Archive for September, 2014

Guest Blog: Be Our Guest, Maybe

Monday, September 29th, 2014
glenn-a-gerena-photo-335933Club management’s challenge in structuring a guest policy is balancing competing interests reflected in the following hypothetical comments:Member A: “I acquired my membership so I can play golf with my friends, so don’t restrict me from playing with them.”Member B:  “Member A has played golf with the same guy 10 times.  His friend should get his own membership.”Member C:  “I want my brother and his wife from Boston to play the course on Friday, but I can’t join them.”Member D:  “I keep seeing non-members playing the course.  I thought this club is private.”Membership Committee Chair:  “We need to introduce the club to new prospects through our guest program.”Guest rules and policies should properly balance the interests reflected in these comments, taking into account the nature of the club, the membership and the club’s business goals.

Specific provisions may include:

  • Prohibition or restriction on unaccompanied guest play;
  • Provision for host committee to play golf with members’ guests when the sponsoring member is not available;
  • Restriction on number of times a person can be a guest in a year;
  • Black-out of peak periods when guests are not permitted;
  • Restriction on number of guests at one time; and
  • Rule governing payment of guests’ charges; and
  • Special rules or fees for extended family and/or houseguests.

Club management can take measures to minimize problems and maximize guest program benefits.  First, management should strictly enforce guest adherence to dress codes and guest rules to minimize member objections.  Second, the club should invest in software to track guests both for purposes of enforcing limitations and identifying membership candidates.  Third, the club’s guest policies should be regularly communicated to members and prospective members to avoid surprises and embarrassment to members and their guests.

Most clubs welcome members’ guests, but sometimes the welcome mat needs some definition.

Author:  Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at http://www.gtlaw.com/People/GlennAGerena, and read more club related articles by the author at http://www.hospitalitylawcheckin.com.

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!

Do The Right Thing

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

For any leader there will always be aspects of your job that you don’t like—things that you personally find difficult or distasteful.  And while there is always the temptation to postpone or ignore those things, hoping they will just go away or somehow solve themselves, this is seldom the case.  Invariably, those neglected responsibilities come back full force at some later time—usually with far greater impact or consequence when they do.

Another mechanism to cope with these undesirable duties is to assign them to a subordinate or pass them off to some other person in the organization.  While doing this may relieve your immediate distress, it is never a good thing to slough off your duties because they make you uncomfortable.

While undesirable duties will be different for each individual leader, these are some of the “usual suspects.”

Confronting Poorly Performing Employees.  Our basic nature is to assume that others know the right thing to do and will do it without being told.  Clearly this mindset is not based in reality.  People need to understand the right way of doing things and the standards of the organization.  When they do not meet these expectations, you must engage them.  Initially, these are ongoing discussions of what must be improved.  Eventually, continued problems must lead to counseling and possibly disciplinary actions.  A leader must never be hesitant to confront the problem employee.  The sooner he does it, the better for everyone.

Discharging Employees.  No normal person enjoys letting people go.  Even when an employee deserves it for his inappropriate behavior or poor performance, it is never a pleasant thing to do.  If, after exhausting all efforts to correct behavior or improve performance, the employee’s problems persist, it is the right thing to do for the good of the organization and the other employees who have to put up with or cover for the offending employee.

Responding to Unhappy Customers.  Does anybody enjoy this?  However, it’s probably one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business.  Recognizing that there will always be service failures, recovery is always the key.  View these challenges as opportunities to demonstrate your leadership and professionalism.  Well-handled, these situations can win you respect and admiration.

Reference-Checking when Hiring.  Few of us enjoy the tedious time commitment and challenges of checking applicant references, yet there is nothing you can do that’s more important for “getting the right people on your bus.”  This is a responsibility that you, as a leader and hiring manager, should never take lightly or pass off to someone else.

Speaking in Large Public Gatherings.  Speaking in large gatherings causes many of us to cringe.  Yet to grow leadership abilities and increase influence, don’t shy away from these opportunities.  The more you speak in public, the more comfortable you’ll become doing it.

While it’s perfectly appropriate to delegate certain tasks as your career progresses and subsequent positions grow in authority, you must make sure delegation is appropriate and that your motivation is for the good of the organization, not based on what you like and dislike doing.

As a leader, you should never shy away from the responsibilities of the position you have accepted.  Make it a point of honor to do the right things.  Your employees are always watching and taking your measure as a leader.  When you consistently do the right thing, you’ll be seen as a “stand up” person—one who will always have their trust, respect, and loyalty.

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 hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

What to Do About Training

Monday, September 15th, 2014

In a number of articles I’ve enumerated the challenges that standalone operations have in designing and implementing the robust and consistent training programs necessary to enhance organizational effectiveness and customer/guest/member service.  While most operations focus their training efforts on line employees, I have long advocated the need for manager and supervisory training in all areas.  As agents of the enterprise, these individuals can do far more harm unless well-schooled in leadership, business disciplines, and legal and liability issues.

While there is no doubt that the challenges to comprehensive training are significant, the ramifications of weak, inconsistent training are even more significant in that they impact performance at every level and area of the operation – and may ultimately prove to be a threat to the enterprise’s very existence.

Despite its critical nature, there always seem to be reasons not to train.  Often the biggest obstacle to formal training programs is cost – as every hour of training is an hour of payroll.  But as I’ve said before, there is a lot of wasted time in every operation, so the real issue is one of organization and the “will to make it happen.”

So what is a General Manager to do, should he or she want to institute a formal system of comprehensive training?  Here are four basic requirements:

  • Identify needs.  While every operation may have specific needs, Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations lays out the general types of necessary training.
  • Develop a training plan.  One organization’s first pass at a plan can be found on the Hospitality Resources International website under Operations>Resources>White Papers.  Certainly this can be used as a basis to develop your own plan.
  • Establish priorities.  As usual, go for the “low-hanging fruit” – those that are easiest to implement.  You might even use one department as the testing ground for others before full implementation.
  • Use “on the go” training.  The use of ongoing, short training topics will help keep the cost of training down, while providing constant reminders of important issues, best practices, and service techniques.  Hospitality Resources International has pioneered the concept of “on the go” training and has developed materials for Organizational Values, Leadership, Human Resources, Accounting, Employee Development and Discipline, Service, Management Disciplines, Food Service Management, and Safety.  Others are under development for Golf Management and F&B Knowledge.  These can be purchased from the HRI Marketplace and provide a proven method of training.

Surveying the needs of setting up formal training program, you realize it’s a lot of work.  But much of it has already been done for you, so no need to reinvent the wheel.  Should you decide to develop your own materials; the above mentioned modules provide a powerful example of how it can be done.

Lastly, I would suggest the concept of “incremental progress” to guide your training development.  You don’t have to do everything at once.  Make it a multi-year goal; assign tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.  Make a little progress each week while keeping your eye on the end result.  Each step forward will bring incremental improvements.  In time you’ll be amazed at the results!

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!

Managers’ Fiscal Responsibilities

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Managers with bottom-line responsibility are responsible for the financial performance of their areas of the operation.  There are a number of specific elements associated with this responsibility, which is broken down into the following broad categories:

Budgeting.  Budgeting is the process of establishing a financial operating and capital plan for a future fiscal year.  Budgets are formulated using past history, benchmarks, knowledge of upcoming events or trends, and one’s best professional judgment.

Comparing Actual Performance to Budget.  Once approved, budgets are the fiscal plan for the year.  Managers are responsible for comparing actual performance to budgets on a monthly basis and intervening as necessary to achieve budget goals.

Achieving Revenues.  Achieving revenue projections is one of the two primary means of meeting budgets (the other being controlling expenses).  Managers are responsible for monitoring revenues and aggressively intervening when revenues fall short.

Controlling Cost of Goods Sold.  Departments with retail operations must also control the cost of goods sold and investigate when these costs are out-of-line.  Managers can do this by ensuring accurate monthly inventories, carefully tracking departmental transfers and adjustments, and using retail buying plans.

Controlling Payroll Costs.  Payroll is the single largest expense in most operations and the most significant expense that managers must control.  In order to control payroll costs, it is vital that managers have timely and accurate data regarding their departmental payroll costs.  Essential to getting this data is having staff correctly follow timekeeping procedures, setting schedules to meet forecasted levels of business, and the dogged determination to track payroll expenses closely to ensure that budgets are not exceeded.

Controlling Other Expenses.  Other Expenses comprise all of the other departmental operating expenses.  Managers can control these expenses by carefully reviewing expenditures on a monthly basis, using some means, such as Tools to Beat Budget, to track other expenses in real time, and by periodic in-depth reviews of significant expense accounts.

Benchmarking.  Benchmarking is the act of measuring operating performance.  Each department head should track detailed benchmarks for his area of the operation

Pricing.  The starting point for meeting revenue projections is proper pricing of products and services to ensure a sufficient markup to cover associated expenses.  Pricing should be reviewed on a periodic basis to assure that budgeted margins are being maintained.

Purchasing.  Some managers are responsible for purchasing materials, supplies, and inventories for their departments.  Managers must be familiar with all company purchasing policies to properly fulfill these responsibilities.

Expense Coding.  Managers are sometimes responsible for ensuring that invoices for all purchased items are coded to appropriate expense accounts in a timely, accurate, and consistent manner.

Inventory Management and Security.  Given that high inventory levels tie up capital that might be put to better use elsewhere, managers must use common sense and good business judgment to maintain inventories at levels that balance business demands, lower pricing for bulk purchases, perishability of stock, and available warehousing space.

Inventories must be kept secured with access limited to as few individuals as possible.  Storerooms must be kept neat, clean, and organized to facilitate physical inventory counts and minimize damage and spoilage.

Merchandise inventories should be purchased using Open to Buy or other retail buying plans, thereby constantly monitoring inventory levels and product mix while minimizing markdowns.  All special sales of merchandise during the year should be noted and marked-down items analyzed compared to buying plans to ensure that lessons are learned from buying mistakes.

Asset Management.  Managers are responsible for protecting the assets assigned to their departments and in their care.  Periodic physical counts are required for assets under your control:

  • Resale inventories—monthly to determine cost of goods sold.
  • Supply inventories, such as linens, china, and glassware— quarterly to ensure you have sufficient stock on hand.  Some consumable items, such as ware washing chemicals, cleaning supplies, and paper products should be inventoried more frequently.
  • Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment inventories—to ensure presence and accountability.

Internal Controls.  Internal Controls are defined as the systems and procedures established and maintained to safeguard a business’ assets, check the accuracy and reliability of its accounting data, promote operational efficiency, and encourage adherence to prescribed managerial policies.

Internal controls, while often considered an accounting function, are actually a function of management.   The ultimate responsibility for good internal controls rests squarely with managers.

Point of Sale (POS) Transactions.  The initial entry for most revenue data is through point of sale systems.  Managers are responsible for training their employees to correctly use the POS system and to retrain as necessary when a pattern of errors is evident in their departments.

Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures.  Managers should be familiar with and follow all requirements of their company’s accounting standards, policies, and procedures and recommend changes as necessary.

Summary.  The thoroughness and professionalism with which you meet these fiscal responsibilities will have much to do with your success as a manager.  Consider which ones you currently do well and in which areas you need to improve your performance.

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 hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Leader’s Mood

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Years ago, as a young man of twenty-eight, I was managing my first hotel—the historic Hotel Thayer at West Point.  The “grand old lady” as we called her had suffered from years of neglect and was in desperate need of renovation and renewal.  Fresh out of hotel school it was a great challenge for me, but one I relished.  Its high profile clientele – generals, corporate CEOs, even heads of state – gave me a prominent stage to feed my ego-needs and demonstrate my competence and abilities.

But with this opportunity came high-level stress as I labored to prove myself.  Given its many problems – both with poor physical plant and a lack of service culture – I was in a hurry to show a turnaround.  To say I was driven would be an understatement.  So I pushed hard to make improvements; yet, as always, the forward progress was not consistent or without setbacks.

Sometimes I became angry at unexpected obstacles or the fact that some employees didn’t seem to understand or fully support my program.  I was usually pretty quick to move beyond my flashes of temper because I had so much to do.  But I did expect the employees to share my enthusiasm, if not my passion and need for results.

One day, growing tired of what I perceived were my administrative assistant’s constantly changing moods, I called her on it.  I told her that she needed to make more of an effort to be in a good mood – that her moodiness was affecting others around her.

To this day, I’ll never forget her sharp reply, “Me?  You’re the one who’s moody.  I never know when I come to work what kind of mood you’re going to be in.”  With that she turned on her heel and stormed out of my office.

Her response struck me like a slap in the face – but certainly one that I deserved and needed.

Her sudden and unexpected rebuff caused me to do some deep soul searching that night.  I called her in the next day to thank her for her honesty and courage in telling me what no boss wants to hear.  I acknowledged my moodiness and asked her help in combating it.  Anytime she sensed my irritation or anger, she was to let me know, while I would work to control my temper.

One of the important requirements of leadership is to possess the emotional maturity to understand how your moods and emotions impact your followers.  Employees are looking for a leader in whom to place their trust and confidence and will have difficulty following anyone who doesn’t possess the emotional stability and self-discipline to control his emotions.

Leaders must recognize that while they can’t control all that may happen to them, they can certainly make the effort to control their reactions to it.  They must also recognize the significant impact their moods have on all around them, but particularly their followers – who properly expect more from their leader.

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!