Category Archives: Operations

Security Ideas for Strategic Planning

Was just reading interesting article on protective security measures by Scott Stewart in Stratfor. Turns out there are many similarities to Strategic Planning.

Author was in business of providing protective services to government officials, religious figures, royalty, business executives and ultra luxury individuals.

Professional protective security people certainly understand weapons and self defense. They realize that if they have to rely on these they actually have failed to do their job. True protective service entails anticipating situations and being prepared for them in advance to avoid confrontations. When confrontation is probable, goal is to structure confrontation on terms the protective service experts dictate.

Action is always faster than reaction. Just watch a football game. Proactive approaches involve “excellent situational awareness, thorough logistics planning, good security assessments, careful trip and individual site security advances, liaisons with counterparts and strict operational security. Protection teams can also employ powerful tools such as protective intelligence investigations, threat and psychological assessments of people with an unusual interest in the protectee, and countersurveillance detection teams.”

Leaders use the same approach when doing their strategic planning, whether it’s to address an emergency or a surprise in business, or to do the annual strategic plan, or long term plan based on business outlooks years out.

It’s already June, are you hitting your strategic plan for first half of year? What adjustments are necessary for second half of 2016? What are your plans for 2017 if economy holds strong? Starts to soften? Either nationally or just in your market or,selective market segments?

Millennials Now 1 of 3 American Employees

Pew Research Center reports that one in three American workers are millennials.

46% of millennials embrace business travel.

Millennials are looking for unique experiences. Many reject cookie-cutter chain offerings. They are looking for hotels that are trendy or at least well maintained. Millennials are looking for something unique.

So how can your hotel meet their expectations?

We all are hearing about massive data. What can you do if your hotel lacks technology to collect that data?

Collect your own data. That’s easy. After collecting data you have to act on it.

-Collecting month and day of guest birthdays allows you to send email birthday cards. Many services offer them. Better yet. Anniversary dates so you can offer them an anniversary package.

-Ask if there is any specific information their spouse loves to know about. Then provide it 3-4 times a year.

-Why are they in town? Knowing “why” enables you to better service them and know about return visits.

Quote of the Day-Sept. 6, 2015

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
Henry Ford

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist the founder of the of Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique for mass production.

8 Traits Leaders Must Have

Traits to interview for when looking for true leaders.

Leaders need and must be able to articulate:

-Have ability to manage complexity.

-People who act strategically.

-People who cultivate learning agility. Leaders learn from every situation they are in. Are your candidates?

-Develop personal adaptability.

-Create an environment that fosters innovation.

-Inspire engagement.

-Leverage existing and new networks.

-Have experience and know how to manage global businesses.

Traits come from excellent article by Loise Axon, Elisa Friedman, and Kathy Jordan on ERE Sept. 2, 2015. Article title: Finding Leaders Who Can Take On Today’s Complexities: 8 Capabilities recruiters Should Put on List.

True leaders evaluate prospective employers based on questions that identify leadership abilities and skills from managerial abilities.

How About Hospitality Executive Committee Positions?

Executive committee members on hospitality management teams all need the first 7. Do your interview questions identify if your Executive Committee candidates have the traits? Equally important, has your team identified depth needed on each trait for different Executive Committee positions? How you are or will, measure performance against the traits?


Effective Recruiting Ads…for Employers

Recruiting is advertising. You need to sell your opportunities.

To many ads have job descriptions in them. Concept of job descriptions was to satisfy internal HR record keeping and help in relating similar positions for pay purposes. Later EEO drove development of job descriptions. Have you ever read one that didn’t put you to sleep?

Come on. If you want me to get excited about your employment opportunity don’t bore me to death.

Majority of employers do good job interviewing candidates with what, how, when, where, and for whom questions. Employers strive to learn about the accomplishments of the candidates and how those accomplishments mesh with the employers immediate needs.

Candidates want the same information. The best candidates will be hired by the employers who provide the information the candidates want.

Candidates want to know what the challenges are in this job or what the goals are. How the employer wants to see them accomplished. (Can I fire as many as I need to build a better team? Or am I restricted to the existing employees for at least several months?)

They want to know how the employer expects them to do the job? Phase things slowly? Or move fast?

When is the candidate expected to show results? Tomorrow? Or is the time frame realistic?

Where are the greatest challenges for this job?

Who does the job report to? Where are the hidden reporting relationships? (Position reports to Department A, but Department B has lot of say in how A operates.)

Put real information in your ads so people can tell you how they will benefit you.

New Look to Hotel Industry Impacts Your Career

Hotel News Now, 4/15/15 had excellent panel discussion on how hotel industry has changed and what it means for owners.

The build and hold philosophy rarely works when brands require $2-3 MM in capital every 3-4 years. Owners are forced to turn properties. Likelihood of getting $2-3 MM back plus additional profit is unlikely.

That totally changes how business is managed.

  • Hotels require strategic thinking as well as operational thinking. Exit strategies are now as important as positioning strategy. Of course day-to-day operations are important, but they are only part of the equation to maximize the return on the asset.
  • Strategy is now changing how hotels are built. Why build it to last 100 years if you are going to sell it in 3 years. Strategy is also changing on renovations.  Owners no longer want to do one capital project a year when brands may change rules just after the project is done. Now owners want to wait until they know what the brands are demanding.
  • Guests used to compare hotels to home. Now they are comparing home to hotels. Guests expect hotels to be more technologically efficient than the guest is at home.
  • Owners are now doing better job using the napkin test. If it doesn’t pencil out on back of napkin, based on simple cost analysis, odds are it won’t pencil out using more detailed and sophisticated tools.
What does this mean for your career?

When you are interviewing look carefully at the physical hotel. Is it up to date? Getting tired?

ASK: When is your next pip planned? What importance do you place on keeping the brand? When does your franchise agreement come up for renewal?

If they look at you with a blank stare  talk about the above and mention part of your decision is based on likelihood the brand on the hotel will be downgraded. Good companies will welcome these questions and your perceived value to them will rise. If you get body language that indicates they didn’t like you asking, odds are you have hit the nail on the head. It’s unlikely they will help your career. Think long and hard about any offer they make.

Your interviewing needs to evolve as the industry is evolving.

Why Are Salary Demands Going Up Fast?

Companies are starting to have difficulty with salaries. The larger the company the more difficulty they are having (because adjusting salary ranges for them is very difficult process.)

Average salary increase the last three years has been under 1%. Historically it has been slightly under 3%, That means people are falling behind every year. Maybe not you, or your star employees. Majority of people in the management work force are not keeping up.  Adjusted for cost of living,  US population is making less now than they were 10 years ago. We all know what has happened to prices in those 10 years.

Your employees, and job seekers,  understand their best chance to get back some of the money they lost is when they change jobs. Good people will only accept less than 10% increase:

-if they are unemployed
-it they have personal reasons that requires them to get back to a specific area.

Promises of rapid advancement or future training is rarely accepted. People know these promises are very rarely kept. Your hotel may be the rare exception, but don’t expect job seekers to accept your word for it. If your hotel really does it, introduce job seekers to 3-4 people you have trained and promoted in the last year.

What can your hotel or company  do,  besides taking a long time to fill positions?

Put together practical training program to develop your existing  staff for promotions.

How can companies do that efficiently?

Identify hotels that are training properties for certain positions. Different hotels can be responsible for developing people in different positions. This concentrates training per hotel to reduce training costs. Training improves at the same time. Last it reduces pirating of employees as soon as they get trained.

US hotels have three choices.

-Start doing a much better job of preparing their employees for the next step.
-Or paying much higher salaries when the hotels replace people.
-Or reduce standards, even more, (but that’s dangerous to long term business.)

(If you don’t think your service is mediocre, odds are 99% that you are badly out of touch. Observe how your employees interact with guests  and respond to questions. DON’T interact with the employees yourself. You represent their paycheck, of course they are going to give you great service.)

Consumers Critical Hot Buttons

People will go to almost any lengths to avoid being inconvenienced and to avoid painful experiences.

Those are huge factors driving online sales. But wait, aren’t they just as important in the business each of us are in?

What is your business doing, right now, that inconveniences customers? What things do your customers view as a real pain when they purchase goods or services from you?

Many of us ask customers how we can serve them better. And we usually get answers that don’t help us or them much. Customers don’t want to think of ways to make our business better. Customers care about what makes their experience with us better.

Change your question to:  What part of your experience with us  frustrates you? Inconvenient’s you?

Whole industries are getting turned upside down by new approaches to serve customers. Think about buying a new car or truck. Most of us hated the idea of visiting dealerships and having to face car salespeople. Along came which lets you identify what car you want to buy, with which accessories, and then tells you which dealers have that vehicle in stock and what you will pay for it. You then call the dealer and make arrangements to go in, drive the car, and then make the purchase for the Internet agreed price.

Now there is a new player that will help you find the car, arrange financing and get your insurance all at once…and then they’ll deliver the car to you, typically within a week.

Next meeting with your employees, ask them what your company does that is inconveniencing or frustrating customers. Then test those assumptions by asking customers. Address their needs quickly…or risk other businesses solving those problems and taking your customers.

Apply above to employees and investments.

What things does your company do that frustrate employees? Make their job more difficult? Or less satisfying? What are you doing that encourages your employees to look for other jobs? If you don’t know, ask!

Keep above in mind as you look at investment opportunities in new fields of technology, medicine, science, etc.  Who has products or services that make people’s lives better or easier?

Degenerate Capitalism Returns…Again

Degenerate Capitalism is term that’s starting be thrown around…again. Term originally used may years ago by economist Dr Kurt Richebacher. Degenerative capitalism occurs when a capitalist economy is taken over by the financial markets. When economists view economic data only on the basis of what impact the data has on the immediate financial markets.

In 1970’s economists universally agreed a nation needs savings to assure prosperity. Fast forward to 2013 and we have the view that consumer spending makes any nation prosperous. If deficit spending by the government is bad, then deficit spending by consumers has got to be equally bad. Media, economists, and Federal Administration (and many states) are ignoring it.

In healthy economies, consumption has to be fueled by production. Americans are getting poorer at rate of 2.3% per year.

What’s implication for our industry?

  1. Look for industries that are expanding production and increasing their margins.  Get greater share of your business from them.
  2. Recognize that general public is going to have less and less to spend every year.
    How much of your business is dependent on discretionary spending by the consumer? How successful can your business be going after a shrinking percentage of upper middle class Americans? Can you upgrade your amenities as fast as chains think you should, and still keep the margins you want?
    If not, what’s your plan? Those that anticipate will do ok, others will lose profits…too quickly .
  3. Use creative thinking to identify how to restructure hotels to a different business mix.
    Perhaps you can rent out some rooms to professional businesses that have base of customers coming to town consistently. Office services you currently provide can help those businesses reduce expenses. Then get tie in to have those customers stay at your hotel rooms. Means their customers can do business without having to leave your hotel…reducing their expenses. Many hotels already have tie-ins with local restaurants to deliver meals. Done right, you may not need that expensive franchise affiliation. Or you can get a less expensive affiliation without losing rate.

Industry emphasis has been expanding/upgrading amenities. That’s forcing businesses to go after the same upscale customers…a customer base that is increasingly affluent…but declining in numbers. How long will you be competitive in that environment? Maintain your desired profit margins? Understand if the overall market by your hotels is upgrading, staying the same, or starting to slip.

Like all businesses…to thine own self be true. Trust me, the franchisors are.

Recruiting Better Employees-Quickly & Effectively

71% of US workers are actively looking or open to new opportunities.

What are you doing to keep the top 29% of your employees? Do you know who they are? Do you know why 71% of your employees are looking? (Money is rarely the reason.) Share your stories so we can pass them along.

Why are we making recruiting difficult?

If 71% are looking for new jobs how come we are making recruiting employees so difficult? Come on! 7 of 10 people you see are looking or willing to listen.

Only three things are needed for successful recruitment.

  1. First, make sure recruiters are spinning the dial…calling prospects, calling peers in position to ask for leads, etc.
  2. Second,  require each manager in your organization to refer minimum of 4 “A” candidates every year. You need to build an ongoing pool of “potentials” to shorten time jobs are vacant.
  3. Effectively work employee referrals. (Standard of Performance for  hourly Associates: Refer at least 3 people qualified to work for you. Not warm bodies, qualified candidates.)

Quit relying on job boards, LinkedIn and social networking.  2/3rds of those employed are not watching those sources. Why would you want to ignore 2/3rds of candidates? Those sources sometimes are effective, but the hours spent makes them very expensive. Additionally it means your jobs are vacant to long. That impacts morale and reduces profits.

Who Should Do Your Recruiting?

  • Management Candidates should be recruited by the Department they are going to work in, NOT HR.
    Managers know best the traits they need today to drive revenues and profits, and to improve management and morale in their Department. Next, they won’t waste time recruiting in the wrong places. HR should be used to  set up interviews, run references, do background investigations, make job offers, handle orientation paperwork, etc. BUT NOT the actual recruiting. Why? Two reasons:

    1. HR staffs are rarely given enough information to effectively do cold recruiting. (A Job Description is a terrible source for recruiting information.  Actual skill sets are about 20% of any job, 80% is how well people supervise, train, motivate and mentor to improve revenues and profits. It’s not what you know, but how you use what you know.)
    2. Most HR people dislike (many say ‘hate’) recruiting.
  • Hourly Candidates should be recruited by HR Departments. HR Departments need to use employee and peer referrals much more effectively to reduce the time HR spends on recruiting.   80% of hourly Associates should come from promotions or referrals.

What’s an “A” candidate?

The types of employees you need the most. Who knows which traits are needed better than the manager responsible for the function?

Remember: Every new employee should make a contribution to profits = to at least 5 times their salary/wages the first 12 months on the job. Sales people 10x.

Every person we hire must help increase revenues and profits. Otherwise they are not needed. Goal is to continually grow a business so it can expand to create more opportunities for more people.

How About Employment Companies?

Two times to use them:

  1. Jobs that historically are very difficult to fill.
  2. Positions that have critical economic impact and need to be filled quickly to avoid drops in revenues or profits.