Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 47

 6-MINUTE READING TIME

Don't let your employees cause damage to your
property or reputation when you aren't looking.
by DAVID LUND
HEN YOU
get promoted
to a department
head and executive committee
position, it's an
exciting time in your career. This story
is about my experience as a first-time
controller.
It all started when the phone in
my office rang. At the time, I was the
assistant controller at the Castle in the
Rockies, a world-famous Banff Springs
hotel. It was my boss, the general manager and regional vice president. It was
about 10 a.m., and he asked me if I could
come to the sister hotel in his region,
Kananaskis, for lunch. I said, "I think so,
I just need to ask the controller here if
it's OK." He replied, "Don't worry about
her, just get down here." He said it in a
way that made me think he had already
talked to her and she was not happy.
But he's the boss, so he won. I like the
way our GM operated - you knew who
was in charge. His nickname was the
Commander. We all liked his style ...
well, most of us.
About two hours later, I hopped out
of my car at the hotel and headed for
the accounting office where I met with
someone I did not expect: our corporate
controller from Toronto. He was a great
guy, but I asked myself why was he here
and where was my GM?
The corporate controller and I went to
lunch. He explained what was going on.
The previous controller was fired that
morning for not ensuring that a basic
internal control system was in place.
The chief engineer was ordering supplies
from a local hardware store. He would
produce purchase orders for typical
engineering supplies like light bulbs and

filters. Then the hardware store would
send a new color TV to the engineer's
house and mail the hotel an invoice for
light bulbs and filters. The hotel would
pay the invoice because it matched the
purchase order; however, the controller
was omitting a crucial step.
All goods received by the hotel
required verification by someone other
than the person who ordered them.
In this case, the controller trusted the
chief engineer's word as he handed in
the invoices. This kind of stuff happens
more often than you would think.

This little episode
"showed
me a few

things. For one, if
people are left on
their own, they
can do some major
damage. Internal
controls are critical
for ensuring that
you know what is
going on.

"

It is funny how the engineer got
caught. He told someone in a local bar
what he was doing. He was drunk and
bragged about his little scheme. Small
towns are not good places to share
secrets in a bar. A friend of the person
who heard the story was best friends
with the wife of the new general manager of that hotel. The new GM learned
about this a few weeks later, and he
flat out asked the chief engineer what

was going on. The engineer vehemently
denied any involvement or knowledge.
Two weeks later the engineer had not
been back to work and the rumor was
that he fled to the Caribbean.
The corporate controller and one of
his staff had been at the hotel for a few
days, and it was clear that something
was up with the hardware store. The
size of the accounts payable file and the
amount of spending with this one little
store were incredible. When confronted,
the previous controller said he was
aware that there was no proof of delivery, but he said he was not involved in
the apparent fraud. The Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP) was also now
involved and there was a criminal investigation. With that, he told me he was
heading back to Toronto and my job was
to babysit until a controller was found.
If I wanted the job it was mine - all I
needed to do was apply.
I settled in as best I could. Things in
the accounting office were a mess, to
say the least. People and processes were
not being used efficiently and several
other internal controls were missing (or
only partly functioning). It was the type
of mess one would expect to find in a
hotel where the controller was asleep
at the wheel.
About the same time that this was
going on, word came down that the previous general manager (who had transferred to a property in Ontario) had been
fired for telling off one of the owners.
I did not know the guy but he had a reputation. After a while, some things never
surprise me. By no means are all GMs
like this, but it only takes a few to spoil
the batch. Word then followed that this
GM was suing the hotel company for
wrongful dismissal.

TODAYSHOTELIER.COM | SEPTEMBER 2017 | 47


http://www.TODAYSHOTELIER.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Today's Hotelier - September 2017

Our National Parks: Still Beautiful but in Need of Repairs
Sustainability Steadily Becoming Part of Lodging Industry Dna
Energy Efficiency Good for Wallet – and Guests
Aahoa Interview
Technology
There’s More to Led Conversions Than Just Cost Savings
Case Study
Aahoa Interview
Small Business
Housekeeping
Property Taxes
Leadership
Marketing
Finance q&a
Back of the House
Final Thoughts
Letter From the Chairman
Letter From the President & CEO
Aahoa Founding Members
Aahoa @ Industry
Classifieds
Advertiser Index
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - intro
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - cover1
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - cover2
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 3
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 4
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 5
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 6
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 7
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 8
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 9
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Letter From the Chairman
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 11
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Letter From the President & CEO
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 13
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Our National Parks: Still Beautiful but in Need of Repairs
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 15
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Sustainability Steadily Becoming Part of Lodging Industry Dna
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 17
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 18
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 19
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 20
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 21
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Energy Efficiency Good for Wallet – and Guests
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 23
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 24
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 25
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Aahoa Interview
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 27
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 28
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 29
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Technology
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 31
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - There’s More to Led Conversions Than Just Cost Savings
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 33
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 34
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 35
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Case Study
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 37
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Aahoa Interview
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 39
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Small Business
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 41
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Housekeeping
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 43
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Property Taxes
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 45
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Leadership
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 47
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 48
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 49
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Marketing
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 51
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 52
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 53
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Finance q&a
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 55
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Back of the House
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 57
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 58
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 59
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Aahoa Founding Members
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 61
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Aahoa @ Industry
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 63
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 64
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Classifieds
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 66
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 67
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 68
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 69
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 70
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 71
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 72
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 73
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 74
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Advertiser Index
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - Final Thoughts
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 77
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - 78
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - cover3
Today's Hotelier - September 2017 - cover4
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