As with many professions, demand for people to fill positions fluctuates depending on how the industry is performing.
A timely example is that increased demand for fresh fruit and vegetables, combined with fewer overseas workers, means there is a higher demand for pickers and workers in the agriculture industry. The motel industry is no different in that demand for managers fluctuates with changes in demand for accommodation, occupancy, or trading activity.
Around 2012, demand for motel managers was high, then declining for four years or so, until increasing again during 2017. All in-line with fluctuations in demand for accommodation. It would seem likely that on the back of increased demand for accommodation over the past six months, after the downturn due to COVID-19 lockdown, that demand for managers is again on the rise. Essentially, if business is good, that can bring about a change in attitude and lifestyle considerations where one may look to step back and take more time for oneself, knowing the business is performing well. Often not having the weight of financial pressure can be a catalyst to this. In times when business trading and confidence declines, cost-cutting measures are re-employed and reducing expenses such as management wages is common practice.
With the expectation of a continued increase in demand for motel managers going forward, let us consider a bit more about this decision. Some investors buy motels with the direct intention of having them operated under management. Others operate the business themselves and then due to whatever the circumstances, employ a manager thereafter.
The ownership of a successful motel business from afar, without having to operate it is common. Professional management is often comprised of a husband-and-wife team or individual experienced in operating motels who has a genuine interest in improving the trading performance of the motel over and above its current trading. Sitting at reception and trying to look busy is of no interest. In the past it was the norm to enlist anyone who said yes to the question, and the owner’s expectation was that this arrangement would work. In many cases it did not work, and it ended up resulting in motel managers in general receiving a bad reputation.
The old saying still rings true, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. The manager’s remuneration is dependent on a number of things, including experience, roles, performance, skills, etc. If a manager feels they are being underpaid (rightly or wrongly), it is highly likely their level of service (particularly being in a service industry) to the business and guests will be diminished. This results in a poorer motel operation and damage to the business’ reputation and performance. It must be said that placing any business, including a motel under management, and expecting it to be a set and forget situation is fraught with danger. Managers are employees and require the direction, guidance and input only the business owner can provide. Many motel owners in recent times have owned and operated a motel for a period and have then acquired another or more. The owner takes the role of overseeing the businesses and relief managing as required. Staying involved in a supervisory role over management is prudent and necessary to maintain the standards that the owner expects for the business.
A common industry question is, ‘how much should I pay a manager?’ Remuneration packages for motel managers are generally determined by the market and the negotiation process between the employee and employer. The type of motel involved, and particular work required to be completed by the manager will affect the level of the package. Is the manager required to manage the property, cook, clean, complete the accounts, etc.? This will be different from one motel to the next depending on the size of the property, type of clientele, whether there is a restaurant onsite, the location of the property, the requirements of the employer and the skills of the employee. There may be a living allowance built into the package for onsite accommodation, food, and beverage.
Management packages can be fixed salaries or in many cases are a fixed salary plus a bonus system based on the achievement of certain goals, such as reaching a sales income target or profit target for a particular period.
The general type of manager is the more permanently employed manager or contractor, however the often more highly sought-after role by moteliers is the relief manager. This is more of a short-term posting to allow the owner time to get away from the business for a break rather than a more permanent arrangement. Between a couple of days and a couple of months is usually the relief managers term, and this type of relief management can be very valuable to a business owner. Allowing them to get away, recharge the batteries, clear the head, and come back to work ready to go.