Trusted News You Can Use
Is There a “Career Sweet Spot?
Search Committee and Executive Recruitment “101”
Who Are You?
What Chefs Want
Q-Times Set the Stage
Benchmarks for Club Security
Fitness and Tennis Combined: On-Court Benefits
Is Your Strategic Plan Current?
Practice Makes Perfect…or Better: Interview Skills
Is There a “Career Sweet Spot?”
About mid-way through my club management career I met with my club president and told him that after serving as general manager for eight years, I wanted to leave the club for another opportunity. He said, “Why? I thought you would retire here.” I told him that was the problem; I already had. The team I had assembled did an outstanding job in the day to day operations, and quite frankly I needed some new challenges.
While the average tenure for a private club general manager is often a point for debate, I think the real question should be, “is there an ideal period of time to work at any private club?”
If I look at some of the executives at KK & W, the longest term of employment at one club belongs to Jack Sullivan who was at Gross Point Yacht Club for sixteen years. That was followed by Kurt Kuebler at Loxahatchee for twelve years, then Tom Wallace at Oakmont for ten years and finally my eight years at Midland Hills (I am bringing down the average for our firm).
While the average of the above four terms of employment is about eleven years, I would submit that it is not so much about length of tenure as it is about remaining productive and relevant to the club you are serving.
However, I also believe that eight to twelve years is a significant amount of time to give to any one employer, and even top performing, long tenured general managers might enjoy a change of scenery and a refreshing of their careers. Only you can determine where your “sweet spot” is, but you will probably recognize when the time is right for some new challenges.
In future articles our KK & W team will discuss in detail how to keep your career relevant and help you to stay productively engaged in your day to day leadership role. We will also discuss how to recognize the “speed bumps” that can often disrupt your career, sometimes when you least expect it. And finally, our suggestions will help you keep your “career sweet spot” for as long as you would like.
Richard M. Kopplin
Dick Kopplin is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.
Search Committee and Executive Recruitment “101”
Interestingly, the simplest of things can sometimes have a derailing effect on candidates, both from our point of view and, more importantly, from a Search Committee perspective. While one might think it obvious and even sophomoric to have to point such things out, the sad reality is that there are many self-inflicted negative impressions that are made by not taking care of “101” issues, including actual disqualifying issues.
So, a few things to absolutely remember if interested in pursuing a position, regardless of whether KK & W is involved, it’s with another firm, or a club is conducting a search on their own. Consider:
- Assume that just about every Search Committee has an English major on it!! Whether it simple spelling and grammar checks (beyond Word spell check!), formatting inconsistencies, or major gaffes where something just doesn’t make sense, great candidates can find themselves on the outside looking in if they haven’t done a good job of having multiple reviews of their presented documents to eliminate mistakes.
- In the eyes of our Firm or a Search Committee, the assumption is made that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION YOU HAVE APPLIED TO UP TO THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER! If that is true (and why wouldn’t it be?), that means necessary time and care in presenting yourself — in submitted materials, preparation for an interview, understanding your strengths and motivations, etc., should occur. Too often, we or the Search Committee don’t get that impression.
- There is a reason a search profile typically asks that you save documents in a CLEARLY defined and noted manner. Not being able or more often simply disregarding the most basic of instructions in this regard sends a message to us and to a search committee.
- In our Firm’s case, we ask you to complete an insightful questionnaire that provides much more information than a cover letter and resume. Search Committees appreciate the discernments they obtain from these questionnaires, leading them (and us) to better understand your leadership style, your approach to certain issues, and more.
- Having subjective, non-quantified information listed as achievements are pretty worthless. For example, it’s great to suggest that “Member satisfaction improved greatly during my tenure,” but without validation, it doesn’t mean much to us and a Search Committee. Additionally, suggesting things like, “Food sales revenue increased 50% during my tenure” for example, doesn’t mean much if there isn’t a dollar qualifier as well — that could mean it went from $100,000 to $150,000, which isn’t nearly as interesting or significant as going from $2.0M to $3.0M, but without quantification, it doesn’t tell the story it likely intended. If you can’t measure it and convey the actual measure, you likely don’t want to list it.
- Mostly for golf professionals, while very well intended to have members write letters on one’s behalf, the best references are done by making direct contact with references. In some cases, either our Firm or the actual club one is looking to join is deluged with well-intended letter writing campaigns that usually only serve to ‘turn off’ the recipients who are inundated, sometimes without even knowing the candidates who are being represented. Again, following simple instructions, which are usually specific in what is necessary and required/desired from candidates should be what is done.
- Thinking in advance about the “why I’m interested and how I actually ‘fit’ the desired qualifications” saves time and better presents one for a role. Applying for most every position we present simply doesn’t make sense; no one is a good fit for every role! And, while someone often says, “I can live anywhere,” being happy personally with where you are being just as important as having professional competency alignment.
These are pretty simple and obvious reminders, but hugely important ones to best manage your career and ability to stand out from the crowd.
Best of continued success in your career. You’re very welcome to contact me or anyone from KK & W to discuss these points or your career.
Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM
Kurt Kuebler is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.
Who Are You?
Who are you? Do you have a brand, an identity? “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom,” Socrates tells us. If you haven’t done the work of introspection to answer that question, I recommend you do. It is truly the first day of the rest of your life when you can answer the question, “Who am I?”
What about your Club? Do you know your Club? I’m sure you have a mission statement. I’m sure you have a cursory idea, at least, of your demographics. You probably have the full details of your amenities. You should be aware of your leadership style. Most of us know those things. But how many of us really know our club’s story? The uniqueness, the traditions, the intangibles that make up who we are as a Club.
What about your operations? Is there a common and consistent thread? Are you proactive with policies in place that enhance your culture, or are you reactive, moving in whatever direction the wind or our members take us?
Over and over I see operations that aren’t uniform or tight. There is no manual of Standard Operating Procedures, there’s not an Operational Mission Statement. Time and time again I run into Club Mission Statements for positioning in the marketplace, but they say nothing authentic. Time and time again, I see websites that provide a whole list of features and sometimes even benefits (you do remember to paint pictures with benefits and not just features, right?), but rarely do I see the story of a club. Who is this club and why do I belong there? Because the club has two golf courses, friendly members, good food and is beautiful? That tells me nothing.
Today consider a different perspective. Brainstorm your story with your team. Create a list of adjectives and nouns first, being as specific as possible. Choose the top ten and insert verbs. You might just have yourself a brand description when you’re done.
Republished from BoardRoom Briefs
Thomas B. Wallace III, CCM
Tom Wallace is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.
Co-author: Manon “Max” Passino Deboer, CAM, Director of Marketing & Membership, The Club at Mediterra
What Chefs Want
Search committees always ask, “how long can we expect a new executive chef to stay at our club?” Club GMs and members typically want an executive chef who will work for ten years or more at their club. While there are no guarantees regarding how to keep an employee for ten years or more, there are certain steps a club can take to define the club culture and foster career growth which will help extend an executive chef’s tenure.
According to Club Benchmarking, 53% of clubs reported that their executive chef was employed five years or less in 2016, and the median number of years of employment for an executive chef in 2016 was five years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median years with a current employer for employed wage and salary workers in the leisure and hospitality industry in January 2016 was 2.2. To break that number down further, those employed in the food services and drinking places segment was 1.8 years.
Two key factors that affect employee turnover are developing a positive and supportive club culture and preventing job stagnation. A club with a defined culture that supports its employees and promotes career growth will go far in attracting and engaging staff. Cohesive alignment must exist between the board, the management team and the staff, and the club should have a well-defined identity that is communicated through core values and mission.
According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, one of the key factors that drive turnover is “allowing workers to stagnate in their current role.” According to the article “Why Do Employees Stay? A Clear Career Path and Good Pay, for Starters” (Chamberlain, March 6, 2017), “stagnating in a role for an additional 10 months raises the odds that employees will leave the company for their next role by about one percentage point, a statistically significant effect.”
So how do you prevent job stagnation? First you need to know what motivates your executive chef. Next, offer opportunities for growth within the club. Here are seven ways clubs can prevent job stagnation by offering opportunities for growth.
- Support and encourage professional development for the executive chef and his or her team. This includes certifications as well as membership in a professional association such as the ACF, and travel and participation in conferences for educational and networking opportunities.
- Expand or rebrand dining venues. Planning and executing a new venue or expanding a current dining venue (such as adding more al fresco dining) is a great opportunity for growth. Don’t forget to expand the kitchen so that the culinary team can accommodate the expanded dining venue!
- Support community outreach – both local and national. Examples include showcasing the culinary team with a food booth at community charity events and food festivals; supporting culinary team members in competitions at the local, regional, national, and even international levels; and supporting the executive chef as an adjunct culinary faculty member of the local community college. Supporting an executive chef’s outreach in the community it is a win-win situation for the club. The chef and culinary team’s engagement increases; as does their growth. Also, the club receives local, regional and even national attention (depending on the event) which is great for attracting members and staff to the club. Kevin Storm, CEC, the executive chef at Bellerive Country Club told me “I have been at Bellerive for 21 years because of the support they have given me and our culinary team in community outreach at a local, regional, national and international level. That is what keeps us engaged, focused and relevant.” Kevin has served on ACF’s Culinary Team USA and is a coach of the current Junior Team USA. The club supports his ACF involvement as well as his outreach to the local culinary school and his efforts towards achieving certified master chef status which he is currently pursuing.
- Purchase new equipment and be supportive of new ideas. Has the executive chef asked for equipment such as an immersion circulator? How about a pizza oven? A garden and/or bee hives? The club’s support of these new ideas will go along way in keeping an executive chef and his or her team engaged at the club. Also, the kitchen equipment must be a part of capital investments. Give the team the equipment and tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
- Offer increases in titles and salary/bonus potential. Just because the executive chef has reached the highest title in the kitchen doesn’t mean there isn’t still opportunity for growth. Consider promoting the executive chef to culinary director after a five-year tenure. This can include additional responsibilities and project work. If the executive chef has expressed an interest in moving to the front-of-the-house, consider a “Chef & B” role. Lawrence McFadden, CMC, the GM/COO at The Union Club in Cleveland stated recently: “titles are important. Clubs really need to look at how to attract and engage the best minds, talents and egos (a positive ego can propel an organization forward more effectively than hard work and dedication). A marketable title will attract the best in class. Our club does $2.8 million in F&B and has an executive chef, executive sous chef and chef de cuisine. Previously the positions were titled as executive chef with two sous chefs. Today, both our current sous chefs have 10+ years of experience and were sous chefs for five years prior to joining us, so an elevation in title was necessary to justify the move from their previous employer. Human Resource departments should always be challenged to secure the most marketable titles and descriptions which is no different than brand wordsmithing.”
- Provide opportunities for autonomy. Executive chefs should be part of the staff executive committee and they should be involved in committee meetings, finance meetings, and even board meetings. Give them the tools to do their jobs and the goals that they need to achieve and let them lead their team to accomplish those goals. Nobody likes to be micro-managed and it is a guaranteed way to drive the best leaders out of the club.
- Provide a labor budget that allows for the culinary team to have a balance of life. There is a severe shortage of staff and the only way to attract and keep front-line employees is to offer higher pay and less hours. Good luck finding a Millennial that is willing to work the back-breaking hours that kitchen employees worked “back in the day.” More staff is needed to offer five-day-a-week work weeks.
Executive chef Brian Beland, CMC, has experienced these growth opportunities throughout his now 13-year tenure at the Country Club of Detroit. He was originally hired as chef de cuisine and then was promoted to executive chef. The club supported the certifications he has achieved including CEC and CMC. The club also has had extensive renovations over the last few years which has led to exciting new opportunities for re-concepting dining rooms, opening new dining venues, and expanding the kitchen. The club has given him the opportunity to provide input to the board and at annual meetings. The club has even supported his full-time work as a faculty member at Schoolcraft College where he teaches and influences young talent (and can select the best and the brightest to work in his kitchens!).
It is important to keep the lines of communication open. Use “stay interviews” regularly to meet one-on-one with employees, including the executive chef, to find out what motivates each individual and learn about their short and long-term personal and professional goals. Ask them what you can do to help them attain those goals. Also, ask them what they need to do their job successfully and show them you care about and are invested in their future growth. Finally, provide the opportunities mentioned to create a culture of growth and support at your club.
Republished from BoardRoom Magazine
Lisa Carroll is a Search Executive and Consultant at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, recruiting GMs and Executive Chefs. She is a faculty member of CMAA’s Business Management Institute (BMI) Club Management at Georgia State University, is a Fellow of the Culinary Institute of America, and speaks at CMAA and ACF conferences and chapter meetings around the country.