Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Feeling discouraged

The whole situation has me down. I feel like I'm on an impossible journey - improve the bottom line, but don't make any changes along the way. Book more rooms on the same model that's keeping us empty. The psychologist's definition of insanity is performing the same action and expecting different results. And it certainly feels like insanity around here.

I'll be working up a proposal over the next few weeks. It will include suggestions and improvements to dramatically increase bookings and POS sales, as well as to streamline the office. Everything from financials to marketing to rearranging the front office. During that time I hope to shop two major competitors to support my findings. If my entire proposal is rejected out-of-hand, then it will be time for me to move on. I refuse to bail water out of a sinking ship for the next several years all the while screaming for a cork!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In need of a break from the holiday weekend!

It all started Friday night with an unhappy guest. I knew when I spoke with her on the phone that it would be rough, but I wasn't quite prepared for the reality. Luckily the business manager checked her in, but I heard tell of it. She thought the room was too noisy and wanted to check out other rooms. She was shown two rooms in the back of the building, but the hum of the air conditioner was too loud in both. *sigh* Then she found out that the pocket door in the bathroom was broken (the business manager and I both thought it had been fixed), which we could do nothing about except apologize profusely. She then reported that the refrigerator was broken when in actuality it wasn't turned on. Next was the fact that the housekeepers put poly-fill instead of down pillows on the bed. At this point I left a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates in the room along with a note apologizing for the inconveniences.

Saturday morning she was back in to tell me that there was no hair dryer in the room, and that she wanted to look at another room. I took her to one that made her happy, hurriedly notified the housekeepers of the change, split her reservation between two rooms, moved the guest that was booked in her new room into her old one, with the hopes that they wouldn't mind the noise or the broken door. :( Haven't heard a peep from either, so that worked out.

Saturday evening brought a fresh hell. I took the last guest of the evening over to their room, opened the door, and was immediately assaulted by a terrible smell. Because I have an extremely sensitive nose, and because the guests didn't say anything, I turned on the ceiling fan and let it ride. Thirty minutes later they came in to tell me that it smelled terrible, and could I please try to fix it while they went to dinner. I assured them I would do everything I could, but in the back of my mind remembered the complaint that came from the last guest that stayed in that room: the carpet was damp. At the time the owner told me he'd checked it out but it was minor, and that the guest must have spilled something. When I went in to spray Febreeze I realized the the carpet in the ENTIRE SUITE was damp, and I saw mold growing on the carpet beside the couch.

When the guests returned from dinner they decided they couldn't stay the night and I apologized profusely, offering everything but my firstborn child to make them happy. They ended up staying the night on their friend's boat with pillows and blankets I lent them from the inn! They were very pleased, impressed with my many offers to cart them around town until we found a room, and promised me the best review from a guest who never actually stayed at the place. I thought that was very sweet, considering.

My solution was to put the dehumidifier in the room for the night in the hopes that it would dry out the carpet. Sunday morning the housekeepers steam cleaned the carpet, which helped the smell a bit, but it was still quite noticeable. The owner ended up moving all the furniture to the bedroom and ripping up the living room carpet to find the padding and cement soaked underneath. He also realized that the wetness extended into the bedroom where he'd just dumped all the furniture. So he laid the carpet back in there, hoisted up on anything available in an attempt to dry it. In my opinion, moldy carpet needs to go straight into the trash, but I certainly have no say around this place.

After getting that bad news I had the unpleasant job of telling the guest scheduled in the suite that we had no other room to offer and would have to find him another inn for the night. He was NOT pleased. It was his wife's birthday AND their anniversary, and I'd just crapped all over it. Our first conversation was not fun, and he was sure that the room I'd found for him wouldn't be up to par. Of course not, but it was the closest to our standards available on last-minute notice on one of the busiest days of the year. He hung up on me, but called back a bit later to take me up on the offer, and to confirm his spa appointments with us the next day. Again, I apologized profusely.

Not five minutes later one of the massage therapists came downstairs and ripped me a new one because there were water glasses in the sink upstairs. I told her I would take care of it, but she kept on attacking. My coworker agreed to head up immediately and she backed down. The owner, who had heard the entire exchange, called me over. She wasn't pleased that a massage therapist was speaking to me in that manner (neither was I!), and would be speaking to the business manager about it the next day. The owner suggested I get housekeeping into the spa to take care of the dishes, something the business manager explicitely warned me against. So tomorrow I'll give the housekeepers more to do, the business manager will tell me they have enough to do already, I'll tell her it was the owner's request, then she'll think I went over her head and get pissed off at me, the next day she'll find something I've done wrong and complain to the owner, then the owner will take me aside and tell me not to change anything without talking to the business manager first.

Can't wait for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blocked at every turn

It's been a long week. Busted my ass to get our new online reservation system up and running by Monday. Got it there, but only after working past midnight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. When the computer got to be too much I took breaks by cleaning and rearranging our Aveda displays, getting junk and garbage out of the office, and moving empty file boxes upstairs. Come Monday morning the business manager got in and had a cow. She told on me! A couple of hours later the owners sat me down and had a talk about not touching the business manager's things. The owner basically admitted that it's ridiculous, but that it's impossible to work around, and impossible to replace an employee who's been with them for nine years. My instructions were to ask before making any changes, to which I responded that I wasn't trying to make any changes, I was just trying to straighten up!

What I've gotten from both sides of the aisle is that I have no autonomy. I have no authority to make any decisions. I cannot make any changes. At the same time the owner is demanding that I take charge and not ask before doing things. This is turning into an exercise in futility, and I'm not one to sit and spin my wheels. I'm going to document the hell out of everything and let it rest for a few weeks because everyone's about to go on vacation. I'll see how it goes running the place on my own for a week, and then call a meeting with my results.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

High Drama

My emergency cell rang at 11:50. It's police dispatch telling me that they've gotten several hang-up 911 calls from one of our numbers. My first thought was of the kids down the street who like to run through our lobbies when guests leave the doors unlocked, so I went out to take a peek, and to wait for the officer who was coming to speak with me. No kids, no officer. I went across the street and noticed that two of our guests, a married couple, were arguing in the parking lot.

As I stood outside and waited, the fight got louder. When the officer showed up I told him I had no idea what was going on, but that a couple were going at it. He caught up with them heading into the lobby and left me standing outside in the rain. Soon after another officer showed up, lights flashing. I directed him inside. A few moments later the Sherrif was heading down the road and did a quick u-turn when he saw the two police cars parked on the side of the road. He got out his flashlight and started checking the cars, and I flagged him down and directed him inside. I headed into the office and turned on all the lights and waited.

Some guy was walking down the street and flagged me down. He told me this whole thing started in a bar up the street, and the couple screamed at each other the whole walk back to the inn, so he followed to make sure the woman didn't get hit. He went about his way, and I went back to wait in the office. A few minutes later I saw two of the cars leave, and a third stayed behind to let me know that they'd both been arrested for domestic violence and may or may not be returning tonight.

I'm heading home for some sleep, but don't know if I'll be getting a call in another couple of hours. If they return tonight they may be ordered to stay away from each other, which means I'll have to put them in separate rooms and charge them for it, and I don't want to be in the position of pissing off two people who were just arrested. Update in the morning.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Burning the midnight oil

Or the after-7pm oil at least. SuperInn successfully transferred our guest database, but it's happened with a quirk. If there were two names entered under a particular reservation, as it is for a couple staying together, the names do not attach to each other. I doubt that there's a reservation software out there that can transfer two names together in this fashion, but it gives me one more step when recreating our reservations.

It's not as cut-and-dry as dropping the name into the reservation; I have to make sure and add their services, like massages and packages. Because I've built everything in myself, I'm still doing QC to make sure I've entered pricing and taxes correctly, and fixing errors as I come across them. I've decided to toss the old system at the end of the month, so any new reservations coming in for June and after will be put directly into SuperInn. Reservations for the rest of this month will have to be entered into both. It's doubling work that's already triplicated to begin with, but it's better than trying to figure out which system was used for each reservation when doing the morning paperwork.

My goal for this evening is to get the weekend transferred over. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Amazing Developments!

For the better part of a month I've been laying groundwork with the owners so that I can upgrade the inn to new reservation software. I found an unexpected ally in the Business Manager, who had already shopped out a web-based program. I set us up with a demo, and today one of the owners decided that she wants it to go live by next week. Wow!

Our guest information has been uploaded, but now I have to rebuild all of the reservations. It's a fairly daunting task that will certainly take the rest of the week, but it's an exciting prospect - we'll have real-time, online booking on Monday! All it took was for the inn down the street to do it first... Competition is a great motivator!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Upgrading Linens & Housekeeping

We're currently using a linen-cleaning service that provides the linens and launders them. The linens are *crappy* (the stars signify saying the word in Jon Stewart's best high-pitched voice). I believe they're 180 thread count, they're washed with everything else at the service, and the harsh chemicals used makes them practically crunchy. They're basically motel linens. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a guarantee that we'll get OUR linens back from the service if I purchase new.

Housekeeping is kind of a dream. Unlike other inns, we've had the same staff for years. They make their own schedules, cover each others' shifts, and always have the rooms ready on time. There are a few quality issues, but it's getting better. The worst problem with housekeeping is the cleaning products! Walking into a guest room is like an assault on the senses - I get headaches. Several guests have commented that, "This room sure does smell clean." And not in a good way. I may have a vendor who'll sell me green cleaning products at just a slight markup from wholesale. Add that to the list.