The chapter below is an excerpt from my new book. It's fiction but some of the characters and story lines are based on people I have worked with and events that have taken place in the hotels I have worked in. The book is a fable about a hotel manager who has some very bad habits. He must change in order to survive and the book takes him and you through the lessons needed to be a great hospitality financial leader. I'm writing ahead each month so I'm not sure how the book will end. I hope you enjoy it and if you missed any earlier chapters you can find them on my website blog tab.
My executive committee meetings of late are boring. Just a bunch of people who call themselves managers and executives waxing on about their areas of so-called responsibility. I'm sick of the constant drool. I decide it's time to shake things up a bit.
My housekeeping manager is a nice woman. Hard working and unassuming. She could be running a nunnery or a bakery. She does an OK job I guess; the house is clean but the attention to her financials leaves a lot to be desired. Come to think of it she does a poor job of following her numbers. We do the forecast for her and all she needs to do is execute.
Month after month she is over in her payroll, and the money she spends on her expenses is all over the place. Why can't she just follow the plan?
In this meeting we were paying special attention to the financials as we just finished and published the results from the previous month. Another lackluster month with revenues flat to the forecast and spending was seemingly out of control. Arthur was regurgitating the variances and once again the housekeeping department was way over on their labor. I interjected and asked Mary, our housekeeper, why she was over her forecast. She looked at me like I was a monster. I love this part.
I looked blankly back at her and said, "What's the problem? We give you your numbers ahead of the month and all you need to do is schedule accordingly—any 10-year-old could do that!"
She started the water works, so predictable and boring. I had enough.
"I pay you to manage your department, to live within the resources we provide you," I emphatically stated, "Why is this so damned difficult?"
I turned to look out the window because I know if I continue, I will hurt something. But I was not finished.
"So, I have a question for all of you to answer, how do you make love to a fat woman?"
Silence ensued. An awkward 30 seconds passed by and I repeated my question.
"How do you have sex with a fat woman?"
At this point Mary, horrified, asked, "Mr. Pavia…How dare you?" and she was up, out of her chair and out of the meeting room.
"What's her problem?" I mused to the others, "The answer is, you put on your sunglasses and headphones and you turn the volume up really loud!" I smiled and it was not lost on the group that Mary is just a little overweight. Oh well, maybe next month she will follow the forecast.
The strength of our financial performance has always been driven by top-line revenue performance. If the numbers come in and we beat the forecast revenues, we make the bottom-line profit target. It's not rocket science; a high tide floats all boats someone once said. My job is to decide on resources, dole them out and hold the team accountable. If this means a little pressure in front of their peers so be it. A little public embarrassment is good for you. It gets results and it can be entertaining too.
The meeting took an interesting turn. The new kid was making some overtures about the forecast process here and comparing it to the Norton. I cut him short.
"Listen, the Norton is a country club and the people over there are not disciplined and they are asleep at the switch," I said.
"This is a real hotel. Don't compare what we do here with what you languished in over there. Am I understood?" Arthur looks a little frazzled and I ask that we move on.
We continued around the table and there was more to discuss about the prior months results. I have heard it a thousand times. Why don't these people just get it? We do the forecast, or should I say I do the forecast. I tell Arthur how much the spend is to be in each department and he puts it all together and gives each department manager their allotment.
All they need to do is spend what they have been given and no more. We have been using this system for a long, long time. The departmental managers look after their guests and colleagues and I manage the numbers. I know and I determine how much payroll and expenses they need, and I allot these accordingly.
Doug, who was Arthur's predecessor, used this system and so did the previous manager. When I came to be the GM, we progressed a great deal. The old system did not allow managers to even see their financial statements. I decided we needed to share the information and hold them accountable for their results. The actual results vs. the forecast. My forecast.
Arthur is a stubborn person. Once again, he brought up the Norton and this time I give him a bit of rope. He told the group that the system at the Norton has the department managers preparing their payroll and expenses. Each manager is responsible to create their own monthly forecast. I see some mixed reactions around the table. A little confusion, some raised eyebrows and concerns. I have heard enough.
"Listen, Arthur, I do not want to hear another word about that place," I said, "If Cedrick sent you here to brainwash my managers about their responsibilities and to fantasize about the numbers, you should just pack up your things and go back there."
Silence ensued. Ah, as it should be.
Back in my office my phone rang. My secretary was at the door telling me it was Cedrick on the line. I threw her a, Why the heck did you put him through? look of disgust and picked up the receiver.
"Good morning, Cedrick."
Cedrick replied that it was indeed a good morning. He inquired about our prior month's results and I told him we were still closing the books. It occurred to me that he knew the answer already. Having Arthur in house was proving to be a problem.
Cedrick asked if I was available for lunch. I had nothing on my calendar but said I had a full day.
"Make time," he said. "I will be there at 12:30," and he hung up.
Fudge! Why is everyone bothering me! What does this turnip head want now?