Archive for March, 2014

The Full Golf Member

Monday, March 31st, 2014

In just four power-packed pages of his essential book, Club “It’s All About Golf” Book, author Mitchell Stump makes an overwhelming case for the value to the club of the full golf member.  Just as powerfully he points out that this premium member is often overlooked by a management staff focused on the larger membership and complexities of other areas of the operation such as food and beverage.

In Romancing the Customer, Maximizing Brand Value through Powerful Relationship Management by Dr. Paul Temporal and Martin Trott, the authors make the obvious point that not all customers are equal and should not be treated equally.  While they don’t advocate slighting less profitable customers, they do stress the absolute importance of taking care of your best customers – in the club’s case the full golf member.  Incidentally, they also say that the rising tide of customer relationship management will raise some of those less profitable customers to the level of best customers – and won’t your Membership Director and General Manager be thrilled when some of your sports or junior members upgrade to full golf memberships or a guest decides to join after experiencing your operation.

So what’s the bottom line on this topic?  Take extra good care of your full golf members – know them like family, greet them like long, lost friends, and treat them like rock stars!

Here some ideas:

  • Identify them – make sure the entire golf staff knows who these members are and recognizes them by name – every time, everywhere.
  • Brainstorm with your golf operations team as to how you can go above and beyond for your full golf members and their guests.  Make a list of the best ideas and implement them.
  • Develop a “wow” factor list for your full golf members and surprise them with over the top service.
  • Review your current operational standards, policies, and procedures to find better ways to “honor” your full golf members with recognition and service.  And oh, by the way, improving your standards will benefit all golfers – possibly a way to increase the number of full golf members.
  • Periodically “walk the path” of your full golf members and guests with an eagle eye to enhance and improve your parking lot, bag drop, pro shop, locker rooms, shoe service, bag storage, detailing of golf carts, practice facility, etc.
  • Remind and reinforce the highest service standards to the golf staff – pro shop and outside and on-course staff.  Pick their brains for ideas to do more and better.
  • Learn as much as you can about your full golf members from beverage preference, favorite clothing brands, favorite colors, shoe, shirt and hat size, NFL team, birthday, anniversary, etc.  Then act on this “intelligence” to do special and personal things for Dr. Smith or Mr. Jones.  Get your staff to report every piece of intelligence they learn from their interactions with full golf members.  Use your computer to Google them – you’ll be surprised how much you can learn on the World Wide Web.
  • Never stop looking for ways to make the full golf member feel as special as he or she is to the club and your golf operation.

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!

Two Critical Areas for Standards, Policies and Procedures

Monday, March 24th, 2014

We have spoken repeatedly about the need for written standards, policies, and procedures in hospitality operations.  Beyond the basic need to define standards and efficiently organize operations, they provide the basis for creating consistent training materials for employees.  Common sense asks how can you begin to properly train your staff without defining the manner in which you conduct your business in all its details?  Following this rationale, every department of the organization should codify how all aspects of the operation are conducted by creating written policies and procedures.

But even more important than better organization and training is the need for written standards, policies, and procedures for all personnel and accounting matters as pointed out in The Quest for Remarkable Service.

“While a hospitality operations should avoid becoming overly bureaucratic, there are clearly areas where the repercussions of not following set policies and procedures present a significant risk.  Two of these are Human Resources and Accounting.  In the former, there are federal and state laws that dictate how employment and personnel matters must be handled and, if not scrupulously followed, they can create significant legal and liability exposure for the organization.  In the latter area where exactness is critical to financial reporting and performance, it is crucial that managers understand and meet their responsibilities in an exact and timely manner.”

In regards to accounting policies and procedures, one of the most frequent findings by auditors when performing annual audits is that a organization does not have written accounting policies and procedures – and often this finding appears year after year.  To help address this shortcoming, Hospitality Resources International has written a series of 175 Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs), along with 47 related forms, which it sells for $495 on a CD.  Each individual file is provided in MS-Word or Excel, allowing for customization by each operation.

HRI also offers a CD with 157 Personnel Standards Policies and Procedures and 45 related forms for $495.  As with the Accounting SPPs, these can be customized by each organization.

For those operations that have neither the time nor expertise to customize the SPPs, HRI offers writing and editing services for $30 per hour.  Most operations using this service find that after purchasing either accounting or personnel CD, they will spend an additional $1,250 to $2,000 for the customization depending upon the extent of the revisions – with the total cost in the range of $1,750 to $2,500 – certainly a small price to pay for professionally written SPPs formalizing your operation’s specific HR or Accounting functions.

Organizations interested in purchasing either CD can view samples of each by following these links:

Sample Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Sample Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Contact us at info@hospitalityresourcesinternational.com to find out more about HRI’s writing/editing services.

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!

It Ain’t the Employees

Monday, March 17th, 2014

If you want to improve quality and service at your operation, don’t start with your line employees.  According to the late W. Edwards Deming, one of the foremost authorities on quality improvement who helped transform Japan into a world-class industrial giant after World War II,

“The worker is not the problem.  The problem is at the top!  Management is the problem!” 

He further emphasizes the point by saying,

“There is much talk about how to get employees involved with quality.  The big problem is how to get management involved.” *

Among Deming’s many observations is that quality is achieved by a complex sequence of (manufacturing or service) processes and it is management that establishes those processes.  Until the barriers to quality inherent in ill-conceived and implemented processes (often created by management without a true understanding of what factors contribute to quality) are removed, the lack of quality or service is only the natural consequence of such poorly-designed, integrated, and applied processes.  Recognizing this, it is clear that quality improvement can come about only through the leadership and direction of management.

So what’s to be done about improving quality?

Leadership.  As usual, it all comes back to leadership – that often ill-defined quality that everyone talks about, but few truly understand.  Let us first of all be clear, leadership is not a position.  A position carries authority and responsibility, but as we say in Leadership on the Line,

“Exercising leadership involves building and sustaining relationships between leader and followers.  Without that bond or connection, there are no willing followers and, therefore, no true leaders.” 

In Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, we go on to say,

“The quality of your leadership is determined by the influence you have with your followers, which, in turn, is established by the quality of your relationships with them – and your relationships are built on a foundation of trust, of which integrity, competency, consistency, and common decency are primary ingredients.”

In speaking on the same topic, Roger Enrico, former Chairman at Pepsico, said,

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

But what are we really talking about when we speak of the ‘soft stuff’?  As we say in The Quest for Remarkable Service,

“In short, it’s the people skills – those aptitudes and abilities used to get the best out of our human assets.  It encompasses all those things we talk about when discussing leadership – the highly nuanced interactions with a diverse workforce that result in motivation, morale, enthusiasm, focus, commitment, productivity, teamwork, organizational cohesiveness, and group success.”

Finally, a prime ingredient of leadership is example.  As Albert Einstein once said,

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Without the disciplined direction and consistent example of management at all levels of the operation, quality and service will remain forever elusive.

Establishing Expectations.  You cannot expect that your line employees with their vastly different backgrounds, education, and life experiences will inherently understand what the quality and service expectations are for your operation.  These must be spelled out in great detail and reinforced continually.  The same is true for your management staff, but with far greater consequences.  Your management team sets the standard and the example for your entire operation.  Without consistent leadership, explicit communication of expectations, and reinforcement of well-defined values, expecting your employees to meet your standards of behavior and service is unrealistic in the extreme.

So the requirements must be to:

  1. Train both managers and employees thoroughly in your Organizational Values and Culture of Service, and
  2. Spell out in detail what your quality and service standards and expectations are for both managers and employees.

Employee Empowerment.  John Tschohl, founder of the Service Quality Institute, says,

“Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”

The major role that leaders make in empowering their employees is to create a culture where employees are valued and recognized as vital resources of the enterprise.  They must also understand that to be successful with employee empowerment, employees must fully sense the company’s commitment to such empowerment; simply saying that employees are empowered, does not make it so.  Leaders at all levels must do more than talk the talk.

While employee empowerment may be seen as a desirable practice by management, it ultimately comes about only with the recognition by employees that they are empowered.  This means that the focus of leaders must not be on what employees are doing to achieve empowerment, but on what they themselves are doing to promote and enable it.

Training.  All of us who work in the service business understand that operations are both people-intensive and detail-intensive.  It takes a lot of employees to provide the requisite levels of service and every aspect of service involves many details.  These two facts make detailed, ongoing training an absolute necessity for any successful operation.  For a list of those topics that must be covered in training for both managers and line employees, see the article entitled Training Requirements in Hospitality Operations.

Recognizing the high cost of training, Hospitality Resources International has created a number of On the Go Training resources for operators.

Your Employees.  How you treat your employees will have a great deal to do with their attitudes and dedication at work.  Read Give Them More Than Just a Paycheck for ways to increase their commitment to their place of employment and the quality of their service to your customers/guests/members.

Bottom Line.  None of the above is rocket science, but it does take a disciplined approach to your work.  At the end of the day, discipline is probably the most important ingredient for any efforts to improve quality and service.  As Jim Collins says in his groundbreaking book Good to Great,

“Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement in these.  It’s really just that simple.”

“A culture of discipline is not just about action.  It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.”

So as you go about making your plans to improve quality and service, remember it starts and ends with your management team.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also train your employees in the finer points of service and your expectations for them, but without the active involvement of management at all levels, it ain’t gonna happen!

* For those interested in Deming’s logic in approaching quality improvement, read Improve Quality – Lower Costs

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!

Brainstorming Your Way to Excellence

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Brainstorming:  a conference technique of solving problems, amassing information, stimulating creative thinking, developing new ideas, etc., by unrestrained spontaneous participation in discussion. (dictionary.com)

It is commonly accepted that two minds are usually better than one and that in the search for solutions, the free interchange of ideas among a group of people can often produce better results than one person alone.  Recognizing this phenomenon, hospitality managers should embrace the idea of periodic brainstorming sessions with all department heads to improve the organization, operation, and performance, department by department, and in toto.

The first and foremost time to do this is during the annual planning cycle prior to establishing annual enterprise and departmental goals and the coming period budgets.  Such a session can usually yield results in as little time a two days when properly conceived, prepared for, and kept on task by a clear agenda and the general manager to guide and channel discussions.  While two days sounds like a lot of time for busy department heads, in the larger scheme a well-conceived annual plan and budget is a bedrock requirement for successful operations.  Those department heads who say they can’t spare the time should take a hard look at how they’ve organized their departments, trained subordinate managers, and delegated duties.  If they can’t make time for a planning session, it begs the question what will happen to their operation should they get sick or suffer an accident.

Beyond the planning cycle, brainstorming is a healthy aid to reviewing each departmental operation – one at a time.  This can usually be accomplished in a morning or afternoon session with the subject department head briefing other department heads on the organization, operation, and challenges of the department.  After this general presentation, the department head can ask his or her peers to offer suggestions and ideas to improve the operation.  This will open the door to wider discussions involving standards, policies, and procedures; inter-departmental support and cooperation; quality of guidance or direction from above; a better understanding of individual roles and duties; and improved integration of support systems for operating departments.

While sometimes these discussions can become tense, everyone must understand that the purpose and benefit of the session is to uncover issues and find a better way to operate.  Given the potential for conflict and discord, the following rules must be spelled out and enforced by the general manager:

1.   Everyone leaves their egos at the door.

2.   Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.

3.   Each person’s ideas will be heard and valued for their unique perspective.

4.   The general manager must be present, engaged, and fully support the process, often making executive decisions to overcome obstacles and bottlenecks.

When properly managed by the general manager, brainstorming can:

  • Illuminate problems and issues,
  • Foster understanding through discussion,
  • Point to solutions,
  • Generate new ideas and initiatives, and
  • Create a sense of shared challenge and teamwork.

But all the above is simply time spent talking unless the brainstorming session generates decisions and a plan of action with assigned responsibilities and timelines to bring the ideas to execution.  To ensure this is done, the general manager should require a summary of decisions made and an action plan for each subject department head.

When this is done and followed through, much begins to happen.  With each successfully implemented improvement or initiative, a culture of success and excellence naturally develops and strengthens, carrying the operations and all its managers to greater challenges and even greater success.

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!

Upping that Average Check

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Every food professional knows that the primary way to increase revenues short of increasing the number of customers is by increasing the average check.  While this is important in all food service operation, it is particularly important in private clubs where each club has a finite number of members and cannot attract the wider audience of the general public.  But regardless of what type of food service operation you run, how does one go about upping the average check?

If you consider most menus, diners have a choice of appetizers, entrees, desserts, wines, and specialty alcoholic drinks.  Most go out to eat with a particular entrée in mind – “Honey, I’m hankering for a thick, juicy sirloin tonight,” or “Gosh, I’m dying for the chef’s veal shanks in a cabernet sauce.”  What they have not thought about, and will not think about until they sit at the table is – what might go well with their entrée?  Here is the opportunity to increase the average check!  The server can “sell” customers/guests/members on the idea that this or that accompaniment will add to their dining experience.

But as any rookie salesperson knows, “you can’t sell what you don’t know!”  Given that we hire bright, outgoing, but often young and inexperienced people to work as servers, how do we give them the necessary knowledge to upsell the chef’s offerings?  Further, recognize that food and beverage is an inexhaustible fount of knowledge not easily mastered in a lifetime of concerted learning.  While this presents a challenge, it is not insurmountable with a little organization and effort.  The following steps, if implemented and persistently practiced, are guaranteed to increase your revenues through higher check averages.

1.   Benchmarking

Break your revenue projections for food and beverage down into volume and average sale.  For example, if you know from history that your average check for dinner is $18.53, you can divide your projected revenue for dinner for a given period by the average check to see how many dinners you will have to sell.  If your budget is $50,000 for February, then you must sell 2,698 dinners to reach your goal.  You can further break down the goals into weekly or daily targets.  By benchmarking your appetizer, dessert, wine, and specialty drink sales, you can likewise determine the current average sale for each and compute a target figure for the number of each you must sell in a given period. If you’ve not previously benchmarked, your first few months’ targets may not be very accurate or realistic, but you can adjust them as you gain experience.

2.      Establish Realistic Goals and Track Results

Use your benchmark numbers to establish goals for future operating periods for appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks.  Post those goals prominently in the pantry or other central location for your servers to see.  Break your monthly goals for each category into daily goals.  Then challenge your servers to surpass those daily goals.  Every day post the previous day’s and the month-to-date results so each and every server can monitor their success or lack of success.

3.      Teach Servers to Upsell

Use your pre-shift meetings (you should always have a pre-shift meeting!) to continually train your servers about the food and beverage products you serve.  This means appetizer and dessert tastings and teaching them about wines, liqueurs, and spirits in general and those that you carry in particular.  Equipped with this knowledge they will be far more comfortable in suggesting accompaniments to members.  Exhort them to use their new knowledge to sell, sell, sell!

4.      Provide Servers with Product Knowledge

Use Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, and Wine Selling Sheets, HRI Form 485, to educate servers about all items on the menu.  These selling sheets should include ingredients; flavorings (herbs and spices); cooking times; portion sizes; special distinguishing characteristics such as vegetarian, organic, farm fresh, kosher, heart healthy; country or locale of origin; presence of dairy products or possible allergens such as peanut oil, shellfish, etc.; method of preparation (e.g., sautéed, pan fried, roasted, deep fried, etc.); types and preparations of sauces; and any other pertinent information of interest.  Lastly, the Chef should include his suggested wine accompaniment for appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

5.  Continue Tracking Daily Sales against Goals

Design contests or offer prizes to those who sell the most.

6.  Continue Benchmarking Your Sales

Not only is this historical data helpful in setting goals and projecting future business, but the detailed benchmarks you keep this year will help you budget your sales for next year.  Lastly, there will be a clear record of the progress you’ve made in increasing sales – certainly a nice thing to have when you meet with your supervisor at your next performance review.

Charles A. Coonradt, in his wonderful book, The Game of Work, explains how people will work incredibly hard for no compensation to lower their golf handicap or beat their best time in a 10k race or improve their bowling average.  The same desire to improve oneself or improve one’s performance can be demonstrated at work if people simply get measurable feedback on their performance in a timely manner.  The key to measurable feedback is knowing past performance – easily acquired in a business setting by benchmarking – and setting challenging goals for future performance.

Increasing your average check is one of the easiest things a manager can do to improve his Food and Beverage bottom line.  The additional revenue helps overcome the high fixed cost in food operations and will bring more margin to the bottom line.

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!