Establishing Standards

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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