You might think that getting your hotel leadership team excited about accounting is like convincing them it is fun to go to the dentist.

Your average person wants nothing to do with it because they are predisposed to think it is yucky, boring and better left to someone who has trouble walking and talking at the same time. But once they begin to understand what the numbers mean and how they apply this understanding to general operations and the bottom line, they will feel just the opposite. My book, The Prosperous Hotelier, aims to do just that.

Hotel leaders ALL want to have the financial wherewithal to dazzle their peers. They know it is the secret sauce to propel their careers and get them a seat at the captain’s table.

Participating in the inner financial circle is exciting and sexy.

Why, then, is there such a disconnect between a leader’s desire to be financially astute and what often amounts to a complete lack of attention and discipline when it comes to the numbers? What is standing in the way of them embracing roles as financially savvy leaders

There are several factors, all of which have everything to do with their approach to understanding the numbers:

•  Level of understanding: The numbers are confusing because the level of understanding is very low with most managers. It is not clear exactly how the individual numbers integrate with, apply to, and impact the hotel’s performance.

•  Someone else’s job: In most hotels, the numbers are viewed by the operational leaders as another person’s responsibility. The typical departmental manager sees his or her role primarily in terms of serving hotel guests.

•  No Time: Operational managers may feel they do not have the time to “look after” their numbers because they are already too busy with their guests and staff. The “administration stuff” is the last thing that gets their attention, with the result that the quality of the work and the level of their understanding of the numbers suffer.

•  Not personally invested: Leaders do not see a direct connection between their understanding of the numbers and their own personal prosperity.

What do we need to change to get the hotel management team to understand that the numbers are an important part of their responsibilities? How do we get them comfortable with and excited about building their financial acumen?

What you want to do is shift their perspective. You need to move away from the notion that the numbers are the hard part and embrace the idea that the numbers are awesome and represent the path to enhanced professionalism and personal success.

Here are some ways to do this:

1. Educate: From day one, all leaders who have Profit and Loss responsibility should learn about the numbers. As early as the initial job interview, make sure any future employee in this field understands that respect for the numbers is a critical component of the hiring process—as much as their attention to service and engagement. And when someone new comes on board, make their ongoing education with the numbers as purposeful and routine as training in service and colleague engagement skills.

2. Make numbers a mainstay: Make the communication around numbers a daily and departmental mainstay. Every morning meeting and department briefing needs to include a review of how the current financial picture is shaping up. The communication needs to be fresh, informative and interesting. Simply regurgitating the latest occupancy and rate does nothing. We will explore more about ways of communicating to your staff later in the book.

3. Attention: Ensure that your leaders all make and take the time to properly deal with their numbers. Focus your efforts on aligning a leader’s responsibilities with the three equal pillars of service, engagement, and the numbers. When this balance is out of whack, corrections need to be made. We would not put up with a leader who is not pulling their weight with their service levels or colleague relations, and we should similarly address concerns about a lack of attention to the numbers.

4. Develop numbers acumen: Show your leaders that the numbers are not the hard part of hospitality. Let them see that having skills and developing acumen around the financial aspect of their career is powerful stuff. Show them that it is not difficult. Perhaps you are someone who remembers a time when you thought numbers were confusing and intimidating, but now you know better. Be the executive who leads their team in financial discipline. They will love you for making a difference in their world, and this is a priceless experience for them – and for your own leadership.

5. Be realistic: Always remember that the numbers will never be perfect, and they will never go away. That sounds kind of scary and bleak – but that is the reality, and it is why appreciating the importance of the numbers is so key. We can take comfort in the fact that this imperfect yet relentless pursuit to be on top of things is in good company. People would think you were crazy if you thought that service or staff engagement would be perfect in your hotel – but they would also think you were crazy if you did not keep aiming high in these areas.

With these two disciplines, we accept the imperfection and come to work each day with a renewed determination to continually improve. The numbers should be treated in exactly the same way. They will never be perfect and they will never go away. It is not like tenth-grade math—if I pass it, I will never have to deal with it again! The numbers are just how we keep score in the game of hotel management. They are simply another vital part of the business.

Once your managers see that the numbers are just as important as service and engagement, things will begin to shift. Even before they begin to improve their ability to communicate effectively around the financials, they will start seeing the interplay of the numbers with other aspects of operations, and they will likely find this very interesting.

And as they settle into the process of taking the required time to manage their departmental finances, they will be proud of their accomplishment.

Finally, once they realize that hotel financials are not so difficult, they will begin to teach others.

Your team of managers and leaders all want to have these skills and abilities – whether they know it or not!

What they are waiting for is you.

They need you to lead the way and “shift the perspective.” Once you do, things will never be the same for you, your team, and your business.