Archive for November, 2013

Tips for Club Operators

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Tip #24 – Real Time Tracking of Revenues and Expenses

If you have bottom line responsibility for your operation or department, your success or failure is entirely up to you.  It is your responsibility to meet your budget, made up of revenues and expenses.  While the accounting department prepares monthly financials so you and your bosses can monitor your performance, why wait until the middle of next month to see how you’re doing?

The simple expediency of tracking your revenues on a daily basis by transferring your daily sales numbers from your POS reports to an Excel spreadsheet will allow you to see if you are on track to meet revenue projections.  Such daily monitoring allows you to intervene to promote sales now instead of when it’s too late.

The same principle applies to your expenses.  Monitoring your payroll and other expenses as you incur them, as if you were writing the checks out of your personal account, allows you to monitor your expenses now, as opposed to later when you’ve missed your budget.

Tip #67 – Digital Camera Helps with Food Presentation Consistency                                                    

One of the three rules of providing consistent food products to members is to ensure uniform plate presentation.  The Chef works hard to prepare tasty, interesting menu offerings.  Part of the appeal of food is how it is plated and served.  Unless all kitchen staff are trained in the proper plate presentation, this important ingredient of high quality food service will be left to chance.

Enter the digital camera.  With the reasonable price and ready availability of digital cameras, it is easy to prepare plate presentation exactly as they should be and then photograph them.  Then print the pictures on photo quality paper with a color printer and display them prominently in the kitchen.

Presto, you now have a visual cue for all staff as to how each menu item should be presented.

Tip #98 – Creating Memories

Most clubs have recognized the value of investing in a quality digital camera to record activities and events for their club newsletter.  Members always enjoy seeing pictures of themselves and the photos of fun events encourage those who missed a good time to sign up early for the next event.

Why not carry the digital memories a step further?  For less than $150 you can purchase a good-sized digital picture frame from Walmart or an electronics store.  You can then save your photos of fun events on a memory stick and set up the digital frame to randomly display great pictures of great events.  Place the digital frame on an easel inside the club’s main entrance, lobby, or dining room foyer and watch your members stop to watch the display.  Usually a well-picked display of 20 pictures is all you need.

Some members will want copies of certain photos and these can be provided to them as an email attachment.  Once you’ve developed a large archive of fun events and continue to take photos routinely of your members enjoying their club, you can easily change out the picture display on a weekly basis.  The photos can also be used to develop an annual yearbook of club events that is given or sold to members.  Lastly, the photos can be used by the membership director to help sell prospects on the fun times to be had as a member of your club.

Tip #101 − Mastering the ABCs

As children we all mastered our ABCs, the basic building blocks of language and learning.  The term “ABCs” has long since come to signify the basics of any endeavor.

All of us who work in our industry recognize that the profession is made up of mastering the many basics of hospitality and service.  Even in an enterprise as seemingly complex as food service, it is the execution of the basics that underpin all our efforts and ultimately leads to success.

Of all the things I’ve learned in my hospitality career spanning over 35 years, the ultimate discipline of success is the necessity of executing the basics well.  Jim Collins’ research for his groundbreaking book, Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, pointed undeniably to “disciplined people taking disciplined action” as one of the prerequisites to any successful enterprise.

While there are many innovative, cutting-edge ideas and technologies to improve the products, service, and performance of your operation, you must build these enhancements onto a foundation of the basics.

With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to leave you with what I consider the most basic, yet ultimate tip – that as you contemplate the many ways to add service and value to your club, you must always focus your attention and that of your entire staff on the ABCs, that is . . .

Accomplish the Basics Consistently

Excerpted from 101 Tips to Improve Hospitality Operations, Hospitality Resources International

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 hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Why is Training so Challenging for Clubs?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Recognizing that we work in a detail-intensive business, most club managers understand that comprehensive and systematic training for both subordinate managers and line employees is an imperative.  Yet, the sad fact is that training is an afterthought in many operations, left up to department heads or front line supervisors to conceive, design, and implement.

Why is this so often the case?  I offer the following as some of the factors that make training so difficult for all of us:

  • First, is the standalone nature of most clubs.  Busy managers have little time and, in some cases, lack the necessary skill set to design a comprehensive training curriculum for employees.
  • Complicating this is the fact that club operations span many disciplines, including accounting, human resources, marketing, member relations, golf operations, food and beverage, aquatics, golf course maintenance, and other areas. Few, managers have the detailed knowledge of all these disciplines to design the well-integrated systems, policies, and procedures that cover all areas of the operation.
  • The general manager and management staff have not formally defined the standards of quality and service they wish to provide the membership. Without formal standards, how do they determine their training needs?
  • Given the many positions inherent in club operations, there is the need to develop a curriculum for each position to provide employees the appropriate skill set.  This is a daunting task, though focusing on critical member-facing positions is the first step.
  • In addition to individual skills training, employees must be trained in the club culture and values; laws affecting the workplace; employee work rules and policies; liability abatement training such as safety, sanitation, and public health; human resource issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, conduct, and performance criteria; accounting policies and procedures relating to their work such as point of sale training, inventory procedures, and timekeeping; and all the club’s various organizational systems that allow it to function efficiently.
  • Managers at all levels must be trained in a variety of disciplines including leadership; club culture and values; various laws affecting club operations; club systems; accounting standards, policies, and procedures; human resource standards, policies, and procedures — to name a few.
  • Few clubs have a comprehensive training plan that guides subordinate managers in training standards, responsibilities, budgets, resources, and necessary curricula.
  • There is no easy way for the general manager to monitor training execution due to the lack in most clubs of training administration software and training benchmarks. Short of attending each training session, how does the GM know who is training and meeting the ongoing requirements of a multi-faceted curriculum.
  • In times of tight budgets (and when is it ever not such a time?), the cost of every hour of training is multiplied by the number of employees being trained and their hourly wage — and this can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
  • The management staff does not have the will to make it happen given all the other management requirements, demands on their time, and competing priorities.
  • The club’s board, while demanding high service levels, does not understand the direct link between formal training and quality service or, even more importantly, the challenging task of designing and implementing an effective club-wide training program. In many cases, the general manager has not developed the training goals, assessments, plan, proposed budget, and “sold” the board on its necessity.

The bottom line on all these issues is that unless focused on and attended to religiously, they fall through the cracks.  While the training requirements of a well-run operation seem overwhelming, they can be effectively implemented with leadership, the “will to make it happen,” organizational structure, and management discipline.  Without these, quality and high levels of performance will be forever be an elusive dream.

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 hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Who’s Sandbagging their Budgets?

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Most of us in the golf business are familiar with the term “sandbagging.”  Wikipedia gives the following definition:

“Sandbagging (golfing), a player deliberately plays poorly until establishing a handicap and then raises his money bets, using the established handicap to unfairly win.”

But the term also has a budgeting connotation, no doubt lifted from the golfing world, as can be seen from an alternative definition:

 “Sandbagging (budgeting), a manager deliberately overstates financial requirements with the intent of coming in under-budget, thus being praised (or rewarded).”

It is certainly natural for any manager to “pad” his budget to give himself some wiggle room in a process that is fraught with uncertainty.  I’ve done it and I’m sure everyone else has as well.

But in these tough economic times, it’s important that we try to create as “honest” budgets as we can.  One way to promote this honesty is to benchmark actual to budget performance by department on an annual basis.  The controller simply needs to track annual variances line by line and compare them year-to-year.  When this is done it’s pretty easy to spot the “sandbaggers.”

Benchmarking budgets and using Tools to Beat Budget are two ways to improve the honesty and accuracy of budgeting.  Instead of paying out incentives to managers who beat budget, it may be better to reward a combination of beating budget and budget accuracy.  This will go a long way toward taking sandbagging out of the game.

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 hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!