On feeling invisible, operating cost guidelines

This business advice column speaks to the soulful side of business. It is designed for companies and individuals that want to excel, stand out and realize ROWM: A Return on What Matters. It is based on the book from the business superhero The Profit Prophet. Please send your questions (which may be anonymous) to [email protected].


Dear P2,

My concern in business is trying to overcome the man-versus-woman issues. Being marginalized is a new one for me these past years … it’s sort of like feeling invisible. The people I bring in become THEIR people. One of the partners “is always right” and cannot give credit to others. HE DOES IT ALL and with a selective memory and strong ego. I could go elsewhere, but I have put so much into our project.

Feeling Invisible


Dear Feeling Invisible,

You could suggest a lunchtime lobotomy.

Seriously, you bring up several issues that face many in the workplace. Here’s the thing:  As in life, so in business. Have you ever tried to change anyone in your personal life? Then you know it is almost impossible and rarely successful. It is the same with business.

Your passionate commitment to your project is a powerful driver and the key to taking the high road should you choose to stay. We recommend adopting the noteworthy philosophy of “Don’t take anything personally.” Why? It is rarely personal and, most often, not about you. If another man or woman were there instead of you, most likely this partner would “act out” the same way.

Concentrate on all the gifts of the project — financial, creative, an act of passion — and congratulate yourself on being the “woman behind the curtain” pulling the strings. When he pulls the string on your ego, remember — “this is not about me.”

Cultivate how you can be happy regardless of others and when happiness isn’t brought in on a silver platter. Unless you are meditating on a mountaintop, egos are always at play. Short of that, if you want more credit call American Express, and if you aren’t sleeping at night, exit stage left. 


Dear Profit Prophet, 

I am working on updating my operating cost guidelines for every department in a hotel — e.g., suggested cost for sales and marketing, F&B, front office, maintenance, administration, etc. I realize that every hotel’s costs will differ, according to many factors. However, are there industry standards that one can use as a guide to establish your own operating ratios? We have ours, but would like to compare with industry norms. Any help on this or suggestions on where this data can be found will be appreciated.

All the best in hospitality, John


Hi John,

As we don’t know if you are a large or boutique hotel, destination resort, limited service, branded or otherwise, have centralized sales or property sales, food and beverage contribution, union or your owners’ expectations, we can’t offer you “norms.”

May we recommend the following prophecy: Begin with the end result in mind — your projected revenues. Then zero-sum the departmental expenses based upon the margins and GOP you’d like to see. Envision the end metrics you really want to have, drive experience in the culture and use a rolling forecast to get there. In a non-union boutique hotel with outside F&B, 50% to 60% GOP is possible, yet not the norm.

To really drive the top line, think of investing in what is going to have you stand out from your competitors so you can drive more revenue through your door. What is in place to retain the best talent, drive excellence? Do your performance reviews recognize driving revenue from every single employee? Every interaction counts. Good time for brainstorming with representatives from each discipline, not just the “usual suspects.” If everyone on your team believes each one of them makes a difference, they will. Everyone is involved in the revenue chain, but most haven’t been told that before.

As far as the norm, we encourage going beyond it. The best the norm gets is “mediocre” results. Great leadership develops “Cultureship” — leadership at every level of the organization. It’s a money magnet.