Third-party managers can be perceived as heroes or conquerors depending on their initial approach.  Just as a firm handshake, eye contact and a warm smile set the stage for a cordial, productive meeting, a seasoned third-party manager knows that success will come more swiftly if they approach their new team with respect and understanding.  Follow these simple tips and you’ll start building success with your new team from day one.

  1. As my dad used to say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and for many associates, the folks who introduce new timekeeping procedures, explain the company benefits and process their employment paperwork are the first glimpse of the new third-party manager.  Establish behavior and service standards early by sending the friendliest, most service-oriented members of your team for the onboarding process.
  1. There is an existing culture in place and it will take time to understand its nuances.  You cannot “fix” the culture with an artfully worded memo to all employees, some slick motivational posters, and an ice cream social. Your own company’s culture will rub off on the new property when you remember that deeds are more meaningful than words.  Be humble enough to embrace things that promote the business and wise enough to dodge things that jeopardize the property’s performance.  If ever there were a time to walk your talk, this is it.
  1. A good third-party manager understands that you must listen before you act, particularly when taking over a new hotel.  Everyone has their own priorities, so sit down with as many people as possible and hear them out.  Listen carefully, reflect back on what you’ve learned, and plan your next steps accordingly so that people know they’ve been heard.
  1. Identify areas that need improvement and prioritize those items that will positively and quickly impact performance as well as those items that will take time to address, but will have major, positive impact.
  1. Develop plans.  A strategic plan and a pro-active budget to support it are the first order of business, followed by a 100-day implementation plan.  The 100-day plan should identify untapped areas of potential new business, and immediate changes that will improve bottom line results.
  1. Eliminate unnecessary or duplicative expenses and practices creep into every operation.  This is the proverbial, “low hanging fruit.”  A smart third-party manager will pick it early to demonstrate immediate impact.
  1. Equip, Explain and Train.  Just because the last three hotels did something the same way doesn’t necessarily mean that those same practices will apply to this new operation as every hotel is unique. Once you understand the property, customize the plan and ensure the team has the tools, resources, and know-how to execute.
  1. Communicate Clearly.  As a child, didn’t you hate it when your parents told you to do something, “because I said so?”  Too many third- party managers race to impress the new owner by making changes that are “obvious,” without explaining the business objectives behind them.  You will gain instant credibility with all stakeholders if they understand why something is changing as well as how it is changing.
  1. Be Visible.  The reports and the paperwork are important, but spending time on the floor with the guests and associates, providing clear direction and answering questions, is critical to setting the right example.
  1. You realize that you’ve inherited the last guy’s hiccups, and you probably already know the Trip Advisor ranking, Yelp! scores and other social media measurements from when you made the pitch.  Make sure you have the social media expertise to get bad reviews removed and begin to implement strategies to move the needle.

The first 90 days of any new engagement will set the tone for the entire length of the contract.  Do the hard, but necessary, work up front and set yourself up for the next one.

By:  Gerry Chase, President and COO