Merrillville, IN—For White Lodging, independent hotel ownership, development and hotel property management company based here, keeping track of the challenges faced at the nearly 170 hotels that make up its portfolio is a daunting task. So, the firm went looking for a solution.
“We were looking for a simple-to-use system that allowed us to vertically integrate,” said Bryan Hayes, COO – select service, hospitality management. “Like most hospitality organizations, we’re multilayered and geographically dispersed. We were looking for a system that allowed us to have everybody on one platform so we could track our priorities and goals and communicate them throughout the organization, but also so we could have everybody driving in one direction on a limited number of priorities.”
The company turned to Charlotte, NC-based Rhythm Systems, which provides “a methodology as far as software and consulting to help companies figure out what their strategies are and, then, how to translate their strategies into execution,” said CEO Patrick Thean, who created the Rhythm technique after facing some challenges as CEO of Metasys Inc., a transportation software company he cofounded.
“Like any other company, we hit some challenges and we survived because I got focused on the concept of using leading indicators and keeping my team on the right rhythm to make sure that things got done, he said. “I wrote a book that came out last year, Rhythm, which is about helping companies get on three simple rhythms: a think rhythm, to work on growth moves for the company; a plan rhythm, to help them get concise with each other as to what they are actually going to do; and a do rhythm to help them actually get the work done.”
Those three rhythms are the core of the software, which uses dashboards where strategies can be laid out and discussed, key performance indicators (KPIs) can be identified and plans of attack can be devised.
“The software allows you to do a few things,” explained Thean. “The first is that it lets you document your long-term strategy. So, if we use White Lodging as an example, it was able to document its long-term strategy to help it really focus. Lots of times, a company isn’t focused because different people have different opinions as to what the long-term strategy really is, and management might not have taken the trouble to really explain it well. We give you tools to make sure you do a good job explaining it well. And, we give you tools to make sure you have the dialogue with your people so that they understand.
“You then put your strategy into the think section of the system, and we allow you throughout the software to have communications and comments,” he continued. “So, for example, you can put down a long-term goal is XYZ and somebody could come in and say, ‘I don’t quite understand what that means. Does it mean this…?’ You can follow up with ‘No, this is what I really mean.’ By giving you a communication thread connected to your strategy, you can have these discussions across the company.”
The next step is the planning section, where the strategies the company wants to implement can be debated, and the top priorities are figured out and inputted into the dashboard.
“The only way to have a great year—four great quarters—is to have one great week at a time,” said Thean. “So, our system will give you a 13-week dashboard. Dashboards are triggers to help you see when things need to be discussed, but it’s the people that have to solve the problems. A KPI tells you that there is a problem and you have to go solve it. So, then we teach our clients that you should have a handful of KPIs.”
White Lodging used Rhythm Systems to solve am issue that became one of the company’s KPIs—filling open managerial positions. “We know that, just from history, the longer a position is open, especially in our select-service division, the quicker things go downhill,” said Hayes. “We knew that it was a lead indicator that, if we wanted to have superior performance for our owners, we needed to get those positions filled more quickly with qualified people. So, we put that in as a priority, and also as a KPI that we could track on a weekly basis and have actions [set]against it so that we could move the entire company forward in getting our positions filled more quickly and with qualified candidates. We knew that was a lead indicator to how our hotels would perform.”
The company had set a goal of filling management positions within 45 days of being opened. Before using Rhythm Systems, that was accomplished only 57% of the time. Two years later, after using the software, that figure improved to 84%, according to Hayes.
For some companies, using the software is not enough to meet those KPIs head on. So, Rhythm Systems offers Rhythm Coaches. White Lodging was one of those companies that took advantage of the coaching service.
“We knew that we had too many priorities as an organization, and we were having a difficult time narrowing our focus,” said Hayes. “All we were going to end up with was a multitude of priorities and not be moving forward. It’s not just about getting your priorities in one place; it’s about narrowing that focus. We knew that the coach would narrow that focus.”
“A Rhythm Coach is someone who helps you think through your business strategy—think through the challenges you have and helps you have the right discussion so that you can cut down to the correct priorities,” said Thean. “Some of our clients know what their priorities are, but a lot of our clients feel they need to verbalize it to somebody before they can figure it out. By having these discussions, we help you figure out what the top priorities are that you need to work on.”
Thean also emphasized that the Rhythm Coaches help companies build the correct habits. “We want you to have the habit of looking at the dashboards, of looking at facts—and then having discussions with your team members to solve problems. Our consultants help you with a number of things: First, they help you figure out what your priorities are. Second, they help you develop the correct habits so you can be successful. The third is that some of the consultants will help you with the strategic side of the business, and the fourth is helping you with the people part of the equation. We want to help our clients build high-performance teams. We will help to figure out if challenges are truly on the execution side, on the strategy side or really on the people side.”
Whatever the problem is, the KPI for Rhythm Systems is the end result. “I like to say that every company has a bottleneck as to what’s the problem and what’s stopping it from becoming its best,” said Thean. “What we are great at is helping the company identify that bottleneck and helping them get a breakthrough so that they can achieve their best.”