Archive for May, 2019

The Hospitality Challenge

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

I’ve learned a lot about the hospitality business since my first position as General Manager of an historic hotel in the late 70s.  In a variety of positions in hotels, resorts, and private clubs – in startups, turnarounds, and repositionings, I’ve learned a number of key lessons from my efforts to deliver high levels of service.  Here they are:

The customer is King.  The only perception of quality, service, and value is the customer’s.  Hospitality managers must learn as much as possible about their customers in order to meet their needs and wants – where they come from, why they come to your establishment, what are their expectations, what do they like or dislike about your property, what are their complaints, what would they like improved?

The hospitality business is detail and people-intensive.  It takes a lot of people doing all the right things everyday to deliver consistent, quality service.  Therefore:

  • Written standards, policies, and procedures ensure every employee knows what to do and how to do it; help develop specific training materials; and ensure consistency and continuity in the operation.
  • Formal training is a necessity.  Operational processes cannot be left to oral history or chance.
  • Continuous process improvement is a must.  We can never rest on yesterday’s accomplishments.
  • Thorough benchmarking of all areas of the operation ensures that we know what is going on and what our customers are telling us by their spending habits.

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

  • Consistent, property-wide leadership is a must.  Disparate and competing leadership styles confound the staff and sow divisions in the team.
  • Values and behaviors must be spelled out in detail and reinforced continually.
  • Excessive employee turnover is damaging to an organization in continuity, lost time, and cost.  Except in extreme cases our first impulse (especially in difficult labor markets) is not to fire, but to examine causes; improve processes, organization, disciplines, and training; and instruct, counsel, and coach employees.
  • Employees must be empowered to think and act in alignment with organization values, the property’s mission and vision, and carefully defined management guidelines.  “Without empowerment an organization will never be a service leader.”  Why?  Because there is far more to do and monitor on a daily basis than any management team can possible handle.  Authority for service and service delivery must be pushed down to the lowest levels of the organization – where it takes place.

Work planning and ongoing performance review are essential to holding managers accountable for their performance and the performance of their departments or work teams.  Without accountability only the General Manager is accountable and he or she will fail or burnout trying to succeed.

Leadership is key at all levels of the organization:

  • To set an unimpeachable example for employees.
  • To uncover, analyze, and solve problems.
  • To thoroughly communicate standards, policies, procedures, information, and training.
  • To engage customers and staff continuously.

All of the foregoing requirements must be institutionalized so that the operation continues undisturbed in the face of any turnover and 80% of the operation functions routinely – allowing management to focus on strategic issues, planning, execution, problem-solving, and customer interface.

These lessons learned have led me to formulate a plan to create and deliver high levels of service.  This plan can be found in a white paper I’ve written entitled The Quest for Remarkable Service.

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 managers throughout the country and around the world.

Why Service-Based Leadership Matters

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

Service-Based Leaders have to balance the needs of the customers, their employees, the business and themselves. It is a lot to handle, particularly for new leaders. Leadership on the Line – The Workbook by Ed Rehkopf is not a rehashed list of stagnant advice. The Workbook is an interactive experience that allows readers to assess their individual needs to cultivate their employee relationships, customer service and leadership skills.

What sets The Workbook apart from other leadership guides is the intense level of self-analysis that it provides. This book helps readers learn about the motivations behind their behavior. It provides advice on how to build a leadership foundation based on character traits and interpersonal relationships. The book can be used as self-study or as part of a guided instruction.

It is important to note that this book is the most effective for those who are willing to honestly examine their beliefs and behaviors. Skimming through the text without participating in the exercises will not be as beneficial to the reader. The more a person puts into The Workbook, the greater the outcome will be.

Strong leadership is dependent upon strong relationships. One of the first exercises in The Workbook helps the reader to determine who his or her constituencies are. Creating a list of people who depend upon you is the first step to figuring out their needs and how you can best meet those needs. The Workbook teaches the reader how to nurture the relationships with all constituencies in order to improve employee and customer relations.

The Workbook also examines the relationship between the reader and his or her boss. Being a Service-Based Leader does not give a person free reign, so this portion of the book is particularly helpful. The Workbook asserts that you are responsible for your boss’s opinion of you. By considering what can be done to help manage your boss, The Workbook helps readers enhance their relationships with their superiors.

The strength of The Workbook is how much ground it covers in under one hundred pages. It addresses everything from engagement and accountability to standards and policies with the same honest introspection. Moreover, the lessons learned in this book can help people in any stage of their career path. Newly hired leaders can use The Workbook to appraise their strengths and weaknesses and help them develop their managerial style. Established leaders can use the book to reexamine the way that they work and how it affects the people around them.

Since The Workbook is so personal, it fosters different results for each individual. Ed Rehkopf created a work that helps people customize their leadership approach. The Workbook guides readers into having reasons behind their actions instead of acting solely out of habit. The book explains that there isn’t one particular way to be a leader. Different strategies will work for different people, and The Workbook celebrates that fact. Ed Rehkopf teaches that leadership isn’t something a person just has. Leadership must be developed, and The Workbook is a powerful tool to help people do just that.

Reviewed by Erin