Tales from Rental Hell- Mangled Managment

Big Resort only has bike rental at a few resorts on Hilton Head and in a few resorts in Florida, and doesn’t really put much into managing these on a professional level, leaving less qualified managers, usually fresh out of college with little or no real work experience. This can result in some odd management decisions which sometimes made no sense what so ever.

One such manager held the title of Operations Manager, sort of a second in command in charge of the back of the house. The Bike Rentals was an oddity, having both back of the house and front of the house in the same place and at the same time. The new manager was from Canada and educated in Europe, and as I was kind of prejudiced against that fact, as she was against my almost true Southern Heritage. Within her first week, she stopped by to introduce herself “properly” and spend some time with me to better understand what it is I do and to try to improve my performance.
Things started well enough as I explained to her the rental process, having the fortunate luck of having two challenging families come up to rent bikes with child seats, trailers, and tag-alongs. After explaining a few more points regarding the company rental process, I was left with nothing more to do then perform some repairs, a real necessity to keep the revenue stream going. This is when things went wrong.
First repair was simple enough, a flat front tire. She was puzzled by me inflating the tube outside the tire, but I explained the reason and that seemed to satisfy her. Next up was a cartridge bottom bracket replacement, which required a blowtorch and a bit of colorful language. That kind of upset her a bit, resulting in her to tell me:
“You need to find something better to do then fix bicycles when you don’t have customers.”
Only thing I could come up with was, “HUH?” in a Homer Simpson annoyed grunt fashion. I gave her a copy of my job description, which details that bicycle repair was job 1b, with 1a to rent bikes, making repair as important to renting according to Big Resort standards.
I had to spend the next three years dealing with her. She sort of respected what I did after a few positive comments from guests and other managers. She took a promotion and left for another resort.
Another management conflict dealt with stocking of parts. I understand that parts sitting on our shelf was money not in the bank, and having the parts vendor store them until I purchased them was more cost effective. Common sense dictates a shop should have a modest supply of tires, tubes, bearings, pedals, grips, and kickstands on hand, as these are some of the more commonly replaced items.
The Resort hired this new Recreation Manager fresh out of college and had all kinds of new ideas to help the bottom line. I was to stock pile repairs for a week, the only order the parts I needed to fix those bikes instead of maintaining a supply. That backfired severely. Instead of saving a few hundred dollars by not stocking bikes and fixing them promptly as time allows, we lost several hundred more dollars by not having working bikes to rent. Understand we didn’t just loose the $25 weekly rental once, but twice, as management would rent the disgruntled guest bikes from somewhere else and take the money for those bikes from the Bike Rental’s account.
Once the General Manager caught wind of that scheme, I was allowed to restock the shop as I saw fit and resume former normal operations, but that didn’t end my problems. After two periods of almost carte blanch, I was required to get permission from the Rec. Manager for future parts and supply purchases. After about three periods, I noticed a pattern, as she would always, without fail, cut my requests in half.
I experimented with doubling my request, and it worked! If I need 20 tubes, I asked for 40, and she’d cut my request in half to what I needed. She was never the wiser for her entire term at Big Resort.
  • will1

    So…a couple of days after my first century was complete, I found myself in a funk. Has this happened to you?

    Yeah, it’s happened te me before. As I understand it, it’s fairly common, as you devote so much time and energy (both mental and physical) to that “big event”, and when it’s over, there’s nothing left. If you’re smart or lucky, you’ll have another event coming up that you can transition into, but if you don’t already have something to look forward to, or if the next thing is too far into the future, it can really bring you down.

    Of course, if you’re looking for something to fill that void, I’ve got just the thing for you to consider … the Tour du Rouge. I’ve yammered about my participation in this year’s tour a few times here, and I recently posted a challenge to all VR readers and contributors to join me in the 2011 tour, and I really think it would be a great fit for you. Why? Here are a few reasons:

    • It is a great ride; quite literally the best time I’ve ever had on my bike. The second it wos over I was ready to sign up for 2011.
    • It pushes your boundaries, but not too much. You’ve done a century, but something like a double-century or the three- or six-gap is still beyond your endurance levels? Well, a six-day, 530 mile tour fits comfortably in the gap between them.
    • The fact that the two biggest climbs on the tour are bridges may help convince you that you can do this.
    • The fundraising part of the tour can help occupy some of those hours lost to cycling because of winter. You may not be riding, but you’re still actively pursuing a riding goal.
    • Just imagne the looks on people’s faces when you can tell them, “what’d I do last week? Oh, nothing much, just rode my bike from Houston to New Orleans.” If you do this you get to have awesome moments like that.
    • Not only are you doing good things for yourself, but you’re doing good thing for an area that’s had a pretty crappy time the last five years or so.
    • Think of all the endurance training questions you could bug Al with!
    • I’ll be there, and you’ll get to make fun of what a lousy rider I am!

    Anyway, have fun on your big ride this weekend. But while you’re out there pedaling, think about signing up for the Tour (and maybe about talking your friends into joining you).