Archive for the ‘remarkable service’ Category

Training: The Achilles Heel of Club Operations, Part II

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I promised last week to offer strategies for training club employees, but I’d like to postpone that another week.  Instead I want to discuss the major issues of manager and supervisory training, since a poorly trained manager or supervisor can do far greater harm to your operation than a line employee by failing in any of the areas mentioned here.

  • Managers and supervisors direct your front line employees. If they don’t have a complete understanding of their duties and your expectations, your service message and vision for the operation will not be passed consistently to employees.
  • A management team with different leadership styles ranging from service-based, to military, to athletic, to collegial, to Neanderthal, will not interact with employees consistently or fairly — and consistency and fairness are touchstone issues in meeting the requirements of equal opportunity, discrimination, morale, and motivation. Ideally, an organization would have one management and leadership style, promulgated by the Board or General Manager and practiced uniformly by all managers and supervisors; anything less invites trouble.
  • A club’s organizational values and culture require constant reinforcement to all employees and must be consistently emphasized in word and deed to employees. Without appropriate manager training and development, the example and message will be inconsistent and confusing.
  • Managers and supervisors are your people with the answers. In addition to their job specific knowledge and skills, they must have a thorough understanding of all the club’s rules, regulations, work policies, member policies, administrative and accounting systems and procedures. Without training they cannot have a firm grasp of these complex and interrelated matters. Stop for a second and consider the problems that can be caused by two different managers giving conflicting direction or answers to employees or members.
  • Managers and supervisors act as agents of the club. If they do not have an in-depth understanding of all the laws and governmental regulations affecting your club, the club is open to liability issues and litigation. Examples include: the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Alcohol Law Enforcement regulations, Equal Opportunity issues, Sexual Harassment, Food Sanitation, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and others. While you may have experts in each of these matters on staff, their knowledge must be shared with other managers to avoid what could become significant problems for the club.  Throughout my career many of the most significant problems I faced were as a result of subordinate managers without a proper understanding of these important issues.
  • Ethics training for all managers. Some think this isn’t necessary, but experience shows this to be a naïve assumption.

To expect that different managers with different backgrounds and experiences from a variety of operational disciplines — golf, golf course maintenance, accounting, personnel, facility maintenance, food and beverage, membership, activities, tennis, and aquatics — will have a common understanding of and approach to leadership and management is foolish.

Bottom Line:  Without strong, stable, and consistent leadership and management at all levels of your club, your staff is a bunch of tribes, often at odds or in conflict — and this is no way to run a railroad, much less a club.

We’ll talk about strategies to train next week.

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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Employee Empowerment

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The aim of Service-Based Leadership is to empower employees at all levels to think and act in alignment with your club’s values as they serve the needs of all constituencies—boards, members, and other employees.  Ultimately, employee empowerment is the end result of Service-Based Leadership.

Instead of the traditional view that employees are easily replaceable elements in an organization, people who must be trained to do narrow, well-defined tasks and who must be closely watched and supervised at all times, the concept of empowerment says that today’s more educated and sometimes more sophisticated employees need and want to contribute more to their employer and workplace.  Yet many clubs marginalize their employees by refusing to listen to them and by failing to let them contribute to the enterprise in any meaningful way.

Further, highly successful clubs who engage their employees in developing work processes and continual process improvement have discovered that these empowered employees make indispensable partners in delivering service.  Not only do they have a greater stake in the enterprise and are more fully committed to and responsible for their work, they actually equate their purpose and success with that of their club.

What is Employee Empowerment?

So what are empowered employees and how can they help your club meet its Mission and Vision?  In the simplest terms empowered employees are viewed as full-fledged partners in your quest for high levels of quality and service.  They are encouraged to think, act, and make decisions on their own based on guidelines defined by the club.

Leaders must understand that empowerment is not something bestowed on employees like some magical gift from management.  The leaders’ role is to establish both the environment and atmosphere where employees feel their empowerment and are emboldened to make decisions, knowing they have the support and backing of their leaders.

The major role that leaders make in empowering their employees is to create a culture where employees are valued and recognized as vital resources of the enterprise.  They must also understand that to be successful with employee empowerment, employees must fully sense the club’s commitment to such empowerment; simply saying that employees are empowered, does not make it so.  Leaders at all levels must do more than talk the talk.

While employee empowerment may be seen as a desirable practice by management, it ultimately comes about only with the recognition by employees that they are empowered.  This means that the focus of leaders must not be on what employees are doing to achieve empowerment, but on what they themselves are doing to promote and enable it.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook.

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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Implementation of Remarkable Service

Monday, October 5th, 2009

While many think that it costs more to provide Remarkable Service levels, this is not necessarily so.  At the end of the day it’s more about organization and discipline than it is about higher costs.

It does, however, require commitment on the part of the owners or board, buy-in from the club’s membership, and a long-term, focused effort from the General Manager and management staff.  The end result of Remarkable Service, of an organized and efficient operation, and a focused staff working in unison toward a common goal, comes from Jim Collins’ Flywheel effect.  To quote from Good to Great,

What do the right people want more than anything else?  They want to be part of a winning team.  They want to contribute to producing visible, tangible results.  They want to feel the excitement of being involved in something that just flat-out works.  When the right people see a simple plan born of confronting the brutal facts – a plan developed from understanding, not bravado – they are likely to say, ‘That’ll work.  Count me in.’ When they see the monolithic unity of the executive team behind the simple plan and the selfless, dedicated qualities of Level 5 leadership, they’ll drop their cynicism.  When people begin to feel the magic of momentum – when they begin to see tangible results, when they can feel the flywheel beginning to build speed – that’s when the bulk of people line up to throw their shoulders against the wheel and push.”

Realistically, the process may take three to five years . . . or longer.  But the benefits to the club are as remarkable as the level of service achieved, including:

  • Accountable, service-based leaders
  • Willing, committed, and empowered staff
  • Lower staff turnover; improved morale and motivation
  • Greater operational efficiencies
  • Improved operating performance
  • Less liability exposure
  • Better planning and execution
  • Less turmoil and chaos in the operation
  • Improved member sales, member satisfaction and retention

The important thing for management, staff, and members to recognize is that they are working on a plan to revitalize their club.  And as legendary Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry said,

Setting a goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”

Click here to read the entire Quest for Remarkable Service white paper.

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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Benchmarking

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Imagine two professional baseball teams.  One team measures every aspect of every player’s performance—the number of at bats; number of hits, walks, and strikeouts; batting averages against right- and left-handed pitchers; slugging averages; and fielding percentages.  They also measure each pitcher’s earned run average, number of base on balls, strikeouts, wild pitches; and so on.  The other team decides it’s too much trouble and keeps no statistics whatsoever.

These two teams will meet each other eighteen times a season.  While well matched in player talent, hustle, and desire, and though each team possesses competent management and coaching, one team dominates the other season after season.  Would anyone be surprised to discover which is the dominant team?

As everyone knows, this example is ludicrous because every baseball team measures players’ performance and uses this information to make crucial game decisions.  What is it that baseball managers understand that some club managers don’t seem to grasp?  The fact that everything in life follows patterns. When patterns are tracked and analyzed, they can be used to predict future performance and set goals.

Benchmarking, the act of measuring and analyzing operating performance, seeks to understand the patterns underlying a club’s operation.  Reasons to benchmark include:

  • Benchmarks can be used to establish performance goals for future operating periods.
  • Benchmarks help identify under-performance and best practices.
  • Benchmarks from past periods can make budgeting for future periods easier and far more accurate.
  • Tracking revenues and comparing them to historical benchmarks allows management to measure member response to products/services and new initiatives.
  • Benchmarks create the measurable accountabilities for each manager’s work plan.

The club’s monthly operating statements provide good basic information, but these summary numbers can mask troubling trends within the operation.  For instance, higher food revenues can be a result of less patronage, but each member spending more because of higher menu prices.  The manager is happy with the higher revenues, but is blissfully ignorant of declining clientele.

Benchmarking is best accomplished by department heads who have bottom line responsibility.  Most performance measures will fall into the following broad categories.

  • Revenues and expenses, both aggregate and by type
  • Inventories
  • Retail sales mix to determine buying patterns of members

Most of the raw data necessary to benchmark comes from point-of-sale (POS) reports.  Much of this lode of daily information gets looked at briefly by department heads or the accounting office and is then filed away, rarely to be seen again.  The real value of this information comes from tracking it over time to determine trends by day of week, week to week, month to month, and year to year.  This makes it necessary for managers to pull the information from POS reports and enter it into spreadsheet software.

A few caveats:

  • There are as many aspects of an operation to measure as time, resources, and ingenuity will allow.  Focus on those most critical to one’s operation.
  • Data used in benchmarking must be defined and collected in a consistent manner.
  • When comparing data, always compare like to like.
  • Ensure benchmarks measure events with only one underlying variable.
  • Do not draw conclusions from too small a sample.  The larger the sample, the more accurate the conclusion.
  • When two pieces of data are compared to generate a benchmark, both a small sample size or extreme volatility in one or the other, can skew the resultant benchmark.

Benchmarking is not complicated, but it does require discipline and persistence.  It is best accomplished by setting up routine systems to collect, compile, report, and analyze the information collected.  Like a baseball team, the knowledge gained by benchmarking will bring a club to the top of its game.

 

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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Romancing Your Members – Member Relationship Management

Monday, September 14th, 2009

I recently read a book called Romancing the Customer, Maximizing Brand Value through Powerful Relationship Management written by two British authors, Paul Temporal and Martin Trott.  While its message was targeted to large businesses, often in the retail and service sectors, it contained the seeds of important ideas for private club management.

First, the book makes the point that “Brands are Relationships.  People don’t buy products; they buy brands.”  They go on to say that:

“Brands are:

  • Experiences. A good experience with anything fuels the desire for more, while a poor experience kills the appetite.
  • Very personal. They give exclusivity of feeling and association. (the way private clubs are supposed to do)
  • Evoke emotions. Emotion is at the very heart of power brand strategies, aiming to capture both the rational and emotional aspects of the target customer.
  • Live and evolve. Brands are very much like people. Many have their own distinctive personalities, and these personalities evolve over time, just as ours do.
  • Communicate. Like people, brands listen, receive feedback, and send messages. They talk to different people in different ways, just as we do. Brands that are successful tend to be those that create a dialogue with consumers.
  • Create equity and loyalty. It is the way in which brands interact, and the friendship they give that engenders loyalty and a long-lasting relationship.
  • Above all, add friendship and romance. The greater the emotional involvement on the part of the consumer, the greater the friendship and loyalty that results.

Next the authors state categorically that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the quickest way to establish a brand.

quote-call-outs1-2“What is CRM?  It’s all about collaborating with each customer, adding value to each customer’s life.  In return, you get their loyalty.  Further, it’s about dealing with each customer individually, because all customers are not equal and should not be treated equally.  A small percentage of your customers contribute far more to your revenues and to your profit.  But as compelling as the economics of focusing on your best customers, a good CRM program should not ignore the others.  In fact, good CRM programs encourage less profitable customers to become better customers.  There is no doubt that by turning your organization into one that is centered around the customer, every single customer will ultimately benefit.

“But the focus must be on capturing ‘share of heart,’ not ‘share of wallet.’  While money-grubbing will certainly build short-term sales, it will not ensure that you build an enduring relationship.”

Traditional marketing theory says that it’s all a numbers game.  The more you market, the more people you contact, they greater your sales.  The authors point out that what makes marketing a numbers game “is the lack of specific information about individual customers.”  Today, though, with the rapid growth in computing power and data capture, it is possible to know each of your customers far better.  And that information provides the power to romance your customers.  “Instead of focusing your efforts on your product, focus on your customers.  By building up that body of information on each customer over time, you can increase the degree of tailoring of your product or service and, in the process, strengthen the emotional bond between the customer, your brand, and your company.”

Ultimately, “Customer Relationship Management builds strong brand by creating the right blend of organization, systems, and processes that allow your people to understand your customers as individuals, and potentially tailor every interaction with a customer to their specific needs.”

mrm-22What does this mean for us as private club managers?  Simply put, the more we know our members, the more we understand their needs, the better able we will be to provide the individualized service that people join clubs to receive.

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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Service-Based Leadership

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Service-Based Leadership is the foundation for Remarkable Service.

Given that leading ultimately involves guiding, influencing, and directing people, I posit the following working definition for “Leadership”:

Leadership is the sum of those individual traits, skills, and abilities that allow one person to commit and direct the efforts of others toward the accomplishment of a particular objective.

Central to this definition is the understanding that exercising leadership involves building and sustaining relationships between leader and followers. Without this bond or connection, there are no willing followers and, therefore, no true leader. Given that no leader operates in a vacuum, it also requires that the leader establish relationships with other relevant constituencies.

With Service-Based Leadership, the attitude and primary motivation of the leader is service to others – to members, to employees, to shareholders. This approach to leadership naturally creates relationships – the deep and abiding bonds that sustain the efforts of the organization. This outward focus of the leader sets up a dynamic where:

  • Employees are continually recognized.
  • There is an open flow of ideas, opinions, and information.
  • Initiative and risk are highly regarded.
  • Problem discovery and solution is a focus while placing blame is unimportant.
  • Every employee feels energized and part of the team and is valued for his or her contribution.
  • Prestige is derived from performance and contribution, not title or position.
  • Members are treated well because employees are treated well.
  • The energy and initiative of all employees is focused on the common effort.

With Service-Based Leadership, you will find that service to both internal and external customers is effortless. Less energy is expended in processing complaints, grievances, and conflicts. Work is more fun and everyone’s job is easier.

The Service-Based Leader understands that the key to serving the needs of those he or she serves lies in ensuring that strong relationships are established with individuals. How does one do this? Begin by:

  • Treating everyone you meet with courtesy, respect, and good cheer.
  • Focusing on each person you deal with as if he or she were the most important person in the world.
  • Taking the time to get to know people; sharing your time and attention with them.
  • Learning about other people’s jobs and the challenges and difficulties they face.
  • Keeping promises and following through on commitments.
  • Being principled, showing fairness, and demonstrating integrity.
  • Recognizing the ultimate value of people in all you do.

Relationships depend upon how you view yourself in relation to others. If you see yourself as separate and apart from your constituencies, if you view others as the means to your end, if your vision and goals lack a broader purpose than your own needs and ambitions, establishing meaningful relationships will be impossible. On the other hand, when you see yourself as part of a team with a shared mission, then a sense of service will be an intrinsic part of your service team relationships.

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 – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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Employee Empowerment

Monday, May 25th, 2009

John Tschohl, Founder and President of the Service Quality Institute, says, “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.” That statement from one of the country’s leading thinkers on quality is strong and unequivocal. But just how does a company or organization “drive” employee empowerment.

The answer is simple and just as unequivocal – Service-Based Leadership.

Without effective Service-Based Leadership, not just at the top of the organization, but at all the intervening ranks down to, and most importantly, front line supervisors, the necessary relationships will never be formed with line employees. Here are some quotes that make the point.bowtie-21

People who are unable to build solid, lasting relationships will soon discover that they are unable to sustain long, effective leadership.”
John C. Maxwell
Developing the Leader Within You

“With Service-Based Leadership, the attitude and primary motivation of the leader is service to others – to members, to employees, to shareholders. This approach to leadership naturally creates relationships – the deep and abiding bonds that sustain the efforts of the company.”

Leadership on the Line

“This leadership style differs from others in its focus on serving the needs of employees to provide them with the proper tools, training, resources, motivation, and empowerment to serve the club’s members.”
The Quest for Remarkable Service

“How can employees provide quality service if they are not properly served by the leadership and example of their managers?”
The Quest for Remarkable Service

“As a group of people committed to common goals, you can only achieve your team’s greatest potential by taking advantage of the talent, initiative, and ingenuity of each and every one of your employees. To the extent that any individual is not valued, trained, and motivated, your enterprise suffers.”
Leadership on the Line

rc-staff-31For employees to feel empowered, you have to create a culture that nourishes and sustains it. By conscientiously and sincerely working to become the best Service-Based Leader you can be . . . you will create an environment where employees will recognize their empowerment and enthusiastically act on it in all they do.”
Employee Empowerment

“[None of the ways to kill empowerment] are caused by employees. If your employees do not feel empowered, look no further than your leadership and the way you interact with your people.”
Employee Empowerment

Summary: Since employee empowerment ultimately depends only on “the recognition by employees that they are empowered,” empowerment is a direct result of an organization’s systematic development and institutionalization of Service-Based Leadership.

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 – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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On Top at Mountaintop

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak at a meeting of the Charlotte-Blue Ridge Mountain chapter of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) this past week in Cashiers, NC.

This was my fourth occasion to speak before HFTP groups and spoke this time on The Quest for Remarkable Service, Service-Based Leadership, and Employee Empowerment.  The setting for the meeting at the Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club could not have been more idyllic.  Spring has come to the NC Mountains and the rhododendrons are in full bloom with the Mountain Laurel not far behind.

L-R:  Ed Rehkopf, Myra Bumgarner, Rob Duckett

L-R: Ed Rehkopf, Myra Bumgarner, Rob Duckett

For those unfamiliar with Mountaintop, it is a recent addition to the fabulous stable of Discovery Land Company properties.  Now in its fourth season under General Manager Rob Duckett and selected as the top country club in the country by GolfWeek Magazine, Mountaintop has raised the bar for the entire industry when it comes to exceptional service and delivering the “wow” factor to members and guests.

Three things strike me as I contemplate Mountaintop’s service levels.  First, is the engaging, knowledgeable, and professional manner of their employees.  Without exception they make you feel welcomed as if you were a long, lost family member or friend.  Second, are the unexpected service touches, large and small, that both surprise and delight – from the golf course comfort stations stocked with an unbelievable assortment of complimentary snacks and delectables, to the iced bottled water placed by the valet in the cup holder of your car as you depart.  Lastly, is the genuinely pleasant and friendly demeanor of every employee, both line staff and management, whom you encounter.

I joined Rob for dinner Thurdsay night and we talked about his management style and the special challenges he and his staff face.  As I listened I began to understand how he has achieved such a well-deserved reputation for service excellence.  It can simply be summed up in one word – leadership!  During my brief time on property employee after employee spoke glowingly of their boss.  They described Rob as “a great leader,” “demanding, yet fair,” “open and approachable,” “a great communicator,” and “brings out the best in all of us.”

While so many of us struggle to find and retain good employees, Rob has managed to attract great people who stay with him or come back season after season; and remarkably he has achieved this in a remote mountain setting with a limited pool of qualified people.

While Mountaintop’s membership pay well for the privilege of belonging, I am convinced that Rob’s rare leadership style could provide similar results in almost any club at any price point.  Granted the service touches may be less extravagant, but it’s the human element that really makes the difference and Rob’s leadership does bring out the best in his people.

Top (L-R): Dennis Buckner, Gray McRimmon, Dennis Leftwich  Middle: Steven Argo, Linda Fletcher, Pat Weyandt   Bottom: Melody Bumwell, Chrissy Sheridan, Myra Bumgarner

Top (L-R): Dennis Buckner, Gray McRimmon, Dennis Leftwich Middle: Steven Argo, Linda Fletcher, Pat Weyandt . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bottom: Melody Bumwell, Chrissy Sheridan, Myra Bumgarner

About the HFTP:  As mentioned before this is my fourth time speaking to various HFTP groups – and I’ll do so again next month in NJ and again the following month in Richmond.  At each conference I’ve attended I have been truly impressed by this group of hospitality professionals.  Their meetings are far more than social networking opportunities.  Education and sharing their challenges and solutions is a large part of the agendas.  With their headquarters in Austin, TX, and an international office in Maastricht, the Netherlands, this group strives to enhance the professionalism, career development, and advancement opportunities of its 4,800 members.

The topic of Service-Based Leadership touched off a lively discussion of the do’s and don’ts, the characteristics of good leaders, some of the causes of weak leadership, and the need for more leadership development and accountability throughout the industry.  The implications of this important topic were emphasized in a dramatic way by the example and experience of Mountaintop and its marvelous staff.

Special thanks to our Mountaintop hosts, Myra Bumgarner, Controller, and Chrissy Sheridan, Assistant Controller, for a memorable day.  They and the rest of the Mountaintop staff made us all – participants and presenter – most welcomed and at home on top of their mountain!

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 – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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