Limbert sets out to ‘Look & Listen’

In his quest to learn everything he can from Red Roof franchisees and employees, Limbert has begun what he calls a “Look & Listen” tour to visit each of the company’s 667 properties by the end of 2022.

“I really felt it was important in my capacity as interim president, now president, to be able to get out to every property I can get to and really touch and feel the product and listen to our franchisees,” he said. “We just went through the worst crisis—not only economically to our industry, but this is the worst thing that has happened in our lifetimes. I thought it was important to get out there, meet with the franchisees, meet with our team members who are out there on the frontlines, see for myself what was going on and provide an opportunity to listen to what the most important thing or the biggest concerns on the minds of the franchisees and team members.”

While at press time he had only been to 35 properties, he hopes to get to at least another 40 by the end of the year. At each of the properties he has been to, he always asks the franchisee the same question: “If you were president for a day at Red Roof, what is the first thing you would change?”

“There’s been an enlightening gamut of answers,” said Limbert. “It’s been very helpful for me in crafting what I’m going to do and how we’re going to move forward as an organization.

I’m listening to those on the frontlines as to what is driving guests in, what’s creating the best experience for the guests [and] the franchisee, and what’s working the best for those who are cleaning rooms and those checking in guests. It’s been really eye-opening, but also just extremely helpful.”

The franchisees and team members have really reacted positively to his visits. “Red Roof is also going through a transition, and I was excited to meet with George,” said Gerard Dehner, managing partner, Cornovus Capital. “He is smart as a whip, and genuinely enjoyable to talk with. It was encouraging to hear about the leader of a large hotel company visiting with so many franchisees, it’s largely unheard of for a company of this size. It’s an intentional decision, and it’s a great way to counter the kind of out-of-touch executive management that is so common in this industry.”

During the visit at Dehner’s Red Roof Inn Dayton – Moraine/U of Dayton in Dayton, OH, Limbert spent more than two hours talking with the franchisee about the property’s planned renovations, the goals for all of the franchisee’s properties and Red Roof’s future plans.

“It was fantastic…,” said Dehner. “It was exciting to hear about new opportunities and operational developments taking place. Most of all, we felt heard.”

He said that his staff was surprised that the president would actually make the effort to visit their property. “Our executive management staff was impressed George took the time to visit our property, and took that as an indication of how the company’s leadership strategy was evolving,” said Dehner. “Red Roof has outpaced its competition at every level, and it was reassuring to see the company’s leadership meeting with us one property at a time.”

While some may be surprised that he is making the effort to visit every property, for Limbert, it’s about this, he said: “It’s what you’re supposed to do as leader of an organization, especially one such as Red Roof, which is franchisee-focused.”

The staff is also shocked, he said, when he asks them how they clean the rooms and what specific supplies they use. “The last tour we went, we shadowed one of the housekeepers,” he said. “We asked her to show us where she gets the chemicals to clean the room. We asked her to show us the pad that she’s using to wipe the floors and how she is doing it, how she is getting it wet. I hope she’ll let me back in the hotel next time I see her, but for us it was fascinating to learn.”

In another visit, Limbert learned from one head housekeeper the best way to clean the brand’s vinyl plank flooring. “We asked her quite a few questions about her process,” he said. “Then the other housekeeper showed us what she does. It was extremely helpful. We are going to modify some of our training as a result.”

While the tour is still in its early stages—and has led to minor adjustments as to how certain things are done—the visits will lead to some other bigger changes. “It’s early on in my presidency, and making major sweeping changes takes time,” he said. “You have to really think through them first, but as a result of the tour and listening to the issues that help franchisees help our guests, we’re putting a lot of things on the table. We’re looking at things that we may not have ever looked at in the past.”