Archive for October, 2015

The Intangibles

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Michael Crandal, CNG, Inspiring exemplary management teams with confident leadership. AUTHOR: Life’s 10-Point Must System.

“Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” is a great song from the early 1970’s by The Dramatics. But, all great business leaders know that things run much deeper than what is merely seen at the surface level.

There are deeply rooted “invisible to the naked eye” intangibles that reflect professional consistency and personal character that maintain greatness. Others may have careers that languish in the minor leagues and never really understand why. Not really.

The resumes of achievers in executive leadership and professional sports both document their outward “stats.” But, if we were able to personally know them — we would slowly uncover a common thread of intangibles that ultimately separate those who make it to the “bigs” and thrive ─ and others who pine away as career minor leaguers.

1.     MUST get the most out of ability:  (Their own ability AND that of the entire team.)

It is a big mistake to evaluate executives (or athletes) only by the apparent skill level portrayed on paper. All the ability in the world will never get any lasting traction if lacking the intangibles.

  • Common sense,
  • emotional control,
  • focus,
  • a driving will to never compromise best efforts, and
  • some skill — are what lead to positive results.

It’s the things you can’t see that get you to that next level. Let’s take a look at some of the intangibles that go beyond the stats.

2.    MUST have positive influence on teammates:

Is it just me, or have you also ever noticed that things do not always go according to plan?

Original plans, like the sails of a great ship, may need from time to time to be adjusted slightly to reflect unforeseeable new prevailing winds. Should the ship start drifting slightly off course, it is easy for some to become hesitant in making difficult, yet appropriate, decisions that could avoid wandering unnecessarily into the vortex of a storm.

These isolated times of necessary course corrections are viewed as opportunities for those who are prepared to step up their performance another notch.

Successful leaders (or an entire company for that matter) are NOT those who have no problems on their plate or challenges of navigating through changing times. They ARE those who consistently handle them well and rally the entire team to believe they can collectively prevail.

3.      MUST have a “nose” for the ball:

If a trend is not going in the favor of the team — look for those who are still not afraid to handle the ball, and you will be looking at a professional who possesses a mandatory intangible.

Keep in mind that generals do not earn their stars in tranquil times of peace. It is in times of duress that they distinguish themselves.

4.      MUST routinely make big plays:

Irrespective of how much time and skill was devoted to drawing up game plans, organizational charts, and standard operating procedures — victory is determined by those who consistently make big plays. They are the ones who actually want the ball when the game is on the line and who then calmly produce in the clutch.

“BIG PLAYS” should be routine occurrences that the entire team prides itself in making day after day. The result is an undeniable, palpable, consistent “winning streak” of great consumer experiences.


  • A horse can win a race by “a nose”.
  • A boxer can win a fight with just one punch.
  • The difference between a major league baseball player and a career minor leaguer is only about 3 hits a week.
  • A football game can be won when the wide receiver beats his man by just half a step — just one time.

The difference between oftentimes good and consistently great has little to do with potential. It has everything to do with the degree of focus given to the little intangibles that loom so big in overall performance.

A little difference is all the difference when it comes to making big plays.

It is the little things that matter in striving to continually add polish to ultimately great consumer experiences, like particles of sand — compressed into a massive rock.

5.      MUST have their own style while still being a great teammate:

While individual styles may be variable, creating an atmosphere that constantly moves the entire team in a positive direction must be an intangible fixed asset that proves contagious.

Some bring to the team energy and enthusiasm. Some a calming oftentimes statesmanlike presence. Some carry themselves in a dynamic way that others want to emulate.

Mission Statements and Core Values may look good when printed in the annual report. But — are D.O.A. if not brought to life by leadership that confidently stirs the pot in a positive way toward that unique team chemistry that maintains pride of being a part of it all.

TEAM CHEMISTRY IS AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS HARD TO DEFINE. Every successful “major league” endeavor has a unique winning culture that is generated by the team chemistry of those entrusted to successfully lead and operate it.

6.      MUST anticipate:

One definition of a genius is: “Someone who sees a target that no one else sees yet — and hits it!”

An essential intangible is having the sense of being able to anticipate what just might happen before anyone else does. Anticipate the needs of consumers. Anticipate the desires of all those around you. Anticipate potential economic challenges and how to best respond to them.

Achievers are always looking down field and anticipating what needs to be done to achieve success and they are prepared to offer support and insight in order to get the needed policies in place. Then, they are prepared to lead the entire team within those meaningful policies towards making great things happen every day in the field — not just once on the drawing board during an annual strategic planning meeting.

Leadership that is able to anticipate equates to being able to solve potential problems before they ever have a chance to happen and to create ― in advance ― the best case scenarios for successfully navigating economic challenges and changing times.

Change is inevitable. Those who are successful initiate positive change, rather than reacting negatively to it.

7.      MUST be coachable:

Yes, there is some merit in “doing your own thing.” But if carried to an extreme, this single trait can score a knockout punch of any hope for hall of fame status.

When errors are pointed out and suggested corrective action ignored, some otherwise very noted executives can find themselves on the end of the bench very quickly.

Nothing will sit you down quicker than a reputation as being uncoachable.

There is a wealth of business experience and insight to be gained from board members, effective peers, proven department heads, and fellow teammates who can all potentially serve as great mentors. Listen up! Be wise and seek their input.

There are 2 kinds of people who are going nowhere:

  • Someone who will not do what they are told. And,
  • Someone who will do nothing but.

We all need mentors. There is no such thing as a “self-made” leader ─ regardless of whatever title may be on their office door or how many gatekeepers they have! We all need mentors!

No one will work alongside a “know it all” for very long. Why? Because this is a person who has stopped learning. After all ― they already know it all. Don’t they?

Those not willing to be coached today, by default, are unwilling to prepare for the changes that tomorrow will surely bring.

So, statistically speaking — find a comfortable chair in the clubhouse and ask yourself how the stats are looking these days? Do you like what you see?

Taking a closer look at the intangibles can manifest visible results — favorable ones.


Oh, and one more thing, just in case you’re wondering. The letters after our author’s name Michael Crandal, CNG — stand for: Certified Nice Guy. Self-certified, by the way. But, a nice guy nonetheless. Mr. Crandal creates leadership and business ethics presentations. He and his wife, Kim, reside in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, GA.

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!



Job One – Placing Your Time and Energies Where Most Needed

Monday, October 19th, 2015

While club general managers have many responsibilities, there is one that is pre-eminent – member relations.  This is so because of one simple fact – if member dissatisfaction with the club grows into a groundswell of criticism or if one or more particularly influential members dislike the way things are going or form a negative opinion of the job you’re doing, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be looking for a new job.

This may not be fair in any objective sense, but it’s the reality of our profession.  No matter the progress you are making to improve quality, service, and the bottom line, it’s the members’ perceptions that will determine your standing as the club’s GM.  So the critical skill of a successful club general manager is, first and foremost, the ability to establish and maintain a good working relationship with the club’s governing board, its various committees, and the membership at large.

At the root of this ability is an impressive skill set – the tact and nuance of a diplomat, the sociability of Mr. or Ms. Congeniality, the business acumen of an acknowledged hospitality professional, and the influence of a strong and effective leader.  To the truly gifted few (the Rob Duckett’s, Chris Conner’s, and Tim Mervosh’s of the world, to name a few of my acquaintance*), this skill set is second nature.  For the rest of us, it requires hard work, continual effort, professional self-improvement, and most of all the time, energy, and focus to make member relations Job One.

Given the many requirements of running a successful club operation, though, it is often difficult to give the proper time and attention to the demands and details of member relations.  It is for this reason that every general manager should organize his or her operation to run as effortlessly as possible through sound organization and structure; well-defined expectations; detailed standards, policies, and procedures; ongoing, consistent training of all staff; and strict accountability for departmental performance.

When this happens, the general manager has the time to focus on the many details and aspects of member relations.  In doing this, he or she can monitor the pulse and attitudes of the membership, advance the progress and understanding of important management initiatives, and deepen the relationship bond between members and management – and in the challenging world of club management, there is nothing so important.

*Rob Duckett, GM, Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, Cashiers, NC; Chris Conner, GM, Cullasaja Club, Highlands, NC; Tim Mervosh, GM/COO, Milburn Golf and Country Club, Overland Park, KS.

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!



Standards, Policies and Procedures

Monday, October 12th, 2015

The terms “Standards,” “Policies,” and “Procedures” are used in business to describe the what, why, and how’s of a hospitality operation’s organization and work processes.


  •  Something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis for comparison; an approved model.
  • Anything as a rule or principle that is used as a basis or model for judgment.
  • Morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.
  • Fulfilling specific requirements as established by an authority, law, rule, custom, etc.

In a manufacturing setting product standards usually include material specifications, manufacturing tolerances, quality measurements, and the functionality of the finished product.  In the hospitality field, however, the establishment of a standard is usually made by management based upon an understanding or expectation of what will satisfy or impress the customer/guest/member.  Often this satisfaction is based upon the manner in which some service or action is performed.  Therefore, the standard is a description of the desired outcome of that service or action and/or the manner in which it is performed, for instance the approved way of presenting and opening a bottle of wine, or the correct way to fill out a form used for documenting personnel actions, the manner in which month-end inventories will be conducted, or the level of professionalism of management and operations.

In the case of hospitality operations, standards are the model for the optimum way of doing things.  They are established by the general manager as the acceptable model of performance by which customers judge proficiency and professionalism.  They apply not only to the daily performance of individual duties, but also to the manner in which you conduct yourself and your business.

Policy (ies)

  • A definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, facility, etc.
  • Action or procedure conforming to or considered with reference to prudence or expediency.
  • Prudence, practical wisdom, or expediency.  (expedient:  tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable under the circumstances.  Synonyms include advisable, appropriate, desirable.)

Policies and standards are so closely interwoven it is often hard to tell them apart.  Policies most often apply to those areas of the operation where they can be little or no leeway in how you do something, for instance in the area of Human Resources where so much of what you do is dictated by law or by the need for correct action to avoid litigation, or in the area of Accounting where exactness and consistency are necessary to ensure the correctness, accuracy, and transparency of financial reporting and fiduciary responsibilities.

Policies can also apply to operations.  For example you establish policies to ensure the consistent and fair treatment of customers, for instance in how you take tee times or restaurant reservations.  The need for policy here is to ensure that every customer has equal treatment and the same opportunity to enjoy the establishment’s amenities, which as every manager knows is important to keeping customers happy and satisfied.  Nothing will upset a customer faster than believing he or she is not getting a fair shake from the operation.

Procedure (s)

  • An act or a manner of proceeding in any action or process; conduct.
  • A particular course of mode of action.

Procedures are the “how to’s” of the enterprise’s business.  Sometimes they flow from standards and sometimes from policies, but in the end they are the exact instructions of how to do or complete a particular process, act, or event.  Whereas policies are often the big picture of why we do something, procedures are the detail of how it is done.

Standards, Policies, Procedures.  It is essential to develop detailed, written standards, policies, and procedures for every area of operations.  Not only are these the basis for developing training material, but they serve as the foundation for developing a culture that is consistently taught to new hires and reinforced by both management and other employees.  When everyone understands “the way things are done,” there is less opportunity for freelance behavior.  Eliminating freelancing or employee discretion fosters consistency of product and service delivery.  As Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt says in his book, Marketing for Business Growth, “Discretion is the enemy of order, standardization, and quality.”

In fact, employees will be the first to say that they appreciate the time and effort taken to teach them the accepted way of doing things and that management insists upon uniformly high standards.  People naturally take pride in being associated with quality and this is no less true for service employees.

Summary.  Taken together standards, policies, and procedures form the bulk of the material that an employee must master to satisfactorily complete all their job functions, duties, and responsibilities.  Without taking the time to define, explain, and clarify standards, policies, and procedures, how can management realistically know what it is that employees need to learn?  Without well-defined (i.e., written and reviewed) standards, policies, and procedures, any attempt to train will be disorganized and inconsistent.

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!


Yes, Your Employees Need Training, But . . .

Monday, October 5th, 2015

what your managers and supervisors really need is ongoing education and development!  And not just book learning, but thoughtful practical experience and guided professional learning, as well as knowledgeable coaching and mentoring by those with broader proficiency.

The requirements of leadership and sound decision making require nuanced thought and a deep understanding of the complex and interrelated consequences of judgments and choices.  Regardless of background, experience, and education, managers at every level need continuing development of their knowledge base and skill level.

A general manager, as the enterprise’s senior leader, has the near sacred responsibility to advance the development of all his or her subordinate managers.  Not only does the function serve the individual needs of subordinate managers, but as John Maxwell, noted author on leadership, has said,

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

Longstanding consumer advocate Ralph Nader also addressed the importance of this function when he said,

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

While my guess is that many GMs recognize this responsibility, few are able to follow through due to other pressing issues and time constraints.  In many cases, the need is for a structured program as a guide to ongoing professional and leadership development for junior managers.

Fortunately, Hospitality Resources International has created a number of such guides.  These that can be used in short, easy-to-absorb sessions to focus any hospitality team on the fundamentals of the profession.  When used in conjunction with well-thought out strategy and plans, they become powerful conveyances on the road to operational excellence.  Here’s a list and brief explanation of each:

Leadership on the Go – 53 coaching topics for the most fundamental and critical foundation of success; the perfect tool for coaching a consistent, service-based style of leadership.

Values on the Go – A means to constantly and consistently remind your management team of the operation’s underlying values.  Includes topics on Mission, Vision, Guiding Principles, and Operating Standards.

Service on the Go – The 54 topics in this book cover such topics as The Foundation of Service, Principles of Service, Attitude, Teamwork, Etiquette, Common Courtesies, Body Language and Tone of Voice, The Pre-Shift Meeting, Suggestive Selling, Engaging Customers, Dining Service Tips, Service Recovery, Wow Factors, and more.  Taken together they form an incredibly effective tool for coaching new employees and reminding long term employees on the basics of service and service delivery.

Management Disciplines on the Go – 130 topics to coach your management team on the essential disciplines of hospitality success.

Employee Development and Discipline on the Go – This 65 topic, wire-bound book is directed at the necessary disciplines to find, hire, develop, and retain the best talent for your operation.  Includes detailed principles and procedures for counseling, disciplining, and discharging problem employees.

Food Service Management on the Go – 136 best practice topics to remind and reinforce the necessary disciplines for running a high-quality and high-performing food service operation.

Accounting on the Go – A great teaching and coaching tool for managers and supervisors with bottom line responsibility.  Use these 46 short topics in a wire-bound book to remind your managers of their important fiscal responsibilities, as well as to help standardize the accounting functions of your operation.

Human Resources in the Go – 84 Human Resources coaching topics covering employment laws, hiring, onboarding, employee development, training, performance reviews, and necessary HR policies.  These topics are designed to assist your management team in meeting all regulatory requirements and HR best practices.

Each of these coaching tools can be purchased individually on the HRI Marketplace store.  As an alternative, all eight can be purchased at a 25% discount here.

Hospitality enterprises that engage in a formal program of coaching experience significant benefits, ranging from improved morale and engagement from people who recognize their employer’s commitment to their development, to enhanced performance resulting from a focus on the fundamentals of the business, and to pride in belonging to a high-performing operation.

Lastly, there is no greater satisfaction than that of the coaches who share their knowledge and experience in a meaningful way with those following in their footsteps.

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!