DeGeorge’s work force is made up of employees who have previously held jobs running hotels or motels. He hired them knowing they’d know exactly what to do in his absence, because they’ve all had experience being the boss of a small business themselves.
His strategy is working, as the hotel and motel broker anticipates 2006 revenue of between $30 million and $32 million, up from $25 million in 2005.
“To be successful, you have to know your business and love it,” says DeGeorge, president of Greene, Canfield, DeGeorge. “You’ll never be able to motivate the people around you if you don’t.”
Smart Business spoke with DeGeorge about how he’s handled the challenges of growing a business and communicating his vision to his employees.
How do you empower employees to make decisions?
It has to come from the background of the people we’re choosing, which are all former hotel owner-operators. They’re all part of small business, they started with small business, and they understand the nature of keeping a small business running. Anyone is able to do anything. They are very capable of making decisions.
There’s no punishment for making bad or wrong decisions. Any decision is a decision that we all look at, no matter who has made it. If there’s a problem, we go back and analyze it.
That way we all learn from it, and next time we can make sure a correct decision is made. But we see very few times there’s a decision in this office that was made that the others don’t agree with.
How does having employees who can make decisions benefit the company?
It takes a lot of pressure off of everyone. They think things through, go with the gut reaction, which is typically the best reaction. A lot of times, our decisions have to be made pretty quickly, and they’re able to at least not stall the process, and make a decision and go forward.
In today’s world, with fax and e-mail, people don’t want to or understand why they have to wait. It’s become an electronic world where things move very quickly, and people want to see the process continue. There shouldn’t be any delays in that process.
How do you know when it’s time to expand your work force?
There’s never a good way to know. There’s a time when you feel you just can’t handle the load. We’re struggling with that right now, when is it time to do an expansion rather than try to work everybody a bit harder?
But you don’t want to burn out anybody, so there’s always that struggle. You’ve got to watch the people and make sure they’re not overtaxed.
How do you guard against growing too fast?
Growing too fast could be a definite pitfall. Markets change, and there’s always surges, peaks and valleys in all the growth areas. Be aware of where you’re at and stay focused on where you want to go.
Having a long-term plan is a must. Just stay focused, see if you are meeting your goals.
Strategic planning is important for any business. There are a lot of people who don’t want to grow their business. It isn’t always about growth.
We have stifled ourselves because we don’t want to overgrow. Right now, at a peak, we don’t want to get into an overgrowth situation.
Are you concerned with revenue when you are growing?
As you grow, it’s part of it. As your goals move with that growth the revenue will follow. We try to have a team effort and stay focused on the client and stay focused on who we’re working for.
Service is so important. Most companies don’t understand the word service anymore. You take your car in for service and it says ‘Service’ above that door, but they don’t understand what the word means.
It’s amazing to me. The hospitality business is pushing people and standards, and that’s what we as a company are trying to do just push that standard.
HOW TO REACH: Greene, Canfield, DeGeorge Ltd., (727) 447-8383 or www.gcdhotels.com