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					       PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
            PROVIDES THE KEY
       TO EMPLOYEE RETENTION AND
       CONFERENCE CENTER SUCCESS
       Submitted by… Mr. John Potterton, CMP
                   Chief Santalogist
               Summit Executive Centre

                     Recruiting and Retention


Best Practice

"Supporting education...inspiring professional and personal growth" is
the Summit Executive Centre's core purpose. Not only does this clear
focus enable "The Summit" to provide client services that enhance
their learning, but it also affords our staff numerous opportunities to
learn and grow.

We consider staff to be our greatest asset. This team of professionals
interacts on a daily basis with clients. They are the ones who listen to
people's needs and wants, create memorable experiences, and convert
our clients into believers who will spread the word about the magic of
meeting at "The Summit." Because everything in this education-
centered focus ties together, we have experienced financial success
every year, even during the tough times in 2001 and 2002.

During 2004, in an effort to keep our staff motivated and committed
to their own professional and personal growth, we became probably
the first conference center in the history of IACC to have 100% of its
employees attend and participate in at least one IACC educational
event that year. From general manager (we call her our “Ring
Leader”) to dishwasher (his title – “Man of Many Hats”), everyone
was given an opportunity to learn something new about industry
trends and conference center specific issues.
Highlights

  • 100% Employee participation in IACC educational events in
    2004.
           Between Learning Network workshops, round tables,
           study tours or the Annual Conference, all our employees
           took advantage of the opportunity to expand their
           understanding of the importance of the Conference
           Center Concept. Together, we attended a total of 12
           different educational events held in 31 conference centers
           spanning 5 states and 4 countries!
  • Cross training made simple, fun and focused.
           To help cross train our people we take 10 minutes out of
           each day to learn about something new or something we
           all should know. All employees participate – sometimes
           as teachers who impart the knowledge, other times as
           students learning or relearning tips and techniques to
           improve customer service.
  • Life-long learning at a fraction of the cost.
           We participate in the Lifelong Learning Project, a pilot
           program funded by the Ford Foundation. The project
           enables employees to experience their choice of a broad
           range of career-related educational opportunities, and
           they take only 25% of the cost out of their own pockets.
           “The Summit” matches the employee contribution, while
           the foundation contributes the remaining 50%. Currently
           90% of our eligible employees participate in the project.
  • College education funded for employees.
           Our AV tech (we call him our “Fine Tune Tech Coach”)
           is currently in school learning computer technology and
           electronics. Not only is it a field of interest to him, but it
           has also made him a much more valuable employee
           because our clients’ needs for his computer support have
           dramatically increased. Naturally, his career growth has
           also enabled him to earn a higher salary.
  • Comprehensive benefits package for all full time employees.
           Every full-time staff member is a salaried employee and
           receives full health benefits. Each receives an annual
           raise and is eligible to receive a bonus of up to 15% of
            salary, based on performance and knowledge of our
            business. (In 2004, the average bonus was 13%.)
Reason

We want to be known by our clients as the conference center where
they can expect to be greeted by people who know them and
understand their needs. It is our firm conviction that providing
professional development opportunities and generally encouraging
learning among all team members enables us to attract and retain the
high-quality employees. And, that results in a strong base of loyal
clients who know the value of meeting at The Summit.


Measurement

Since 1988, no full time employee has been laid off or had hours
reduced. In the past 8 years, not one full time employee has resigned
from The Summit for a position with another company. During slow
periods, staff works on special projects, but during peak times, we
must bring in extra support staff. Our current staff of 9 has worked at
The Summit for an average of 8 years each – a remarkable number,
especially in this industry known for high turnover.

From a financial point of view, our results have been dramatic. In
2002, the year where everyone in our industry struggled, we were able
to turn a profit and still reward our employees with bonuses and raises
for doing everything they could to help us grow. Last year, revenues
grew by 30% as our loyal customer base continued to increase!


Lessons

We have learned the benefits of being very clear about our purpose,
and we hire solid individuals who are aligned with our core values.
Our purpose and values drive everything we do. In the end, these are
much more important than any financial reward or consideration.
Final Comments

Our Core Purpose:
“To support education inspiring professional and personal growth.”

Our Core Values:
  1) Teamwork and support for one another.
  2) Work ethic that demands efficiency, consistency and trust.
  3) Continuous improvement, never being satisfied.
  4) A level of service which requires aggressive helpfulness.
  5) Treating one another with respect, fairness and honesty.
  6) Fostering education of clients and staff.
  7) Understanding and anticipating others’ needs.
  8) Promoting a healthy balance between one’s professional and
     personal life.




See the following page for a list of the IACC programs the Summit
team participated in…

				
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