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From the Marietta Daily Journal on Sunday, July 8, 2001, David Elmore writes:

My experience with hotels has been scattershot at best, from roaches on the pillow to immaculate bedding and bathrooms.

So, the July 2001 issue of Consumer Reports on "The Best Hotels" caught my eye.

Pick up an issue if you want a good idea of where you can get the best night's sleep at the best prices. It conforms pretty much with my experience too.

I won't mention the hotels that got crummy ratings, though several of those chains have inns in Cobb County along with the best ones.

In the "moderate" price range category, the third best in the entire country was Drury Inn & Suites, so I decided to call up the local Drury on 1170 Powers Ferry Place in Marietta and ask the general manager, Tim Tolbert, exactly why Drury is so darn good.

"We focus on the basics of quality service and value," Tolbert said.

"Hmm," I thought, "that sounds good but awfully much like what I'd get from every hotel's keeper."

But then Tolbert got to the juicy stuff that separates good business from the mediocre and the bad.

"The president of our company comes here a couple of times a year and stays in the guest rooms," he said.

That would keep me on my toes, I can tell you.

Tolbert continued.

"The president climbs into the bathtub and checks the grout. Before he asks questions about revenue and cost controls, he's checking smiles on team members and bathrooms."

"If you're a housekeeper and you see the president of the company, you're going to keep things clean."

That, my friends, is the key to good business: executives who check the grout, understanding that the financials will soon positively follow.

It reminds me of stories I hear about Walmart, Home Depot and many other great firms.

Tolbert had more to say.

"We empower our workers over their jobs, so we've created a home-away-from-home atmosphere. A housekeeper who comes across an unhappy guest brings the guest to the front desk and says, 'Mr. Jones is unsatisfied', and then we take care of him."

I may just have to try out Drury Inn & Suites very soon - and I'll be sure to check the grout.

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