By David Lund
The morning meeting is a mainstay in almost every hotel. All the key department managers and leaders gather, usually in the front office or sometimes an in-house meeting room, to devour the day’s business at hand. It is a great way to distribute last minute information and highlight important changes to groups and business volumes.
However, most morning meetings miss the most important pieces of information. The most valuable nuggets are stepped over and not seen or exposed for what they are.
A rundown of the following is a typical morning meeting:
- Previous day’s occupancy, rate, and RevPAR.
- Anticipated occupancy, rate, and RevPAR for tonight.
- VIP arrivals and departures.
- Previous day’s security and safety report.
- Restaurant summary: yesterday and today, covers, issues.
- Housekeeping sick calls for today, rooms out of order.
- Banquet activity yesterday and today, special needs.
- Maintenance report, noting special activity, getting rooms back.
- Guest complaints and compliments received, follow up.
- Rooms pickup report for the previous day.
- Labor summary with variances to plan.
- Human resources update with a highlight on training.
All of this is usually good pertinent information, vital facts that department heads need to get on with their day. So what’s missing?
What’s missing is a review of the business strategy and how the execution of that strategy is unfolding. Here is the dynamite, no…Wait for it…. What’s missing is what each department head needs to do today, tomorrow and next week so we can right the ship. Each manager in that room holds their piece of the business and they need to know whether the vessel is on track to make its forecast revenues or not and, most importantly, what they need to do so their part of the enterprise flows.
A 1.2.3 strategy for managing the finances needs to be clearly understood and acted upon by each member of the team who manages a work schedule or orders their department’s supplies.
First. What exactly are the monthly forecast business volumes, rooms revenue, food and beverage revenue, other revenues? What is my department payroll productivity target for the month? What are the detailed zero-based expenses for my department? It’s not too much to expect that each one of your key managers knows these facts because this information is just as important as guest service execution and colleague engagement. Expectation is the wrong word, they have all agreed to know and manage these business facts. The key part of the execution of the leaders knowing their numbers: They put the numbers together for their area. Developing a management team that knows the business strategy and plays the “business of hotels” daily is Step 1.
Second. Everyone must know the latest score. Where exactly are we with our business volumes? It’s like the last month of the baseball season, Folks. Is my team going to make it? That’s the level of focus. This is tricky and it requires insight, experience, and a steady hand. In many hotels, pick up in the month-for-month is substantial. Depending on the month, the market and the weather, along with 100 other factors, determine the end result. Every day your leadership needs to get the latest pickup on rooms, conference services, outlets and other sales. Where are we—what is the prediction for the month-end result? Waiting for the 15th of the month to take our pulse and see how things look on the revenue front is a dangerous practice. You need to be on top of the revenue picture from day one and every day after that. Nothing is more important to your business success than having your managers understand than, the latest projected revenues by department for the entire month at hand. Are we going to make it?
Third. What to do when the ship needs to turn. This is where 90 percent of hotels are completely lost. If occupancy is soft and my room revenue is going to be short compared to my budget, what moves do my teammates make to manage the flow thru? If my rate is down to forecast, what expenses can be managed so I can affect the costs this month positively. If my banquet or restaurant volumes are not going to come together as planned, I need my managers to do their part. This is where we go back to steps 1 and 2. If I have trained my managers well and we have done a good job with our “distant early warning” system to help them understand the revenue picture, then I have a chance. If my managers know their staffing guidelines and follow them to the letter—daily—they will still have a good shot at making the productivity target for their individual area. If I have a team of leaders who all know what is in their expense lines—in detail—then they will know what to put the breaks on and how to turn the ship.
It is not rocket science, it is just attention to the details and making sure all my sailors do their part. As the GM or the Director of Finance, I cannot turn the ship with some late calls for man overboard. My crew needs to know their part of the ship inside out and they need to know how the wind is blowing. If a storm is coming, they need to do their part. If the seas are calm and it is smooth sailing, they need not trim the sails.
Your morning meeting is your daily view into the latest forecast for the month and it is also the critical point where your managers need to know the play they can run to win the game. Throwing your hands up in the air and believing there is “really” nothing we can do, it is too late, is just poor management.
Execute the 1.2.3 strategy in your hotel and watch the collective abilities of your management team grow.