Industry Update
Opinion Article23 June 2006

Spring Into Summer

By Gene Ference, President at Ference Leadership & Strategy

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It's time for you and your property to Spring into Summer, or risk the consequences of a Fall into Winter! It's never too early to start making improvements in the methods you use to gain satisfied guests, staff and management.

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It's time for you and your property to Spring into Summer, or risk the consequences of a Fall into Winter! A play on words, for sure, but with a very real meaning! It's never too early to start making improvements in the methods you use to gain satisfied guests, staff and management. In fact, one of the success factors in peak performance emphatically supports a program that allows and encourages growth in personnel development and job satisfaction, in order that by Fall, your customers might be seeing real effects of upgraded product and service, enthusiastic management and staff, all fully engaged in your brand.

With a goal of ensuring customer loyalty, while gaining dedicated employees, using the right tools for your property to achieve peak-performance and align brand expectations is no easy task. It is a job, however, that HVS/The Ference Group has helped hospitality industry leaders accomplish for over 25 years. Here's how:

  1. Both employee satisfaction surveys and guest satisfaction surveys should be administered in conjunction with one another. It is vital to know what and how your staff feels and thinks, and it is just as important to receive their suggestions and input in making your property the best it can be. Guest satisfaction surveys need to be administered on a systematic and continuous basis. We administer guest feedback from both on-line and on-site hardcopy surveys. With real-time turn-around, problem areas are immediately flagged and ultimate guest satisfaction generated.

    By utilizing guest and staff feedback from both points of view, real progress can be made in a relatively short period of time. When both surveys mirror each other, it's safe to proceed on the basis that whether negative or positive, the answers are meaningful and warranted and should be used for the betterment of all. When the surveys seem to disagree with each other, it's time for a "reality check" to see where in fact the truth lies and to "fix whatever is broken."

    Our surveys are designed in a manner that provides for comparative analysis of guest and employee feedback results. Our formula takes into account not only these two factors but a third which provides a metric regarding how well management is integrating needs for change. We then correlate the three areas to develop one index number relating an overall level of peak performance achieved.

  2. 360 Degree Feedback Assessments are used to determine management strengths, weaknesses and blind-spots as perceived by staff, peers and leaders. Once feedback has been received, the results can be used to increase peak-performance of individuals as well as the management team as a whole. Since there is a wealth of in-depth information developed from 360's, they are often used in conjunction with an executive retreat or individual coaching sessions. Retreats are often conducted off-site, using group dynamics to gain further insights into performance; coaching is often done one-on-one through a series of 45 minute telephone discussions or on-site feedback sessions.
  3. The Ference Management-Development Cycle separates skills into Professional and Organizational Sets. The process encourages individuals to "drill down" into management performance by using ten critical management skills designed to support best practices. The program is self-paced, with a coaching loop built in. Ultimately, the program leads to improved management proficiencies, better run departments and overall company health.
  4. The Ference Branding Hourglass is a system that builds success upon success, allowing both customers and employees to become part of the solution rather than be apart from the solution. This innovative system helps to develop Brand Engagement, Performance Cultures and Return On Individuals. Both internal and external customers are exposed to a better brand experience, thus creating an even greater competitive advantage.
  5. Employee training and recognition programs can and should be developed based on designated feedback points. Our Service-Culture Map outlines a complete approach-deployment system. Based on continuous improvement principles, individual charts are designed to track performance drivers for individual departments on a monthly basis. All reports include specific references to industry norms, competitive benchmarks and comparative trends.

Many companies offer surveys and assessment results to help properties become more successful in their performance initiatives. However, most merely administer surveys and "crunch the numbers," leaving properties to "learn on their own" how to best use the feedback. HVS/The Ference Group separates itself from other survey groups by the depth of specialization in organizational assessment, brand engagement and the development of performance cultures. We do whatever it takes to help clients "turn the corner" to a more peak-performing culture. In fact, many of our clients have "turned the corner" and today are at the top of their game. Now, their motivation is to stay number one! Our expertise in providing specialized tools for management to improve performance and to exceed guest's expectations has been a top priority in our long history in the hospitality industry. In short, we are committed to your success. We begin working with you and your culture when other companies have stopped at the number cruhing step.

Additional articles can be found in our management library.[]

For more information regarding development programs, contact, Gene Ference, President, HVS/The Ference Group. [[email protected]]

HVS/The Ference Group provides programs in TeamStrategics: organizational development, business health assessments, and strategic planning. Our clients include successful applicants for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Employer of Choice, Best Human Resources, Employer of the Year, Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For as well as quality of work life and service culture awards of Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, The Netherlands and Singapore.

HVS International is a hospitality services firm providing industry skill and knowledge worldwide. The organization and its specialists possess a wide range of expertise and offer market feasibility studies, valuations, strategic analyses, development planning, and litigation support. Additionally, HVS International supplies unique knowledge in the areas of executive search, investment banking, environmental sustainability, timeshare consulting, food and beverage operations, interior design, gaming, technology strategies, organizational assessments, operational management, strategy development, convention facilities consulting, marketing communications, property tax appeals and investment consulting. Since 1980, HVS International has provided hospitality services to more than 10,000 hotels throughout the world. Principals and associates of the firm have authored textbooks and thousands of articles regarding all aspects of the hospitality industry. Click here for more...

Gene Ference

Gene Ference, Ph.D. has developed Deliberate Cultures in the luxury hospitality industry since 1980. He is President of Ference Leadership and Strategy & Center for Survey Research – a global organizational development company – and is an active member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC).

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