Andria Lewis embraces customer service as a vital part of how her company runs. As the co-owner, with her husband, Burt, of Lewis Properties, she’s made a big impact in the Colorado hotel scene with both her high-performing properties and her community involvement. As she puts it, running a hotel is about believing in the work that you’re doing.
Lodging: How did you get into the lodging industry?
Andria Lewis: I met my husband in Chicago when I was looking for office space. He and his brother are real estate developers, and they set me up in a newly remodeled loft building in River North. After we were married I still traveled around the country for Estée Lauder and then Tiffany and Co. until he convinced me that we both needed to work at this company. My husband’s strengths are in fi nancing, contracts, and construction, while mine are in marketing, PR, and everyday operations. Despite our different focuses, our jobs still overlap. For instance, I would never let him pick out fabrics for our renovation projects.
Lodging: What did you learn from your jobs at Estee Lauder and Tiffany and Co. that you still use?
Lewis: After working in companies that had such amazing service cultures I found it relatively easy to use that experience to define who we are and bring structure to our little company. That experience also helped me put good training programs and healthy HR practices in place.
Lodging: Why did you open your first franchise?
Lewis: We got into the franchise hotel business because we knew it was something we could do together. And when we looked around at properties we ended up falling in love with Boulder. Our first franchise was an Econo Lodge, which we renovated and converted to a Quality Inn and Suites in 2000. When we first started the project, we didn’t know if wanted to keep it a franchise, but Choice really helped us reposition the property. At first it was hard for my husband to get into franchising because up until then he had always
done things his way. Now he had someone telling him to do things differently. For me working with a corporation was simple because that’s what I had done for a living before.
Lodging: What advice would you give to a new franchisee?
Lewis: Get sound legal counsel so you can clearly understand the requirements of the franchise. Be certain to have adequate financial wherewithal because, regardless of what the PIP says, you’re going have to do more. Get involved with an owners organization because it will give you access to the corporate decision makers, as well as a better understanding of all the tools, training, and services a franchise offers.