Archive for the ‘quality’ Category

Overcoming the Barriers to Quality

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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!

 

 

 

Quality and Service

Monday, March 16th, 2015

I have yet to come across a hotel, resort, restaurant, club, golf course, or management company that doesn’t claim to offer its customers/members/guests extraordinary, legendary, remarkable, superb, world-class (you pick the one) levels of service; yet how many of these organizations have taken the time or made the effort to define their quality and service standards?

Let us take a moment to define what we mean by service and quality.  According to Dictionary.com:

  • Service is “the act of helpful activity.”  In hospitality operations it is the process or performance of some task or event for your customers/guests/members.
  • Quality is “a characteristic or property that signifies relative merit or excellence.”  In our industry the word is used to express the relative merits or excellence of the facilities, amenities, activities, and service we provide our customers.

Given that a hospitality operation’s quality is defined by the relative merits of those things and the service provided to customers, let us pose some questions regarding the service to which you aspire or claim to offer:

  • Have you or your organization defined what service is for your service-delivery employees?
  • Have you explained or trained your employees what you and your customers’ expectations for service are?
  • Do you know what your customers expect when it comes to service?  If so, how do you know?  What methodology is used to determine customers’ needs and expectations?
  • Have you identified your key service touch points or moments of truth for your employees?
  • Have you taught or demonstrated for your employees how to handle various touch points in all their possible variations and contingencies?
  • Have you documented touch points and service standards, policies, and procedures to ensure that they are taught consistently to each new employee and new generations of employees?
  • Do you have a means of measuring compliance with service standards, policies, and procedures?
  • Do you have a process to address service failures?
  • Do you have a process to make service failures right for your customers?
  • Do you have a process to discover underlying causes of service failures to ensure they don’t happen again?
  • Do you have a consistent process to educate employees about changes to standards, policies, and procedures to eliminate service failures?
  • Do you have a means of monitoring service failures to identify trends or spot problems?
  • Do your employees know that they can self-report their service failures without fear or repercussions?

If you’ve answered “no” to the majority of the questions above, you do not provide quality service.  What you do provide is a series of interactions between customers and employees that may or may not meet the expectations of customers or management.  The quality you provide is based purely on chance and, therefore, has an unacceptably high risk of service failures.

If the above describes your operation’s quality and service, there is much to work on to meet the promises you’ve made to customers/guests/members.

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!

Consistency is Key to Quality and Service

Monday, January 12th, 2015

When it comes to quality and service some clubs are consistently awesome, a few are consistently awful, and most are consistently inconsistent. While there may be many factors that contribute to the comparative performance of clubs, a major underlying difference is consistency or lack thereof in the details of their operations.

As I progressed through my hospitality career, I often heard the time-worn remark that while fast food operations don’t necessarily provide their customers with the highest quality of product and service; they build their success on providing a consistent experience.

Private clubs aim higher for their customers – the elite and affluent members of a community who pay a significant amount to belong and enjoy the ambience and personalized service of a club.  Yet simply because a club offers more impressive surroundings, higher quality amenities, and a more upscale menu doesn’t mean that members don’t have a reasonable expectation of consistency whenever they come to their club.

But in contrasting clubs, which are often standalone operations with limited staffs and no economies of scale, with a McDonalds or a Subway with their significant corporate resources is an unfair comparison.  This doesn’t mean that clubs should not aspire to consistency of operations, but it does mean that clubs must make a concerted effort to institutionalize consistency in all areas, particularly in its relationship with members.

Here are major areas of a club operation where consistency is critical:

Leadership.  How your management team interacts with employees is critical to their commitment, performance, and engagement with members.  Without a consistent conception and application of leadership at all levels of the operation, the quality and service you provide will be as inconsistent as the leadership styles of each manager and supervisor.  Leadership on the Line and Leadership on the Line – The Workbook spell out in detail the principles of Service-Based Leadership and are a great foundation for consistent quality and service.

An Overarching Game Plan.  Every endeavor demands a plan to be successful.  Without a written plan to guide various departments in the execution of their missions, inconsistencies will abound.  The Quest for Remarkable Service is a good starting point in developing your specific game plan.

Organizational Values and Culture of Service.  The values your club holds dear and the manner it interacts with members, employees, and the community at large is crucial to its success.  As with any nuanced interaction with others, these must be well-defined, taught, and modeled to ensure consistent understanding and application.  Organizational Values can help you define your own values and culture of service.

Organizational and Operational Standards, Policies, and Procedures.  How can you possibly determine what employees should be trained to know and do if you have not defined your Standards, Policies, and Procedures?  See Club Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures and Club Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures; there is no better starting point to prepare your club’s customized SPPs in these two critical areas.

Management Disciplines.  In his groundbreaking book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Jim Collins said, “Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement in these.  It’s really just that simple.”  Without disciplined managers at every level of the organization executing best practice management disciplines, a club will never achieve consistency of operations or greatness.

Member Relations.  A club’s membership is its lifeblood.  How the club interacts with its members in all its areas of engagement will determine the memberships’ commitment to and use of club facilities.  This is an area that cannot be left to serendipity.  To be consistent in how members are engaged and treated, the club must have a comprehensive Member Relationship Management Plan and all employees must be trained in its requirements.

Managerial and Employee Training.  If employees are to perform with consistency, all staff, including managers, must be trained in all aspects of their positions and responsibilities, most particularly in the details of service and service delivery.  Read Training Requirements in Hospitality Operations for a broad list of training necessities.

Employee Empowerment.  John Tschohl said, “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”  Creating employee empowerment requires leadership, planning, and training.  Consistent empowerment training across all service delivery areas will transform both employee morale and member satisfaction.  Read The Power of Employee Empowerment for a greater understanding of this revolutionary means of service.

Planning, Execution, and Review.  The operational efforts of the club are encompassed in the ongoing process of planning, execution, and review.  When addressed and executed in a disciplined manner, this process can streamline your operation while infusing it with consistency.  Any club task that will be repeated (and this means 99.9% of everything you do) can be examined for ways to make it more efficient or replicated with greater ease.  This discipline leads naturally into the following one.

Continual Process Improvement.  Refer again to the quote from Jim Collins under Management Disciplines above, “. . . and then seek continual improvement in these.”  In the effort to continually improve, a major and continuing focus should be on improving the consistency of the club’s quality and service.

Accountability.  Everything we’ve talked about above to improve consistency of quality and service means nothing without accountability.  Without leadership, the “will to make it happen,” and strict accountability for results, running a high quality club is an exercise in futility.

Having discussed the major areas requiring consistency, you must understand that the way to build a high performing, consistent operation is not unknown, but at the same time, there is nothing easy about the effort that goes into it.  It requires the hard work, focus, and diligence that Jim Collins described as the Flywheel Effect in building a “good to great” company,

“Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough.  Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds up momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.”

Fortunately, much of the initial groundwork and documentation has already been accomplished.  Given the fact that most clubs are similar in their aims and methods, there is no sense in reinventing the wheel.  Hospitality Resources International has a wide variety of basic resources available to purchase at reasonable cost.  This material can be used as is or can be customized for specific operations.

When you recognize that consistency is a significant underlying element of both quality and service, it is obvious that it must be a focus of everything you do to organize the club and train staff.  So do yourself, your employees, and your members a favor and ensure a Consistency of Message for your club to consistently excel in everything you do.

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!

Impediments to Quality and Service

Monday, October 29th, 2012

We frequently write about those steps that a club must take to promote excellence.  As an alternative let’s examine those things that act as impediments to quality and service.

Think about each of the following obstacles to a smooth-running operation where quality and service are paramount; then decide whose responsibility it is to remove the impediment:

  1. Lack of culture or failure to consistently reinforce the culture
  2. Lack of standards (stated expectations)
  3. Lack of communication
  4. Lack of leadership, leadership consistency, and example
  5. Lack of organization; toleration of a chaotic work environment
  6. Lack of disciplines to hire the best staff
  7. Lack of planning, operational review, and process improvement
  8. Failure to remove obstacles to efficiency
  9. Lack of training or training consistency
  10. Lack of teamwork, morale, and enthusiasm
  11. Lack of understanding about what members want/expect
  12. Lack of member relationship management plan
  13. Lack of employee empowerment
  14. Lack of accountability

If you have a true understanding of the responsibilities of leadership – that a leader is responsible for everything his or her unit does or fails to do – then correcting every one of these impediments is a function of management.

Intrinsically understanding this validates that W. Edwards Deming was right when he said, “The worker is not the problem.  The problem is at the top!  Management is the problem!” and “There is much talk about how to get employees involved with quality.  The big problem is how to get management involved.”

Understanding what causes a problem is the first step to correcting it.  So take the next step and read The Quest for Remarkable Service which provides an overarching plan for excellence in club operations.  Then begin implementing the processes and disciplines that will remove any and all impediments to quality and service.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Improve Quality – Lower Costs

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Common wisdom tells us that quality costs more, but according to one of the foremost experts on quality this is not the case.

W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, consultant, lecturer, a man who made significant contributions to Japan’s reputation for high quality products and its rise to an economic power in the latter half of the 20th Century, wrote extensively about how a focus on quality and the use of statistical process control actually reduces costs while providing a number of other benefits. Convincingly, his ideas and methods were proven true by numerous success stories – most dramatically the rise of Japanese manufacturing to world class status after World War II.

On page 3 of his 1982 book, Out of the Crisis, written as he said with the aim of transforming American management, he provides a chart that shows the logic of his methods.

  • When you improve quality,
  • Your costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays and snags, better use of time and materials.
  • This improves productivity,
  • Which drives increased market share with better quality and lower prices,
  • Which allows you to stay in business, and
  • Provide more and more jobs.

He also clearly states that quality is not the job of production (or line) workers, it is the job of management. To this end he stipulates the 14 Points for Management which he describes as the “basis for transformation of American industry.” They are:

  1. “Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service.
  2. “Adopt the new philosophy that comes with the new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. “End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price. Instead minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. “Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. “Institute training on the job. Training must be totally reconstructed. Management needs training to learn about the company, all the way from incoming material to the customer.
  7. “Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. “Break down barriers between departments.
  10. “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. “Eliminate work quotas. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. “Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride in workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Remove barriers that rob people in management of their right to pride in workmanship. This means abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. “Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. “Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.”

While his life’s work was primarily with manufacturing industries, he categorically states that the principles of statistical process control that produce quality in manufacturing and “all that we learned about the 14 points and the diseases of management applies to service organizations.”

Deming goes on to compare and contrast the challenges of manufacturing a product and delivering a service. These are instructive to anyone in service who wants to improve quality. As an example he provides an observation contributed by William J. Latzko, a consultant who works with clients on quality and service:

“One finds in service organizations, as in manufacturing, absence of definite procedures. There is an unstated assumption in most service organizations that the procedures are fully defined and followed. This appears to be so obvious that authors avoid it. Yet in practice this condition is often not met. Few organizations have up-to-date procedures. Consider a manufacturer who has full specifications for making a product, but whose sales department does not have guidelines for how to enter an order. A control on error on placing orders would require procedures for the sales department. I have seen numerous service-oriented operations functioning without them.”

How does a company measure or quantify the cost of confusion, mishandled or incomplete information, time to investigate and correct errors, and customer dissatisfaction? Without well-defined procedures how can a company consistently train its workers to do quality work?

The bottom line is that poor quality and disorganization is a major driver of costs in manufacturing and service organizations. In the service industries an improvement in quality not only lowers costs but also improves service. The combination of lower cost and better service makes the business more competitive and successful in the marketplace – and isn’t this the very job that management is hired to do?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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