Once again a kid from McDonalds is now a leading hospitality manager in Australia and is a driving force in the ‘Customer Service Revolution’ in this country.
David Van Den Boom is the Operations Manager for the Taphouse Group which owns and operates a stable of hotels from the Gold Coast to Port Macquarie. The jewel in the crown and the flagship of the group is the Kingscliff Beach Hotel, which recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment. The Kingscliff Beach Hotel (KBH) is located in NSW on the beautiful Tweed Coast just 15 minutes south of the Gold Coast Airport. David has been fortunate enough to have as his role within the Group as General Manager of the KBH. David is passionate about people, pubs, rock music especially Live Music and cooking.
David started his career in the ‘Customer Service’ industry at the age of 15 at Macca’s in Coffs Harbour. After a very rewarding 4 years at Macca’s David moved to Adelaide where he worked at the age of 19 as a manager at his brother’s Domino’s Pizza store. This was a true baptism of fire for David with regards to developing his management skills, having to run all aspects of the business. Although only a young man himself his experience at Domino’s taught David how to effectively manage young staff, which has held him in good stead throughout his hospitality career.
Like many young Australians David cast his eyes further afield and headed off to England for the adventure of a lifetime. On landing in London he scored a job with Walkabout Hotels. Within a few months he headed up north to Birmingham to take up a position as a supervisor in a hotel that had just undergone multi-million pound refurbishment. Within several months David rose through the ranks to management.
On returning to Australia David has had a geographically diverse career, working and running hotels from Mackay to Melbourne. This has enabled him to master all aspects of hotel operations from food, to gaming, event management and live music. This amazing career has all been fuelled by his love of people and pubs. As David states “I love being around people and I love being in pubs.” He believes in leading from the front, getting his hands dirty and he still loves pulling beers.
David’s mission in his professional life is fuelled by his personal philosophy of “Customer First”. David explains what this means, “the customer’s whole experience is your top priority, the customer is your main focus. The challenge is that anyone can pull a beer, it’s about how the customer walks away from the bar after getting the beer”. “Customer First is about customer engagement in a personal way”.
When I asked David how he and the Taphouse Group instill this ‘Customer First’ philosophy across the group especially at Kingscliff Beach Hotel he explains it all starts at the recruitment phase. The group has a strong recruitment process which involves a comprehensive interview process, reference checking and training. David likes find out as much as he can about the person he is recruiting. He takes particular note on how engaging the potential candidate is in the interview process, especially with regards to making eye contact and smiling. David has recognised that the Taphouse group has an excellent record of identifying talented people and bringing good people into the business. For example, the Group Food and Beverage Manager Tony Roberts has been continually ‘wearing out the floorboards’ at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel greeting and engaging with as many customers as possible.
David summarises the Taphouse culture which is reflected at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel, “Culture is the key factor behind customer service for me. The Taphouse culture is about family, support and love. This stems from the top down”.
I questioned David at length on the age old challenge of staff retention and staff turnover within hotels and hospitality. He explained that is starts at the recruitment stage ensuring you recruit people who present their personality in everything they do and at every opportunity. He doesn’t believe in throwing staff in the deep end and taking a sink or swim approach. Newly recruited staff are taken through a comprehensive walk through of the operations at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel as part of their induction. This is to ensure they have a good understanding of every part of the operation. Key staff and managers are normally engaged in 3 weeks of intensive training. To ensure staff retention, a programme of cross training is being implemented across the group. Personal and professional development is being identified for key people throughout the business. David is identifying people in the business who want to be there for the long haul and not simply there for a pay cheque.
The Kingscliff Beach Hotel see their future as being an intrinsic part of the local community and their goal is to be the pinnacle venue on the Tweed Coast. To ensure the KBH is woven into the fabric of the local Tweed Valley community the group has instigated a local’s loyalty programme. The hotel has already been recognised as one of the premier live music venues on the Coast.
David is extremely humbled being at the helm of the Kingscliff Beach Hotel, the flagship of the Taphouse Group. The group is growing, dynamic and progressive. Their goal is that customer service stays at highest level as they evolve in the years to come.
Finally I asked David what his top 3 tips are for creating ‘Customer Service Revolutionaries’
- Eye Contact – customer engagement
- Smile – “If we didn’t have staff on the ground with a smile on their faces, we might as well pack up and go home”.
- A Thank you! – to the customer “thanks for coming to our hotel”.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder
m 0448 098 453
int +(61) 448 098 453