Posts Tagged ‘hospitality operations’

A Modest Grand Theory

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Albert Einstein, after his world-shaking General Theory of Relativity was published, validated, and accepted by the scientific community, spent the remainder of his life working on a Unified Field Theory that attempted to boil all physics down to one elemental formula, hopefully as elegantly simple as his earlier stroke of genius – E=mc2.  While he never achieved his Grand Theory, I fully understand his desire to distill complexity to simplicity.

On a far humbler scale, I have also been impelled to boil the seeming complexities of hospitality operations into a smaller number of principles that when followed would lead to organizational success.  What I’ve come to believe is that there are four basic requirements for any successful organizations.  They are:

  • Leadership – the skills that permit those who direct an enterprise to win the enthusiastic support and efforts of their followers to the accomplishment of specific goals and tasks.
  • Organization – the ability to structure and integrate the complex and interrelated programs and processes of the enterprise to promote efficient operations.
  • Management Disciplines – the ability to consistently implement generally-accepted requirements and best practices at all levels of the organization.
  • Hiring Well and Training Thoroughly – the programs and disciplines that cultivate the attraction and retention of the best talent, as well as consistent, efficient, and professional completion of all tasks and engagements with members.

Having outlined these four requirements, I would go on to say that they are all supported by one key element and that is discipline.

While complex business enterprises require both broad and specific skill sets for success, these mean little if each individual and the corporate group as a whole don’t have the intense and overriding discipline to focus daily on the essential tasks at hand and complete them as efficiently as possible.

Complex enterprises may be based on sound management ideas and theory, but without, as Jim Collins says, “disciplined people taking disciplined thought and engaged in disciplined action,” they will never build enduring greatness.  In other words, despite whatever talents your management team may possess, without discipline you’re just muddling through.

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.

Report This!

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Some years ago while I was discussing the benefits of benchmarking with a club general manager, he surprised me by saying that he “didn’t like reports.”  I was so stunned by this admission that I never did discover his objection – whether he didn’t like preparing them for his superiors or didn’t like getting and reading them from subordinates.  Either way it seemed to me that he was unnecessarily limiting the flow of information and blinding himself to the details of his operation.

Let me digress for a moment to imagine a pilot of a commercial airliner in the cockpit of his plane.  At any moment of the flight from pre-flight preparation, take off, cruising to destination, to approach and landing, he has a host of dials, gauges, and indicators that keep him informed of the status of all operating systems and external factors affecting the plane – information such as altitude readings, fuel levels, engine oil pressure, status of hydraulic systems, radar signals, navigation beacons, and so on.  The pilot, by monitoring this array of displays, assures himself that all parameters of the plane’s performance are within desired standards.  If something is amiss, alarms will immediately notify him of problems needing attention, thereby assisting him in taking the appropriate action to assure the safety of plane and passengers.

It may be argued that club operations are just as complex with thousands of details that must be attended to daily (though without the serious safety implications).  Yet the person with overall responsibility for club operations – the general manager – has limited mechanisms to report on the health and vitality of the enterprise in anything approaching real time.  In some clubs the only indicator of developing problems is the monthly financial statement that becomes available weeks later.  Even then, the summary information in the club’s operating statement provides only a limited assessment of performance at best.

Modern point of sale and club management software systems have come a long way in providing the underlying detail of the operations with “drill-down” capabilities and custom reporting, yet how many general managers avail themselves of this trove of information or make a formal effort to analyze the detail in the longer term context of goals and budgets?

This brings me back again to reports.  A discipline of formal reporting can and does provide a means of monitoring specific information on a regular basis.  As such, reports are an important mechanism for the general manager, as well as department heads, to monitor performance in a timely and efficient way.  For the department head tasked with preparing the report, it is a disciplined means of focusing on the important details of departmental operations while creating a record of ongoing initiatives, progress toward goals, and departmental performance.  Once established, the discipline of routine periodic reports is the best way for a subordinate manager to influence the boss’s perceptions about his or her performance.

For the general manager, regular reporting of key information from department heads is the best way to monitor departmental performance with the least investment of time.  Instead of personally digging into the details of the operation, the general manager can review periodic reports and benchmarks and focus time and attention on out-of-line parameters.  Also, when the responsibility to monitor and report key data is put on the department heads, they are in the position of primary discovery, allowing them to formulate solutions or initiatives to correct operational deficiencies, as opposed to putting that burden on the general manager.  Lastly, by establishing such a reporting discipline, the general manager is providing a critical lesson to subordinate managers – that they are responsible for the performance of their departments, that they must pay close attention to the details of their operation, and that they are responsible for managing the boss’s perceptions of their performance by providing timely and accurate data, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions regarding operational trends.

While reports may seem like a lot of paperwork to some, once the discipline of preparing and submitting these reports is established, department heads will discover that they are just part of operational routine.  On the other hand, the benefit of everyone paying attention to key performance indicators is well worth the effort.  Ultimately, it makes the general manager’s challenging job easier and serves to make club operations more efficient.

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.

Value Your People

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

In an article on employee empowerment, business consultant Susan M. Heathfield said, “Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on their current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.”

What things can you as a leader do to demonstrate your regard for people “in all your actions and words”?

Know and use employee names.  Everyone likes to be recognized as an individual and called by name.  Certainly your members and guests do and your employees do as well.  Introduce them to members and guests when appropriate.  Failing to do so implies they’re just part of the scenery instead of key contributors to the success of your operation.

Learn about employees as individuals.  Get to know them, their life situations, their dreams and plans, their goals in life.  This does not mean you are to become their friend or confidante, but it does mean you have enough interest in them as individuals to try to understand their situation, their needs, and motivations.

Greet employees daily.  You should never fail to greet employees when you see them each day.  You don’t like to be ignored as if you were unimportant, and neither do they.

Share your time with employees.  As busy as you are, make time for your employees.  They have questions, concerns, and needs that should never be ignored.  Be open and approachable.  When you are not, when they are afraid to come to you for fear of your reaction, you are kept in the dark about what is really going on in your team.  If any employee is monopolizing your time or is a “high maintenance” employee, do not be shy about letting him know the inappropriateness of this behavior.

Recognize each person’s strengths and weaknesses.  None of us is the perfect manager, server, retail attendant, etc.  Don’t expect your employees to be.  Learn each person’s strengths and weakness.  Capitalize on the strengths and help each person overcome their weaknesses.  The time you invest in helping an employee develop his or her skills and abilities is well worth the effort and will be appreciated far more than you’ll ever realize.

Be involved in the workplace and work processes.  Do not create a hostile work environment by failing to adequately engage with your employees.  Without your ongoing guidance and direction, petty dissensions and friction will grow among the workers of your team as they struggle to figure out who must do what.

Look out for your peoples’ welfare.  Make sure your employees get adequate work breaks, that their work spaces are set up for comfort and efficiency, that they are properly trained and equipped for their jobs, that you adjust work schedules when possible to meet individual needs, that you resolve pay discrepancies quickly, that you get back to them to resolve issues they’ve raised.

Treat employees as adults.  When you treat employees like children, they will act like children.  Don’t talk down to them or treat them as if they’re immature.  When you give people responsibility, most will reward your trust.  Those who demonstrate they can’t be trusted should be encouraged to move on.

Show respect.  This is critically important in the way you speak, the tone of your voice, your choice of words, and your body language.  Your respect for others cannot be faked.  You must sincerely value people to treat them with respect at all times.

Do not take advantage of people.  Employees are not your servants and should not be expected to perform personal services for you.  If you delegate tasks, make sure there is value in it for them, either in enhanced compensation or a genuine learning opportunity.

Demonstrate the common decencies of human interaction in all your dealings.  Be kind and courteous.  Give your people the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t be quick to take offense or become upset.  Maintain control of your temper and reaction to events.

Thank employees often.  How easy is it to say “Thank you”?  It costs nothing and it reaps great rewards.  The only requirement is that it must be sincerely given.

Say goodbye at the end of the day or shift.  A farewell is a common courtesy that you would extend to family and friends, if for no other reason than as an acknowledgement of departure.  The members of your work team, who you depend on for your success, should receive no less a courtesy.  Again, the need for sincerity is absolute.

American poet and author Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Value your people and they will be willing and committed participants in your quest for quality and service.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line- The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

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.

Standards for Food and Beverage Staff

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Quint Studer in his important book, Hardwiring Excellence, speaks of the importance of establishing a code of behavior for employee service teams.  The purpose is to communicate to employees the basic standards of interaction with customers/guest/members and fellow employees.  Further, Studer expects each employee to acknowledge and commit to the standards by signing a written copy.

With this in mind, here are some basic standards for the food and beverage operations team:

  • Arrive on time according to the work schedule.
  • Meet all requirements of the dress or uniform code and personal grooming standards.
  • Have a complete dedication to customer service at all times; fully and consistently embrace the enterprise’s organizational values and culture of service.
  • Maintain a pleasant and positive attitude at all times.
  • In private clubs, learn and use member names; learn and act upon their individual habits and preferences by providing personalized service.
  • Greet and assist all arriving customers; introduce yourself by first name and let them know you are there to help them in any way possible.
  • Provide relevant information to customers, such as location of facilities; walk guests to events or functions when possible.
  • Provide special service touches and “wow” factors.
  • Interrupt personal conversations at the approach of customers; give them your undivided attention.
  • Solve any problems encountered that are within your authority and ability to do so.
  • Report any problems you can’t solve to management.
  • Maintain the cleanliness and order of your work areas as you go; clean and straighten up work areas prior to departing as a courtesy to the next shift.
  • Work together with other staff to provide a seamless service experience for customers.
  • Thank fellow workers for their help and assistance.  They appreciate it as much as you do when you are thanked.

When employees understand and commit to expected standards of behavior and service, customers and other employees have a richer hospitality experience.

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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Are You’re Service Apologies at Risk?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

In Service Recovery – The Seven Step Process we outlined a method by which employees can make a gracious and effective recovery from any service failure.  Step 3 of this process is the apology.  As we say, “A sincere apology is absolutely necessary.  We the establishment and you the employee are sorry for any service failure, so we should never be shy about or slow to fully apologize.”

While it never occurred to me that employees should be taught how to apologize, I caught two items this past week – one on television and the other on the Internet – that made me realize that there are “apologies” and then there are “effective apologies.”

Here’s the detail:  Laurie Puhn, a relationship mediator, appeared on a cable news network to critique the recent apology of Steve Jobs for problems with the newest Apple iphone’s signal reception.  In her comments, Ms. Puhn said that there are four elements to an effective apology:

  1. Don’t minimize your failing or error.  Make a big deal out of it – as it is to the unhappy customer/ guest/member.  Say something like, “Mrs. Smith, I’m so sorry our slow service delayed you . . .”
  2. Apologize for the inconvenience caused.  “. . . I realize how much we have inconvenienced you and your guest.”
  3. Offer something to make amends.  “As a further apology, I won’t be charging you for your orders.”
  4. Say that you hope to have the opportunity to re-earn their trust.  “I hope you’ll come back after your tennis match so I can serve you properly.”

A few days later an Internet headline “The Perfect Apology – The ONE Word That Destroys It!” caught my eye.  I followed the link to Kate Nasser’s The People-Skills Coach.  Here’s what she had to say:

“As The People-Skills Coach, I start this post with the assumption that you are willing to take ownership of the impact your actions and words have on others. You are ready to deliver the perfect apology!

Well the perfect apology is found in simple sincerity and the ONE word that destroys it is … IF

  • I am sorry IF I hurt you.  IF?  Do you own it or not?  Do you care to rebuild my trust or not?
  • I am sorry IF that came across as …  IF?  You are aware that it came across badly so why waver?
  • We are sorry IF we have not met your business needs.  IF?   We wouldn’t be discussing it otherwise.

Your intentions don’t matter much if a team member or a customer is offended by what you have said or done. Rebuild the trust with a sincere apology as soon as you are aware of his/her reaction.

 

 

Replace IF with THAT or FOR and see the difference.

  • I am sorry THAT I hurt you.
  • I am sorry FOR the impact this had on you.
  • I am sorry THAT came across as …
  • We are sorry THAT we have not met your business needs. We will …

Why does this little change make a big difference to others? Because it is clear that you are putting their needs ahead of your pride. Simple sincerity makes for the perfect apology.”

It’s clear from these two news items that apologies may not be the simple matter we’d imagine.  When teaching your employees the Service Recovery Process, take a few extra minutes to teach them to make perfect, effective apologies.

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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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