Who’s got the Penguin?

The Hill at Whitemarsh is a luxury Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Lafayette Hill, PA just outside of Philadelphia.  They pride themselves on being a Five Star organization when it comes to service which, with over 400 residents and almost 300 staff, takes a lot of work and commitment to maintain…and this year, a penguin.

Judy McGruther, the CEO for the past six years – she joined when “the Hill” was still under construction – has had her work cut out for her.  With the economy giving them a run for their money and the “normal” issues that all startups have to deal with, she and her team have been challenged to build revenues, manage expenses AND provide the high level of service that is a critical part of their Brand Promise. Last year was the year to get their occupancy rate up to give them a strong revenue basis. 2012’s focus?


Keeping their budget in line.

“Meeting budget is table stakes this year,” shared Judy. “We’re really focused on controlling our expenses.” That means a real push on labor dollars, food, and supply costs and the other key components of running an enterprise with a $35+ million budget.

So what’s Judy’s “daily” number for 2012? 

Labor Hours…

“If we can manage our labor hours,” says Judy, “And meet or exceed our budgeted occupancy, we’ll be in great shape by year end.”

So with great discipline, every day, every week, her team is looking at their productivity, along with other key performance indicators on their“scorecard” AND they have a weekly contest between departments to see who can do the best job of managing their labor hour budget numbers.

The reward that everyone’s so gung-ho to win?

A penguin…

“We needed an award to recognize the winner,” recalls Peter Fleming, the CFO, “And I had a penguin paperweight on my desk and on a whim said, ‘How about this?’.  Surprisingly, it worked!  Now it’s a battle every week to see who gets the penguin.  Initially, the Dining group was winning but then Resident Services got into the game.  By the end of the quarter, it was a real race to see which department would win for the quarter overall.” Dining did win, and got penguin pins and gift cards as an award – but the whole team got movie tickets as a reward for all of their hard work keeping their labor numbers in line.  They did beat the budget and are continuing the race in the second quarter.

It will certainly be a race to the finish…even if we did have a mild winter here in Philly!

For more info on the Hill, check out their website here.

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to keep Execution on track in your company in 2012!  Next week, I’ll be sharing my learnings from the Fortune/Gazelles Leadership Conference in Atlanta.

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