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Standards, or lack there of? The vacuum of best intentions.
By John R. Hendrie, CEO, Hospitality Performance, Inc.
“I’d like to review your standards”, said the Auditor. “Which ones”, I responded.
My accountant uses GAAP to make sure I balance my books correctly; my CPA uses the IRS standards, to ensure that I reflect my business activities accurately; my chef follows the Requirements of the Health Department; my architect and builder always work with the Building Inspector to insure that we are in code; my elevators are up to spec; the Fire Marshall has approved my capacity and evacuation routes; my pool has been inspected with rules posted; and all my servers in the cocktail lounge have gone through TIPS training. “Which one do you wish to review,” I asked confidently.
I would like to see your Hospitality Standards, please”, he said.
I abashedly said, “Oh!”
Obviously, the above is a set-up, but it does make a point. Here we operate our various Hospitality Businesses, grousing about all the Standards, Laws, Rules and Regulations we must uphold, or we face fines, potential closure, and even lawsuits. Yet, our business is really about the Hospitality Standards we represent to the Public – standards of Quality, Service, Products, and Satisfaction. Where are they written? Who has seen them? How do your Standards drive your business, or are they implied? Implied is not reliable, for that really means interpretable, and that welcomes trouble and disconnects.
Unless you have Hospitality Standards, which are measurable, you have no idea about your performance. We may bemoan all the Standards I mentioned above, but they are measures of your compliance; they can be inspected, evaluated, and graded. Yet, your essence, as a Hospitality Business, may have no such charter, and this is a disservice to you, your employees and, especially, your Guests, for without Standards of Performance you flat out flounder.
You know what you want – how the guestroom should look, how the entrée should be served, how to greet the guest – what it takes to make the experience memorable - your story and your passion. But, success does not exist in a vacuum of best intentions. Your expression of excellence must better than meet the expectation of your Guest and be superbly delivered by your staff. That’s your credo!
You do not need to have the resources of the major players. But, consider what they are selling – consistency, no surprises, a level of certainty for the Consumer dollar, at a minimum. Your business reflects your tastes, beliefs, and expectations of performance. How do you translate that to your Guests and your employees.
Let’s deal with the employees first. Of course, you have hired foremost for attitude, as everything else can be taught. But, what do you provide them? A Job Description, a Handbook, any type of formal orientation, other than “walk around with Mary” or “here is how the register works, go gettem!” How do you communicate with them? Only when there is a problem, at your leisure, or when there is a complaint. How do you recognize performance, especially superb performance? The litany of “good job”, the pats on the back, or no response at all. You have the opportunity to modify behavior, so it reflects your high level of performance and your statement to the marketplace why your establishment is special. This all starts with the knowns, your Hospitality Standards. They should be written, shared, discussed, reinforced, and rewarded with your staff all the time.
Ah, the Guest, those we serve, whose experience we can frame and manage. It would seem to me that before you throw yourself on the market, you would have a general understanding of what your market wants. You cannot offer apples to the cherry crowd, unless you have a unique desert in mind. You need to gather information about desires, expectations, what’s of value to your Guests. Certainly, you would want to insure cleanliness, safety, comfort, acceptable service and a reasonable facility condition. Your story is what you build upon this foundation. Hopefully, what you have learned from your Guests dovetails with your business plans and passions and complements the required delivery of product and service which has been shared with and expected from your staff.
The measurement of your performance is really very easy, and it is focused upon your Guest. Just as you reached out to them to learn about what is of value to them, return again and again to verify that you have better than delivered on their expectations. By the way, you now also have a more loyal guest, for you have reflected their import.
Are Hospitality Standards important? You bet! Without them you have no performance measurement and are in no position to manage the Guest experience, which is very fluid, as we know. Congratulations for being in compliance on local, state and federal Standards. Now, let’s get into the real game!
About the Author:
JOHN R. HENDRIE, CEO:
With a strong background in Human Resources, Organizational Effectiveness, Communications and Hospitality, John has devoted his career to establishing and evaluating Standards of Excellence across varied Industrial segments.
He began with WESTIN HOTELS, opening the Peachtree Plaza Hotel (Atlanta) in charge of Training and the Los Angeles Bonaventure Hotel, responsible for Training and Staffing. He was promoted to Senior Management at the WESTIN St. Francis (San Francisco) and served on the Executive Committee. Additionally, as an "effective Business Partner", he has provided Strategies to better define Product/Service, Contain Costs, Increase Productivity and Enhance Profitability within Manufacturing, Transportation, the Graphic Arts and Life Sciences.
For the past ten years, he has Presided over Ragsdale Associates, Inc., a Consortium of Management Consultants, specializing in Customer Service/Satisfaction, Communication and Human Resources.
John holds an English Degree and received his Masters from the Cornell Hotel School. He resides in Merrimac, MA.
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