Hospitality Companies and Clients: Pathway to Greater Success

“Learn to listen and listen to learn,” says Todd Tekiele, the founder of City of Hospitality Group, a company committed to providing a framework for next-level partnerships between colleges, corporations, adult living facilities, and their dining partners.

Recently Todd facilitated a discussion with Creative Dining Operation Directors giving insights on what makes a successful partnership between you and hospitality management companies like Creative Dining. He posed a challenging question,
How do you create a purpose-driven vision aimed at generating meaningful, mutually beneficial results?

Todd brings a unique lens to this topic as he knows all facets of hospitality with decades of experience as a client, consultant, and food service director. What makes a successful partnership? It comes down to three tenants, according to Todd.


  1. Seek input at every level, no matter the role. Too many times only a few team members on the dining and client-side get a chance to weigh into decisions that affect the whole. Take an inventory of how you’re getting input,  from whom, and how often.
  2. Assume positive intent. Guard against looking for the negative or ill will. Operate with the assumption that both the client and dining partner want the same outcomes — to provide a remarkable experience for your students, employees, or adult living residents.
  3. Hire and nurture team members. Let’s face it, some team members care a lot and some care a little. Cultivate a culture of caring — one where the team is vested and cares deeply about the overall success of the dining program.
  4. Be well. Both clients and their hospitality company leaders need to pay attention and care for themselves. Eat well, exercise often, and reduce stress. That way you will show up in a centered state for each interaction.


Key questions you and your hospitality management partner should explore are:

What is our common purpose? Why are we here? What are the priorities?

We can all attest that too many priorities can lead to nothing significant being accomplished. We become overwhelmed and get swayed by the demands of the day. Reactionary, not intentional.

Instead of tackling an arsenal of good ideas, choose 2-3 that both teams can agree upon. Once those are determined, it’s time to start leveraging influencers – those indicators that can help you chart progress. 

For instance, let’s say you want to increase participation from 60% to 70% with your dining program by the end of Q2. What’s out of your control? Enrollment, number of employees in the building, etc. What’s in your control? Consistent messaging and communication plan to diners. Focus on what is in your sphere of influence.


KPIs are a necessity for teams but they can be lag measures, focusing the team in the rearview mirror as opposed to measuring progress as you go. Set KPIs and then the trackable activities or influencers that will help you hit them. 

If you want to reduce your cholesterol, you don’t cross your fingers and hope your blood work reflects a healthy report. You manage and track the influencers: exercise each week, eating plan light on trans fats, and heavy on fish, chicken, and whole grains.

Next Steps:

How would you rate your partnership? Where do you think there’s an opportunity for more transparency, shared vision, and accountability on both sides? If you want to do a gut check on what’s working and what’s not, scan this.

Todd Tekiele’s career includes food service management, hotel sales and catering, and higher education administration. He spent the last decade as a project manager and consultant specializing in food service and auxiliary services management advisory services in the higher ed and corporate sectors. Todd also teaches graduate-level project management courses. He holds a BA in Hospitality Business (Michigan State), MS in Management (Cornerstone), and Master Certificate in Project Management (Villanova). Today, he is the founder and CEO of City of Hospitality Group, based in Marshall, Michigan.

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