Archive for August, 2015

Consequences

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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

Always keep in mind the consequences of your own behavior as a leader:

  • If you are not loyal to your employees, they will not be loyal to you.
  • If you do not respect your employees, they will respond in kind.
  • If you don’t care about your employees, they won’t care about you or your endeavors.
  • If you don’t look out for their interests, they won’t look out for yours.
  • If you don’t treat your employees with respect, they will not treat you or your customers/guests/members with respect.
  • If you are abusive to employees, the good ones will leave; only the poor ones will stay.
  • Remarkable service is all about attitude; treating employees badly fosters bad attitudes.

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”

–         Unknown

Your example sets the standard for all your employees.  Don’t blame them if they don’t have high standards.

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 Foundation of Service

Monday, August 24th, 2015

We have spoken before of the price of poor service, but the question arises for those intent upon establishing a strong and consistent culture of service in their hospitality operations, “What are the underlying necessities or foundation of service?”

In The Quest for Remarkable Service we made the following service comparisons:

  • Service is a state of mind, defined and reinforced by an organization’s culture.
  • Consistent Service is a state of mind plus thorough organization and systemic training.
  • Remarkable Service is a state of mind plus organization and systemic training, with well-hired, trained, and empowered employees responding to accountable, service-based leaders – all participating in a rigorous discipline of personalized service and continual product, service, and process improvement.

In this hierarchy of service quality are the following necessary foundational elements:

Leadership.  Nothing happens without strong, consistent enterprise-wide leadership.  The mass of detail and nuanced complexities of providing service to a large group of customers/guests/members, each with their own expectations, can only be achieved by Service-Based Leaders who know they must provide all the tools, training, resources, as well as daily example, engagement, and support to the line employees who deliver the service.

Beyond this service commitment of leaders, it takes a strong and persistent “will to make it happen” from leaders at all levels.  Like pushing on the giant flywheel of Jim Collins’ good to great companies, “it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all,” and requires “persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time” to build momentum and achieve breakthrough.  This persistence to push in a consistent direction can only come from the organization’s leadership.

Values.  Recognizing that service is, first and foremost, an attitude or state of mind, it takes well-defined organizational values and a culture of service that is consistently and continually reinforced in both word and deed by the organization’s leadership team.

But leaders must realize that the development of this culture is not some organic entity that arises on its own or from the inherent values of a diverse workforce.  To ensure it meets the needs and desires of the organization’s customers, it must be defined and modeled by management.  When employees see their leaders living the values they preach and supporting the employees in their daily efforts, service becomes second nature to all.

Organization.  A major obstacle to providing service is poor organization.  Without ongoing efforts to set up the workplace for efficiency and to seek out and remove obstacles to the smooth functioning of all areas of the operation, line employees quickly become frustrated and disheartened.  When unaddressed this frustration quickly turns to cynicism and bad attitudes – both of which defeat any efforts to provide service.

Poor organization is not found just in the physical layout of facilities, but also includes misguided or ever changing policies and procedures, lack of standards and discipline in fellow workers, and weak or non-existent training.  To be efficient, management and staff must be constantly focused on how to do things better and with less effort and frustration.  This focus is commonly called Continual Process Improvement and should be an integral part of the enterprise’s organizational values.

Training.  But having an organization with strong leadership, a well-defined culture of service, and efficient organization is of limited value if those qualities cannot be consistently and continually passed on to the line employees who must deliver service on a daily basis.  This requires a well-planned and executed training system that delivers all essential values, knowledge, information, and service techniques to employees in manageable doses on a continuing basis.  Without thorough and consistent training, service execution is dependent upon oral history and the attitudes, abilities, and personalities of individual employees.  Some will do well, most won’t!

Personalized Service.  Once the foregoing foundational elements of service have been firmly established, everything is in place to take service to the next level – rendering personalized service to individual customers.  While such service is often the stated intent of hospitality managers, it’s unrealistic to expect that your service teams will be able to focus on such a detailed endeavor while struggling under weak leadership with poorly-defined values, disorganized operations, and lack of training.

Take Away.  Just as in the construction of a dramatically appealing hotel, restaurant, or clubhouse, the finished details are built upon the foundational elements of the structure.  The analogy for how to provide high levels of service could not be more appropriate – first you must build the foundation!

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!

 

Real-Time Accounting Improves the Ease and Accuracy of Budgeting

Monday, August 17th, 2015

For most bottom line managers budgeting season is a royal pain.  Every year they have to forecast revenues, project their cost of goods sold and payroll, and budget their operating expenses.  The process is always time consuming; and it always seems to come at a time when the manager is pressed with ongoing operations and other urgent issues.  The good news is that there is a better way!

Recognizing that the best predictor of the future is the recent past, the discipline of Real-Time Accounting and tracking of key data is, among other significant benefits, a simple way to improve both the ease and accuracy of the budgeting process.  As an example, the HRI Tools to Beat Budget program organizes the discipline of:

1.   tracking daily revenues on a week by week basis,

2.   benchmarking and analyzing cost of goods sold on a monthly basis for F&B and retail operations,

3.   recording the details of payroll cost on a pay period basis, and

4.   detailing other operating expenses monthly.

The beauty of this discipline is that at the end of the year, all of this information is in a three-ringed binder – available to the manager at his or her fingertips to create next year’s budget.

There are even some managers who take their operating results month by month and build their future budget as they progress through the year.  Come budget time, their budgets are pretty much done – and they breeze through budget season without breaking a sweat.

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!

 

 

Guest Blog: Training on the Go – A direct line to food service profits?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Several years ago, the Peninsula Yacht Club was selected to be the club to implement the Hospitality Resources International Training on the Go (TOG) Program. Initially, the TOG program was met with some resistance from the front of house staff.  They felt that the program was another monotonous program whereby the dining room managers preach F&B mechanics to them for what seemed like hours.  Upon the staff’s recommendation, I changed the program’s delivery and made it involve the servers and bartenders more than the dining room managers.

In this new delivery, the servers studied a pre-determined module and then they were charged with presenting it to the rest of the staff.  This was the key to making the program work.  Now, servers would become teachers and would instruct their “class” in the pre-shift meetings.  There was no way to avoid having to teach a module as we required busboys, hostesses, servers and bartenders alike to instruct a class twice a month.

At first, the restaurant staff was enthralled by the alcoholic beverage information, especially the histories of liquors and wines.  This is the easiest part to teach because the 18-24 year olds seem to have an interest in learning about alcohol.  After they taught the beverage portion, we focused on foods and specifically our restaurant’s menu.  With the help of our chef, we were able to discuss the history of our menu choices, which wines would complement which entrees, and how to sell the daily features.  After the beverage and food modules were taught, we moved on to other important issues such as the steps of service, flow of the dining room, recovery techniques, etc. In the end, 94 modules were taught over a 16-month period.  Some of the more important modules were repeated.  After completing the modules in order, we have now begun to teach them in random order and allowing the staff to choose the module they wish to teach.

Once the TOG program was instituted and the bugs were worked out, several amazing things happened in our restaurant.  The first noticeable change was in the demeanor and confidence of the front of house staff.  Almost instantly, they became more comfortable discussing foods and beverages with members and guests and with making recommendations. Their newly gained knowledge of the preparations and histories of the food and beverages helped them to become more confident in their ability to answer members’ questions.  They looked forward to being asked about the history or preparation of certain items and the social interaction that was created when these questions were asked.

The second noticeable change was that our front of house staff turnover rate declined.  Our servers enjoyed coming to work and were not as apt to move on to another restaurant opportunity.  The restaurant staff felt more a part of the club and they enjoyed getting to know members more personally through their social interaction.  The staff no longer felt they were ‘going through the motions while waiting for the next new restaurant to open in the area.’

The third and most noticeable change was in the number of appetizers, desserts, and after-dinner drinks sold during the dinner shifts.  Just by gaining knowledge of these items, servers were able to discuss daily specials, suggestively sell at every table they were working.  The increase in the a la carte average check was immediate.  The servers’ confidence created an aura of professionalism and also caused a competitive nature in the restaurant.  Personal bets were being made to see who could up-sell the most wine or desserts.  Managers started offering a complimentary dessert to the server who sold the most after-dinner drinks.  The front of house staff loved the competition and it drove our sales to levels not seen in the past.  Of course, revenues followed.

To answer the question in the title of this article; “Is the TOG program a direct line to restaurant profits?” I offer the following evidence:

At the start of implementation, the club’s restaurant was experiencing a four-year decline in a la carte business.  This decline was, at the time, blamed on the poor economy before and after September 11th and a declining membership level.  In hindsight, these were only excuses for a more prominent problem.

Although the club’s membership level was declining, the average food and beverage revenue per member was holding steady at the 5-year average and the cover counts did not show a decline either.  Therefore, members were using the restaurant at a consistent rate in 1999, 2000, and 2001 up until 9/11.  What we noticed when looking at the revenue data was that the average check per member had declined drastically.  The data told us that members were continuing to dine in the restaurant at a steady rate, but they were spending less on each visit.  Our a la carte menu prices had not fluctuated during this period, so it led me to believe that we were doing something different in the dining room or, as I found out later, we were not doing some things that we had done in the past.

The TOG program was started in October of 2001.  Almost immediately, the average check increased and the number of appetizers and desserts increased as well.  Soon after, our alcoholic beverage sales increased, especially wine by the bottle, which shot up 200%.   In 2002, the program really took off.  By the spring of 2002, the up-selling competitions had begun and revenue increases were seen in appetizers, daily specials, desserts, after-dinner drinks, wine by the bottle and wine by the glass. For the 2002 year, the average F&B revenue per member increased 15% to $62.78 per month.  The trend continued in 2003 with revenues continuing to increase in 2004.  It is without question that implementing the Training on the Go program has had and continues to have a direct positive effect of restaurant revenues at the Peninsula Yacht Club.  If you think this program could help your club, visit the Hospitality Resources International website and download the TOG program.  It is a sure fire way to increase your restaurant’s revenues.

Blog written by:  Chris Conner, former General Manager, Peninsula Yacht Club; current COO/GM Cullasaja Club

Click here for individual topics of the food and beverage Training on the Go materials.

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!

Fostering Initiative in Your Organization

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Do your department heads demonstrate initiative in the operation of their individual departmental “businesses” or do they sit on their hands waiting for you, the general manager, to tell them what to do?

The latter situation is detrimental to your enterprise because it:

  • Puts the burden on the GM to know what’s going on and what needs improvement at all times and in all areas of the operation,
  • Slows down any efforts toward continual process improvement as the GM’s plate becomes full and mired in operational detail,
  • Takes focus away from the strategic duties of the GM,
  • Requires the GM to have an in-depth understanding of all operational disciplines which few, if any, possess, no matter how experienced and competent,
  • Robs subordinate managers of the opportunity to exercise judgment, gain executive experience, own outcomes, grow skills for greater authority and responsibility, and experience the satisfaction of success and accomplishment – a significant driving force for most people, particularly the gifted and ambitious,
  • Demonstrates a lack of trust in subordinates,
  • Is the primary symptom of the doomed-to-fail “genius with a thousand helpers” leader – the one who feels that only he or she is capable of doing the job right and who promotes a cadre of “yes men” while driving away the most competent assistants,
  • Damages the future of the enterprise by putting all the leadership strength and decision-making in one basket, thereby creating the potential for catastrophe when he or she moves on,
  • Inevitably burns out the individual who is trying to do it all.

The intelligent alternative to these consequences is to put the responsibility and accountability for operational areas into the hands of capable subordinates who know and understand all aspects of their business specialty.  But to work effectively, the general manager must first:

  • Establish and reinforce organizational leadership and values,
  • Spell out expectations for performance,
  • Establish annual operational goals,
  • In conjunction with individual managers establish departmental goals, develop meaningful work plans, and hold them strictly accountable for results,
  • Bo open and approachable for consultation as necessary,
  • Monitor progress toward goals and work plan completion by using milestones and timelines,
  • Meet at least monthly with department heads to review progress,
  • Offer ideas and assistance through mentoring and professional development of subordinates,
  • Praise and reward wins,
  • Constructively review failures with the goal of educating and improving.

When all these things are done on a continuing basis, the performance of the entire operation is maximized, the operation shows continual improvement, and members/guests/customers are provided an ever-enhanced experience that rewards and delights their ongoing patronage.

A few caveats:  When embarking on a course of greater subordinate initiatives, experience and trust are paramount.  Therefore:

  • For those subordinates who are new or relatively unknown to the organization or who by past questionable action warrant a degree of caution, use a process of specific direction and close supervision until they’ve demonstrated the requisite skills and judgment to exercise broader initiative.
  • For those who’ve already demonstrated sound judgment, competence, and professionalism, give them a freer hand while being ever ready for consultation and brainstorming.

When mistakes happen, and rest assured that they will, use them as learning experiences and move on to the next challenge and initiative.

Summary:  Initiative is one of the primary components of sound leadership.  Hospitality enterprises operate in highly competitive environments and are too complex to allow any portion of the operation to tread water.  Continual improvement and the necessary initiative to move forward on a broad front are critical to ongoing 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!