For small destination resorts, hiring a consultant is an excellent choice, if not a necessity for a number of reasons. The following are some of the top reasons why this is so:
1) Outside looking in.
It is very easy for owners of small destination resorts to become emotionally attached to their property and their business. Often these operations take place in a gorgeous location that the owner fell in love with even before they bought it and began operating a resort there, or maybe this property was family owned and has been for generations. Either way, decisions can become clouded by emotional and historical influences. This goes for the operation of the business as well. It is extremely difficult for someone dealing with the day-to-day operations of a business to have any form of perspective on how it is operating. I clearly remember sitting at my desk at Potosi working another 14 hour day, so overwhelmed by the list of things that I had to do, that the idea of reviewing past decisions or planning far in the future was totally out of my realm.
That is why the use of a consultant in this industry is so valuable. By bringing in a third party with a fresh set of eyes with no emotional attachment to the business, owners and managers are able to receive an unbiased, logical assessment of their business, resulting in suggestions and ideas that could make a world of difference to the success of their operation. A good consultant can come on the scene, and in a short amount of time, pick up on many problems and issues that a business is having simply because they haven’t seen them every day for the past who knows how many years. Like the saying goes, “it wasn’t the fish that discovered water.” In other words, it’s all about perspective.
2) Special-forces efficiency.
Small destination resorts are often very remote and have a limited supply of available work force and employees. Often times the available work force that is there doesn’t have the skills and training necessary to fulfill the job’s requirements. Owners can often overcome this issue by hiring a consultant to come in, do the job that is needed, and then move on. It can be the perfect solution for objectives like building a marketing plan, designing a website, or assessing a restaurant’s food costs and efficiency.
Through the use of a consultant, owners can get a high quality, well-educated employee for a short period of time. Yes, they may cost a bit more in the short run, but simply by avoiding the classic employment issues of housing, taxes, and availability, the bottom line of the resort will be much happier, not to mention that the quality of the work will tend to be higher. Every army needs its special-forces sniper team as well as its standing militia.
3) Do what you know, and know what you do.
In many cases small resorts are owned by people who have never actually been in the hospitality industry. I don’t know how many times I heard people at the breakfast table at Potosi say something like, “I would love to retire from being a ______ (insert profession here), and own a bed and breakfast.” A few things would always run through my head when I’d hear that. First, I’d think, “if you owned a bed a breakfast, you certainly wouldn’t be retired.” Next I’d wonder “what would a person who does _____ (repeat profession here) for a living know about the hospitality industry?” The answer, of course, would typically be “not much.”
In the case of small resorts though, the owner usually has a manager or management team operating their resort. This is just fine and most often the best situation, but this begs the question, “if you’ve never operated a resort, then how do you know the people running it for you are doing a good job?” Toward the end of our time at Potosi, we finally had a General Manager for our resort. Despite the fact that she was excellent, she just didn’t know the business like we did after running it for six years. It took regular instruction and oversight to get her to truly understand our vision and how we would operate the business and make decisions. Even still, there were occasions where her actions and our desires were incongruent. Only because we had already previously done every job that we asked of her were we able to truly judge and guide her decisions properly.
So how does an owner that knows very little about the hospitality industry assess the performance of their manager(s) and the efficiency of their business operations? They hire a consultant who understands the industry to observe, report and advise them on how things are going. Now this can be a touchy situation for an owner and manager’s relationship- bringing someone in to review their manager’s performance, however if presented properly, any manager who feels they are doing a quality job, will most likely be receptive to advice on how to increase efficiency, improve the final product, and actually make their life a bit easier. Meanwhile, any manager that is really opposed to an owner’s desire to use a consultant, most likely knows that the owner won’t like what they hear when the report is delivered. So, whether a resort is being run by its owner or a manager, hiring a consultant to review its business strategy and management performance is a great idea and money well spent.
So, these are the three best reasons for an owner of a small, destination resort to bring in a consultant. Of course, there are many other possible motivations to do so, but this sums up some of the key benefits that a consultant can provide to the boutique resort industry.