Jack Butler, regional vice president of Operations, Aimbridge Hospitality, was named one of HOTELS Top 10 Rising Star award winners for his proven performance, leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as his intangible skills of optimism, spirit and collaboration that have put him on a fast-track growth trajectory.
Butler’s career with Aimbridge began in 2005 when he started as a Breakfast Host, earning his first promotion in just two months. By 2010, he was the general manager for the Fairfield Inn & Suites Canton in Ohio, and since February 2017 he has served in his current role, responsible for turning around and growing market share in his region for a portfolio of 14 hotels in Ohio.
Despite the challenges of 2020, his hotel region’s rollup performance was up 8.6% in Revenue Generation Index, and his region remained positive every month through the entire year. Thanks to Butler’s strategic planning, he saved a collective US$6 million in budgeted expenses with a 50% flow. Through June in 2021, his hotel region was up more than US$600,000 in total revenue versus budget and more than US$800,000 in GOP versus budget with an average flow-through of 137.5%. Even in the current market conditions, 12 of his 14 hotels had a RevPAR Index above 100%.
Butler also had four employees accepted into Aimbridge’s Apprenticeship Program with the AHLA Foundation to establish a pipeline of future assistant general managers and was running with a management turnover rate of just 15%.
A natural problem-solver, Butler is unafraid of rolling up his sleeves to get the job done. This has included transporting housekeepers between markets regularly, jumping in to clean rooms himself, or covering desk shifts during the labor crisis. He has also heeded calls from colleagues to assist during emergencies, such as when he traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to assist in evacuating guests from another Aimbridge property during a weekend of civil unrest and then staying for the remainder of the weekend to help.
HOTELS reached out to Butler to ask him some questions about his career and advice for young hoteliers.
HOTELS: What has been the biggest learn from your most recent experiences?
Jack Butler: How to adapt. The landscape has changed, especially with regards to staffing. It was critical to be more flexible with how we operate in all areas. My values and principles remained the same, and I learned to become even more flexible in my thinking with problem solving.
H: What is the best piece of professional advice ever received?
JB: Hire slow and fire fast. We need to ensure that we are recruiting the right people and asking the right open-ended questions before bringing them. If we have a team member that is not engaged toward the values and mission, then you need to give clear communication on what behaviors need to change. If after constant coaching they are still not engaged, then it’s important to take action as one disengaged team member can quickly ruin morale.
H: What is your next professional goal?
JB: I really enjoy my current role and the team of amazing GMs that I get to work with every day. However, it would be great to eventually take on the role of vice president.
H: What has been the most important job experience, and what did you learn to help propel you in your career?
JB: Managing through the 2008-2009 financial crisis. It was my first year as a manager and it taught me to be resourceful and, ultimately, prepared me for the current challenges we are experiencing today.
H: What is your best piece of advice for young hoteliers trying to grow professionally and increase potential opportunities?
JB: Do more than what you are paid for. Take on additional responsibilities. Ask for them if they are not being offered to you. Be persistent until you get that extra responsibility. This will help you to be ready and more marketable for the next role.
H: What are you reading right now?
JB: Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey.
H: What does the hotel industry need to do better to improve its image as an employer and career choice?
JB: The opportunity for career growth makes hospitality very attractive. However, we need to prove that we can provide a good work/life balance. There are times where long hours might need to be put in, but it cannot be the norm. Provide managers as much support and as many resources as possible.