Hospitality Management’s Spheres of Influence and the 5 P’s

A series of three articles aimed at managers and organizations looking to improve personal and organizational effectiveness from the frontline managers to the COO.

"Hospitality Management’s Spheres of Influence and the 5 P’s" table of contents

  1. Hospitality Management’s Spheres of Influence and the 5 P’s
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Management Tools
Spheres of Influences
and The Five P’s

By Mark W. Healey

CEO – Virtual Hospitality Group

Article 1 of 3

Introduction and Definitions

Management organizations like to use
acronyms and catchy titles for industry
philosophy, approach and best practices. This
article is the first in a series of three aimed at
managers and organizations looking improve
personal and organizational effectiveness from
the frontline managers to the COO. Managers
independently working hard can become stars
and achieve great results at a particular location
or point in time, however without an
organizational pathway their individual feats
cannot transcend the Company. Every good
operating company either develops a
management culture and approach, or lives and
dies by the results of its individual stars and

Paraphrasing NFL Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula
“If the dumbest guy on the field can’t
understand the play, then it’s not going to
work, and you can’t put it in the game.” At
Virtual Hospitality Group we teach a “Spheres
of Influence” approach using the 5 P’s. If this is
the first time you are reading about spheres of
influence and/or the 5 P’s you need some
background and context. Our 5P’s offers an
operating mindset that has been developed
honed and tested in large and complex
hospitality environments over the past 25 years.
It exists as a practical evolution of many of the
mainstream books, authors, and organizational
management gurus over that time. Our 5P’s
approach is simple but not simplistic and this
mindset becomes central in an operating

The term “Spheres of Influence” was first used
as a political term in the late 1880’s. Generally
it means the larger or more powerful/important
country has influence over a lesser
country. This was particularly true in the
colonization of Africa by the European powers
at that time.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, A
“sphere of influence” is defined as

  • a field or area in which an individual or
    organization has power to affect events
    and developments.

Restaurants and hospitality operations are
complex to manage. As you consider the
concept of “the more important” issue or
circumstance having influence over the “lesser
important,” the value of the 5P’s mindset
becomes clear.

For example, in a restaurant the Chef’s special
of the day – a real guest favorite, becomes of
lesser importance if there are no servers in the
dining room. If we have servers, cooks and
ingredients, but the power and gas is off, the
power outage is the leading influence over the
operation at that moment.

As a manager and leader overseeing a single
operation, or multi-unit managers or V.P.s
leading larger organizations, we -our
location(s)- are faced with hundreds of
decisions (some large, and many small) every
shift, every day. Having a universal method to
assess and communicate influences, priorities,
and delegate action steps to the team leads to
better decision making, more consistent
communication, and shared experiences with
everyone involved.

So what are these “influences” that become a
management priority in hospitality and food
service? Well, since one or many issues can
quickly become a problem (and a priority), we
need to think more proactively in terms of
influencing than interrupting. Influences are
best thought of as the broader categories of
aspects we oversee everyday. We organize
them as follows:

People, Products, Processes, Priorities, and

Hmm, five “P” words, let’s call this approach
“The 5 P’s” – brilliant!

Each “P” is an area or range over or within
which someone or something acts, exists, or has
influence or significance. Each P is a sphere of
influence. So to understand or try out the 5P’s
approach we need to be able to fit every issue,
circumstance, policy or best practice into one of
these categories right? Not quite.

In reality these, spheres rarely stand
alone. Rather, every situation is a combination
of these spheres which are influencing the
situation. By identifying the weight of influence
that each sphere is contributing to a situation,
we can determine the best way to assess,
problem solve, and take action. You may ask,
why all the fuss about these 5 P’s? If this is
problem solving let’s just call it that. We can
agree that problem solving is the act of defining
a problem; determining the cause of the
problem; identifying, prioritizing, and selecting
alternatives for a solution; and implementing a

The Spheres of Influence approach aids in
problem solving, but more importantly the 5 P’s
become the common language and guide for
managers and the whole organization to more
efficiently and effectively manage. Once every
manager and team member understand what
each “P” means and stands for, the ability to
move quickly to the heart of problems and
solutions is greatly increased.

Keeping in mind that entire books, college
courses and many degrees come in each of
these five subjects, here we identify the
practical sub topics which help illustrate each
for People, Products, Processes, Priorities, and


Encompasses all aspects of human resources
and interactions. Examples include: recruiting;
interviewing; hiring and onboarding; technical
training; soft skills training; scheduling and
station/work assignments;
communications/pre- shift
meetings, counselling and incident follow up to
name a few. Note, for soft skills training we use
Tiny Classroom Training. Their online series
called Supervisory Soft Skills gives our newly
promoted supervisors and managers a great
foundation in communication, coaching,
difficult conversations, multigenerational
workforce management and preparing to lead.
In most of the restaurant and hospitality world
labor cost (i.e. the cost of our people) has
grown to be the single largest operating cost.
Fewer workers are joining the industry, the
concept of employee loyalty is changing, and
the employee expectations and “need to
know,” has changed how we supervise out
team members. For many operations they are
producing the same revenue with about half
the number of workers. This places great
weight on our people management skills and
the consistency between managers and


Every aspect or item that delivers a concept or a
brands to a guest falls under “products,”
including: menus; service styles; brands and
concept quality; inventory of food and beverage
ingredients; websites and social footprint. Most
restaurant and hospitality products require
ordering, prepping, cooking or mixing, plating or
packaging, and delivery to the guest at a bar or
counter, tableside or room, or by a 3rd party.
Product variety, quality and prices often
differentiate competing businesses, and the
service team’s personality and execution is an
integral part of the product.


Processes can be technical, clerical, financial or
even governmental in nature. Examples
include: steps of service; technical or position
training; policies and procedures; employment
handbook; procurement; staffing; preventive
maintenance; licensing; performance appraisals
and development planning. Process as a sphere
of influence maps the people, products, and
priorities. For example, hiring and onboarding
are important tasks that must follow equally
important processes so that the new employee
is properly welcomed and set up for success, as
well as making sure their new hire paperwork,
orientation, and schedule are fully and
accurately completed.


Prioritization is different than Priorities. Many
tasks and functions have a timeline or deadline
to complete, but of themselves as long as
deadlines are met, these tasks are considered
daily routine. Priorities as a sphere of influence
addresses time sensitive programs, initiatives,
campaigns critical to short term or immediate
success. Examples include: promotions and
marketing initiatives; programs for training or
compliance. and projects/ project management.
Promotions (as a priority) are strategies and
tactics designed to build traffic, sales and
awareness for restaurants, hotels and
resorts. This includes loyalty clubs or players
clubs, social media, as well as traditional ads,
offers, and campaigns. Promotions are
designed to entice a call to action and
promotions are usually time sensitive (think
“book now” or “limited time only”). Promotions
are self-contained projects that require
managing the design and planning, production,
set up and breakdown, distribution of
POP/marketing materials, staff training and roll
out, POS programming and
tracking. Promotions have a lifespan. Big
companies have departments dedicated to
marketing and promotion, while independent
restaurants and boutique hotels must take on
and manage all these tasks. Promotions require
prioritization and at any time can become the
leading influence over a situation, shift or day.
Priorities in supporting departments, such as
administration, accounting and facilities,
include: public safety, financial deadlines (such
as payroll, inventories and sales taxes), as well
as inspections and licenses.


The purpose of every restaurant, hotel or resort
is to produce a profit for its owners. Profits are
a result of performance however every
manager needs to embrace “profit” as an
actionable objective in their performance
management. To be clear the opposite of profit
is loss. The measurement of performance as a
sphere of influence runs the gamut of high and
low. From the ‘high” of achieving or exceeding
goals and objectives (financial or other), to the
“low” of missing goals and under achieving or
performing. Examples include: Mystery shopper
scores and social media results; Profit & Loss
Statement results; Board of Health audits;
employee engagement, retention and turnover;
Management and Employee reviews.

Over time employee “annual reviews” have
expanded and rightly become known as
“performance management.” A good
performance management program or system
appraises the people, products, priorities, and
profits as well a providing development
planning for the future for each employee at all
levels of the organization. The performance
appraisal for a dishwasher or housekeeper, is
very different than a restaurant or hotel
manager’s performance appraisal, however at
every level individual performance should be
recognized and guided forward.

Ok we talked about the spheres of influence
and we illustrated the 5 P’s -in our next
installment (article 2 of 3) we discuss how we
put these concepts to work?

About the Author: Mark Healey is CEO and cofounder
of Virtual Hospitality Group. In a 35+ year career, he
has more than 17 years of F&B experience working
with more than 25 Native American Casinos
throughout the country. He can be reached at


"Hospitality Management’s Spheres of Influence and the 5 P’s" table of contents

  1. Hospitality Management’s Spheres of Influence and the 5 P’s
  2. Page 2
  3. Page 3