The Barrymore Hotel – Making Homes Happier

14040107_1250763164947294_2510027956041904208_n (1)Furnishing a home is expensive for everyone, but what if you didn’t have the money to buy the basics like a bed frame, end tables, or even afford to hang a picture on the wall? Living in a properly furnished home is something many of us take for granted, whether we want to realize it or not. Not everyone can afford this luxury.

Home Makers of Hope is a 100% volunteer-based organization in Tampa, FL that provides home furnishings and household essentials to families and individuals struggling with poverty. Basic needs like food, water and rent always come first – furniture, other seemingly fundamental home items like bed linens and home decor items – come last.

14100449_1250763204947290_5175987828553879408_nThis week, Barrymore Hotel General Manager Larry Collier, Chef Mary Willis and Engineering Director Kenneth Leslie and his team, pulled the strings to make a donation of 50 televisions happen for Home Makers of Hope. “Our families will be so happy,” captioned one the photos posted on the nonprofit’s Facebook page.

You can bring hope to someone’s home by donating your time to help with pickup and delivery, or to set up homes. Find out how.

Photos credit: Home Makers of Hope

About Home Makers of Hope
Home Makers of Hope is a 100% volunteer faith based ministry that has been creating homes for families since 2008. Gently used furniture and household items are donated from our parishes and communities and are provided at no cost to families in crisis.

Families are referred to us by case workers from various social service agencies. Our volunteers then meet with these families to identify their specific needs and wish lists. Beds, furnishings and household items are then delivered and set up by our volunteers … and homes are made as we make the beds, hang pictures, and decorate their homes.


Winner or Whiner?


by Larry E. Collier, Director of Operations for H.I. Development Corp.


Several years ago while making one of my regular visits to the Sales Department of a hotel, I noticed a book lying on the table centered in the room. The name of this book was “The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer. (If you have never read Jeffery Gitomer, I recommend you Google him and get a book right away). I thumbed through the book and was immediately impressed enough to return to my office and order a copy.

I must pause here to say thanks to Nancy for bringing in that book and introducing me to Jeffrey Gitomer; I will always be grateful.

Coming up through the operations side of our business, I did not have a great deal of exposure to sales and marketing and my training in those fields had been limited to the generic offerings of the many brands I have been associated with during my career.  So, getting my hands on “The Little Red Book of Selling” was like someone turning on the light in the middle of the night. I found his approach to selling to be operational in nature, so I immediately took to it. In fact, it remind me of a lesson long ago learned as a Private in the United States Marine Corps. It was a simple leadership acronym for accomplishing an objective that I continue to apply today.

Begin Planning
Arrange Reconnaissance
Make Reconnaissance
Complete Planning
Issue Orders

Attacking sales in this manner made perfect sense to me.

Out of all the wonderful nuggets of useful and applicable information that I garnered from that book one of the central themes, and illustrated often throughout the book was “are you Winner or a Whiner”.

As I thought about all the Whiners in my organization, this concept struck a very deep and personal chord with me. I came to the realization that all to often I had joined in or even led the whining that was keeping me from winning.

 All too often we see the reasons we can’t do something as opposed to the reasons we can do something.  We become so focused on our limitations that we are unable to make the best use of our capabilities.

An honest look at any situation will easily help you determine if you are whining or winning. Sometimes winning isn’t the easiest, nor does it go the way you want. Make no mistake about it, winning will require sacrifice; it’s going to hurt, but it’s going to be worth it.  

As we enter into 2014, a year filled with huge opportunities for the hospitality industry, take a few moments to reflect on being a winner as opposed to a whiner. What does that future you look like? I am willing to bet pretty darn good.

Oh yeah, do yourself a favor and check out Of course I recommend “The Little Red Book of Selling”, “The Little Red Book of Sales Answers 99.5 Real World Answers that Make Sense, Make Sales, and Make Money”, “The Sales Bible”, and “ The Little Gold Book of Yes Attitude”.



The Savings of Summer







The hotels of Orlando and both the East and West Coasts of Florida are gearing up for the madness that is summertime in Florida. However, those of us in urban and central locations that lack heavy tourism drivers are looking for ways to control expenses and manage costs. To ensure that we are operating as profitably as possible through the sweltering, mosquito-heavy, hurricane-watching, dog days of summer, I’ve compiled a list of the biggest money wasters and some tips for controlling them.

Payroll is always one of the greatest expenses in any business. Properly controlling labor hours and costs can create deep savings for any operation, while still ensuring that guests’ service expectations are met. When business slows to a level that can be maintained by fewer staff, we need to make sure we are not overstaffed and incurring unproductive payroll expenses. This is a great time for employees to use vacation time or just take time off. Keep in mind that these employees may seek additional or alternate employment and may not be available to return to your location full-time when the busy season returns, so be sure to keep your core staff members strong. Always make sure that your key employees are getting enough hours in their department or another department. You’ll need these key people to train and inspire any new staff you hire as business levels rise.

A reduction in staff usually calls for a reduction in supervision as well. This does not mean that summer time is “party time” for managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors must do their share to reduce the number of employees needed in the day-to-day operation of your organization. As business slows, ensure that all supervisors and department managers are spending at least one day a week pulling a shift. As mangers, we should be accustomed to doing more and working harder when sales decrease. Also, slow demand periods are a good time for managers and supervisors to take vacation time to get rested and recharged for the busy period, when time off is more difficult to schedule.

Be sure the staff is working smarter. Whenever possible, condense your operation to a level that can be managed by a smaller staff, yet continue to provide top-notch service to the customer. For example, shutting down certain floors of a hotel and closing a branch/wing for the summer season can result in a more efficient and less expensive operation. Limiting the time an employee takes to move from task to task as they go through their daily activities, along with streamlining the supply process, will result in tremendous manpower savings for your organization without impacting the guest experience.

“Lights out for summer” should be the theme of any organization that sees a slump in sales during the season. Particularly important in the hotel business, controlling the waste of electricity can save as much as twenty-five percent of annual utility expenses. Keeping unused space in the dark with motion-sensitive lighting and with a properly controlled climate will result in tremendous savings on utilities.  In Florida, climate control can be critical. I am not advocating a complete shutdown of areas where humidity or positive pressure may be an issue, as asset preservation is paramount. Just make sure that air conditioning is set at an acceptable level, and the lights are turned off where possible.  Banquet and meeting facilities are where some of the largest energy waste occurs. These rooms often become a hangout or a “shortcut” passageway for employees as they break or migrate from one workspace to another. Be sure to secure all meeting and banquet facilities whenever they are not in use and educate your staff on both the environmental and financial benefits of energy conservation.

Water temperature and water usage should be evaluated regularly throughout the year as part of any ongoing conservation initiative.  A summertime decrease in business can make spotting a leak or other anomaly easier. These problems normally go unnoticed, but with decreased consumption, they stand out. Summer is also a good time to have your local water department visit your business to look for any spike in consumption and offer tips for conserving energy and reducing waste at your facility.

Check water temperatures for guest, laundry and kitchen use, as overheating water is a drain on any company’s utility budget. Water for guest use should be around 120°F, while water for dish cleaning and laundry should be around 140°F. Contact your local vendor to inquire about the use of low temperature machines for dish cleaning. In an office or retail environment, eliminate hot water where it’s practical. Overall, ensure that the temperature of the water is correct wherever it is being used and your temperature regulators are in place.

Simple enough, right?
Engage your staff by educating them on the importance of saving money throughout the summer. By educating employees and monitoring these three things, you can deliver bottom line profitability that otherwise may have gone to the utility company or to unnecessary payroll.

by: Larry Collier, Director of Operations


Howard Johnson Plaza Tampa Receives Property of Year Award

Tampa, FL — 5/21/12  *PRESS RELEASE*

During the Howard Johnson General Session at the Wyndham Hotel Group Global Conference, several properties were recognized for their achievements as recipients of the 2011 Heroes of Hospitality and 2012 Brand Conference Awards.


For the first year, the Howard Johnson Plaza Tampa received the “Property of the Year” Award for 2011. Achieving excellence in the hospitality business is not easy. To perform at an award-winning level, Howard Johnson hoteliers must demonstrate extraordinary professionalism and work together as a team to deliver consistently high quality guest experiences.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Howard Johnson Plaza Tampa was hotel management team, H.I. Development, President Andre Callen (left) and General Manager Larry E. Collier, Jr., (center).

“Life presents us with numerous opportunities to make a difference in the eyes of our customers,” said Senior Vice President Rui Barros. “The best of the best always leap at the chance to create Happiness for guests at their hotel. They take pride in everything they do, from their attitude and professional appearance to the inviting aroma and cleanliness of their rooms.”

“These properties and their teams are shining examples of what can be accomplished when ‘excellence’ becomes a standard operating procedure,” said Vice President Phil Harvey (right). “These awards are a reflection of their dedication towards making each guest experience the best that it can be.”

The Howard Johnson Plaza Tampa is conveniently located in the heart of downtown along the banks of the Arts District RiverWalk entrance and Hillsborough River. The 13-level hotel is operated and managed by H.I. Development, a hotel management team founded by Robinson Callen in 1959.

A Key To Simple Customer Service

By Larry E. Collier, Jr., H.I. Development Director of Operations

It has been some time ago that I learned this simple, yet effective, method for improving the overall service at any business. It has been so long ago that I am not sure to whom the credit should be given for this most amazing revelation. I wish I could take credit for both its simplicity and its truth; however, I can only take credit for being smart enough to incorporate it into my daily business practices. Those of you who know me know I always say, “If you are going to cheat or steal ideas at least be smart enough to cheat off the smart kids”. I would like to give “kudos” to the brilliant people that came up with the simple anagram I.L.E.A.D.

I- IDENTIFY the upset customer. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to impact a customer experience. Look as you move through you business at people’s postures, facial expressions and body language. Not all complaints are voiced freely. If they were, we could deal with them easily and have all our customers leaving with a smile. Reaching out to a customer before they reach out to you can drastically change the resolution process and will usually enable a win for both the customer and the business.

L- LISTEN to the customer. Once you have identified a less than pleased customer take the time to actually listen to their problem, no matter how many times you may have heard the same problem. Do not talk over the customer, fidget, make faces, or any other body language that may be construed as defensive or uncaring. Pay particular attention to your hands and arms these are the culprits that usually get us into body language trouble. So many of us stand with our arms crossed that we don’t realize that we are doing it. I recommend clasping you hands behind you back to avoid sending an erroneous message. If you need to take notes so that you may ask questions when it is your turn to talk.

E- EMPATHIZE with the customer. Remember that out of all the companies that this person could have chosen from, to do business, with they chose yours. We have all known what it is like to have your expectations not be met. Make sure the customer knows that you recognize their disappointment and understand what they are feeling. A little empathy can go along way towards diffusing a particularly loud or upset customer.

A- APOLOGIZE for what the customer has experienced. Remember the validity of the customer complaint is never the issue, the customer experience is. Successful business people realize that what really happened is never the truth but what the customer perceives to have happened it our truth. We are here to resolve a problem and satisfy a customer, not prove who was right or wrong. Simply apologize, one of my favorite lines is “ I am so sorry that you experienced this.”

D- DECIDE a course of action. Choose a course of action that you feel will best satisfy the customers problem. If you are unsure simply ask. Many times I have avoided unnecessary compensation by simply asking “ how may I make this up to you?” Believe me, an upset customer is pretty good at telling you what it will take to make them happy. I recommend that like NIKE, you “just do it”. Your goal should be not to negotiate a settlement but to win a raving fan for your company. This is where you have the opportunity to make the magic that can set you apart from your competition and earn you a reputation as someone that cares. Go the extra mile by letting the customer know you will take steps to ensure that no other customers have a similar experience.

As we move about business remember I LEAD, sometimes “looking for trouble” can be a great business advantage.

Attitude for Every Mood…

{ How to Deal with Negative Effects in the Workplace }

— by Adrianne Robert & Larry E. Collier, Jr., of H.I. Development

Everyone has felt dragged down by someone else’s attitude at work. Has anyone ever felt dragged down by your attitude at work?  How do you react when you hear news people share with you about budget cuts, lay offs and/or employee gossip? If you have a job, you’ve heard negative attitude at some point. Here are some positive pointers to help you deal with setbacks in the common workplace and turn “whiners” into winners”. (source: “Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer)

“Be the change you want to see”
How much better can we do our job? Are you focused on achieving the goal or just taking the steps towards that goal? As long as we do our best within the situation we are in, the work will usually take care of itself, if it doesn’t seek help. You will find everyone willing to help someone who always tries their hardest. Simple things such as a weekly “to-do” list will set you apart from the crowd. Make a “to-do” list for the week and then double check it to insure that the items on your list support your departmental goals, while maximizing your time on shift. Don’t worry if you are the only one with a list, working smarter will make you stand out and set higher standards for those around you. Believe me, success is just as contagious as failure. Maybe then your co-workers will find a better outlook for the attitude in the office. Someone once said to me, “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less. So if you want to see changes at work, be that change that you would like to see.”

“Things nor people aren’t as bad as you think they are”
Staying positive is at the core of any good attitude. Studies show that celebrating your coworkers, setting attainable (remember SMART) goals and consistently showing gratitude are all common traits amongst successful businesspeople. Thinking pessimistically only fosters a negative attitude that makes seeing the positives difficult and, in turn, decreases your ability to succeed. Thinking positively lets you see the good things around you and allows you to build off of them, creating an attitude beneficial to advancement.

“Be assertive without being aggressive”
Assertiveness is probably the top trait of those successful in business, however it is often coupled with aggressiveness. The most important thing when attempting to be assertive without being aggressive is communication. When asserting yourself in the office, allow other people as much time to describe their needs as you’ve allowed yourself. When they are expressing their needs, try not to devalue their perspectives; doing so will allow you to stay open to meeting them halfway.

“Be compassionate when dealing with conflict”
No matter where you work, you’ll eventually find yourself in conflict with a coworker. When resolving the matter, make sure you approach the other person with an adequate amount of compassion. We all deal with stress; sometimes it even gets the better of us. Keeping your mind open when resolving conflict will improve your skills at doing so. Being able to effectively deal with interpersonal conflict is a personality trait that is sure to help you advance in any career. Remember we all have a common logic that we share but each of us has our private logic as well. You never know what another person’s private logic may be telling them.

“Have some pride”
The most rewarding career anyone can do is something they take full pride in. H.I. Development is in the hospitality field and we have the responsibility to show our best side to families and travelers staying at our hotels, no matter what our attitudes for the day may be. When you exceed someone’s expectations and go the extra mile to provide the ultimate experience for the traveler, you are leaving an everlasting impression from their visit at your hotel or restaurant. Now THAT is a great feeling!

Whether you are a corporation or an individual, dealing with attitude challenges, you are making the first leap from negative choices to choices that will certainly have a positive impact on yourself, co-workers and family members. “Leading by example” — you need not be the leader to lead by example, however; leading by example may make you the leader and will show your customers that you care and help reinforce your company’s product, increasing sales in the long run. This will cause a chain-reaction and benefit not only the longevity of your company’s future, but more importantly your own attitude for future personal goals.

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