Archive for June, 2014

Knowledge, Leadership, Discipline and Consistency

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I was asked the other day by a young hospitality manager what I thought were the key elements to building a successful club career.  With a little thought I responded, “Knowledge, leadership, discipline, and consistency.”  Here’s why:

Knowledge.  First and foremost a manager must understand all aspects of the business.  This means understanding human resources, finance and accounting, legal and liability issues, risk management, lodging operations, food and beverage, golf operations, activities and aquatics, facility maintenance and housekeeping, and safety and security.  If you’re a golf professional or food and beverage manager and aspire to the position of general manager, you need to get out of your own area and learn as much as you can about the other areas of the operation.  To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “The more that you learn, the farther you’ll go.”

Leadership.  A manager must become an effective leader by building strong relationships with all constituencies and determining how best to serve their needs.  A leader must have a vision and set a course of action, while demonstrating initiative and competence in all she does.  In whatever circumstances she finds himself, she should seek out responsibility and solve problems.  Recognizing that she cannot do it all, she needs to develop strong and consistent leadership in subordinate managers.

Discipline.  The hospitality profession is not rocket science, but it’s detailed and fast-paced.  Success comes from knowing what to do and having the discipline to do it every day.  Not only must the leader be disciplined, but he must demand the same of his subordinates and hold them accountable for their actions and performance.  Nothing worthwhile is easy.  Walmart achieved its retail dominance by fanatical dedication to basic disciplines.  A leader can achieve similar success by a singular “no excuses” approach to the basics of the business.

Consistency.  I never ceased to be amazed at the continual stream of “new” ideas that are put forward regularly as the means to improve businesses and organization.  As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  What passes for innovation is often old truth restated in a modern context or catchy phrase.  Owners and managers would be better served just to pick one approach and stick to it than to be constantly embracing the “latest and greatest” concept.  Legendary NFL coach Tom Landry said, “Setting the goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and sticking with that plan.”

By focusing on these fundamental areas any hospitality manager can best prepare himself for greater responsibility and career success.

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 Hospitality Operators!

 

Selling an Experience with Knowledge and Enthusiasm

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Some years ago my boss and I were on a trip to Nevada to visit our newest property.  During the visit, we had an opportunity to eat at a cozy Italian restaurant by the name of Luciano’s.  While the food was great, it was the service that blew me away.  Let me tell you why.

After we were greeted and seated, our waiter, a middle aged man, approached the table.  He immediately sensed our good mood and engaged us in a pleasant and humorous banter.  While presenting the menu, he described the daily specials in a graphic and mouth-watering way (with excellent Italian pronunciation) and ended by saying we should try the mussels as they just came in fresh that afternoon.  Of course we bit and ordered a couple of dozen steamed in wine, garlic, and butter.  After taking our dinner order, he suggested a superb Chianti that was the perfect complement to the meal.

As I observed our waiter, he moved from table to table with a wonderful ease, engaging the patrons in conversation, suggesting appetizers, entrees, and wines.  He seemed to wait on every table and was supported by a crew of young assistants.  He was so good at what he did and seemed to know so much about the restaurant’s offerings that I assumed he must be the owner. Certainly, he took a proprietary interest in every table and his many tempting suggestions probably boosted every check by 30-40% – what better way for an owner to ensure his restaurant’s success!

After dinner, he again worked his magic by suggesting and describing the fresh, made-from-scratch Cannoli.  His coup de grace was to suggest Lemoncello as an accompaniment for the dessert.  Thankfully, my boss was picking up the check!

As we left, I complimented him on his service and asked his name.  It turned out he was Irish and was the waiter, not the owner.  I was stunned, not just that an Irishman could be so Italian, but that he was so effective based upon his knowledge of the restaurant’s offerings and his obvious interest in and enthusiasm for the food.

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 Hospitality Operators!

 

What I Expect from my Club Controller

Monday, June 16th, 2014

The controller fills an extremely important role in a club operation’s management hierarchy.  In addition to performing financial accounting, management, and reporting functions, he or she is the subject matter expert for the owner(s) and general manager on all matters relating to sound fiscal policy.  As such the position of controller has specific responsibilities and requirements relating to every area of the operation and provides key information to decision-makers.  Here is a summary of my requirements for the position:

1. Written standards, policies, and procedures (SPPs) for all aspects of the accounting function.  Not only is this important for consistency sake, but also to make all managers and supervisors aware of their responsibilities.

2. A written internal control plan that stipulates key fiscal practices, identifies areas of potential problems, and specifies necessary separation of duties.

3. Coordinate and supervise the annual budgeting process.  This requires establishing the necessary timeline and deliverables in the budgeting sequence.

4. Implement the Tools to Beat Budget program so that all department heads record and monitor their revenues and expenses in real time.

5. Assist department heads in implementing departmental benchmarking.  Prepare the Executive Metrics Report and include it with the monthly financial statement.

6. Coordinate and attend the monthly review of operating statements with each department head and the general manager.

7. Conduct a review and analysis of one major cost category each month with the aim of constantly reviewing the enterprise’s cost structure and taking steps to reduce costs when opportunities present themselves.  Report findings to general manager.

8. Routinely prepare the following reports:

  • Weekly Revenue Report for the general manager and heads of profit centers.
  • Pay Period Summary Report for the general manager and all department heads each pay period.
  • Monthly Aged Accounts Receivable Report for the general manager.
  • Updated cash flow projection on a monthly basis for the general manager.

9. Training of managers and supervisors in all fiscal responsibilities and requirements, including:

  • Basic Accounting and Financial Management.
  • Tools to Beat Budget.
  • Benchmarking.

10. An outreach program whereby the controller visits each department head on a monthly basis to discuss needs and issues.

11. Serve as the club’s representative on the finance committees, attending meetings, providing information as requested, making professional recommendations regarding fiscal issues, and keeping the general manager fully informed on all significant matters addressed by the committee.

A smooth accounting function requires that all members of the management team understand and meet their responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner.  It is essential therefore that the controller engage with the full management team to ensure this happens.  The benefits to the operation include greater real time knowledge of the enterprise’s financial performance, more timely information to support decision-making, and the full confidence of the owner(s) or board that their significant capital investment is in good hands.

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 Hospitality Operators!

 

Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations

Monday, June 9th, 2014

All 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.

There are a wide variety of topics that must be taught to both managers and employees to fully prepare them for their jobs.

  1. Leadership Development Training for managers and supervisors—designed to foster consistent, enterprise-wide leadership skills, which are the driving force behind the organization’s success.
  2. Organizational Culture Training for all employees—designed to foster a thorough understanding of the enterprise’s values and service ethic.
  3. Organizational Systems Training such as Human Resource and Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs) for managers and supervisors, as well as departmental SPPs for employees—all designed to teach the underlying systems that permit the enterprise to operate efficiently.
  4. Legal Compliance Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to provide all required training in matters with legal implications for the operation such as Equal Employment Opportunity, Fair Labor Standards Act, Sexual Harassment, and others.
  5. Liability Abatement Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to limit the enterprise’s liability exposure for occupational safety and health, food sanitation, public health, and responsible alcoholic beverage service.
  6. Departmental SPPs, Organizational Systems, Job Skills and Service Technique Training for employees—designed to give each employee the knowledge and skill set necessary to perform his job and meet standards of service.

Items 1 through 5 above should be developed by the enterprise and provided across all departments for consistency sake; item 6 is specific to each department and should be developed and taught by individual department heads.

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 Hospitality Operators!

Marketing Your Operation

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Jay Conrad Levinson has built a multi-million dollar publishing franchise with his Guerrilla Marketing line of books.  A brief survey of Amazon.com finds the following titles:

Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing:  Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business

Guerrilla Marketing for Free:  Dozens of No-Cost Tactics to Promote Your Business and Energize Your Profits

Guerrilla Publicity:  Hundreds of Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Maximum Sales for Minimum Dollars

Guerrilla Marketing Handbook

Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days Workbook

Guerrilla Retailing

Guerrilla Marketing for the Home-Based Business

Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success

Guerrilla Marketing:  Put Your Advertising on Steroids

He has a number of other titles for any conceivable enterprise or need and obviously has found a real hunger for marketing tips in the marketplace.

Having read several of his books, I would strongly recommend them to any business leader regardless of industry or profession.  Though not all ideas will apply to your particular situation, there are enough good tips to get your creative juices flowing no matter what your need.

While many of us in the club business think that marketing is the exclusive province of our membership directors, this is clearly not the case.  We all market ourselves and our ideas on a daily basis, often to our internal customers – our members.  Just think of the Activity Director, Golf Pro, or F&B Manager who is planning a fun event.  What is the best way to get the word out and ensure a good turnout?  We all use the member newsletter, flyers, posters, and word of mouth, but Levinson’s books will give you some great “outside-the-box” ideas.

While reading Guerrilla Marketing Excellence:  The 50 Golden Rules for Small-Business Success, I came across a chapter entitled:  Proving You Care.  The rule is:  More companies will fail than succeed in business, and the ones that succeed will be the ones that prove they care.

“You can say all the fancy phrases, spice up your offer with the proper words, and pepper your mission statement with statements of customer love, but your dedication to service does not come to life until you prove to your customers – and your prospects that you really do care about them.

To quote Levinson, “You can use some or all of these 20 ways guerrillas prove to their customers and prospects that they sincerely care:

  1. Have a written document outlining the principles of your customer service.  This should come from the president.
  2. Develop support systems that give clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.
  3.  Develop a precise measurement of superb customer service, and reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout the company, not just at the top.
  5. Do all you must to instill in employees who meet your customers a truly deep appreciation of the value of service.
  6. Be genuinely committed to provided more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.
  7. Be sure that everyone who deals with customers pays very close attention to the customer.  Customers should feel this.
  8. Ask questions of the customers, then listen carefully to the answers.  Ask customers to expand upon their answers.
  9. Stay in touch with you customers:  by letter, postcard, newsletter, telephone, trade shows, and questionnaires.
  10. Nurture a human bond as well as a business bond with your customers.  Do favors for them.  Educate them.  Give gifts.  Play favorites.  Take them to a ballgame or the opera.  Your customers deserve to be treated this special way.  If you won’t do it, someone else will.
  11. Recognize that customers have needs and expectations.  You’ve got to meet the first and exceed the second.
  12. Understand why huge corporations such as #M define service quality as “conformance to customer requirements.”
  13. Keep alert for trends, then react to them.  McDonald’s operates under the axiom “We lead the industry by following our customers.”
  14. Share information with people on the front line.  Disney workers meet regularly to talk about improving service.
  15. Because customers are humans, observe birthdays and anniversaries.  Constant communication should be your goal.
  16. Consider holding mixers so that customers can get to know your people better and vice versa.  Bonds form.
  17. Invest in phone equipment that makes your business sound friendly, easy to do business with, and professional.
  18. Design your physical layout for efficiency, clarity of signage, lighting, handicap accessibility, and simplicity.
  19. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness, and competence.
  20. When it comes to customer service, Nordstrom department stores may be doing the best job in America, though Disney is giving them a run for their money.  The Nordstrom service manual is eloquent in its simplicity:  “Use your good judgment in all situations.  There will be no additional rules.”

Levinson gives other important tips:

  • “Proving you care is paying attention to the details.  There are a slew of them . . .”
  • “Think in terms of educating your customers . . . “
  • “When things go wrong, prove you care by seeing to it that the customer comes out on top . . .”
  • “. . . smart companies prove their mettle in the way they treat complaining customers.  They solve the problem first and deal with the red tape later.  They also know that complaining customers can be assets to guerrilla companies . . . [they] pay close attention to complaints.”
  • “Be sure to apologize when something goes wrong . . . apologies don’t cost you anything.”

Reading this chapter puts me strongly in mind of two important things:

  • Hospitality Resources International’s Operating Standard that we recognize the ultimate value of people in everything we do.
  • The Golden Rule.

Following these two guides in the service business just about covers it all and are clearly essential components of successful marketing!

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!