October 7th, 2009 @ 2:17pm
By Becky Bruce
LAYTON -- Hotel owners and managers in Utah are learning how to survive the recession. It's a big topic of discussion at the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association Convention in Layton this week.
Managing Director of the Utah Valley University Small Business Development Center Ken Fakler told people at the conference they didn't have to lose money.
He said, "It's up to the management people, it's up to the owners, whether they're going to survive this or whether the ship's going to sink."
Fakler said a lot of expenses were negotiable, even if they didn't seem like they should be. The reason? Your business insurance company or landlord would much rather get a lower rate from you than no rate at all.
"Every expense item on the income statement is negotiable," Fakler said.
Marynika Miche, a counselor at the Small Business Development Center, agreed. She also added that you have to scrutinize every expense to make sure employees aren't taking advantage of you in the recession. In particular, she cautioned about abuse of company gas cards.
"It's petty theft," Miche said. "They don't consider it stealing. But with fuel prices going up, it's been significant for the employees and the employers."
Fakler warned about employees misrepresenting workers' compensation claims, either because they can't afford health insurance or their co-pays. He suggested businesses make sure every claim their insurance company handles really results from an injury on the job to avoid facing higher rates.
Fakler said regardless of which cost-saving measures a hotel or other business took, the important thing was not to wait.
"You've got to make really tough decisions right now, immediately," he stressed. "You've got to cut your expenses, yet you've still got to give superior, magnificent customer service."
You can learn more about UVU's program for small businesses here, and the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association here.