The owner of a luxury country house hotel and conference centre near Oxford recently approached our consultancy team to ask for a comprehensive operational review of the operation. In particular they tasked us with analysing the food and beverage offers of its bar and restaurant. Our work covered everything from the customer experience journey through to the efficiency and robustness of the hotel’s in-house systems with the aim of identifying any excessive and unnecessary losses.
A discovery visit that uncovered previously undefined losses
Initially attending the venue as mystery customers, our consultants later announced their presence to the management team in order to continue their investigation. Within the space of 18 hours a minimum loss of £80 was noted. This excluded the additional outlays and shrinkage losses that were also observed.
As a result of the investigation, serious concerns were raised with regard to security risks, which if left unaddressed, would leave the establishment extremely vulnerable to exploitation by staff and customers. The risk of exposure to losses in the future was severe.
Though staff appeared to be very trustworthy during the covert visit, the lack of security protocols observed affected both cash and stock. At breakfast for example, no ID/room checks were made, resulting in missed charges being applied.
Overall, it was noted that the hotel’s approach to profit was strongly focused on selling add-ons and extras on top of standard room charges. Nonetheless, there was no valid system in place to track who these charges should be made to, meaning that the financial process was consistently being undermined.
Stock too was left unattended and in unlocked areas. This, in addition to staff not using their individual server keys or cards – which limits staff accountability – created the conditions conducive to an unknown number of misdemeanours.
A variety of common EPoS exploits, such as discount voucher fraud, could go unidentified if no further controls were put in place quickly.
The EPoS system itself was letting them down too, with glitches in the system. For example there were several missing product keys and no way to visualise income streams. This created difficulties in easily assessing individual F&B performance margins and contributed to a lack of financial control.
Tackling risks directly
Following the review our consultants were able to advise the hotel owner on the steps required to reduce the risks and deal with the concerns we’d identified. We recommended they focused on improving record keeping and suggested they roll out a more recent version of the EPoS system.
Having supplied dedicated staff training, the overall customer experience was improved dramatically and the company saw more revenue thanks to improved protocols being followed more effectively.
Through better communication with customers, more attention to upselling opportunities and improved security, the hotel’s financial performance increased markedly.