Streamline Your Routine Processes – Ritz-Carlton Naples

I am at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida for the fourth time since 2008. This is one of the best hotels in the world and although we are working here, I have time to spend some hours a day outside at the beach, on the balcony or at the property to enjoy the nice weather with temperatures in the mid to high 80s (25 to 28 degrees Celsius). It is high season here. The hotel is almost 100 percent booked which means that there are 450 rooms and at least 700 guests—not counting private parties and business meetings—who want to be taken care of, every day, 24 hours,.

From my room I can overlook a large part of the property and the gulf of Mexico and I recognize that a couple of things repeat every day:

  • When it is supposed to be a sunny day, about 200 or so deckchairs are brought to the beach every morning and are collected every afternoon (see picture)
  • Specific beach entertainment equipment is installed every day and is brought back every afternoon.
  • In the evenings, the pool areas are prepared for the next day so that they look the same each day.
  • And, of course, there are all the repetitive activities that happen in every hotel: preparing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, check-in, check-out, and so on.

Acknowledging that the hotel business is not a high margin business (except for high season) and that it depends on people—Ritz-Carlton’s „Ladies and Gentlemen are Serving Ladies and Gentlemen“-philosophy is known all over the world—routine processes need to be standardized to a very high degree in order not to lose time and money on repetitive operations. The efficiency I can observe is remarkable: There is no time wasted by unnecessary loops and the people still stay very friendly. There is no time wasted, because the time is needed to deal with processes that are not or can not be standardized; processes one need to put some thinking on.

To what extend have you standardized your routines processes? Are they as streamlined as they could be? Or are you talking about deviations in routines over and over? How often do you do something we call „failure work,“ which means correcting things at management level that could have done correctly at an operational level? Do you feel you spend too much time on this?

Stop it. Standardize and streamline your routine processes, make people responsible, and make sure your routines are executed properly. You can’t afford using your profit to subsidize failure work in routines. You need your creativity, your time, and your money for more important things in order to grow your business.

Gulf view

Gulf view

(c) 2013 Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

„Profitable Growth“: Spanish Press Release

My new book „Profitable Growth“ was just promoted to Spanish media. For the first time ever we have distributed a press release in Spanish. To download the press release (PDF, 58 kB), click here.

(c) 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group / Mandat Managementberatung GmbH

Growth Challenges

One of our US colleagues, my friend Chad Barr, recently asked in an international forum what the key challenges of our clients are. I thought this was a superb question to think about. Here is my answer that results from our current projects:

Low or medium growing companies:

  • Lack of differentiating from the competition.
  • (Not) attracting the target group exactly enough (if they even know what their target group is).
  • Ego trumps long-term strategy.
  • Archetypical growth brakes institutionalized in companies departments.
  • Not knowing where they are on the growth curve and take inappropriate action therefore.

High growth (or  companies with a high growth attitude):

  • Handling high growth with the existing systems / processes.
  • Transferring people from „normal growth thinking“ to „high growth thinking“.
  • Getting the right people on board.
  • Convincing their shareholders that the management isn’t doing a kamikaze ride.
  • Thinking long-term.

What are the key challenges you are facing trying to grow your business?

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

Big Boxes Need Big Staff

The founder, former CEO, and former Chairman of the Supervisory Board of one of the most important Germany-based DIY retail chains with today more than 40,000 employees running a 6.4bn Euro operation in more than a dozen countries once told me that you need to build „big boxes“ in that business in order to stay competitive. This conversation took place several years ago and he was right. DIY markets are getting bigger and bigger and smaller „boxes“ are being closed. If you want to survive in this business – not talking about growing – you need what retailers call „big boxes.“

The point here is, that big boxes may be a necessary condition for remaining an interesting player in the market in the eyes of the customer. However, this is far away from being a sufficient condition. To grow profitably in retail – not restricted to DIY – you not only need a big box, you need a big staff. And we are talking about „big“ not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. Customers want to find an employee when they have a question. Customers don’t want to be send to a couple of different employees in order to find the „real expert“ for their problem. Customers want to be served as a valuable counterpart in a business. Customers expect service.

Since controllers dominate a lot of discussions about how to grow profitably, we don’t need to be surprised that one of the first means to grow the bottom line is to cut costs. What controllers in retail operations are not often aware of is the fact that cutting cost in purchasing will end in dissatisfied customers because of poor product quality and that cutting costs in salaries often ends in dissatisfied customers due to no – or, even worse, poor – service.

Retail C-suite: Don’t let controllers tell you how to grow profitably. Don’t just build big boxes. Build big staff. Do it like the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article and hire enthusiastic people who want to serve and who are able to serve. That’s a good step on your way to profitable growth.

Guido Quelle

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group

„Profitable Growth“ – Upcoming In The Fall

My new book „Profitable Growth – Release Internal Growth Brakes and Bring Your Company to the Next Level“ will be published in October by Springer. Foreword by Dr. Alan Weiss, President, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., author of „Million Dollar Consulting“ and „The Consulting Bible.“

Here’s the text from the back cover:

Almost every company wants to grow – at least officially. Shareholders are demanding further growth and no management team would deny that the growth of their company is one of the top issues they are working on every single day. However, there are barriers to growth, and these are not only external barriers. Most often it is not the economy, not the market and not the customer who just “hasn’t got it.” The main barriers can be discovered inside every company, because growth always comes from within. If the organization is not ready to grow, initiatives to increase market share, to enter new markets, and/or to increase profitability are destined to fail. This book systematically addresses the main internal barriers to growth and provides practical guidance not only for discovering these barriers, but to systematically overcoming them.

Here’s what readers say:

“The nuance that distinguishes this book is the orientation that growth is measured, planned, and pursued in an orderly fashion, never growth for growth’s sake. Guido wisely takes the reader through a strategic approach which leads to intelligent tactics, not a frenzied tactical charge that undermines strategy.”
Alan Weiss, PhD, President Summit Consulting Group, Inc.

“Growing a company needs more than just a theoretical concept and even more than just a strong commitment, it needs practical and proven ideas that can be implemented in the corporate environment. With this book, Guido Quelle not only provides the theoretical basis how even growing companies can evolve but also provides practical advice how to release internal barriers to grow profitably on the long-term. A must read for all executives.”
Ted Breyer, Deputy CEO, SGL Group – The Carbon Company

ISBN 978-3-642-32786-5
Pre-order your copy now at Link to book page at


Cultural Differences – Singapore Airlines vs. Frankfurt Airport Staff

Most people who know me know that I am a great fan of Singapore Airlines and I try to use them as often as possible. Here is another example of the difference their employees make in regard to their contribution to the reputation of their company:

We landed in Frankurt after a most enjoyable trip from New York JFK returning from a fabulous week with members of the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. I picked up our luggage from the conveyor belt to recognize that one of our bags was seriously damaged: One wheel of the bag was missing and zippers were missing, too.

The lady of Singapore ground staff whom I showed the bag said immediately “We take care of that.“ Unfortunately “We“ was not only her, but also two ladies from Frankfurt Airport.

The conversation that followed was mainly characterized by formal questions of the Frankfurt Airport ladies who were lead through a computerized process. Here are some of the questions they asked me:

• “Can I have your boarding pass, please?“ – Me: “Of course.“
• “The one of your wife as well, please.“ – Me: “Why? It is my bag that has been damaged.“
• “Which flight number was it?“ – Me: “Look at the boarding pass!“
• “What class did you fly?“ – “We flew First Class. Why don’t you look at the boarding pass you just asked me for?“
• “Do you have a baggage insurance?” – “I have no idea! Why do you need to know that?“
• “How old is the bag and what did it cost?“ – “Do you want to fool me?“

The lady of Singapore ground staff of course recognized my being really unhappy and told their airport colleagues to just fill out the form in order to help us leaving the airport. Unfortunately she wasn’t permitted to work herself on the computer.

While the Frankfurt Airport ladies still were very busy with the computer, the Singapore Airlines employee said the following: “You have two options: Option one is that you go to the Airport Baggage Service in order to see if they can repair the bag here or—what I recommend since I can imagine that you just want to get home now—you can call us to pick up the bag at your home or your office and we repair it or we send you the money for a new one.“ She was empathetic and I was happy.

This happened while the two other ladies were still fighting with their computer and with me, their customer.

It makes a difference how you approach your customers and clients. If you really want your business to grow, you need employees in every single department at every single position who have your customer’s best interest in mind.

Is this difficult? Sure, it is. But it is possible and some companies—like Singapore Airlines—are very close to that. Some companies—like Frankfurt Airport—will probably never get even to the undergraduate level. Ever.

Guido Quelle

PS: This blogpost also appeared on Dr. Alan Weiss’s blog

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group