|Kirby D. Payne, CHA, is president of The American
Hospitality Management Company which provides consulting and management
assistance to hotels in the U.S.
I chose this month's title because I am sure I'll do this again someday. Why should every column I do have some point or theme? Why not just pick up some assorted thoughts or items not large enough for an entire column and put them into miscellaneous ramblings?
This column is being written while I am in Orlando for the Choice Hotels International 40th Annual Convention. I am actually sitting in the guest room immediately above the one I was in when I wrote a column over a year and a half ago titled "Little Things Mean a Lot".
Past Reviews, Changes
That column commented on some of the small mistakes made in a first-class full-service hotel managed by an old college friend of mine, Pat, After seeing the column he asked me to speak to his Department Heads and Executive Committee about my observations. It must have been constructive because he let me come back and I see some changes!
The way faxes were handled last time included losing some pages or at least not noting that they had not all been received according to the cover page. This time the Saturday morning FedEx was handled perfectly. The little wooden valet clothes hanger in the room didn't fall apart as it did last time.
On the other side of the ledger, even though there are two people in the room there is still only one bathrobe and the huge bath towels we found in our room the first two days haven't been replaced since! My friend got even with me about my comments last time about no cork screw by simply not having any wine sent to the room. That is one way to avoid repeating a mistake but it certainly did test the staff.
Recently, my wife and I had an opportunity to spend several hours with Jim and Rose Sadler. As many of you know, the Sadlers founded Rochester Economy Lodging Group (REL), originally Sadler Properties. What a success story, from a duplex to nearly 20 hotels!
I got a little insight into how good REL is at what they do when I listened to their Director of Operations, George Rownd, give a presentation at the Small Properties Workshop sponsored by the Minnesota Hotel & Lodging Association last week. George's excellent presentation included discussions of such items as proper use of cleaning chemicals, coding room keys and employee motivation.
The workshop was put together by a committee chaired by Doug Brutger, owner/operator of the Sunwood Inn, Morris and Sandy Lien, the Associations Director of Education. The program, which was presented in several locations around the state by a panel of small property operators, was excellent. If you missed it, call Sandy and see if she'll sell you a set of the handouts from the series. You will find that they alone will be very helpful. They cover marketing, as presented by Allen Faulk (Super 8, Zumbrota) and Bill Foussard (Best Western Americana, Saint Cloud), George's presentation and material presented by Doug and Dave Brott (Country Inn, Bloomington). If you offer Sandy (612-223-7401) $20 for a set of handouts, you'll get your money's worth and then some. You'll also get a chance to see some of the excellent benefits of attending the Association's programs. PS: Unless Sandy reads this column she won't know about this $20 idea!
Thanks to George I finally figured out why the bathroom floors in one of our hotels are sticky. The staff at this particular hotel had suggested to me that it was the deodorant the room attendants were using in the smoking rooms. George pointed out that we may be using too heavy a concentration of tub and tile cleaner and more importantly we probably aren't thoroughly rinsing our bathroom floors periodically. This would, of course, allow the cleaner to build up over time.
Lead by Example
Have you been to Un Deux Trois, the restaurant in Foshay Tower, downtown Minneapolis? Michael Morris who owns and operates this establishment has done a great job of what all hoteliers should be doing.
No, I'm not talking about his excellent service and even better price value for great, down-to-earth, French food, I'm talking about his management style. He personally works the door greeting and seating his patrons. He recognizes his regulars and visits with them appropriately and makes new patrons feel comfortable and welcome. All this, while keeping his staff motivated. Sitting at Un Deux Trois' bar and watching Michael at work being both a gracious host and good owner/operator is truly motivating, The drinks aren't bad either!
At a seminar presented by Jim Cooper, CHA, Director of Education and Training for Choice Hotels International the following sample help wanted classified for a General Manager. I thought both owners and managers would get a chuckle from this:
We are looking for a self starter, motivated, dedicated, experienced manager who will accept full responsibility without the authority. Must be willing to work 70 to 80 hours a week including 40 hours of shift work. We offer no training, low pay, no benefits, no incentives and no vacation. Ideal candidate should be able to squeeze as much money as possible out of a property with 150% turnover, no vacation or benefits for the employees and very little working capital. If you meet these qualifications, are not sensitive to constant criticism or susceptible to burnout, we want you on our team."
At another seminar a panelist fro Metromedia Steak Houses (Ponderosa, Bonanza and Rising Star Grill) shared the mission statement of one of their chains: Together we will do whatever it takes to ensure every guest comes back to (restaurant) again and again."
While I personally feel there should be some reference to profit in the mission statement I think it is a wonderful attitudinal start. Does your hotel have a mission statement? Did your key staff participate in developing it and fully buy into achieving it?
More worthwhile tidbits from Choice Hotels' Jim Cooper: Training tells your staff that you want them to grow, learn and get better, It tells them that you care. If you do not train them, is the opposite true? And finally, does this sound familiar: "The only thing I hear from my (owner) (manager) is when s/he has a problem or needs something." Both "sides" have something to gain from being positive and supportive in their dealings with each other.
For additional information, contact:
Kirby D. Payne at the firm
American Hospitality Management Company
1500 South Highway 100, #375, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Phone: 763-591-7640 Fax: 763-591-1593
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