Hotel Franchising: 'Well Done' Is Better Than 'Well Said'

By Steven Belmonte CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC | October 28, 2008

But some of the less known phrases are the ones that can perhaps teach us the best lessons if we relate them to the world of hotel franchising. In particular, two Ben Franklin quotes come to mind: "Well done is better than well said," and "A countryman [or hotelier for our purposes] between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats."

Think about those two statements for a moment.

Well Done vs. Well Said

As many in the industry know, I am not short on words. I truly enjoy conversing based on 30 years of hotel experience with friends and industry colleagues at brand conferences and other industry events. But success and respect do not come from what you say, but rather from what you do - and more importantly, what you do well.

Over the past 30 years, I've served as an owner/operator, franchisee, franchisor, brand President/CEO, and head of one of the largest hotel management companies. So what . . . so have many other people.

What if I tell you that I built my successful hospitality career with no formal education-starting in this industry as a desk clerk and working my way to President of Ramada, one of the most recognized hotel brands in the industry and a company that doubled in size under my direction? What if I tell you that I've mentored and motivated many employees and colleagues . . . That I've helped hotel owners to improve their franchisor relationships and negotiate solid contracts to ensure success. . .That I've mediated win/win outcomes for owners who were in jeopardy of losing their franchise . . . And that I've received the Humanitas Award for my work with Childreach, which helps to build medical facilities, schools, youth centers and housing in third-world developing countries across the globe.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.