Words of Wisdom from Karen, The Queen of Coins

Karen Ehrgott
Karen, Controller

I started out in the hotel business in high school. Twenty years and several industries later, I am grateful to be home. I thought I would take a moment to share some of the things I learned that have stuck with me throughout my career.

The best managers are problem solvers. If you have a problem that comes up more than once, try to figure it out. If you dig deep enough to understand and resolve the underlying problem you may never have to address the same issue again. Putting a temporary Band-Aid on a problem is like being on a tread mill – you can walk all day and then realize you haven’t gone anywhere. When looking into the issue, don’t assume anything. Ask people who work above and below you for their input. Ask your peers at another property if they have the same problem or what they did to solve it. If you think you know of a better way to do something – tell your boss! Your insight might be the missing piece that improves something for everybody.

A book on hospitality by Peter Venison mentions 3 circles of focus that overlap each other – guests, staff, and finances. The staff’s job is to focus on the guests – meeting and exceeding their expectations of quality, security, cleanliness, brand standard, etc. Managers at each level have the bigger job of focusing on all 3 circles to run a property efficiently. Managers need to juggle all 3 circles at different speeds depending on what is going on at the site. I am well aware that every day is different at a hotel. That’s part of the charm! But the property (and the manager) succeed when all 3 circles receive a balanced focus over a period of time.

Yogi Berra said it best – “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” In the busy season it is easy to get overwhelmed with daily tasks. Set goals in each circle to help keep your team on track now and other goals for the slow season. Choose goals that can be measured and write them down. Employee goals likely involve training or job planning. For instance, you may decide to have 2 people cross trained as room inspectors or night auditors by a given date. Spend a couple moments a day and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish when you look back and measure. If appropriate, share the goals with your team so that everyone can see your vision and contribute to the direction of the team.