Keeping Expectations Clear at the Herrington Inn

Rene' Boer Process

I’d like to share a story about how a boutique hotel in Geneva, Illinois, won the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for 19 years in a row. The story begins with a great boss, Paul Ruby, who took over the hotel as a general manager and instituted what he called “The Herrington Rules”. These are the 12 rules that make the Herrington a great hotel.


  • Let guests know what you CAN do, not what you CAN NOT do;
  • Turn a problem into an OPPORTUNITY to create a guest for life;
  • Believe that to serve others is to serve yourself;
  • Never allow guests to do something for themselves that you can do for them;
  • Make each guest feel special, as if they were our only guest;
  • The guest is not always right, but what matters is that they are still our guest and need to stay that way;
  • Be consistent – remember that you are “on stage” all of the time;
  • 15-10-5: Focus your attention on any guest that is within 15 feet; smile and make eye contact within 10 feet; greet within 5 feet. Never turn your back to a guest;
  • Anticipate, follow-up and be proactive;
  • Assume everyone is a V.I.P. and treat them as such;
  • Take responsibility and use your best judgment;
  • Do it right the first time. Make a positive first impression.

Those are the Herrington rules – 12 simple rules that create clear expectations for each of the employees.  And, by keeping those expectations clear, Paul insured that each employee had the opportunity to ask questions and clarify those expectations. What are your expectations of your direct reports? Are they simple?  Are they clear? And, are they in writing?