Mistakes and disappointments are to be expected in all areas of business and in all our careers, but what can we do to avoid complete business failure? When Pat McCann accepted the role of CEO for the Dalata Hotel Group in 2007 he couldn’t have foreseen the impending financial crisis across Ireland and the UK.
“I started the business in 2007 at a funny time. We hadn’t seen the crisis coming, because even though people were talking about the credit crunch and problems with the subprime market in the US, they didn’t think we had any real exposure. We were wrong and, in 2009, we lost 40 per cent of our revenue.”
To avoid his business failing, Pat adapted his business plan and responded to the crisis by taking on management contracts with the banks who were appointing receivers to other hotels. A move which allowed Dalata to not only avoid failure, but to prosper and go from a small Irish company to the largest hotel operator in Ireland.
The key lesson here is to not only expect the worse but to plan for all eventualities. Pat confirms…
“We went from a small Irish company in 2009 to the largest operator in the country by the end of the following year. We had taken on 37 hotels under management contract. That’s when it started to turn for us. We floated the business in 2014 and we hit a record share price this month. This is exactly why it’s so important to always look at your business strategically and ask yourself ‘what could I do if this happens?”
Like many areas of the hospitality industry, operational costs are high in the hotel sector and so every euro that comes off the top line usually comes off the bottom line meaning any crisis must be acted upon quickly.
Another key piece of advice on remaining resilient in business, no matter what sector you are in, is to listen and react to your customers.
“What I find is that, if you can fix a guest’s problem, you have a customer for life. So, I always say look at a complaint as a positive. If you fix that problem, the customer is with you. They are on your side. The outcome is not about whether the steak was too tough or the room was cold. It’s about how you handle it.”
Plan for the future, adapt to your customers’ needs and always ask ‘what can we do today that will drive our agenda in future years?’