Posts Tagged ‘training’

The Pre-Shift Meeting

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Some ask the question, “Is a pre-shift meeting really necessary?”  Compare a pre-shift meeting with the habits of professional athletes, whose jobs require peak performance, both individually and as a team, in an environment where “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  Without fail, these athletes huddle for a few moments before every game to remind themselves of their commitment to each other and their mission to win.  In the service business the game is every day, every shift, and the need for success is just as important.  So yes, a pre-shift meeting is an absolute necessity for every department, but particularly in the food and beverage operation.

Here are some of the things that should be covered in a food and beverage pre-shift meeting:

  • Proper Dress and Grooming.  Is everyone in proper dress or uniform?  Do they have the right footwear and their nametags?  Does everyone meet the organization’s grooming standards?  These basic standards are critical to a professional operation.  What gets checked gets done!
  • Reservations.  Who’s coming in for dinner tonight?  Do we know their likes, dislikes, and preferences?  Have they made any special requests?  Is it a celebratory occasion?  For private club employees, double check the member database and see the meal could be for a birthday or anniversary?
  • Special Parties.  Are there special parties scheduled for tonight in the dining room?  Have they made any special requests?  Do they have a limited or set menu?
  • Daily Specials.  What are tonight’s specials?  Go over the Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, for those items.  Will the chef do a tasting and explain items and recipes?  Cover any wine pairings with specials.  Are there special appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks, wines by the glass, wines by the bottle?  Review pricing for these, which POS key to ring them on, and discuss suggestions for how to upsell.
  • Review Pronunciation of any unfamiliar or foreign food terms or product names.
  • Upcoming Events.  Review details of events such as Sunday Brunch, Fine Dining Nights, Wine Tastings, Luau at the pool, etc., so that servers can provide information and promote to diners if asked.
  • Review Daily Sales Targets so everyone knows if the operation’s on track to meet budget.  Review any ongoing contests or sales incentives.
  • Kudos, Recognition, and Complaints.  Review any positive feedback to celebrate success and extraordinary service by individual servers.  Cover any complaints received with lessons learned or to brainstorm solutions.
  • Membership Familiarization for Private Clubs.  Short, ongoing review of members, their preferences, special occasions.  Show pictures, if available.  If member data is reviewed incrementally each day, over time servers will have a greater familiarity with the full membership.  In particular, cover information on new members.
  • Basic Service Focus.  Cover any particular items servers should focus on such as getting member numbers on charge slips, quick pick up of hot items from the line, not overstacking the dishwash station, etc.  By focusing on one basic item each day, servers are continually reminded of the basics of our business.
  • Questions, Comments, Feedback.  Servers should always be made to feel comfortable in asking questions, making suggestions, and providing feedback from their serving experiences.

The pre-shift meeting is an essential discipline in meeting standards, ongoing training of staff, and reviewing dining options.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go, Hospitality Resources International

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 the Hospitality Industry!

Using Notable Quotables to Train and Remind

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

There are many things to teach your staff – both managers and line employees . . . and there are many ways to do it.  Given the high cost and difficulty of bringing in employees just for training sessions, I’ve always been an advocate of what I call on-the-go training – training material formatted in short doses that can be pulled out any time there are spare moments in a shift.

I am also a big believer in constant reinforcement of key training material such as organizational values and service ethic.  Another major training objective is to get all the management team on the same page, particularly when it comes to leadership and club culture.  This is accomplished by ongoing discussion of key objectives, values, leadership techniques, and the nuances of service and service delivery.  Such discussions routinely take place at weekly manager meetings, during reviews of assigned leadership and management reading materials, during departmental and pre-shift meetings, and by posting quotes on bulletin boards in employee areas of the club.

This last technique is particularly cost-effective in that it costs little to find, format, print out, and post your favorite quotes for all employees to see.  You can also use the quotes as envelope stuffers for employee paychecks (though this is not as effective if you offer direct deposit for your employees).

The beauty of quotes is that they carry the gravitas of the well-known person or expert quoted and are usually short and highly memorable.  Even in a meeting setting they provide food for thought and can be used to start discussions to explore the deeper meanings and importance of the topic.

In an effort to make it easy for club managers to harness the power of notable quotes, Club Resources International has compiled over 400 quotes, categorized under the headings of leadership, management disciplines, service, and values – and they are absolutely FREE.  You can find them on the website under Training Resources>Notable Quotables or here.

You can then click on the major topic folder you want.  When you do this, you’ll find an easy reference index to locate just the quote you want.  Then click on the desired quote file, save it to your hard disk, print it out, and used it to train and reinforce.  Nothing could be simpler or more effective for NO COST!

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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Emergency Evacuation Simulations

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Given the difficulties of scheduling emergency evacuation drills and the resulting disruption to members and guests, club managers must use other means of training and testing employees on their responsibilities and actions during an emergency evacuation.  Such an alternate means would be the use of departmental Emergency Evacuation Simulations.  These routine periodic simulations would consist of a variety of cards describing simulated emergencies for each area of the operation and a supervisor testing employees what their actions would be when handed the card.

Simulation cards would be readily identifiable by design and color.  Each card would:

  • Describe an emergency scenario.
  • Require the employee to describe his or her actions, including:
  • Notification of the emergency.
  • Location of emergency exits.
  • Primary and alternate evacuation routes.
  • Steps to evacuate members, guests, and other employees.
  • Location of exterior assembly area.

Require the employee to list:

  • Appropriate life safety actions in the presence of fire, heat, and smoke.
  • Steps to fight or slow the spread of the fire.
  • Require the employee to:
  • Point out the location of fire pull stations.
  • Point out the location of fire extinguishers.
  • Explain the types of fire extinguishers and their respective uses.
  • Simulate the use of a fire extinguisher, while describing the necessary operating procedures and techniques.

The supervisor presenting the simulation card would grade the employee responses and point out any incorrect actions or answers.  The whole exercise should take no more than ten minutes and can be executed without disturbing normal service routines.

The use of Emergency Evacuation Simulation cards will increase the fire safety awareness of staff and reinforce critical information and experience regarding emergency evacuation procedures with a minimum disruption to members and guests.

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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Teaching the Subtleties of Service

Monday, February 6th, 2012

High levels of service in a club environment are so much more than knowing service techniques, smiling, and greeting guests.  To do service well requires people who are sensitive to the needs and desires of others and who understand a wide range of the customs and courtesies of human interaction.  They need to recognize the subtleties of service.  But what do we mean by subtleties?

Dictionary.com defines subtlety as an “acuteness or penetration of mind; delicacy of discrimination; a finely-drawn distinction.” A synonym is nuance which means “a subtle difference or distinction in expression, response, etc.” In other words, subtlety is the awareness and ability to make fine distinctions in how one engages with others or a well-calibrated sense of how to respond to a particular person in a particular situation.

In short, it’s the sense to recognize and understand how to appropriately engage others in a variety of situations and scenarios.

So, as leaders how do we go about teaching our employees the subtleties of service?  It certainly takes more than telling them to smile and be nice to members.  They need to have a basic understanding of the underlying customs and practices of service, manners, and gracious behaviors, as well as an awareness of the signs and signals of unspoken needs.  Not only do they need to know what to do, but they need to have the sensitivity and perceptiveness to recognize members’ needs even before these are expressed.

Such sensitivities improve with knowledge and experience, but unless a new hire naturally possesses these abilities (which experience has shown that few do), club managers have to start somewhere in training employees in the subtleties of service.  Here’s my list of requirements:

  • The club must have well-defined organizational values and a constantly reinforced culture of service.  When employees are immersed in such a culture, service becomes second nature to all.
  • Daily engagement and consistent example of service-based leaders.  Without a appropriate examples of the subtleties of service from club leaders (i.e., all managers), don’t expect employees to possess and provide it.
  • Empowerment training that spells out the limits of employee initiative and discretion in resolving issues and problems.
  • Club etiquette training – employees must understand the appropriate behaviors expected in a club setting.
  • Dining etiquette for servers – the same applies to servers understanding the basic manners and service behaviors expected during dining.
  • Making employees aware of the rules of engagement.  Different members will want to engage differently with employees at different times and in different settings.  Understanding the issues of engagement are critical to service and service delivery.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the mental environments for each area of the club.  Different areas have different mental environments at different times of the day.  Being aware of the concept of mental environment and recognizing member moods and desires is an important part of providing appropriate levels of engagement.
  • Teach service recovery and how to apologize.  This is so basic it hardly needs stating, but experience has shown that a consistent approach must be taught to ensure club employees understand the importance of recovering from bad situations and the need for a sincere “we accept all responsibility” apology.
  • Make sure employees understand the importance of the Three A’s of Service – that is:  “Be Alert, Aware and Anticipate member needs.”

As with everything else demanding quality, service behaviors and delivery must be defined and taught consistently to all employees . . . otherwise how would they know what you and your members expect?

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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Professional Development for Your Club Management Team

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Club general managers wear many hats and have wide-ranging responsibilities. Given the many duties of the position it’s easy for some of the less pressing aspects of the job to be neglected. Yet there is one facet of leadership and management that may ultimately hold the key to better club organization and improved club performance – and that is to take an active role in the professional development of your club’s management team.

Here are some tips and topics to organize and deploy a Professional Development Program at your club:

  • Use the Bully Pulpit of your position to encourage subordinate managers to improve their professional development and career skills. Your active engagement and involvement in such a program will foster improved commitment to you and your agenda as your team recognizes your interest in their development.
  • Leadership. Encourage managers to embrace a consistent service-based style of leadership. Make sure they understand the benefits to this powerful approach to leadership in hospitality operations.
  • Membership By-Laws and Rules. Assign them the task of reading your club’s by-laws and membership rules and hold periodic discussions of these to ensure their comprehension. A better understanding of how clubs are organized and what rules apply make them more knowledgeable about their jobs and those of their work teams.
  • Human Resources. Make sure they are schooled in the basics and underlying rationale of human resource policies, practices, and techniques. A better understanding of these will not only enhance your club’s HR disciplines and practices, but will add to each of your team member’s management skills.
  • Employee Development and Disciplinary Guides. As with human resources, a better understanding of how to motivate staff, improve communication and morale, as well as guidance for counseling, disciplining, and, if necessary, discharging problem employees will prove invaluable to both your club and the individual manager.
  • Accounting and Financial Management. A thorough understanding of fiscal responsibilities and disciplines will help your operation and make your team members better all-around managers.
  • Legal and Liability Issues. Every club manager must be familiar with the basics of these issues. They are at the heart of liability abatement at your club and a critically important knowledge base for any manager.
  • Organizational Values and Culture of Service. The foundational importance of these is essential to any organization intent upon engaging staff and providing high levels of service. Every manager must recognize and embrace the need to define and consistently reinforce values and culture.
  • Training. Managers must understand the challenges and opportunities of formal club training programs for both managers and employees. Recognizing the importance of training in a detail- and people-intensive business, as well as the experience of developing training material, is invaluable to the club and each manager.
  • Professional Reading List. The general manager should make a reading list available to the management team, develop a club professional reading library, and make reading certain leadership and management books a requirement of annual work plans.
  • Leadership, Management, and Service Quotes. Use quotes to foster discussions among your management team at weekly staff meetings. A continual focus and reminder of the topics involved will provide constant reinforcement of the important things that underlie success in business in general and the club industry in particular.

The quality and efficacy of a Professional Development Program is directly dependent on the committed involvement of the general manager. As the director of your club’s enterprise and leader of your management team, you have a great opportunity (some would say responsibility) to influence your subordinate managers through your leadership and example.

If you take a hands-off approach to your team’s professional development, only a few will seize the opportunity for self-improvement. On the other hand, when you are directly involved, engaged with your team on the subjects involved, and set both the example and requirement of professional development, your team will embrace the opportunity you are providing. On many levels such encouragement to learning and developing is one of the most important and personally satisfying things you can do to improve your operation and develop your staff.

Bottom Line: A constantly encouraged and reinforced Professional Development Program for your club managers will strengthen the management disciplines of your operation, while providing education, experience, and career growth opportunities for your managers.

Note: As can be seen from the links above, much of the material necessary to establish a Professional Development Program has already been created by Club Resources International. All you need to do is use the tools to organize and implement your own program.

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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Does Service Training Founder on the Shoals of Management Indifference?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I recently read an internet-posted news article entitled, “Disney Offers Customer Service Training.”  The article written by Adrian Sainz talked about Miami International Airport employees taking customer service training from the Disney Institute, a division of Walt Disney Company set up to teach its principles and practices to other companies.  Here’s where we’ll pick up the story . . .

“Now the Institute has taken another client: Miami International Airport, which many travelers will tell you needs customer service training like an airplane needs wings.  Surveys rank its service among the nation’s worst.  The airport’s terminal operations employees are taking classes taught by Institute instructors, learning leadership practices, team building, staff relations and communication skills – many formulated by Walt Disney himself.

“Part of Disney’s lure is the feelings generated by its films and theme parks – magic and wonderment for children, escapism for adults.  Disney takes great pride in ensuring a fun time and repeat business, mainly by emphasizing customer service and attention to detail while trying not to appear too sterile or robotic.

“Miami International Airport is a gateway to and from the Caribbean and Latin America.  About 32.5 million passengers passed through the airport in 2006, including more than 14 million international passengers.  But among 18 U.S. airports with 30 million or more passengers per year, only three airports performed worse in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.  Miami received below average scores in accessibility, check-in, security check, baggage claim and overall satisfaction; average scores in terminal facilities and food and beverage; and above average in retail services.

“Early in the training, a handful of Miami airport managers visited the Magic Kingdom, where they were shown examples on how paying attention to detail and removing barriers were integral in making guests happy and keeping them informed.”

The article went on discussing various techniques used by Disney to enhance customer service.  While I found the article somewhat interesting, it was the three reader comments posted below the article that caught my attention.  Here they are:

  1. “I worked for a medical practice in Georgia that sends a few of their employees to Disney for training each year.  Our patients (guests) really responded well to our new customer service guidelines.  However, management really needed to attend the training as well as the regular employee.  They became complacent in their ‘ivory tower’ and expected all of us to treat the patients well (and of course we did); however, management needed to extend the same courtesy and good manners to their employees.  In the past 3 months the company has had record turnover and still harbors a large disgruntled employee pool.  No idle words . . . ‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated.'”
  2. “When we returned, all 1st level management (the ones dealing with the customers) were asked to implement the Disney experience to our daily activities.  To this day we have weekly meetings with our senior management to report how our teams are embracing the changes.  Unfortunately many of the associates treat it as ‘the flavor of the month’ program to improve customer satisfaction.  We are still trying to make a culture change with our staff.   The most unfortunate part of the Disney experience was that although our senior management went along the trip I am yet to witness the impact it had on them when dealing with us 1st level managers.”
  3. “I agree with the posters (above) who feel that senior management should lead by example and treat their subordinates with dignity and respect.  It just seems like common sense, that when employees are happy and feel well treated, this will filter down to the way they treat the customers.  Everyone in an organization deserves to be treated well and this makes for optimum performance.”

Three of the four postings by readers made the same point about management.  This would seem to suggest the obvious:  that without the active involvement and example of leadership (and service-based leadership at that), improvements in customer service will not happen.

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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Various Training Initiatives

Monday, January 24th, 2011

One of the key tenets of teaching is that different people learn best in different ways — some by seeing, some by hearing, and still others by doing.  Another key point in learning (and marketing) is that most people need to be exposed to information a number of times before it really registers with them — hence the need for reinforcement of key material.  Lastly, given the immense amount of information club employees need to master, there is an ongoing need to continually remind employees of basic workplace knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  The problem for club managers is the sheer size and scope of undertaking a thorough training regimen for employees.

Recognizing this challenge, here are some tools and ideas that will help teach and reinforce key information:

  • Checklists.  Checklists provide a reminder to employees of tasks to be completed during a work shift or on a periodic basis.  They also ensure accountability for completion of key tasks by employee signature on the checklist.  Examples are Opening Checklists, Closing Checklists, and Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cleaning Checklists.
  • The Daily Tip are daily pointers or quotes to reinforce service principles and techniques.  These brief reminders are printed on 8½ by 11 inch card stock, placed in document protectors, and posted by time clocks, on bulletin boards, or any other prominent location.
  • Training on the Go materials.  These are short training topics on a variety of subjects.  Printed out on 8½ by 11 inch card stock and placed in document protectors, they can be pulled out by managers to review with employees whenever a brief period of time opens up, during pre-shift meetings, and other opportunities when employees gather.  Club Resources International has prepared Training on the Go topics for Food and Beverage, Organizational Values, Human Resources, Leadership, Management Disciplines, and Safety.
  • The Year of . . . — taking a cue from the United Nations and other large organizations, select an important topic or task and focus the entire club staff on it for a year.  Focusing on a topic for a full year takes some effort and should be reserved for major campaigns of strategic value for the club.  Examples might include The Year of Personalized Service, The Year of Formal Training, or The Year of Improved Club Safety.
  • The Weekly Focus.  There are fifty-two weeks in a year and literally hundreds of details and tasks in any service business.  By focusing on one specific detail or task for a week, such as suggestive selling or club policies, management can give detailed standards, instruction, and emphasis for a particular item.  When the employee moves on to a new topic the following week, they will still retain much of the previous week’s emphasis.
  • The Monthly Focus.  This is the same as the Weekly Focus, but stresses a larger and more important issue to the success of the business, such as employee courtesy or getting orders from the kitchen to the table quickly.

The end result of these initiatives is to bring club values, organization, discipline, and execution to an enhanced state.  Over time, the focus and repetition will institutionalize key success factors.

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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Details and Quality

Monday, January 10th, 2011

How often have we said that clubs are a detail-intensive business?  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of details that must be attended to daily to provide the high levels of quality that members expect.  It’s also easily understood that the general manager and management team are incapable of checking each detail every day.  So what are the necessary strategies to achieve the requisite levels of quality?

  • Ultimately a robust program of employee empowerment will encourage employees to think like the general manager, be aware of the manifold necessities of quality and service, be ever alert for problems and issues, and demonstrate the ownership to correct problems wherever and whenever they find them.
  • Thorough communication of values, standards, and expectations to employees so they understand what, why, and how it must be done.
  • Comprehensive initial and ongoing training to ensure employees have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and appropriate attitudes to render consistently high quality service.
  • Detailed organizational systems and processes to allow the operation to function efficiently.  When things happen consistently and routinely in all areas of the club, employees have the time and the inclination to focus on quality.  When everything is screwed up all the time, employees will find it difficult to care.
  • Consistent service-based leadership which requires managers to provide employees with all the necessary tools, training, resources, and ongoing support to do their jobs efficiently and effortlessly.  The underlying premise of such leadership is the ultimate value of people in any endeavor and the need to serve all constituencies, but particularly the employees who render service directly to members.  Such a leadership approach creates and sustains the strong bonds of personal pride and team effort.

While creating the necessary club environment to provide each of the above requirements is neither rapidly nor easily accomplished, it ultimately is the ONLY way to build enduring quality in a service organization.

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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On the Go Training

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Clubs face a challenging training burden if they are to deliver the high levels of service expected by their members.  Yet with tight budgets how can managers meet their training obligations while controlling costs since every hour of training is a payroll hour for each employee being trained?  Add to this the difficulty of getting all of your employees together at one time for a formal training session.

The answer to these challenges is to build your training programs around the “on the go” concept where ongoing training material is formatted in brief – no more than five to ten minutes – sessions.  In every shift, in every club department, there are spare moments, time when employees have finished their shift preparations, time when employees are socializing among themselves or awaiting instructions from supervisors.  Since you’re already paying for this time, plan on putting it to good use.

In every department there are hundreds of operational details that employees must learn and refresh themselves with some frequency.  This is just as true in golf operations, golf course maintenance, aquatics and activities as it is in food and beverage.  All that is necessary is for the department head to outline training requirements in brief doses and format them so they can be pulled out at a moment’s notice for either group-led or individual instruction.

With today’s ability to find anything on the Internet with just a few keywords and keystrokes, all the information you need to teach your employees values, etiquette, product knowledge, safety, security, sanitation, HR requirements, responsible beverage service, or how to operate or maintain any piece of equipment is readily available.  You just have to format it for easy use.

Club Resources International has developed a number of On the Go Training programs for food and beverage, leadership, management disciplines, human resources, values, and safety.  These offer a proven model of how easy it is to format material and train your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, abilities, and service techniques.  For example, check out the Training on the Go material on the CRI website.  I’d also recommend you read Chris Conner’s excellent article on his club’s experience with Training on the Go – Training on the Go – A direct line to restaurant profits?

Then get to work developing your own On the Go Training material.  Set a goal of developing two classes per week and then stick to that discipline.  In a year you’ll have a hundred ready to go classes for staff training.

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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The Soft Stuff

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Roger Enrico, former chairman at Pepsico, famously said, “The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”  As one who has worked in hospitality leadership roles for over thirty-five years, I would say that truer words were never spoken.  In the detail and people rich environment of the hospitality business, it is the absence of well-developed “soft” skills at all levels of organizations that create our greatest challenges.

So what are we really talking about when we speak of the soft stuff?  In short, it’s the people skills – those aptitudes and abilities used to get the most out of our human assets.  It encompasses all of those things we talk about when discussing leadership – the highly nuanced interactions with a diverse workforce that result in motivation, morale, enthusiasm, focus, commitment, initiative, productivity, teamwork, organizational cohesiveness, and group success.

What makes it all so hard is the complexity of human psychology.  People are complex and struggle with the unique and sometimes overwhelming challenges of their lives.  Put together in a group dynamic with any number of other people coping with their own daily difficulties, both real and imagined, and it’s a mind-boggling challenge for any leader.

So what are some very real things that you can do to improve the soft stuff at your club?  Here are three basics:

Leadership training for all managers to ensure they understand the absolute importance of leadership in all they do.  My own experience points to a service-based style of leadership and the importance of building a unified and consistent approach to leadership on the part of all managers and supervisors within an organization.  The ongoing example and performance of your leadership team is THE most important driver of your club’s success.

Well-defined organizational values and constantly reinforced culture of service are an absolute must.  Don’t expect that all your managers and employees will understand your vision, values, or even how to go about providing service to your members.  Without clearly articulated values and club culture, your efforts to provide high levels of service to your membership will certainly fail.

Training, training, and more training is a bedrock requirement in the hospitality industry.  There’s just too much that needs to be done right every day by everyone on your staff to leave the details to chance.  Without training for managers and line staff, it’s a hit or miss proposition and you spend all your time responding to complaints from members, dealing with staff issues, and struggling with high levels of employee turnover.  Given the cost and effort of thorough, ongoing training, you must commit to the development and discipline of “on the go” training for all areas of your operation so you can take advantage of the spare moments during every shift.

The “hard stuff” – the buildings, golf course, and other amenities are certainly important to a successful club experience.  But without the soft stuff they are just expensive shells and monuments, lacking in the reassuring warmth and human touch that is the heart of hospitality 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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