Web Exclusive: Q+A with Jerod Grant

Much like a lot of hotel professionals, Jerod Grant didn’t expect to make a career out of hospitality. Raised in the inner-city projects of Savannah, GA, Grant grew up to attend The University of South Florida where he began dentistry while simultaneously working as a dishwasher. After being promoted to an in-room dining attendant, Grant discovered his passion for serving others; for hospitality.

After spending 17 years in the industry, it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Grant began thinking of himself as more of a leader than an employee. And, thus, he founded Grant Hotel Group (GHG), which specializes in recruiting and staffing hotels.

In only one year, the group secured contracts with 16 properties, and at the start of this year, GHG expanded to the West Coast in California and Hawaii.

We spoke with Grant,  about the start of his career, how he turned an unfortunate situation into a blessing in disguise and about his plans and goals for GHG:

Why hospitality? Where did your passion for the industry come from?
I attended the University of South Florida, while also working as a dishwasher. Eventually, I got promoted to in-room dining attendant, which ignited my passion to serve people. The hospitality industry is perfect when you enjoy catering to others.

Can you detail your first hospitality job? What did you learn from it?
My first hospitality position was in-room dining attendant. I was tasked with delivering food from the kitchen to guests’ rooms. One of the biggest takeaways was learning how to manage time and move diligently to get the job done; this keeps guests and your superiors happy. I also noticed that going beyond what’s expected (pouring wine or providing a brief food demo) always led to a larger tip. At that moment it clicked that a more engaged interaction between guests and employees warrants more money. It was in this role that I discovered my niche in hospitality.

How did you work your way up the ranks?
Spanning 17 years, I’ve worked in several different roles. In-room dining, banquet server, bar back, etc. I got my start in F&B and eventually moved over to room operations. Each hourly position helped me develop my skill set, communication and drive to maintain leadership positions to come.

What was COVID like for you? What were some challenges you faced, and how did you overcome those?
Due solely to the pandemic, I was one of thousands to be terminated from my role on April 23, 2020. At the time, I was not sure what this meant for my career; I thought it was over. During the pandemic, quarantine I began to seriously develop my own brand. Amid that, I began to study, study and study some more. I studied how hotels are sold, cap rates, how to generate revenue, etc. It took the pandemic for me to begin thinking like a future owner/operator rather than an employee.

Why did you decide to own your own management brand? Why was this a goal of yours and how did you realize it?
It’s been a goal of mine for about a decade to acquire and manage properties. For years, I increased productivity and developed worker’s skills with some of the biggest names in hospitality. I knew that I could do this for a brand of my own one day.

What exactly does Grant Hotel Group specialize in?
We specialize in hotel staffing. We fulfill rooms division and F&B staffing needs. Our long-term goal is to obtain our first management contract with a brand.

What advice do you have for aspiring hotel professionals?
Dedication will take you far. Stay committed, be in tune with the latest industry practices, and take care of your people, especially those who report to you.

If you could go back and tell your younger self something, what would it be?
I think I could have learned a few lessons earlier than I did, so I’ll give one. I would tell my younger self to be patient when accepting new positions. Younger Jerod would have benefited from taking time to thoroughly research and understand my responsibilities as well as the brand cultures.

Goals and plans for the future—both personal and professional?
My professional goal is to acquire a management agreement with a brand or owner by the end of the third quarter this year. On the other hand, I want to work on finding my work-life balance, so that I can focus more on fatherhood and become the best man I can be to my loved ones.