Associate Satisfaction Impacts Guest Satisfaction

By Dawn Wells General Manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North | April 20, 2014

As a General Manager with a staff of 30 associates, I am reminded every time I walk into my hotel: happy associates make happy guests. It's not rocket science. It's understanding human nature. J.W. Marriott, founder of Marriott International, said it best. "Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers." It works at my hotel where our guest satisfaction scores are near the top among the 40+ hotels in our management company's portfolio. Satisfied guests come back when happy associates treat them well.
What does it take to make your associates happy? to keep them motivated? to help them want to learn new things and grow in their positions? to make them want to do their best?

First, associates need to know that you care – that you care about them as much as you care about the guests. Surprise your associates; change your routine; find new ways to show that you care. Test your new routine for 60 days and see how it affects your team.

Here are some suggestions that worked for me... When you arrive at the hotel each morning, spend some time in the breakfast area socializing with guests, clearing tables and refilling coffee. You're caring for the guests, but you're also assisting the breakfast associates. Try to do this during peak hours for your breakfast. Even if you have enough staff on duty, having them see and feel your presence as the leader in the hotel sends them a positive message. It not only tells them you care, it shows them.

Your staff needs to know that you are not above taking on their roles and getting your hands dirty. Take off your suit coat and jump in the dish pit or take out the trash once in a while. You will be amazed to see how meaningful these small gestures are to your staff. You will also begin to see them work harder for you.
Once you have spent some time in breakfast, head to the front desk to serve as a support system. For some General Managers, this can be scary. Do not allow it to be. Take on the role of desk agent by answering phones, handling checkouts, doing whatever it takes to help with the morning routine and take care of your guests. You're leading by example, modeling best practices. On top of that, you are helping the front desk staff perform their duties, which to a desk agent, speaks volumes.

Before going into your office, get in the habit of conducting a daily stand-up with your team of associates to review the day's forecast of guests, including groups, events and VIPs. Acknowledge feel-good events such as birthdays and anniversaries and take time to read comment cards that praise your staff. Receiving that recognition in front of their peers will boost their confidence and give you the opportunity to thank them for their hard work in front of the entire team.

Think back to when you were a child on a sports team and you scored a basket or made it around the bases to home plate. When the coach told you "Good job!" in front of the team, how did you feel? I bet it lifted your spirits and made you want to work harder to score again. It works the same way for your associates. Show them you care and they will, in turn, want to work to hear the praise again.

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