Archive for June, 2013

One Very Important Missed Report

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Some time back I wrote an article entitled Report This!, making the case that regular reports on various aspects of club operations was an excellent way of keeping the general manager informed with a minimum investment of his or her time.  At the same time the routine preparation of such reports by club department heads kept them better attuned to the vagaries of their departmental performance.

In listing those reports that I, as a GM, liked to see, I missed one of major importance – the Top and Bottom Spenders at the club.  This report is obviously important because it keeps the general manager informed of member usage of club facilities.  In the case of the top spenders, they deserve some thanks and special attention from club management and staff – say in the form of a rewards program as part of the club’s member relationship management plan, comped or discounted products or services, or, at minimum, the recognition by the GM of their contribution to the club’s success by letter or phone.  The big spenders must be known to all staff and be given special attention by all.

On the other hand, the bottom spenders are important to know and track because they are the members most at risk of leaving the club.  Knowing who they are should set off alarm bells in the membership office, as well as the GM’s, and warrant immediate contact to determine the cause of their limited use of the club.  In the case of the unhappy or dissatisfied member, it gives the club the opportunity to apologize and make things right.  There may be other, more innocuous, reasons for a member’s declining use of the club facilities, but in any case the reason is important for the general manager to know.

Of all the reports mentioned in my earlier article, the Top and Bottom Spenders report is the easiest to generate as it is a standard report within club management systems.  Typically, the general manager can set parameters like the top and bottom percentages reported and the period of the report.  But regardless of desired parameters, this is one of the most important reports to examine on a regular basis.

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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What You Owe Your Boss – Loyalty and Support

Monday, June 17th, 2013

In Leadership on the Line, we talked about managing your boss with a “State of the Union” report, timely and accurate information about your plans and projects, as well as the progress of your initiatives.  In doing these things you keep your boss informed and assured that you are properly attending to the needs and requirements of your position.  The ultimate purpose of managing your boss is to make her job easier, allowing her to focus on the other pressing issues of her position.  Beyond this, what do you “owe” your boss?  Most importantly you owe her your undivided loyalty and complete support.

Hopefully your boss is an active and engaged leader who has a plan of improvement and works diligently toward its implementation.  In the process of implementing her agenda she will develop plans and programs and issue directives for their accomplishment.  It is your responsibility and duty, then, to wholeheartedly support her agenda in its thorough implementation within your area of the operation.

But what if you have doubts about the wisdom or efficacy of her program?  In this case you as a leader have a duty to fully and frankly express your reservations to her.  However, this should always be done in private in a calm and deliberate way.  Your purpose here is to convince, not attack or criticize.  Clearly, rationally, and with suggestions for alternative courses of action, you must express your reservations and persuade your boss of other means to her desired ends.

If, after exhausting your powers of persuasion, your boss is unmoved and insists upon her original instructions, you have but two choices-to completely support and devote yourself 100% to accomplishing her directives or, if sufficiently opposed, to resign your position since you are unable to fully support her initiatives.

Why is the choice so stark?  Is there no alternative between these two extremes?  No!  Either you fully support and implement her program without grumbling, complaining, or hesitation-as if the initiative was your own-or you step aside because you can’t.

The most damaging thing you can do is to undermine your boss’ efforts by publicly criticizing her plan or by failing to actively and aggressively implement it.  Both send a clear message to your employees that you neither agree with nor support the plan.  This will quickly set up divided loyalties in the workforce.  Its impact on employees will be similar to the well-known phenomenon of parents sending mixed behavioral messages to their children.

Even worse is to pretend to support your boss’ agenda while secretly acting to sabotage it.  This passive-aggressive behavior is unfair to the person who hired you and is damaging to the organization.  Your employees will readily understand your lack of commitment and ultimately your boss will recognize it too.  In this instance, your boss’ only recourse is to discharge you-and you will certainly deserve it.

The bottom line is that you have a responsibility to fully support and show loyalty to your boss.  If, for whatever reason, you have come to lack respect for your boss, it’s time for you to move on.

Still unconvinced?  For one moment put yourself in the position of the boss-how long could you tolerate a subordinate manager who, either actively or passively, worked at cross purposes to your plans?

Ed Rehkopf, Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Clarity Publications, 2009

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 Distinction between Empowerment and Discretion

Monday, June 10th, 2013

In discussing the need for written standards, policies, and procedures, we quoted Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt who said that “Discretion is the enemy of order, standardization, and quality.”  We have also talked about empowered employees being encouraged to think, act, and make decisions on their own based on guidance provided by the company.  We offer the following to clarify what might seem a contradiction.

An important distinction to make for employees is that there is a hierarchy of rules to guide their empowered actions.

1.      Legal and liability issues take precedence in that no employee may violate the law.  This applies to many employment and labor laws such as Equal Employment Opportunity, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and others.

2.      For private clubs and some non-profit organizations there are the policies based upon the by-laws and rules of the club or on tax laws.  Once again, no employee is authorized to modify or violate these rules which constitute the organizational or tax foundation of the enterprise.

3.      Beyond these are the organizational values that define the company’s culture of service and standards of behavior.  These may not be altered at the employee’s “discretion.”

4.      Next are the company’s operational policies relating to its operating systems, such as human resources, accounting and financial management, and departmental operations.

5.      Last are the operational procedures that describe how the routine things are done.

Since it’s impossible to foresee every operational contingency, employees are authorized to alter procedures, even operational policies, when common sense and necessity dictate so long as their actions are in alignment with the law, club or non-profit rules, and the organization’s values.  When they do this, they should alert their leaders of their decisions and actions.  It may well be that the employee’s on-the-spot decision will point the way to improved performance.  This is what makes employee empowerment so powerful.  The people who do the work and interface directly with the customers are in a position to influence and improve the company’s policies and procedures.

If leaders feel that an employee’s action was inappropriate, this should be communicated in a supportive and non-critical way to the work team, as well as to the individual employee, so that all can learn from the experience.

Ed Rehkopf, Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Clarity Publications, 2009

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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Service Recovery – The Seven Step Process

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Despite our best efforts to efficiently organize our operation and train employees, situations will inevitably arise when customers/guests/members are dissatisfied or unhappy with service and/or products offered.  Whether we feel the problem is legitimate or unwarranted is of no consequence.  The customer is not satisfied and our only concern is changing the outcome by making a speedy and gracious recovery to his or her complete satisfaction.

To better aid employees in making a gracious recovery, we have developed the following Seven Step Process, which can be divided into two distinct phases.  Steps 1 through 4 constitute The On-the-Spot Fix, while steps 5 through 7 make up The Long-Term Repair aimed at correcting the underlying cause of the service failure.

Therefore, when a customer approaches you with a complaint or concern, here’s what you do:

The On-the-Spot Fix

1.   Focus – stop what you’re doing and focus entirely on the customer and what he is saying.

2.   Listen – carefully to fully understand the nature of the problem.  Recognize that the underlying problem is not always the one that is being brought to your attention; for example, the complaint may be about the food, but the real issue is slow service.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines or recognize the issue is larger or maybe different than the one being complained about.

3.   Apologize – a sincere apology is absolutely necessary.  We (the establishment) and you (personally) are sorry for any service failure, so we should never be shy about or slow to fully apologize.  After apologizing, tell the customer what you are going to do to correct the problem.  If the customer still seems dissatisfied, enquire what we might do to make it right.

4.   Make It Right – quickly, efficiently, and discreetly (to avoid any possible embarrassment to the customer).

The Long-Term Repair

5.   Assurance – after the situation has been made right, approach the customer (when convenient) and let him know that the matter will be addressed formally by management.

6.   Notification – if the failure is serious enough or the customer does not seem fully satisfied, notify your supervisor, department head, or manager on duty so she can also approach the individual to discuss the situation and apologize.

7.   Report – When you have time, but no later than the end of your shift, fill out a Service Issue Resolution, HRI Form 180, describing the problem, your assessment of the underlying cause, your efforts to recover, and the member’s mood after recovery.  This form is used to more formally address the problem and, in the case of a private club, gives the General Manager an opportunity to call the member after the fact to apologize again and discuss the issue further.

Unfortunately in our business, there will always be mistakes and failures, but what has gone wrong is done and is not nearly as important as what we do next.  Managers should discuss recovery techniques with staff frequently and share stories of both successful and unsuccessful recoveries so that everyone can learn from our experiences.

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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