Archive for the ‘Becoming a Leadager’ Category

On The Fast Track – Practical Professional Development for Hospitality Managers

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Over the years, I have been hounded by tribemates looking for a raise in pay (not unwarranted, but alas, still pervasive). If you want a pay increase to materialize at a faster pace, you must do some homework in addition to your work duties. What follows is the hospitality- manager response I have given to those on the money hunt: Whenever you are being evaluated for hiring, a promotion, or a raise, start with the most significant accomplishments you can cite from your recent professional history. It is both the wide and the narrow definitions of success that will define your evaluation.

What was your specific involvement in achieving strong results, forwarding programs, changing the business climate, and so forth? What were the scope and the scale of your responsibilities? What was your total staff size, including direct reports? Did you have P&L responsibility? What was the size of your budget? Be prepared to quickly and crisply articulate your business results, not just your activities.

Itemizing a track record of your successes is the easiest way for the powers that be to evaluate and elevate you to greater responsibility, and hello, “mad stacks, jack!” Regardless of how well you have performed, seeking more money in the same role might provide incremental increases, but eventually you will slam into a hard salary ceiling. Most organizations usually calculate compensation packages based on titles or responsibility levels and pay grades. Rarely can you break beyond the pre-set ranges.

You must work, plan, dream, and scheme your way to bigger jobs (of course, only through honest and ethical schemes). This is the most direct route to pay raises significant enough to really upgrade your lifestyle. The simple fact is that all persons of the same “leadager” level or title are in a competition for the next opportunity, whether they buy into it, act above it, care about it or not. (Everybody sing: “It’s a dog-eat-dog world…”)

Assuming your performance earns you the right to get your hat thrown into the ring for a promotion, the next assessment hurdles you face are those of pace and progression. Never underestimate the positive effect on your wallet the aggressive pursuit of advancement brings. The death-knell for anyone seeking advancement is having the same level of experience without a promotion for five-plus years. You will then be deemed as not promotable, a poor career manager, and/or lacking drive or talent. Hiring/promoting managers will be wary of you. (“If you can’t do it for yourself, how will you do it for us?”)

If you were to ask a group of assistant managers to cite the major hurdles standing between them and more money, you would quite likely hear the following typical excuses (always someone else’s fault):

  • “The company says there aren’t any opportunities right now.”
  • “They say I don’t have the enough experience.”
  • “My supervisor hassles me all the time.”
  • “I’ve got a bad team; they’re holding me back.”
  • “I didn’t go far enough in skool.”
  • They like Joe/Jill better than me

If you were to ask a collection of team leaders what major issues they consistently assess when deciding to promote someone, you might hear the following:

  • Poor transition from an hourly to salary mentality
  • Questionable integrity
  • Inconsistent follow-up/follow-through on projects
  • Denial of accountability
  • Lacking initiative
  • Poor judgment
  • Weak interpersonal skills
  • Poor financial acumen/performance.

Ah, here’s a light-bulb moment for you: All of it is deemed to be within your control.

The perspective gap between these two groups is real, and it exists in some form or another in every workplace. The common complaint of my peers who provide the advancement opportunity is not, “Why is this C player acting like a C player?” but rather, “Why is this potential A player content to settle for B or C level performance? What is wrong with him/her?”

In short, if you would like to go fast and far, start off by packing the right bags with the right stuff!

Hospitality Managers: Learn to Speak the Royal Language

Friday, January 21st, 2011

July 28th 2010

 From Chase’s Blog: 

There is no way you can be considered for, let alone achieve, a top hospitality dream job without walkin’ and talkin’ dollars and cents. You may be a front of the house/heart of the house expert, but to grow or perhaps, at times to survive, you may need to travel beyond your personal network to obtain money. It doesn’t matter if it is the bank, the boss, or the street; they won’t speak the language of your passion, expertise, or dreams. They will, however, require you to display your business and financial acumen (on paper, as spoken in percentages of minimized risk and maximized rewards).

In business, cash is queen (or king, if you prefer). Gotta make it, gotta use it, gotta get more, and gotta keep what you got. It took me a long time to realize that there is an imperial collective of people who use “money know-how” (financial fitness acumen) as their entrée into the top jobs. And you are nothing to them unless you “know da know.” (Come on, now; “liquidity” is a word you use everyday, no?)

Most people who have more money than you will talk money better than you. Here is the short version of almost any money conversation: “Why should I/we give you money instead of doing other things with it?” Buy into this premise; you will have to compete numerically to justify/prove your viewpoint. Potential investors will analyze and compare your projected results to, not just your history or industry averages, but other—and perhaps more fruitful—ways of investing their money (also known as projected return on investment or ROI). This is why you must track all that comes in and all that goes out, not just to pay the bills and buy some fish, but to compete at every level. Percentages and comparatives do not require high-level trigonometry, just attention to detail, total commitment, and an understanding of why they matter.

When you begin to hear the following questions, you’ll know that your knowledge of the royal language is being tested:

  • What are the sales per square foot of your store?
  • What are today’s sales per labor hour or productivity?
  • What is your annual staff turnover ratio running?
  • What is the current net profit margin on these sales?
  • What are your actual sales “running” when compared to budget?
  • What is your year to year “comp” sales percentage?

Do not become a person who shows him- or herself to have little interest in the royal language (“…I dunno”). If you do, it will only be a matter of time before you are labeled as one of the lost souls who don’t “get it.” If you want to get ahead of the curve, you can prepare yourself by delving into the industry “numbers story.” Start with specifics such as the “ideal” food, beverage, labor costs, gross, net, and so forth. After that, break down the store’s monthly profit and loss statement (P&L) and get to know it backward and forward. You might then grab the chart of accounts for your store (the snail-trail of all the money out) and read and reread it until following along becomes second nature.

The truth is, your ultimate success in the hospitality business will at some point come down to whether or not you are fluent in the royal language… of any business.

Determining Hospitality/Food Service Incentive Pay

Friday, January 21st, 2011

From Chase’s Hotel F and B “Staffing Doctor” Column:

I’m the catering sales manager at my hotel. Earlier this year, I just missed making a bonus, but my colleague who specializes in wedding events received one. Our bonuses are paid on revenue goals, but I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t offer many “freebies” and try to keep our execution costs low. How can I suggest to our manager that she look at factors other than just revenue when determining incentive pay?

CSM, for a business, cash is air, and, like a person, a business needs air to live. You can really get the attention of a business or a person when you cut off their oxygen supply. On the other hand, if all else is even, air is not what most people or businesses “live” for. A business can live for its customers, stakeholders, and employees, or ideally all three. People can live for their families, faith, or even to recklessly tempt fate by managing a hospitality business, if they so choose.

Now, follow me as we put our toes into the water. Running a business is a lot like learning to swim. At first, it can be a daunting proposition with a broad mixture of feelings and quite a bit of thrashing about—all fused to the sentient tracking of oxygen in and out. Hospitality businesses that focus primarily on the top and bottom lines (cash in and out) at the expense of other success factors, drivers, and line items, are essentially dogpaddling, which is elementarily effective but also stupendously inefficient.

Any business that rewards performance based upon simply “closing the books” or “coming up for air” from any accounting period is merely guessing at what’s really happening now and can be referred to as having an unbalanced scorecard. When it comes to the net profits or bottom line, most people share the opinion that the bottom line is the bottom line—either you got it done or you didn’t. However, at some point in any swimming lesson/running a business progression, a person grows in confidence or gets bored by just not drowning; though it will remain certainly imperative, it is not very self actualizing. An experienced business operator starts adding strokes to his or her repertoire, wisely looking for patterns and systems to leverage, in order to replicate successes.

Most hospitality businesses would (and do) benefit from tracking more push/pull triggers. For example, they need to further drill down on financial data such as revenue management, productivity improvement, risk assessment, and cost-benefit measurements or mission metrics—staff turnover ratios, a promotability index, innovation benchmarks, guest satisfaction ratings, referral percentages, etc. This, of course, requires detailed monitoring of many contributing factors and the gathering of information from far and wide and between the top and bottom lines.

So the smart trend is away from simplistically bonusing on month-to-month or top or bottom line results, even though that is obviously straightforward. Most companies are trying to achieve consistent positive financial results by rewarding the people, systems, and behaviors that drive better results, or, in our analogy, synchronized swimming.

CSM, here is the short answer to your question: Come up with a bonus plan that emphasizes equitably rewarding the drivers of sustained success. If your manager doesn’t go for your plan, at least you will have a greater depth of applicable knowledge on which to base your own actions. Or you could also go the long way around and leave this quote from Albert Einstein on her desk as a conversation starter: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

Hospitality and Food Service Mission Statements: On the Same String

Friday, January 21st, 2011

June 25th 2010

From Chase’s Hotel F and B Blog

I recently watched an all-star NBA player answer a question posed by a reporter after a stellar playoff game win. The reporter wanted to know why the star’s team played so well and how they won this particular game so easily against such a tough opponent. The hoops star replied, “We were all on the same string.” More commonly phrased as, working off the same script/ page, but the concept is the same no matter what you call it. When a group comes together (or is thrown together) to accomplish a set of goals, it is “ideal” if everyone knows their roles/jobs, performs well in these roles/jobs, and work together as a (high performing) team.

Managers and leaders of hospitality organizations face this dilemma every single day, much like a game of tug’o war, where forces, events, and circumstances try to pull your team/tribe in the wrong direction. Of course, this is why there are hiring guidelines, training departments, and soft openings (among other devices) to get the right kind of folks producing the right kind of effort at crunch time.

Most organizations utilize a mission statement as their starting point when attempting to draft individuals into producing a collective effort. There is usually a great deal of thought and work that goes into developing an effective mission statement. Some are simple, some complex, but all attempt to become a touchstone for the company, a guiding light, if you will for making decisions and incenting actions. Often the mission is celebrated or held aloft much like a civic monument, and therein lies the problem.

Have you ever been to Mt. Rushmore? Visitors shuffle and jockey for the best possible viewing position. From the rear it seems as if everyone is looking at the monument. Now let’s use modern technology to freeze that picture and sweep around to the front so that we are viewing the faces of those facing the Presidents. What do we find? Of all those people who, from the back, could be assumed to be looking at the monument, only a handful are actually doing so. The rest are caught up in their own minutia. A few have their eyes closed, some are texting, others are fiddling with buttons, looking for a bathroom, cooing at a baby, jackin’ with their camera and so on.

Similarly, what you might assume to be happening with a mission statement can, in fact, be far from the truth when viewed from the rear (or at HQ). I’m not suggesting that mission statements aren’t useful, but they are just words and words are hollow without actions. In order to bring a mission to life, the actions of the group must embrace and energize the mission. Otherwise it becomes a disjointed or a half-hearted effort, also commonly known as paying lip-service to the mission.

Many leaders are tied to the words of a mission (because they wrote them) or linked to the ideals by tradition, not necessarily an unworthy interest, but often reality gets the short shrift.

I know you hope to have your enterprise known far and wide for its signature items, extraordinary service, or other positioning/branding/space domination skill-sets, but imagine the reaction of your guests if they were to arrive at your establishment and were greeted with “We aren’t serving any of those items tonight” or “Yeah, we’re gonna get back to that service- thing someday.” That greeting/message is no different for your in-house folks; if your heartfelt mission statement is out of whack with whatever actions are really being supported/ rewarded/glorified. Times are rapidly changing; I implore you to check the pulse of your mission statement. If it no longer is in alignment with the actions you seek, or worse, it is in direct conflict with the actions of your leadership and culture, revise it to reflect your current reality. You might even consider taking the really tough, but high road of ensuring that you have the correct people in leadership and management positions that actually walk the walk of the current mission. It is not always the actions of the crew that prevent a mission from being realized or from everyone being on the same string. Much like a design redo, a new marketing direction, or a menu freshening, even the greatest monuments, movie stars, or mission statements have a little “work” done now and again to restore their luster.

Book Announcement

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

High Impact Hospitality

Buy Today! Chase LeBlanc's "expert advice will kick start your journey toward improving your value as a manager." -- Ken Blanchard