Motel Management

Motel Management

Motel Management

Anyone who has ever needed one, knows good quality motel managers are a commodity that are highly sort after.  The value of a good manager to the performance of any motel business should never be downplayed.  Business owners often choose not to operate their own motels for many different reasons, and one of the benefits of motel ownership is that the owner does not need to live on site, and can employ or contract a manager to handle the daily operations of the business.

The skills that make a good motel manager are not restricted to just a few.  A wide range of skills are required to excel in most managerial roles, with motels being no exception.  To choose just one of these skills, being able to successfully deal with and handle many different types of people and personalities, would be a main one.  Being able to organise and manage employees including cleaners, chefs, wait staff and front of house workers, to guests who are travelling for various reasons and come from all different walks of life.  Those who do it well, stand out from the crowd by not standing out at all.

As with many professions, demand for people to fill positions fluctuates with how an industry is performing.  The motel industry is no different in that demand for managers fluctuates with changes in demand for accommodation, occupancy or trading activity.  During 2012, demand for motel managers was very high.  It then declined for a number of years, until it started increasing again during 2017.  All in line with fluctuations in demand for accommodation.  Today the demand for good quality managers has never been stronger.  Essentially, if business is good, that can bring a change in attitude and lifestyle considerations where one may look to step back and take more time for themselves or family, knowing the business is performing well.  Often not having the weight of financial pressure can be a catalyst to this.  In times when business trading and confidence declines, cost cutting measures are re-employed and reducing expenses such as management wages, is back on the table for consideration.

With the expectation of a continued increase in demand for motel managers going forward over the long term, let’s consider this situation.  Some investors buy motels with the clear intention of operating them under management.  Others choose to operate the business themselves and then due to various circumstances, employ a manager thereafter.  The ownership of a successful motel business from afar, without having to operate it is common.  Professional management is often comprised of a couple or individual, experienced in operating motels, who has a genuine interest in improving the trading performance of the motel over and above its current trading.  Sitting at reception and trying to look busy is of no interest to them.  In the past it was the “norm” to employ anyone who said yes to the question, and the owner’s expectation was that this arrangement would work.  In many cases it did not, and it ended up resulting in motel managers in general terms receiving a bad reputation.

The old saying still rings true (and probably always will) that “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”.  The manager’s remuneration is dependent on many things including experience, role/s required, performance, skills, etc.  If a manager feels they are being underpaid (rightly or wrongly), it is highly likely their level of service (particularly being in a service industry) to the business and guests will be diminished.  This means reduced standards, performance, quality, operation and damage to the business’ reputation.  It must be said that placing any business, including a motel under management and expecting it to be a set and forget situation is not realistic.  Managers are employees and require some level direction, guidance and input only the business owner can provide.  Many motel owners have owned and operated a motel for a period of time and have then acquired another.  The owner takes the role of overseeing both businesses and relief managing themselves as required.  Staying involved in a supervisory role over management is prudent and necessary to maintain the standards the owner expects for the business.

A common question within the motel industry that I am asked is, “how much should I pay a manager?”  Remuneration packages for motel managers are generally determined by the market and the negotiation process between the prospective employee and employer.  The type of motel involved, and specific duties required to be completed by the manager will affect the level of the package.  Is the manager required to manage the property, cook breakfasts/lunch/dinners, clean, complete the accounts, manage employees, etc?  This is different from one motel to the next depending on the size of the property, type of clientele, whether there is a restaurant onsite, the location of the property, the requirements of the employer and the skills of the employee.  There may be a living allowance built into the package for onsite accommodation, food and beverages.  Management packages can be fixed salaries or in many cases are a fixed salary plus a bonus system based on the achievement of certain goals, such as reaching a sales income target or profit target for a particular period.

The general management type is either employment on a permanent basis or contractual i.e. Contractor.  However the less permanent role offered by moteliers is the relief management role.  This is more of a short term position to allow the on-site owner (or permanent manager) time to get away from the business for a break, rather than a more permanent arrangement as mentioned.  Between a couple of days and a couple of months is usually the relief management term, and this type of manager can be very valuable to a business owner.  Allowing them to get away, recharge the batteries, clear the head, and come back to work refreshed and ready to go again.

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