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Roger Bloss overcame fear to help drive business at Vantage Hospitality Group Inc. Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2010

Roger Bloss was tired of being afraid all the time. But fear had become such a big part of his life that he didn’t know where to begin in trying to make it go away.

“I was scared every day,” says Bloss, founder, president and CEO of Vantage Hospitality Group Inc.

Bloss started his hotel company with very little capital and then found himself making very little revenue. It wasn’t a healthy situation.

“I wouldn’t spend any money,” Bloss says. “I wouldn’t do anything marketingwise and I wouldn’t do any promotions. I finally just saw myself like a leaking boat slowly sinking. I finally said to myself, ‘You can’t do this. This is a slow death.’”

So Bloss turned to his partner and decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and either turn the company around or go down in flames trying.

“I said, ‘Do you have any objections to me spending what money we have left and, instead of retreating, attack?’” Bloss says. “I said, ‘Bernie [Moyle, Vantage’s COO and CFO], if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down with the biggest fight of my life.’”

Bernie gave his consent and the new Roger Bloss was unleashed. But before the cash started flowing, Bloss needed to figure out what had been holding back both he and his business.

“It’s not like you just go outside and throw money in the air and it will work,” Bloss says.

He had to figure out why fear had been keeping him down.

“You have to look at yourself,” Bloss says. “What are you doing as an individual in terms of productivity? It does you no good if you’re working 18 hours a day and only being productive for two hours. How are you spending your time?

“Are you using your time in the best way? What happens to people who are running scared is they start to micromanage. You have to get away from micromanaging. You have to allow other people and resources to participate in the direction you want to move in.”

Bloss had closed ranks and was simply trying to survive. He finally realized that it was no way to build a successful business.

“In all markets and all facets of business, there are associations,” Bloss says. “Most good people and most good businesses, they want to help you. It’s going out there and not being afraid to say, ‘Hey, how can I be better? How can I do a better job?’ It goes back to no fear. You’ve got to be able to walk up and say, ‘What are you doing well? What’s working for you? Why am I not able to get that customer or that piece of business?’ In our case, it was just obscurity. No one knew we were there.”

If you’ve become a micromanager, you need to stop and let people do their jobs so that you can be out representing your company and driving new business. And don’t put your managers in a position where they have to operate with a bare-bones budget.

“I have hotel managers or hotel owners in my system that are working the front desk 16 hours a day to save $8 an hour,” Bloss says. “Now wouldn’t that $8 an hour be much more productive going out and making sales calls? You have to focus on the things that will turn it around much quicker. Don’t be pennywise and dollar foolish. Don’t be tripping over dollars to pick up pennies. That’s what happens when you start getting that fear.”

Bloss has moved well beyond the fear. His 80-employee company has been ranked on the Inc. 5000 list five years in a row, reaching $16.7 million in 2009 revenue.

“My biggest thing is to engage them with no fear and make sure their attitude is, ‘We can do it,’” Bloss says. “Make it fun. Life is too short not to have fun.”

How to reach: Vantage Hospitality Group Inc., (877) 311-2378 or www.vantagehospitality.com

Give them a break

Roger Bloss expects a lot from his employees at Vantage Hospitality Group Inc. But he also expects them to take a break from their work once in awhile. And if you work for Bloss and you miss something like your kid’s soccer game, you won’t make him very happy.

“I just tell them, one, they are welcome to go,” says Bloss, the 80-employee company’s founder, president and CEO. “Two, I know how long they are going to be gone, and three, I’m interested in what’s happening in their world. It doesn’t become monotonous, and it doesn’t become routine. They know that, in my world, we work to live. We don’t live to work.”

Bloss expects his employees to get their job done, but he is OK when they need to get away, provided they let him know why.

“Imagine working and living in a company where you can call in and say, ‘I’m not going to be in on Friday; I’m taking my kids to Disneyland,’” Bloss says. “We don’t call you and we don’t bother you at Disneyland unless it’s an emergency. Then you don’t mind taking the call because you’re not hiding. But if you called in sick and you’re really at Disneyland, you’re not going to take that call. If I let you and I reward you for it, you’re going to take that call.”