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2006-07-25 The Dorn Group Hospitality Newsletter
  1. Customer Service -- A Lost Art? What the Ritz Carlton is doing.
  2. Strategic Planning -- Myth or Necessity? 7 Points to Consider.
  3. "Special Events" Magazine Guest Room Chat.

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Customer Service - A Lost Art? What the Ritz Carlton is doing.

You have seen it yourself, the business you grew up loving has changed. For the better? Doubtful if we are talking about "Customer Service". Calling to make a reservation? You remember the phone used to be answered by a person within three rings and your call handled quickly and efficiently. Now, it’s voicemail at best, you wait for someone to call you back and if you are lucky, it is within a relatively short time.

Going to the doctor? Why is your time not worth anything but the doctor charges $350 per hour for his or hers? You go, you wait, you read a 3 month old magazine, and then you go in and are rushed through the process? Oh yes, please remember to pay on the way out, we do not accept your insurance!

When was the last time you did a "Customer Service Audit"? When did you last have an impartial observer come in and evaluate your business? We all know about mystery shoppers, but they do not work in many businesses. A mystery shopper walking into a Private Club or upscale hotel may find themselves out of their league. Is your business internet based? When was the last time you asked an impartial observer to test your site and see how much trouble they can cause?

When one looks for companies within the Hospitality Industry known for their "Customer Service", one looks no farther then Ritz Carlton. However, recently Ritz took a new approach...

"For more than two decades, every "lady and gentleman" patrolling a Ritz-Carlton hotel -- whether on the Bosphorus or the Kapalua beaches -- was secure in the knowledge that they carried in their breast pockets the exact instructions to pamper any guest.

There, laminated between two pieces of plastic, were the 20 rules dubbed the "Ritz-Carlton Basics": Never say "Hello" to a guest; always opt for a more formal greeting like "Good Morning." Never give directions to the restroom; always escort the guest right to the door. And, never, under any circumstances, let a guest carry his own luggage.

This week, all that changes. The name that has defined luxury as a cross between formal elegance and unwavering service bordering on the robotic is scaling back the 20 rules to 12 "service values" and asking employees to think for themselves."

Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2006

So what's the big deal you ask? Well consider a few of the old rules…

  1. Our motto is: "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen".
  2. All employees will know the needs of their internal and external customers (guests and employees) so that we may deliver the products and services they expect.
  3. Each employee will continuously identify defects throughout the Hotel.
  4. Any employee who receives a customer complaint "owns" the complaint.
  5. Instant guest pacification will be ensured by all. React quickly to correct the problem immediately. Follow-up with a telephone call within twenty minutes to verify the problem has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction. Do everything you possibly can to never lose a guest.
  6. Uncompromising levels of cleanliness are the responsibility of every employee.
  7. "Smile-We are on stage." Always maintain positive eye contact with our guests. (Use words like- "Good Morning," "Certainly," "I will be happy to" and "My pleasure").
  8. Be an ambassador of your hotel in and outside of the work place. Always talk positively. No negative comments.
  9. Escort guests rather than pointing out directions to another area of the Hotel.
  10. Be knowledgeable of Hotel information (hours of operation, etc.) to answer guest inquiries. Always recommend the Hotel's retail and food beverage outlet prior to outside facilities.
  11. Use proper telephone etiquette. Answer within three rings and with a "smile." When necessary, ask the caller, "May I place you on hold." Do not screen calls. Eliminate call transfers when possible.

Note - Some rules have been abbreviated due to space limitations.

Now consider the new rules…

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
  11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company's confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

Will Ritz Carleton remain the same? Only time will tell, but I'll tell you, the first time I was escorted to the Men's Room, it left an impression for life…

Is your "Customer Service" going to take you to the next level or are you stuck? To discuss "Customer Service" Programs and how The Dorn Group, Ltd. can help your business, please call us at (914) 921-3150 or via email at hospitality@thedorngroup.com.

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Strategic Planning - Myth or Necessity? 7 Points to Consider.

We've been hearing it for years... Strategic Planning, Vision Statements, Mission Statements, Focus Groups and Surveys. What do they mean and will the planning work? The answer is simply...yes. It can and will work.

The key to Strategic Planning is the "process". Start with data, analyze it, generate a strategy and then develop a plan. Is it as easy as this? No, of course not, but each segment is important and cannot be ignored. So where do companies go wrong in the process?

  1. It is a commitment. Strategic Planning does not happen over night. It is not cheap and involves all facets of your business. Employees, members, guests, investors. All have an interest in your business. They want it to succeed and ideally grow. But all have different opinions and all must be involved in the process.
  2. It will be difficult. Strategic Planning requires making the hard decisions. Who do we want to be when we grow up? Is the business really poised to grow? Do we have the resources to grow?
  3. Change will occur. Problem or benefit? Some say both, but all agree change is not easy. Long time employees will often resist change; newer ones may take to change like fish in the water. Who's right? Who wins? No one in the short run, everyone in the end.
  4. It's a lot of work. Collecting the data at the beginning is often the easiest step. Once you get it, it has to be put into an orderly form, processed and then analyzed. Then there's the development of the action plan. The process does not end with the issuance of a report. The plan has to be administered and reevaluated.

But with the bad and the difficult comes the good…..

  1. You'll have a plan. If developed and implemented, your business will grow, thrive and move to unexpected new levels. Guests, customers, investors and employees will be happier.
  2. No more guesswork. Making decisions is hard enough when you do not have the background data, the analysis or the plan in place. With an action plan, most of the guesswork is gone. Do you buy the competitor's business when he or she is going under? You'll know before they do where it fits in the long term plans of your business.
  3. You will make more money! A business maximizing its revenue potential, minimizing its expenses and spending wisely to develop will put more money in your pocket.

A Strategic Plan does not answer all the questions about the future. It is meant as a resource and tool for you as you move forward. A Strategic Plan is "organic". It changes as your market changes, your clients change or any other influence varies. If you are looking for guidelines which help your business move forward, a Strategic Plan may be for you.

To learn more about the process, please contact Charles D. Dorn, CCM as shown below. Dorn believes growth and change are a necessity. See how he can help you and your business move to the next level.

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"Special Events" Magazine Guest Room Chat.

GUEST ROOM: CHARLES DORN GIVES THE CLUB CONFIDENTIALBY LISA HURLEY
Jul 1, 2006 12:00 PM

AFTER 25 years managing private clubs in New York, Charles D. Dorn, CCM, has launched the Dorn Group, offering consulting services for hotels, clubs and restaurants. Here, he shares his insights on new event opportunities for clubs.

SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: What led you to found your consultancy?

CHARLES DORN: The primary reason was that there is a real problem in the club business, and has been for many years. In many of the clubs throughout the U.S., the leaders change almost every year, and so tend to ignore the long-range planning for the club and focus on things that benefit them or their legacies. The president who uses the Grill Room will renovate the Grill Room when, in fact, the electrical system of the club is falling apart. And then the next president might come in and say, “The Grill Room is an abomination,” and rip out everything the previous president had done. I also really felt that there was a lack of strategic planning going on in the industry. Many of the strategic planners, especially in the club business, are tied into other businesses. Strategic planning is very often done by architects, or it's done by people who do membership and marketing work. You're asking somebody to give you their opinions and judgment when they have a vested interest in the result.

Q: What trends do you see in special events in private clubs and hotels — cost pressures, tight timelines and so on?

A: I think you almost can't mention private clubs and hotels in the same sentence. The hotels and maybe a small portion of the high-rent clubs have started to do stuff in the last five years that is very different than what was done before. But I would honestly say — and I'm going to offend a lot of my club management friends — 75 percent of clubs haven't found that yet. They haven't taken it to the next level. One of the problems in the club business is that the people who are directors of catering in the club business, especially in clubs that aren't all that busy, are typically young people who are fresh out of school. Whereas you would never find that in the hotel business. If you are opening a new franchise property of a major hotel chain, you are going to bring in a seasoned professional, because he or she recognizes that every single time someone walks through that door, who knows where it's going to lead? Who knows if that person isn't going to have a successful birthday party for their wife or husband and in return, you may get the local chamber of commerce. In clubs, there tends to be this mind-set: “We're going to do Mrs. Jones' birthday party,” and that's it. The trend in hotels is: Give the customer what he or she wants. And the more we do it their way, the more repeat business we get.

Q: Don't private clubs still have issues with decorum at special events?

A: It used to be when someone would come in and say, “I want to do something really off-the-wall,” clubs always said no. I think you have to hear what people want to do and see if there is a compromise. There was a member of the Union Club {in New York} whose wife wanted to throw him a 60th birthday party, and they wanted to bring in traditional Las Vegas-type dancers, who would basically be topless or close to it. You don't say yes automatically, but ask, what night of the week? And, where is it going to be? The answer was the ballroom, and the ballroom had a small room to the side, and so we could allow the dancers without disrupting the membership. It's not like these 12 women with their Chita Rivera-type headdresses would have to walk topless through our club.

Q: Do you see any new event “occasions” opening up as new markets?

A: There is a tremendous market in clubs for memorial services. The best thing about them, from a business standpoint, is they are all un-forecasted revenue. Imagine 300 people coming in at noon for finger sandwiches, mini-pastries and an open bar. It requires so little setup, and it doesn't tie up your ballroom on a Saturday night. You might work with their florist to say, “OK, we're going to do 25 little 30-inch cocktail tables; give me a bud vase.” It would be over at 2 p.m., and literally at 3 p.m., your room can be reset. So there's an incredible market there.

Whether it's the Union Club or the Hyatt, the truth is we are all businesses, and we need to be run like businesses. We need to take the emotional decisions out of it. If you are running food and subsidizing food for your membership, why should you subsidize it for an outside group?

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About the author:
Charles D. Dorn, CCM and The Dorn Group, Ltd. aid hospitality businesses in discovering and implementing new strategies to develop their business. Are you looking into taking your business to the next level? Contact The Dorn Group by calling 914-921-3150 or emailing hospitality@thedorngroup.com. Discover and implement new avenues to help your hospitality business flourish.

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