Archive for February, 2013

Safety Matters – The Heimlich Maneuver

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Choking often occurs in the pleasantest surroundings – enjoying Father’s Day dinner, talking with friends over coffee and cookies, or cheering at a ball game while munching pop-corn – all of which can happen in a food service environment.  Choking, respiratory distress and oxygen lack can quickly ensue if a small object, such as a piece of food or the tab of a pop can, becomes lodged in the throat (windpipe), partially or totally cutting off air to the lungs.

Usually a good strong cough releases whatever has stuck in the throat and the person is left somewhat red-faced, teary-eyed, possibly with a sore throat and perhaps a trifle embarrassed. But sometimes coughing isn’t enough to dislodge the object and death from choking can quickly follow if the airway is completely blocked.

Within minutes (some say as quickly as 40 seconds) the choking person can become unconscious and suffer cardiac arrest. Although the heart may still be resuscitated, the person may be left with mild to severe neurological damage. Brain damage from lack of oxygen will follow in four to six minutes if the airway remains completely obstructed.  Survival depends on immediate first aid to get oxygen to the brain.

Recognition of choking is the key to saving a life.  A large proportion of choking deaths occur because – prompted by good manners and social conditioning – the choking person seeks privacy while trying to clear the airway.  A choking person needs immediate first aid and should never leave a room where others are present.  If the person does leave, the potential rescuer should follow to give first aid if necessary.  If the choking person can still breathe and make sounds, leave him or her alone and encourage vigorous coughing to expel the object.  If the person cannot speak, has a weak cough, bluish face or finds it hard to breathe, try the Heimlich maneuver, which will often clear the obstruction with three to four thrusts.

Emergency Health Services should be summoned if a choking person can’t speak, is making a high-pitched wheezing noise and most urgently if the person becomes unconscious. Dial 911 immediately for emergency aid if a choking person loses consciousness.

Basic steps used in the Heimlich maneuver

Before performing any lifesaving technique on a conscious person, the rescuer must obtain consent.  Ask the victim: “Are you choking?” Once consent (a nod will do) is received, the Heimlich maneuver can be performed while the choking person is standing or seated.

The four basic Heimlich steps used to clear the airway are:

  1. From behind, place your arms around the victim’s waist.
  2. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side of the fist against the choking person’s abdomen, well below the rib cage and just above the navel.
  3. Grasp your fist with the other hand and press into the victim’s abdomen (just above the navel) with quick upward thrusts.
  4. Repeat thrusts until the object is expelled.

If the airway is not cleared, the choker may become unconscious. If this happens, try to make the person’s fall to the ground as gentle as possible to prevent injury, especially to the head.  An ambulance should have been called since brain and heart damage can quickly follow loss of consciousness.

While awaiting emergency medical help, a trained rescuer can perform the Heimlich technique on an unconscious person who’s placed on his or her back. Although the principle is the same when lying down, the technique varies slightly. The rescuer kneels astride the person and body weight is used to produce quick upward thrusts.

All front of the house food and beverage employees should be taught to recognize the signs of a person choking and how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality 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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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The Need for Etiquette Training

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Thirty-five years in hospitality management have proven to me that etiquette is a basic training requirement for all employees.  To expect that a wide assortment of employees with diverse backgrounds and socio-economic life experiences will have an appropriate understanding of the expected behaviors and decorum for a hospitality operation is unrealistic in the extreme.

So like any other management expectation of its employees, such as dress and grooming standards and the requirements and rules of conduct, etiquette must be taught consistently to all employees.  To ensure this consistency, several years ago I created a Power Point presentation that presented and discussed the concept of good manners under the following six topics:

  • Respect for others, both members and fellow employees.
  • Common courtesies such as attitude, mood, and smiles; using names and titles when addressing customers/guests/members; using please and thank you, yes ma’am and no sir; interrupting personal conversations; stepping aside and holding doors; offering assistance; inappropriate personal habits such as smoking, drinking, eating, and chewing gum in front of customers; and the need to take breaks out of view.
  • Appropriate and inappropriate words and phrases and the need to act naturally and sincerely in all interactions with customers.
  • How body language can convey unintended messages.
  • The importance and impact of tone of voice.
  • Alertness and responsiveness to customers at all times.
  • Focus on the task at hand and satisfying customers.

This Power Point presentation was designed as a basic introduction to appropriate behaviors and decorum, but it was fully expected that managers and supervisors continue to reinforce and expand upon the concepts of etiquette in all they said and did.  Most importantly, etiquette would be continually discussed in Daily Huddle meetings where actual service situations and issues are reviewed.

The end result of basic etiquette training and ongoing discussion of appropriate behaviors and decorum is a staff with a uniform understanding of the finer points of service in all their interactions with customers, guests, and members.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality 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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Establishing Standards

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The owners of any hospitality enterprise are the ones who establish the standards for quality and service.  In the case of member-owned clubs, it is the governing Board that has this responsibility.  The problem for board members, though, and sometimes owners, is that seldom do these individuals have the in-depth knowledge or experience of hospitality operations to do this effectively.

So in reality it is the General Manager who, in consultation with the owners or Board members, determines the desired quality and sets the standards.  This is challenging in three ways.  First, owners or board members may have difficulty articulating their quality and service desires since the perception of quality is the culmination of a great number of operating details.  Second, each owner or board member has his or her own expectations for quality, thereby making for an imprecise common standard.  Third, in the case of clubs, Boards change over time and the changing agenda of new Boards may require changes in priorities and allocation of resources, which may ultimately impact standards.

Given these realities it is essential for the General Manager to “manage” the process by establishing standards of quality and service for the operation based on his or her best professional judgment and querying owners and the board members periodically to ensure expectations are being met.

The common wisdom in our industry is that the higher the standards of quality and service desired, the greater the cost of operations—most noticeably in payroll cost from higher staffing levels, extended hours of operation, more personal services, and more intensive training.  While these are all contributing factors, there are the operating inefficiencies as a result of weak leadership, poor organization, staff turnover, and inconsistent training that are also significant drivers of higher costs.

A further challenge arises from the need for management to consistently communicate operating standards to employees.  Regardless of age, background, education, experience, training, personality, and habit, all employees must have a common understanding of what they must do in all service situations.  This can come about only through clear standards, policies, and procedures consistently communicated to employees during onboarding and ongoing training.

It is also essential that the training, particularly for values and service standards, be consistent across all operating departments.  It does not speak well for the operation to have the Rooms Manager and Food and Beverage Director teaching and reinforcing different values and standards to their respective staffs.  Ultimately, the only solution is to create a common service standard that is integrated and consistent across all elements of the operation.

Lastly, while Service-Based Leadership focuses largely on providing training, resources, and support for the staff, the concern for staff motivation and morale should not for a moment be mistaken to imply that standards are not demanding, and devotion to those standards are paramount.  Leaders must be fanatical in their focus on the established standards and attention to detail in all areas of the operation.

Also worth reading – Creating Standards, Policies, and Procedures.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality 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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Are You’re Service Apologies at Risk?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

In Service Recovery – The Seven Step Process we outlined a method by which employees can make a gracious and effective recovery from any service failure.  Step 3 of this process is the apology.  As we say, “A sincere apology is absolutely necessary.  We the establishment and you the employee are sorry for any service failure, so we should never be shy about or slow to fully apologize.”

While it never occurred to me that employees should be taught how to apologize, I caught two items this past week – one on television and the other on the Internet – that made me realize that there are “apologies” and then there are “effective apologies.”

Here’s the detail:  Laurie Puhn, a relationship mediator, appeared on a cable news network to critique the recent apology of Steve Jobs for problems with the newest Apple iphone’s signal reception.  In her comments, Ms. Puhn said that there are four elements to an effective apology:

  1. Don’t minimize your failing or error.  Make a big deal out of it – as it is to the unhappy customer/ guest/member.  Say something like, “Mrs. Smith, I’m so sorry our slow service delayed you . . .”
  2. Apologize for the inconvenience caused.  “. . . I realize how much we have inconvenienced you and your guest.”
  3. Offer something to make amends.  “As a further apology, I won’t be charging you for your orders.”
  4. Say that you hope to have the opportunity to re-earn their trust.  “I hope you’ll come back after your tennis match so I can serve you properly.”

A few days later an Internet headline “The Perfect Apology – The ONE Word That Destroys It!” caught my eye.  I followed the link to Kate Nasser’s The People-Skills Coach.  Here’s what she had to say:

“As The People-Skills Coach, I start this post with the assumption that you are willing to take ownership of the impact your actions and words have on others. You are ready to deliver the perfect apology!

Well the perfect apology is found in simple sincerity and the ONE word that destroys it is … IF

  • I am sorry IF I hurt you.  IF?  Do you own it or not?  Do you care to rebuild my trust or not?
  • I am sorry IF that came across as …  IF?  You are aware that it came across badly so why waver?
  • We are sorry IF we have not met your business needs.  IF?   We wouldn’t be discussing it otherwise.

Your intentions don’t matter much if a team member or a customer is offended by what you have said or done. Rebuild the trust with a sincere apology as soon as you are aware of his/her reaction.

 

 

Replace IF with THAT or FOR and see the difference.

  • I am sorry THAT I hurt you.
  • I am sorry FOR the impact this had on you.
  • I am sorry THAT came across as …
  • We are sorry THAT we have not met your business needs. We will …

Why does this little change make a big difference to others? Because it is clear that you are putting their needs ahead of your pride. Simple sincerity makes for the perfect apology.”

It’s clear from these two news items that apologies may not be the simple matter we’d imagine.  When teaching your employees the Service Recovery Process, take a few extra minutes to teach them to make perfect, effective apologies.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality 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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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