California wildfires have unfortunately become an annual event for residents and business owners in the golden state. The most recent wave of wildfires that hit Northern California were so severe, PG&E took dramatic, unprecedented measures to prevent any further damage from their power lines.
In a preemptive attempt to squash any chance that their power lines could spark and create more fires, the power company made the bold and controversial decision to intentionally cut power for more than a million customers—including local businesses like SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Napa Valley.
So how exactly does an all-suite hotel function without power for more than two working days?
We asked General Manager, Brandon Jacobsen how Beekeeper helped his team weather one of the worst fire seasons in Northern California’s history.
We also took the opportunity to learn about his leadership style, and how growing up on a farm informed his hands-on management style. Brandon also shared how he overcame his aversion to technology and ultimately embraced Beekeeper for his hotel.
1) You have a reputation in the industry for “leading by example.” You’re not afraid to get down in the weeds with your team. You’ve helped housekeepers move furniture, set up meeting rooms, even picked up cigarette butts littering the property. How did you develop this “hands on” management strategy, and how does it help you connect with your team?
I’m a farmer’s son. Growing up we were taught that if you expect your team to perform, and do what’s expected of them, then you need to do it with them to show that we are all in this together — we’re all the same.
2) During the recent power outage in the Bay Area, your hotel property was without power for two and a half days. How did you use Beekeeper to maintain communication with your employees during this time?
When we lost power, the staff were still able to utilize their mobile devices despite the system being down. While, we could have communicated via text, it was much easier to communicate through Beekeeper regarding scheduling, current updates at the property, flashlights, when locations were back up, etc.
3) It’s been said that you “don’t do social media.” What were your objections to adopting Beekeeper and how does it stand apart from other communication tools you’ve used?
Social media and technology are not my friends. But once I sat down, watched, and listened to what Beekeeper could do for us as a team, I became intrigued.
Other tools we currently have are used for follow up, reports, etc. Beekeeper is the first system I have personally used that is focused on team member engagement.
4) Why do you think it’s important to invest in a mobile communication platform for your team at SpringHill Suites?
Times have changed from when I first started in this industry. Posting something on a wall or passing someone a flier just doesn’t work anymore.
People engage through technology. Having access to everything they need at their fingertips is expected. Now we can meet those expectations. I’m excited that we finally have a platform to share memos, SOPs, schedules, upcoming events, meetings, fun content, etc.
5) What are some of your business goals you want to achieve with Beekeeper?
I want to continue growing our use for the system. In recent weeks we have begun using the system to process maintenance requests. Now when we submit a work order, we attach a photo and submit through Beekeeper. So far, the new process is working great.
6) How has Beekeeper helped streamline your hotel operations so far? In what ways would you say that it’s helped you and your team save time and work together more efficiently?
I believe overall the system has made all of our team members feel more involved. So yes, it has helped streamline our operations. Our frontline employees are being exposed to more areas of the business and engaging in things they would not typically have the opportunity to see or do.
There is always room for growth – not everyone is using the system 100% of the time, but each day everyone gets more and more comfortable with it.