Overcoming the Barriers to Quality

The bottom line for any private club is to consistently meet or exceed the expectations of its members.  Given that the members of clubs typically come from the affluent and elite segments of a community means that their life experiences have accustomed them to superior levels of quality and service.  To exceed their expectations, therefore, the management and staff of a private club must be committed to quality in all aspects of its operations.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, American businesses and industries became obsessed with understanding and implementing the necessary initiatives and processes that led to the astonishing Japanese dominance in quality manufacturing.  American academics and business leaders, building on the pioneering work of Dr. Joseph H. Duran, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, and others, embraced the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) as the answer to improved competiveness.

In 1988 a major U.S. government agency defined TQM as:

“a strategy for continuously improving performance at every level, and in all areas of responsibility.  It combines fundamental management techniques, existing improvement efforts, and specialized technical tools under a disciplined structure focused on continuously improving all processes.”

While many businesses and organizations embraced TQM, not all attempts were successful.

As often stated, much can be learned from failure, which demands close examination, while success is celebrated but often less well understood.  In 1996 Robert J. Masters published an article in Quality Progress magazine entitled, “Overcoming the Barriers to TQM’s Success.”  In this paper Masters listed eight obstacles to efforts to improve quality (shown below with our comments and resources relating to private club management in italics):

1.  “Lack of management commitment.  Management must commit time and resources and clearly communicate the importance and goals to all personnel.”

Service-Based Leadership places a primary focus on providing all the tools, training, resources, daily engagement, and example to provide high levels of quality and service to members.  Constant communication is an essential element of such leadership, while open and Unimpeded Communication ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page.

2.  “Inability to change the organizational culture.  Change takes time and effort.  In order for the culture to change, the employees need to want change and be willing to participate.  This requires reasons that management must convey.  The change will only occur if the employees trust the management.  It cannot occur from a state of fear.”

Well-defined and continually reinforced Organizational Values and a culture of service are essential to club operations.  Whether you need to start from scratch to develop such a culture or you want to change an existing culture, you cannot achieve quality and service without it.

3.  “Improper planning.  Planning must involve all parts of the organization and be communicated clearly to employees.”

A Discipline of Planning on all levels of the organization is crucial.  As we say, the importance of disciplined planning cannot be overstated.  Haphazard planning results in haphazard operations and equally haphazard performance.

4.  “Lack of training.  The most effective training comes from senior management.  Informal training needs to occur on a continual basis.”

Lack of formal and consistent training is the Achilles Heel of Hospitality OperationsOn the Go Training is an effective way to continually train without breaking the bank.  The club’s management team must provide a consistent message of quality and excellence and be actively involved in training.  Ensuring the management team is properly and thoroughly trained is even more important than training line employees as pointed out in Management Training is an Essential Part of a Quality Operation.

5.  “Organizational structure problems and isolated individuals or departments.  Multifunctional teams will help break down some of these barriers.  Restructuring is another method.”

Structure and organization are fundamental in any complex enterprise, as is the discipline of utilizing industry best practices on a consistent basis.  The Remarkable Service Infrastructure is offered as an overarching plan for structuring club operations for quality and service.

6.  “Ineffective measurement and lack of data.  Effective decisions require that the employees have access to the necessary data.”

Benchmarking club operations in detail will provide the data to keep stakeholders informed and focused on continual improvements.  Judicious sharing of the data with line employees will furnish the necessary feedback and incentives to excel in their efforts.

7.  “Inadequate attention to internal and external customers.”

The feedback loops in The Remarkable Service Infrastructure graphically represent the need to listen to both internal and external customers.  Knowing and addressing the concerns and challenges of employees is just as important as providing for the needs and desires of members.  Are Your Internal Customers Also Being Served? speaks to the need for attending to your internal customers.

8.  “Inadequate empowerment, lack of teamwork.  Teams require training.  Their recommendations should be followed whenever possible.  Individuals need to be empowered to make decisions.”

Note the requirement for employees to be willing, committed, AND empowered on The Pyramid of Successful Service.   This powerful tool of quality and service is described and explained in The Power of Employee Empowerment.

The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to identify it; once identified you can formulate initiatives to address it.  Hospitality Resources International provides a wide variety of resources to put your club on the path to improved levels of quality and service.  Whatever success you’ve achieved in your own quest for high levels of quality and service, reviewing the HRI materials may inspire or materially assist in your efforts towards excellence.

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!




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