Tag Archives: Business management

Build confidence in others

This is part two of this week blog ‘Building Confidence’:

Limiting confidence just to your own abilities comes over as arrogance and failing to express confidence in the capability of others becomes a self-filling prophecy. People soon pick it up when you fail to trust or allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them doubting their own abilities. Lack of confidence will only lead to people not getting on with things off their own bat, which can be both frustrating and draining for you.

Encourage your team by assuring them that they have the skills and knowledge. If you really are unsure of somebody’s ability to deliver what’s needed reflect on what help and support they would need in order to achieve this and focus on that instead.

Look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. If they doubt their own  ability encourage them to focus on what they are good at and where they do well. Then talk about what is holding them back and suggest ways of dealing with this.

Build confidence by providing positive feedback and recognition. Offer plenty of support and encouragement. Explain clearly the importance and significance of what they do. Foster a supportive culture where people can learn from their mistakes, rather than be blamed. Encourage team members to come up with their own areas of improvement and how they will achieve these. Recognise and reward when these improvements have been made even if things are not yet perfect!

 

Inspire commitment

Set out a clear vision of what you want to achieve for your business and what business success looks like. Paint a vivid picture that your team can relate to. Translate your overall strategy into meaningful direction.  Involve the team and deciding on how this vision can be achieved; they are the ones who will need to implement the lion share and have first-hand experience of what works and what your customers want.

Target individuals and inspire them to take ownership. Set goals which are stretching but still achievable and demonstrate your belief in the likelihood of success and your confidence in your team’s ability.

Make statements to build hope, optimism, excitement and enthusiasm in others and demonstrate your own belief in and have high expectations for the success of a particular plan or strategy.

Demonstrate your trust in the team. Empower individuals and the team by giving them authority to make decisions and take action. Generate a climate of confidence by drawing attention to the strengths of the team and individuals and where they complement one another rather than dwelling on shortcomings.

 

Join me on the FREE recording from myrecent tele seminar on  how to get the best from your team


Are your team dependant on others?

Time
Not having enough time to do the job to standard can be very sole destroying for people, particularly when they want to do a good job, but they just don’t have the time to do that effectively.  Spend time with your staff to assess how long a task should take. And if it is taking longer than it should, assess what is causing the extra time. It may be down to the equipment, products or systems causing a bottleneck, or again it may be down to lack of training on the best approach to complete the task.

If you give a member of staff additional responsibilities or duties, be realistic; unless you are increasing their hours something else will need to give to make way for this. Spend some time now identifying how that time can be made up. If you’re not careful they could end up cutting corners on the most critical tasks rather than cutting out low priority ones.

People
What happens when a member of staff leaves, or goes on holiday? What impact does that have on the rest of the team? The effects may be felt in other departments too, if they are dependant on this person for information or ordering, for example.

Are there skills shortages in certain areas, which only affect you once in a while (e.g. certain types of events, or when people are on holiday) but when they do, they put pressure on the whole team?

The more flexibility you have in your team the better. This does not mean you make everyone a jack of all trades, but ensure there is always more than just one person who is able to perform each task, so there is an element of cover, and the whole place does not fall apart, just because one person is off sick.

Tomorrow, I will be looking into the systems and red tape that sometimes gets in the way of a good performance from your team.


Bad workmen or poor tools?

Resources to get the job done

The saying goes “a bad workman always blames his tools”. But is it always the workmen that are at fault?

Today I had a delivery, and the poor driver was getting extremely frustrated with his hand held scanner.  He had to reset it twice before it showed the delivery for me to sign. Now how much of this was down to operator error I can’t say, but one thing was for sure, he was not happy about it. Neither was I for that matter as I was left standing on the doorstep for 10 minutes while this was going on, when frankly I had better things to do!

But it made me reflect on how well we provide the right resources and tools for our staff to do their jobs, and then give them the necessary training to utilise them to the full. Failure to do so is frustrating for the employee, and inevitably has a knock on effect on the customer experience, as was evident today.

Equipment
The most obvious is the provision of the right equipment. This might be as simple as the right accessories for your vacuum cleaners, right the way through to your heavy kitchen or laundry equipment. Equipment that is unreliable or fails to do the job for which it was designed can be a huge source of frustration for staff.

Consult with those who will using the equipment before making investments.
Skimping on inferior quality equipment might help the initial cash flow, but in the end seldom pays off. However ask whether or not you need the all singing all dancing model, or just the basic. Why pay for extra features if they are seldom, if ever, needed?

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. And have a reporting process if there are problems; maybe when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to staff frustrations, and later accusations of who’s fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Then ensure your team get the full training they need to get best use out of the equipment. Talk to your suppliers to support with this training. And ensure they understand the maintenance required and can spot quickly when there are faults that need reporting.  Remember too the equipment that your customers will be using – irons in rooms, LCD projectors in meeting rooms, gym equipment. It’s easy for these to get overlooked.

Products and consumables
In the kitchen it’s obvious to have the right products, as the end result is so evident if the correct ingredients have not been sourced. But this extends to all areas of the hotel – the appropriate cleaning products for the job, the correct grade of printer ink and paper, the quality of toiletries- each will have an impact on the finished result and how easy they are to use or work with, and whether they deliver what is required to the right standard. Simple little things can have a huge impact on the amount of effort needed from your team and on the quality of the end result.

 

Tomorrow,   I will be looking into if and how your team are dependant on others to enable them to get their job done.


What’s so different about your hotel, then?

Unless you have a USP or some point of differentiation, what will make your hotel or restaurant stand out above all the rest in your area, or competing for the same market?

Some can rely on their location, or the building, or history. But what if your hotel or restauarnt has none of that?

One way of capturing the interests of your guest or prospects is to imagine your perfect guest sharing some of the same passions, values or interests as you. It’s a lot easier to sell something you have an interest in, you are passionate about or that’s important to you.  If you don’t love what you do, or feel it’s important, it will show. It will be very hard for you to deliver a good service if you are dealing with people with whom you share no values, interests or enthusiasm.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love my garden, and love visiting other gardens. So if it was my hotel an obvious target market would be other garden lovers. This would not only allow me to attract guests who share my interest and passions, it provides a theme, which can be built on. Such as – sharing knowledge of local historical or famous gardens, forming joint ventures with a local plant nursery, garden designer, gardening author, manufacturer of garden products, or market gardener (or all of these); designing menus planned around locally grown produce.

I could tie in with any specific gardening events happening locally, such as RHS flower shows, Gardeners’ Question Time, etc. Or host my own Gardeners’ Question Time calling upon local gardening celebrities. I might include talks from experts, transport and free entry to a number of local gardens of interest (maybe as exclusive guests of the owner). You get the idea……

 

To take another example, Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, where Nina and Gérard Bassett used Gérard’s knowledge and passion for wine – Gérard is the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA and, as of April 2010, World’s Best Sommelier. (And I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Nina and Gérard as part of my interview series  – How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.) As a result Hotel TerraVina attracts both hotel guests and restaurant diners who have an interest in wine, and Gérard is happy as he has an opportunity to cater for people who are interested in what he’s offering. By employing others who share this interest and knowledge Nina and Gérard are able to be consistent. And all this provides them with great PR opportunities.

But what if your theme is not so obvious?

Start by listing what you enjoy, what you are passionate about, and what’s important to you. Can these be incorporated into your business? Then consider your interests. What are the hobbies or pastimes you enjoy (or used to before you ran a hotel and had more free time!) What particular knowledge or expertise do you have? This could be nothing to do with the hotel industry, it might just be an interest or from a former career.

  • So it could be something you love: be that golf, shopping, dogs, cars, cooking – you’ll then know the types of things others enjoy who share  your love, so cater for these interest.
  • Something you value: such as supporting your local community, being in the countryside, or energy conservation, so give examples of the steps you’ve taken to contribute to these.
  •  Or it might be a particular hobby or expertise you can share with your guests: your knowledge of Italian cuisine and offering cookery lessons, your interest in classic cars, and attracting like minded enthusiasts and promoting classic car events in the area, or you might have a specific skill or talent to pass on to others.

Very few of us could honestly say there is nothing we can get excited or enthusiastic about, but I’d certainly recommend checking there is enough of a market there of others who share our passion before modelling our whole business around it!  Then we’ll want aim to recruit people who at least have a remote interest.

And once you have identified what it is that you have that others don’t, make sure you share this at every opportunity.

If your business reflects your interests, value or expertise the likelihood is you’ll attract other people who share them. Having a specific interest or expertise also makes it easier for you to find a forum or networking group where you can get your name known, as well as finding potential opportunities and prospective joint ventures.

Then tell and show your guests how you incorporate these into your business. Show your guests in as much detail as possible what you do that is different, so they can see all this before they choose you. It could be why they choose you.

It’s very easy to be enthusiastic and passionate about something that interests you, and this enthusiasm will translate into bookings if managed smartly. It means you are more likely to attract the type of guests with whom you can build up a good rapport and a better prospect of repeat business.

If your passion appeals to your perfect guests, it will make your job of marketing your hotel and making it unique so much easier.

Nina and Gérard Bassett were just two of my 10 guests on the interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.


Are you letting new hotel business opportunities slip through your fingers?

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting new business

  • Do you struggle to get new business?
  • Are you unsure what marketing you should be doing and want to know how to make your marketing budget go further?
  • Do your guests seem to have a good time, but you still don’t get much repeat business?
  • Are you forever chasing your tail and never have time to devote to growing the business?
  • Are you fed up with other hotels under cutting you and forcing you to reduce your rates?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions there’s still time ot join me on my complimentary call on Tuesday 23rd August.

On this free call you’ll discover:

  • The 4 most common mistakes hoteliers make when trying to gain new business
  • The 3 ways hoteliers let repeat business slip through their fingers
  • How to spot if you are making these mistakes and what to do to rectify them.
  • Plus I’ll be revealing my BRAND NEW programme created specifically for owners and managers of small independent hotels who want to give their hotel a competitive edge

To learn more and to register click here


Who is holding you accountable?

Your Best Year Ever ~ Goal Setting for 2011
Step 6 ~ KEEPING ON TRACK

 

Congratulations you have finished your best year ever process.  Just for a moment consider how much time you have just spent creating the coming year the way you absolutely want it.  My guess is about 1 -2 hours and that is probably 1 – 2 hours more than most people you know have invested in creating the coming year as they want it.

So now it is time for you to take action in the doing, the being and the having.  You want to make sure it becomes a reality.  Consider with whom you share what you have written.  For many people the best time to discover what your goals are is when they see you achieve them – you know; the cynics who will mock you, and make you doubt your ability to achieve them.  Instead, share your goals only with those who will support you, chivvy you along, encourage you, and congratulate you on your progress.

Remember there will always be uncertainty, the coming year will be as uncertain as last year and every year to come will be.  They will always be uncertainty in our lives.  The secret is to act with certainty in everything you have written down.

Give up the all-or-nothing, only-perfection-will-do approach.

Avoid becoming obsessed. Not many of us have a 100% hit rate so there may be times when you set a goal and you end up making a mistake or your goal doesn’t work. It’s really not the end of the world. At this point you have a choice: you can get all flustered, beat yourself up and go back to wandering about without direction – or you can learn from the experience and move on.

You can’t break a resolution by messing up just once or even several times. Whenever you notice you’ve gone a bit off-course get back on-track by shifting your actions to get you back on course.  Keep it simple: Pay attention. If things aren’t working try something different. Correct your course.

Re-visit your Rules for Success.  From this list, what single thing if you did it regularly would make the most difference in helping you achieve your goals?

What will be your milestones for keeping track of your progress?

Celebrate your Succes

 

1

2

3

 

  • When you see yourself making progress what will you do to reward yourself?
  • What will you do to celebrate your success when you achieve your goal?
  • Assuming we all have some way of holding back or sabotaging success, what would be the way you might do this? (For example: procrastination, arrogance, believing it can’t be done, not saying ‘no’, indecisiveness, being too proud to ask for help
  • When you notice yourself doing this, what will you now do instead?
  • Goals are easier to achieve when you have a support structure in place.  Which support structure will you put in place this week to make these goals fun and easy?
    For example:

    ..Ask colleagues and family for support, and to check on how it’s going
    ..Join up with someone else who has the same goal
    ..Join a club or network group
    ..Find a training programme to give you the skills
    ..Set up a coaching programme with a good coach
    ..Find a mentor to guide you, support you and hold you accountable

Access the whole programme online here


Your Best Year Ever ~ Goal Setting for 2011

Step 5 ~ MAKING IT HAPPEN

 

Now think about what you need to do to reach these goals?  For each goal outline resources you need, action you need to take and the support you’ll need.

Now make a list of everything you are going to have to do to achieve your goal No. 1.

  • What are the actions?

    get the wheels in motion to make it happen

  • Who can help you?
  • What resources do you need?
  • How will you obtain these?
  • What obstacles will you need to overcome?
  • How will you resolve these?
  • What skills will you require?
  • How will you acquire these?
  • What sacrifices will you need to make?
  • What consistent behaviour will you need to adopt to achieve this goal?
  • What actions can you take in the next seven days to get you nearer your goal?
  • What action can you take in the next 24 hours to get you started?

 

Now do something every single day, however small, that gets you nearer to your goal.

See Part 6 tomorrow or access the whole programme online here

 

 


How a bit of blue tack only cost me £500 in damages!

How secure is your data?

Last week I made a costly mistake, and caused £500 worth of damage to my laptop. All down to a piece of blue tack!

But why do I say only £500?

Well, it certainly could have been a lot worse.  Although in the end I decided not to send my laptop back to Sony for the £500 repair, but to replace with new, I did end up with no computer for a few days, and not able to retrieve files from the old one. So what would have happened if….

  • What if I’d had no other means of accessing my emails and lost potential business as a result?
  • What if I’d had nothing backed up?
  • What if all my client details had been on the computer, rather than on a web based system?
  • What if I had decided to get it repaired and been without a computer for several weeks?

 

Thankfully none of these applied, and I have an excellent relationship with my IT support supplier, who had me up and running again in no time at all.

So what’s this got to do with running a hospitality business?

Well, just ask yourself if you are putting any of your data at risk?

  • Do you have back up of all your documents, emails and contacts?
  • Are your customer details secure?
  • What provision do you have if you lose internet access? Can you still take bookings and payments?
  • Are you dependant on any single piece of equipment to run your business on a day to day basis?
  • What is your relationship like with your key suppliers?
  • Do you get your IT equipment regularly serviced in the same way as you would service other equipment?
  • How secure is your sensitive data (and the equipment it is held on)?

 

See business management tools for more resources to support hotels.


When the cheque isn’t in the post ~

Ten Top Tips To Beat Late Payment

If you have business customers you will often be expected to invoice rather than taking payment at the time of their visit. Late payment is a problem for any business and in the current economic downturn there is a worsening climate of late payments and bad debts, and the associated impact on cash flow. How many times have we been told “The cheque’s in the post”?  It is reported that 59% of small and medium sized enterprises encounter difficulties with outstanding debts, with 33% claiming that customers’ failure to pay on time risks the survival of their business.  Despite the fact that you have a right to charge interest for late payment at 8% above the Bank of England’s reference rate, do we really want it to get to this stage?  Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting to this:

Credit check your customers

Check out their ability to pay before you confirm big bookings, or agree to credit. Speak to your accountant about th best ways to do this, which might include via their bank, credit reference agencies, or some of their existing suppliers.  Further financial information may be obtained from Companies House or the Institute of Credit Management.  Consider bi-annual checks for existing customers.

Diversify your customer base

Having all your eggs in one basket can be risky.  If this one customer runs into difficulties or fails to pay, this will have a far bigger impact on you than if your business is spread over a number of customers.

Agree payment terms in advance

Ensure you discuss payment terms at the outset, and record the agreed payment schedules.  If invoicing for any of the services or expenditure up front, ensure you set a precedent and ask for this before you start work or deliver.  Then ensure that payment dates are clear on each and every invoice.

Split invoices

When you have supplying over and above what was included in your original quote (e.g. extra covers, or additional bar bills), invoice the two amounts separately.  This means that if any amounts are then in dispute, the main invoice (which should match your quote) will not be held up, only the variations.

Invoice on time

Your customers won’t pay until they receive the invoice.  If payment terms are for example 14 days from invoice, it stands to reason, the longer you leave it to send the invoice the longer you will need to wait to be paid.  But there are other reasons to invoice promptly.  The longer the time gap between providing the service and receiving the invoice, the more likely the customer will forget the value they have received and the more likely they are to question or challenge items.  It also reflects the professionalism of your business – if you don’t take the effort to invoice on time what message does this send the customer about the importance of being paid promptly?  Make sure you have a system in place to ensure invoices are sent within days of completion, or for on going business on the specified day each month.

Put controls in place

Set up a system, which ensures you know at any one time what is due in this week, and what is outstanding.   I come from a sector of the industry where everyone’s performance was measured by ‘debtor days’ – the number of days’ debt outstanding at any one time.  This was published to all client managers on a daily basis, and it was their job to ensure that anyone who had not paid in 30 days (our specified payment terms) was followed up immediately.  It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, just a spreadsheet, which someone has a responsibility to monitor daily.

Make payment simple

Ensure that payment methods are simple.  If you encourage payment on line how easy is it for customers to set up a payment.  I have had a number of different suppliers recently who have either failed to give bank details, or who use a third party to monitor payments, where it is not clear what details to put into the payee section.  If paying by cheque, is it clear who to make the cheque out to, and where to send the cheque?  And how easy is it for you to monitor your bank account to check who has paid, and which invoice this relates to?

Communicate with customers

If payment is due, speak to the customer!  We complain to everyone that so and so has not paid, but have we actually asked for the money?  Sometimes it is a genuine over sight, and other times they are just putting it off to help their own cash flow, but rest assured if we don’t chase your invoice will be bottom of the pile.   This does not need to be done in an aggressive way, simply pick up the phone and ask the question “I noticed that you have not yet paid your invoice, which was due yesterday.  Can you tell me when we will receive payment?”  Be prepared for any ‘excuses’ and have your response ready; remain polite, but firm.   Identify who holds the purse strings and initiates payments, and build rapport with them.  Note I have said to phone – it’s far harder to ignore than a letter or e-mail, and you know for certain that they have received the message.  Better still, call in if they are local.  If you are worried about damaging your relationship, get someone else to call, who can be detached and objective.

Spot potential problems early

Don’t rest on your laurels.  Just because you have called once, keep checking for payment and keep calling.

If the theme of late payment continues try phoning them before the date it is due – “Hello, Jo, I just wanted to remind you that your invoice is due this week.  To help me monitor my cash flow, it would be useful to know which day I will receive your cheque”, or something along these lines. – This just acts as a reminder and lets them know you are monitoring it.  It is also implied that payment is only a day or two away, not weeks.

Keep any eye on customers’ behaviour – are they acting differently?  Are they suddenly difficult to get hold of?  Are they sending post-dated cheques?  Remember, prevention is better than cure.

How it impacts them

Let them know the implications of late payment.  We may not want to resort to threats, but make customers aware that failure to pay you may mean that you can’t hold their rooms or confirm their next booking until they are up to date with their payments.  If you say this you need to be prepared to carry out.  Their late payment could also potentially mean that you are unable to pay suppliers or your staff, which in turn could have a knock on effect on the quality of service they receive.  Letting them know how it will affect them is sometimes enough to prompt some action.

Look at options

If a customer is struggling themselves and simply cannot pay you in full consider the options.  If this a long term agreement you may not want to take the risk, but it is better to have some money than none, so discuss what they can give you now and when they will be able to pay the balance.