Best Western is a co-operative association of over 4,000 hotels in 80 countries, with 220 hotels in Best Western Australia (BWA). These properties are independently owned and operate under the Best Western brand with its centralised systems, standards, policies and procedures. The Australian business had been suffering and Rob Anderson (himself an hotel owner and BWA member) took over as Chief Executive Officer in October 2005.
Rob engaged Jeremy Tozer soon after his appointment. Jeremy and his team worked with Rob to clarify, simplify and develop the existing strategic plan using Tozer Consulting’s effects-based decision-making and campaign planning methodology. The result was a one page document that illustrated the desired ‘end state’, the functional lines of activity to be pursued in order to achieve that, together with a prioritised sequence of concurrent and consecutive projects and tasks.
Shortly after this, Jeremy Tozer worked with Rob to cascade the resulting plan to BWA head office managers, and assisted these managers to apply the same thought process to projects and operational work identified on the strategic plan. The aim of this was to enable understanding, to align all thought and activity to the higher intent, to promote ‘ownership’, and to improve the quality of execution.
I contacted Jerry within a month of starting as CEO of Best Western Australia. Our organization had reduced by over 30% in the last five years; customer satisfaction was the lowest of all 19 Best Western organizations in the world; staff turnover year after year was in excess of 50% p.a.; and revenue was on the brink of freefall.
Our initial response was all hands to the pumps but it was clear that just working harder was not going to change our outcomes enough. We needed to reduce operating costs by 25%, increase output by 30%, improve the quality of our services and increase marketing programs and spend. The organization required substantial change, painful decisions needed to be made and we needed a committed team from top to bottom for any chance of success.
We are now a year through the process and the turnaround is well underway. I n less than 8 months we doubled customer satisfaction and there is more to do; business already is up 11% overall with some hotels reporting increases of over 50% in bookings; staff turnover for the last 6 months has been nil. We have launched two new marketing programs; four new support/training programs and our Quality Assurance audits have shown accuracy increases from 48% to 97% in less than a year. This in addition to maintaining all existing services has been achieved with 25% fewer people. Another huge benefit is that the head office is a much happier and satisfying place to be.
Critical to these achievements are the processes we followed. The two key elements were, first; in achieving clarity and understanding of aim, purpose and strategic plan which allowed us to define roles and responsibilities, reduce waste and duplication. The second and most energizing process was the ‘cascading’ of information, discussion and engagement with all the staff. The vast majority of initiatives and improvements have come from this process and the alignment and ownership that resulted. It is interesting to note that when I started we were spending $1.25m p.a. on external consultants, that figure is now $150,000. This is one of the significant benefits of the process, it is not that it proved many consultants were not needed, but that our internal competencies have now increased to the point we do not need so much external help. The simple truth is that TOZER CONSULTING’s assistance has proved vital in our turnaround and was and is the critical factor in the speed of change we have been able to achieve.”
Robert Anderson – CEO Best Western Australia