Notes from the author: As I waited in the lobby of the Willows Lodge, an upscale hotel across the street from San Michelle winery, I observed a high energy staff that was friendly, open and caring. A couple arrived with a large fluffy dog to check in. I thought that is going to be a problem in a nice hotel. Instead the staff petted the dog and took pictures of him. The couple was given a glass of wine of their choice while checking in. Several staff members walked by and asked me if I needed anything, One brought me a bottle of water. I thought to myself, I am looking forward to meeting the man who developed this culture. Denny Fitzpatrick was no disappointment. Charismatic and inspirational, this man is a strong Christian leader.
Meet Denny Fitzpatrick your host for the C3 roundtable in February. Denny is the General Manager of Willow’s Lodge a 5 star hotel in Woodinville. I had the opportunity to spend an hour with Denny learning about his life, his Christian journey and his business values. He is one of the more dynamic leaders I have met in sometime. You will need to come to the roundtable to hear how he manages his staff at the hotel by the 5 I’s. This philosophy is ingenious to convey positive values in common everyday language. Read more about Just Business Roundtable
Tom: Denny tell us about your youth and growing up?
Denny: I was brought up in Spokane. I attended Gonzaga Prep High School. I was brought up in a strict Catholic family. I lettered 3 years in two sports. I was quarterback and was recruited by Jim Owens to replace Sonny Sixkiller. I played in the 72-74 seasons. The Seahawks gave me a try out but it was not to be.
Tom: Tell us a little about your wife and family.
Denny: . I met my wife to be Karen in my senior year in high school. We were married while we were in college. I have three wonderful grown daughters. We have been married for 42 years.
Tom: Can you give us an overview of your business career?
Denny: I got a letter from Dave Evans, a Senior Vice President of the Westin Hotels, when I was a senior in college inviting me to interview. I started on the front desk at the Olympic Hotel and never looked back at another industry. I worked in several hotels in several cities. Hotels included the Sheraton at the John Wayne Airport, The Westin, The Beverly Hilton, the Olympic, Hotel 1000 (Owned by George Reese and partners), The Park Hilton and the Willows Lodge beginning last July. I worked my way up the chain of positions from the front desk, to food management, sales, operations to general management. While at the Hotel 1000, the hotel was top rated out of 95 by the social media critics. We lived in a number of cities including Seattle, Boston, Newport Beach and Thousand Oaks California.
Tom: Are the challenges different today than when you started in the business in the 70’s?
Denny: Yes. Managing a large staff of men and women today has a different degree of difficulty. Mostly HR issues including sexual harassment, discrimination, worker’s rights etc. The internet and social media has also dramatically affected our business. Sites such as Trip advisor and Yelp for example can ruin your reputation in a heartbeat. Immediate responses to poor service are spread rapidly. It can kill your business if you are not on top of serving the customer.
Tom: How do you instill positive, selfless values into your staff?
Denny: I use the 5 I’s which I will be talking about in detail to those that will attend the Just Business Roundtable on February 6th. In essence, it is a way for my staff to focus on issues that are blocking their ability to serve. They are often not aware of these obstacles which may be habits they have developed in the course of their lives. The 5 I’s address these timeless values in common day words everyone understands. It’s all about taking away the “blame game”. We are servants. Our theme is to give more than you take. Managers should make their staff more successful than themselves.
Tom: What are your long term goals? What do you want to be doing in 5-10 years?
Denny: This is the role that God has called me to. I love what I am doing and God willing I can keep doing this for many years to come. This is more than a job. It’s changing people’s hearts for the better.