Without ongoing efforts to set up the workplace for efficiency and to seek out and remove obstacles to the smooth functioning of all areas of the club, line employees quickly become frustrated and disheartened.  When unaddressed this frustration quickly turns to cynicism and bad attitudes – both of which defeat any efforts to provide service.

Poor organization is not found just in the physical layout of club facilities, but also includes misguided or ever changing policies and procedures, lack of standards and discipline in fellow workers, and weak or non-existent training.  To be efficient, management and staff must be constantly focused on how to do things better and with less effort and frustration.  This focus is commonly called Continual Process Improvement and should be an integral part of the club’s organizational values.

Training.  But having a club with strong leadership, a well-defined culture of service, and efficient organization is of limited value if those qualities cannot be consistently and continually passed on to the line employees who must deliver service on a daily basis.  This requires a well-planned and executed training system that delivers all essential values, knowledge, information, and service techniques to employees in manageable doses on a continuing basis.  Without thorough and consistent training, service execution is dependent upon oral history and the attitudes, abilities, and personalities of individual employees.  Some will do well, most won’t!

Personalized Service.  Once the foregoing foundational elements of service have been firmly established, everything is in place to take service to the next level – rendering personalized service to individual members.  While such service is often the stated intent of club managers, it’s unrealistic to expect that your service teams will be able to focus on such a detailed endeavor while struggling under weak leadership with poorly-defined values, disorganized operations, and lack of training.

Take Away.  Just as in the construction of a dramatically appealing clubhouse, the finished details are built upon the foundational elements of the structure.  The analogy for how to provide high levels of service could not be more appropriate – first you must build the foundation!

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 Enemies of Effective Leadership

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Leadership is never so important as it is in times of difficulty and stress.  For many of us in the club business facing declining memberships and club use, belt-tightening budgets, and the insistent clamor for high quality service, that time is now.  And while we all like to think of ourselves as effective leaders, it may be a good time for a brief leadership reality check.

The following list includes some things that can destroy anyone’s effectiveness as a leader:

Lack of Values.  In order to lead others, you must have a grounding or center of moral and ethical values that you hold to regardless of situation.  This center is who you truly are and will see you through any difficulty.  With a strong center, your integrity is intact and you can be trusted by your constituencies to do the right thing.  A person without bedrock values is frequently seen as an opportunist – doing this or that or whatever serves the interests of the moment.

Lack of Integrity.  Your integrity is dependent upon the values you hold and your steadfastness in maintaining those values in the face of challenge and adversity.  Integrity also means that you are whole, sound, and true.  Lacking this, you cannot be counted on by others.

Personal Insecurity.  Insecure people are fearful, defensive, and sometimes paranoid.  They assume the worst and look for every piece of evidence to support their fears.  Consciously or unconsciously their fearful actions damage their relationships with others.  Being fearful, they do not trust.  In not trusting they are quick to blame and act defensively, which causes offense to others.  Their words and actions destroy the very trust that underlies any meaningful relationship.

Lack of Vision.  Without an understanding of where you’re taking your followers, they will not be inclined to join you on your journey.

Poor Communicator.  Even with a profound vision, you must be able to communicate it to your followers.  They want to know where they are going and how they will get there.  But you don’t necessarily have to be a great orator to communicate effectively – you just have to communicate often and thoroughly.

Large Ego.  History is littered with failed hero cults – Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, James Jones, and Nicolae CeauÅŸescu, to name a few.  As Jim Collins points out in Good to Great there is a negative correlation of “celebrity” CEOs and great companies.  Every great company he identified in his book had Level 5 leadership – the combination of personal humility and overwhelming drive for the company’s success, not one’s own.

Lack of Competence.  Your followers will never trust you if you can’t demonstrate competence in your field of endeavor.  Without trust in your abilities, they won’t follow you.  Some “leaders” have been able to mask their incompetence with bluff, arrogance, and braggadocio and gain a following, but in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Lack of Initiative.  Leading isn’t just about talking, it’s about doing.  Ultimately, you will be judged as a leader by what you successfully accomplish.  Initiative is taking your thoughts and words into the realm of action.

Lack of Organization.  Leadership is a group activity.  You are required to motivate your followers to accomplish some goal or mission.  To do this effectively you have to be able to organize their efforts.  Your followers will lose heart if your efforts and theirs are chaotic.

Lack of Standards.  Just as you have values, a leader must have standards – for herself as well as her followers.  An ill-disciplined army can win a battle but lose the war for failing to maintain basic standards of human behavior.  As a leader, you will be judged by the actions of your followers.  Therefore, they must understand the high standards that you have and hold dear.

Lack of Personal Accountability.  Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  Every true leader must be prepared to accept the responsibility he assumes.  Dodging responsibility will quickly cost the trust of your followers.  Be a “stand up” person and recognize that not everything you do will be right.  Your followers will readily understand that if you simply hold yourself to the same high standards you expect of them.

Lack of Confidence.  You must be confident in your vision and your cause for people to willingly follow you.  Most people are looking for guidance and direction and will embrace your well-thought out course of action when you demonstrate your confidence in it.

Failure to Value Followers.  You cannot “use” people.  They will gladly follow a trusted leader with a compelling vision, but will become cynical and alienated when they know they are being manipulated for your purposes alone.

Lack of Ongoing Involvement.  Accomplishing a challenging task requires persistence and effort over the long haul.  An effective leader sees the task through to successful conclusion, whereas the dreamer or visionary can envision the result but has no conception of how to accomplish it.  As a leader, you must remain engaged in your enterprise until you’ve accomplished your mission.  If your followers sense your detachment from the effort you’ve led them to, they will lose interest and their willing efforts will rapidly erode.

Lack of Emotional Maturity.  To win the hearts and minds of your followers you must have the emotional maturity to build solid, enduring relationships with all manner of people.  As a result you can’t be impulsive, rash, or overly-emotional in your dealings with others.  Likewise, you must maintain a leadership presence by avoiding childish actions and immature reactions to others around you.

Effective leadership is never easy, particularly in changing times and circumstances, but the best leaders seem to rise from the challenge of the moment.  In the words of one hospitality executive, “The longer I’m in this business, the more I realize it’s all about leadership.”  With this thought in mind put your time and emphasis where it will have the greatest impact and do the most good.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook

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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Suggestive Selling – Alcoholic Beverages

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Are your servers simply order takers?  What can you do to help them sell more?  The simple, yet highly effective way is to teach them to suggestive sell.  The more your service team knows about the club’s food and beverages, the better able they will be to make dining suggestions to members and guests.  Alcoholic beverages present a wide variety of upselling opportunities:

Know the Club’s Premium Brands. One of the easiest ways to increase the average check is to suggest premium brands of alcohol.  Not only must they know and correctly pronounce their names, but they should know what makes them special.  Things they need to know include: the age such as a 12-year old scotch or fine bourbon, proprietary flavorings as in single malt scotches or the 10 ingredients in Bombay Sapphire gin, or quality of production and distillation such as in Belvedere vodka’s being distilled four times.

Beers.  For many years, there was a great consolidation of local and regional breweries that resulted in a handful of dominant companies offering very similar products.  In recent years, though, there has been an explosion of small, niche breweries offering well-crafted, artisanal beers of unique tastes.  The more your servers know about beer varieties such as, stout, ales, lagers, and pilsners, and the specific brands you carry, either bottled or on tap, the better able they are to suggest a particular beer with a particular meal.  Often, a member or guest will ask what beers you carry.  This is the perfect opportunity to ask them whether they like a lightly flavored or more robust beer, and then suggest one of the club’s premium brands.  The key to success is knowledge.  Get more ideas by talking to your bartender, searching online for information, or buying any one of a number of recently published beer guides.

Wines.  Wines present an almost infinite body of knowledge to truly master, but servers can start with the basics such as grape varieties, countries and locales of origin, wine terminology, and common wine descriptors.  As with any other body of knowledge, start small, learn the basics, and learn something new every day or week.  In time they’ll be a fount of knowledge and wine information.

Wine Pairings.  Certain wines go best with different foods.  The basic rules are: Sparkling wine and Champagne – appetizers, wild game, caviar, roasted almonds, oysters, and fruit; Rosé wine – ham, turkey, sausages, and pork; White wine – seafood, poultry, shellfish, veal, cream sauces, mild cheeses, and light dishes such as salads; Medium-bodied red wine – pork, wild game, lamb, blackened fish or poultry, pâté, mild cheeses; Full-bodied red wine – steak, roast beef, blackened red meat, heavier dishes, cheeses from mild to sharp; Dessert wines – fruits, pastries, simple desserts; Dry sherry – appetizers and soups; Port and sweet sherry – after dinner and with cheeses.

Liqueurs. The terms cordial and liqueur are synonymous. There are many opportunities to upsell with liqueurs.  Cordials are alcoholic beverages prepared by mixing and redistilling various spirits (brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, or other spirits) with certain flavoring materials, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, seeds, barks, roots, peels, berries, juices, or other natural flavoring substances.  Cordials differ from all other spirits because they must contain at least 2½ % sugar by weight.   Most cordials contain up to 35% of a sweetening agent.  Liqueurs can be consumed straight up, “on the rocks,” diluted with water, mixed with sparkling water as a spritzer, or served over ice cream.  Make sure your team knows the major flavorings of each.  Here’s a free guide to the most common proprietary liqueurs.

Cognac, Brandies, Sipping Whiskeys, Ports.  All of these make superb after dinner drinks.  These are best suggested when it’s apparent that the diners are going to linger at the table over coffee or conversation.

Make sure your service team knows what brands you carry and have them learn as much as they can about each.  The more they learn, the more confident they’ll be to sell, and the higher your average check will be.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go

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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Using Notable Quotables to Train and Remind

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

There are many things to teach your staff – both managers and line employees . . . and there are many ways to do it.  Given the high cost and difficulty of bringing in employees just for training sessions, I’ve always been an advocate of what I call on-the-go training – training material formatted in short doses that can be pulled out any time there are spare moments in a shift.

I am also a big believer in constant reinforcement of key training material such as organizational values and service ethic.  Another major training objective is to get all the management team on the same page, particularly when it comes to leadership and club culture.  This is accomplished by ongoing discussion of key objectives, values, leadership techniques, and the nuances of service and service delivery.  Such discussions routinely take place at weekly manager meetings, during reviews of assigned leadership and management reading materials, during departmental and pre-shift meetings, and by posting quotes on bulletin boards in employee areas of the club.

This last technique is particularly cost-effective in that it costs little to find, format, print out, and post your favorite quotes for all employees to see.  You can also use the quotes as envelope stuffers for employee paychecks (though this is not as effective if you offer direct deposit for your employees).

The beauty of quotes is that they carry the gravitas of the well-known person or expert quoted and are usually short and highly memorable.  Even in a meeting setting they provide food for thought and can be used to start discussions to explore the deeper meanings and importance of the topic.

In an effort to make it easy for club managers to harness the power of notable quotes, Club Resources International has compiled over 400 quotes, categorized under the headings of leadership, management disciplines, service, and values – and they are absolutely FREE.  You can find them on the website under Training Resources>Notable Quotables or here.

You can then click on the major topic folder you want.  When you do this, you’ll find an easy reference index to locate just the quote you want.  Then click on the desired quote file, save it to your hard disk, print it out, and used it to train and reinforce.  Nothing could be simpler or more effective for NO COST!

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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