Hospitality is an interesting field, because pointing to one skill and saying “That is the key to running a good hospitality business” is all but impossible. There is no one skill, no silver bullet to making your hospitality business work. It’s just far too complicated of an industry.
This is because hospitality is an alchemy—that is, both a science and an art. There is the artistic side of being a good host, as well as the scientific side of being a good businessperson.
That being the case, how does one practice in this field? If hospitality is so complex, how does one get better at it? Surely it can’t be so complex as to be impossible. If that were the case, no one would be successful at it. All very good questions, but they all operate on the same assumption: They all assume you are trying to improve alone, in isolation from an industry that’s constantly evolving.
People often imagine improvement as if they were shaolin monks doing kung fu forms atop a misty mountain. That’s a romantic notion, but in reality, improvement comes from asking for help. And business growth consulting is the help you should ask for.
Why? Well, let’s take a look at four great reasons.
1. Technology is Hard
Whether you know it or not, you have probably stayed in a hotel that is still running on dial-up internet. It’s a problem that plagues the industry.
It’s not a problem that’s bringing down any behemoth businesses, but it is costing business owners thousands of dollars a year in missed opportunities.
Really think about it: What’s the issue with dial-up internet speeds? The issue is that they’re slow, right? And why is it a problem that they’re slow? It’s because slowness and inefficiency mean that the hours of the day are less valuable.
Then again, the information technology industry is full of square pegs advertising to round holes. Too often a business will invest heavily in a technology that is meant to make things more efficient but ends up adding a needless layer of bureaucracy to its work.
Growth consulting can help you differentiate between the technology your business needs, and the technology that overcomplicates things.
2. Money is Made Up
Finances can be just as fickle as technology, but even more dangerous. Bad investments can be a silent killer in the hospitality industry, as they can fail to return their investment with little to no warning or explanation.
The best part about hiring a growth consultant for your business’ finances is that you don’t have to go all-in. If you just need a review of tax code, or a book kept up with twice a year, you can hire them in a “fractional” capacity.
Of course, this also means that you can go all in if you want. There’s no law in existence that stops you from trusting every penny your business makes to a financial advisor. But this isn’t recommended—in fact, if your advisor advises this, fire them.
Money is made up, but it is also very, very real. A growth consultant should help you manipulate the made-up parts of money, such as budgets and taxes. They should not be scheming on having you grant them authority over the proceeds of your business.
3. Marketing is Lies
You might think “Well I can imagine marketing involving embellishment of the truth, but I don’t want to ‘lie’ about my business.”
This is an admirable notion, but it misunderstands a critical part of the customer’s experience of a hospitality business: Everything about the business, whether it’s a five-star hotel or a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, is untrue to the customer until the business proves it otherwise.
This is why marketing is so hard. You can’t just market your business as a thing people might be interested in. You have to market it as something that people will have a need for.
A growth consultant specializes in tackling that ambiguous space of half-truth. And it is more important than you might think for someone other than yourself to do that.
If you get in the habit of becoming your own spokesperson, you can start to believe things about your business that aren’t true.
Imagine you tell a customer that your solutions to their problems are simple and easy to produce, while in reality they are extremely difficult. Obviously, you want to market the result, not the process. You want to tell them things are simple even when they aren’t.
But if your brand is to assure the customer of the result by claiming an easy process, then this rhetoric might trickle down into the reality of your business. It’s difficult to dedicate to a complex process when your whole brand, in your own words, is simplicity.
A growth consultant can speak for you in your marketing. They can depict your business however they want, while you do the real work of making it happen.
4. Management is Constant, you are Not
It is one of the hardest pills to swallow in the hospitality industry, particularly for restaurant owners. There is almost no limit to how intense your scrutiny can become in management. You could micro-manage every molecule of your hotel if you could find the time in the day for it.
But doing so wouldn’t just be bad for your health, but for your business. You don’t need to manage every molecule in your business. You just need to know which molecules you do need to manage.
That is why growth consultants exist. Wasted effort is the enemy of efficiency, and there are growth consultants who specialize in making sure management starts when it’s needed, and lets the employees handle themselves when they aren’t.
Management is perhaps the best paradigm in which to imagine the functions of a growth consultant, as it most mirrors what your own relationship with a growth consultant will be.
You can’t be everywhere at once. But a growth consultant can tell you where you can be.