The Tourism Industry is all about people!
Often it is the people working behind the scenes that are having the greatest impact on our business success. Recognizing the importance of these people and the impact they have on the business culture is key to building strong teams that deliver the very best in customer service! Judy Stone, the 2nd Executive Housekeeper in Canada to earn the prestigious Director of Housekeeping designation, has recently received global recognition for her commitment to the Industry and the people she works with. The following article was written about her by Phyllis Stephenson, General Manager at Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel and we are very pleased to share this story of excellence as a feature of our Champions Blog – enjoy!
Every once-in-a-career a General Manager is blessed to hire a Manager who makes a difference; not just in their hotel, but in their lives. Judy Stone is that Manager. Since the day Judy came to the BEST WESTERN PLUS Chocolate Lake as our Director of Housekeeping, she has created a culture of Heroic Hospitality throughout the entire hotel.
Judy starts everyday by greeting each of her employees with her infectious smile at her morning “huddle.” Here is where she gets her staff pumped up for their shift by sharing best practices as it relates to any challenges that are anticipated, solicits their ideas for any special guest requests that have been recorded, and to celebrate any personal successes or milestones that members of her team have accomplished. Her enthusiasm is contagious and it ensures her crew heads out to their rooms with a sense of pride and determination making sure that each and every guest is satisfied with every aspect of their stay!
Judy now “makes her rounds.” This involves a visit to our lobby where she greets each guest that she sees with the same sincere smile that her staff receives. She genuinely cares when she asks our guests if they are enjoying their stay. By listening intently and asking questions, she is able to anticipate any potential problems with any part of their stay. If she detects an issue, she now makes it her personal mission to fix it before it becomes a problem. This was evident just recently when an elderly guest had mentioned that his wife was frail and had a problem with heavy doors. Judy called the maintenance department immediately and had them make some minor adjustments to their guest room door. The guest was none the wiser, but it made the door easier to open and it avoided a potential issue. Next on her rounds, is her daily check-in with each department. The kitchen is checked to make sure they have all the cleaning supplies they need, and that their rags have been returned from laundry, clean and fresh. On to the restaurant to make sure staff are getting their linen napkins in a timely manner and to check and see if the carpet or chairs need shampooing after a particularly busy dinner the night before. Now it’s off to the front desk to make sure the communication channels are wide open. Maintenance is next as she is the Yin to their Yang.
As Judy makes her way back to the housekeeping department she can be seen “thanking” the departing guests for staying with us. And if she isn’t thanking the guests for staying with us, she is thanking her hard-working team, milling about the hotel, for doing the wonderful job that they do, day in and day out.
Since her first day of work, Judy has been building a team of incredible hospitality stars that produce exceptional results. She has created a remarkable, loyal staff that wants to be part of her crew. She motivates and inspires them through her own actions. She would never ask anyone to do something that she herself wouldn’t or couldn’t do. Judy rolls up her sleeves and cleans the early departure room, folds the laundry when it becomes too much for the team to keep up with and mops the floor if she sees a dangerous spill – all this to ensure she gets her team to the finish line on time, each day. Her dedication to her team was never more evident than during the Metro Transit Strike last year. As the majority of her housekeeping team relies on public transit to get to and from work, the strike was a potential financial disaster for her hardworking employees. Not being able to get to work would mean not getting a pay check. What Judy did, will never be forgotten by her team or by anyone here at Chocolate Lake. Each morning she went and picked up a car load of her employees, brought them to work and then went and got another car load of staff. At the end of each day, she would drive a group home, come back and get another car load and drive them home as well. The strike lasted 6 weeks – and so did Judy’s Personal Bus Service!!
Judy’s dedication and commitment to this industry was recognized in 2011 when was she was invited to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, to help develop the national occupational standards for the emerit Certification classification of “Director of Housekeeping.” This was developed through partnerships between government and industry. These standards are recognized as the best available resources for the tourism and hospitality sector in Canada. Judy can hold her head high, knowing that she is one of only 4 people in North America to be certified as a “Director of Housekeeping.”
TIANS along with its subsidiary, the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC), have valued Judy as a respected supporter for years. Judy is a huge backer of their programs and works with them tirelessly to ensure all of her staff go through the program. By doing so, her team is demonstrating their competency and they are meeting the job standards set by the industry. In May of this year, the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel was recognized at NSTHRC’s Annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner. This event celebrates industry professionals who have earned their emerit National Certification in their respective occupations. We were singled out as the only property in Nova Scotia to achieve a 100% certification designation in a Housekeeping Department. We were awarded a Property Recognition Award of Excellence as an organization who has significantly supported their staff in earning their credentials. I credit this award as a glowing endorsement of Judy’s dedication and leadership within the industry and the community.
I can’t think of anyone in my 25 year hospitality career that is more deserving of a Heroic Hospitality Star Award, than Judy Stone. My belief is quite simple: actions define who we are, and talking is not enough, doing is what counts. Judy is a doer. Moreover, as the famous quote goes: “Well done, is better than well said.”
Phyllis Stephenson, General Manager
Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel