The Chesapeake Point of View

New Management Key To Turnaround

New Management Key To Turnaround

November 13, 2013

Hotel professionals on both sides of the owner-operator equation are all too familiar with a certain kind of high-pressure sales pitch— the well-worn spiel that features a combination of grand promises and dire consequences.
While there is a lot that can be said about the pitfalls of this kind of pitch (and about the advantages when hotel management professionals act more like counselors and less like salesmen, avoid overpromising and make sure they can back up what they say with results), the reality in the vast majority of cases is it all comes down to the relationship.
Hotel owners and investors have to trust, respect and develop a level of comfort with their management team.
The strength of professional relationships is built on one thing: results.
Results build confidence, and a track record of success leads to more business and more opportunities for all parties. The ability to consistently back up what you say with verifiable results is essential; it is important to show this bottom-line impact as soon as possible.
Management changes that yield immediate impacts are the best way to demonstrate to owners and investors there is hope ahead—even for faltering properties. The right management team can produce results before any significant renovation or new investment takes place.
I have seen a hotel that is in the bottom 10—not the bottom 10%, the bottom 10—in the nation in service scores move ahead of several hundred hotels before any renovation or upgrades were made. The only change was management with a renewed sense of purpose.
The first step toward achieving those kinds of results is to appreciate just how powerful a shift in management culture can be. With the right team in place, with professionals who understand how to get buy in from employees and know how to hit the ground running, it is possible to make measurable progress in a relatively short period of time. The little things matter most— the simple and cost-effective changes that a skilled hotel management team can implement right away.
In short, small changes can make a big impact.

Change your mindset
Success breeds success. For many hotel management professionals, efficiently and effectively turning around a struggling hotel and demonstrating professional capabilities is not only a chance to solidify a professional relationship, but it is also a great way to secure new business.
Executing a swift and substantive turnaround requires hoteliers to hit the ground running and to come in with a mindset that understands the impact and importance of immediate results. It also means managing the hotel with a sense of urgency.
The best hotel management experts are aggressive and passionate; they fire on all cylinders from Day One and beyond.

Mitigate the culture shock
Any substantive change in bottom-line results means first changing the professional culture of a hotel.
The cliché about having to crawl before you can walk applies here. No matter how talented and experienced your hotel management team is, securing enthusiastic buy in from property staff is essential. They are looking for anything positive, and the new managerial team needs to be that source of positivity, focus and direction.
Immediately removing uncertainty about wages and benefits is crucial to getting initial buy in and can be a tipping point for many employees when undergoing a management change.
The single most important member of the takeover team is the GM. Steady leadership matters, and a savvy and results-oriented GM can make a difference. GMs set the tone and standard, and lead by example. Whether it is a pat on the back or a reminder that everyone on the team is holding each other to new and higher standards, the GM is vital in promoting and reinforcing positive change and building a new professional culture. The best GMs provide credibility and accountability, and are the visible and accessible face of the new management team.

Capitalize on a fresh start
One of the great advantages of a well-executed change in management is the rare opportunity to use a fresh start as a platform for big changes.
Leveraging that “newness factor” is funda- mental in making an impact and reminding everyone there is still time and opportunity to turn the ship around. The most experienced management firms understand how to engage and communicate with those employees, defining and clarifying new expectations, explaining and implementing new procedures and policies, while reassuring them things have changed for the better.
A new hotel management team only has one chance at maximizing the powerful opportunity provided by a fresh start and perspective. The team needs to make sure to harness that initial energy to build and maintain positive momentum. The bottom line is that making a strategic management change often can revive stagnant sales or diminishing bottom-line performance. While the most dramatic turnarounds and improvements predictably include a long-term capital investment, the simple act of putting experienced hotel management expertise to work can yield significant and substantive results in a relatively short amount of time.
In today’s environment, owners must be proactive to adapt to the dynamic market conditions in order to maximize return on investment.