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‘The customer is always right’

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Working for La Place Rendez-Vous Hotel here can be quite a challenge for Joelle Blanc.

With the guidance of her father, George, and her uncle, Paul Noonan, who co-own the business, Blanc has slowly climbed the ladder to her present position of maitre d’.

"I like the business and working with numbers," she noted.

But Blanc didn’t come to this conclusion right away. In fact, business was once the furthest thing from her mind.

For years, the 20-year-old had been working toward entering French education in university. But after attending the University of Winnipeg in this field, Blanc’s career choice took a turn.

"I went away not ever thinking I would get into business. But after my first year, I actually realized that it was business I was good at and really enjoyed," she remarked.

Blanc has been around a business atmosphere since she was 14. Starting out as a waitress, she learned many skills needed for running a successful operation.

"You have to have people skills and patience. I started as a waitress, which is one of the hardest jobs, but that’s where I developed these skills," she explained.

From waitress to front desk clerk to maitre d’, one can now find Blanc sitting in her office doing the numerous tasks which go with her new position for the next year until she returns to school.

"I love working here. The shift and atmosphere are great, and the people I meet from all over," she enthused.

Blanc noted she was trained by Noonan, who helped her grasp the fundamentals of the position when she started in April after returning home from university.

"I knew how to do everything but books. It took a couple of weeks," she admitted, adding she is still learning and that the process takes a while.

But with a business mind, Blanc is prepared for the challenges that come her way. And she did acknowledge work can be stressful at times when the books don’t balance.

"It’s hard because in this business, you always have to be happy, even if you aren’t," she said smiling.

When Blanc begins her night shift, the owners entrust her to take care of everything--and that’s exactly what she does. Not only does she balance the ledger, the tills, and does the deposits, she must help maintain the front desk, the dining room, and the lounge.

Blanc also has the added duty of booking the dining room, small meeting rooms, and about 50 hotel rooms. Helping to train employees at the front desk to use the computers is something else she enjoys doing.

"I’m good with numbers when I didn’t think I was before," said Blanc.

Entering this level of a job may have been a new experience for Blanc but she was able to bring some personal knowledge into it.

While attending university in Winnipeg, she had a job at a restaurant and was able to bring some ideas from there to help improve the Rendez-Vous.

The hotel business is competitive, especially with other banquet halls, bars, restaurants and hotels. Blanc realizes this, and understands the necessity of an education which will not only improve her knowledge but that of the business.

"Without my degree in business, I can’t even think about taking the business over from my parents," she remarked.

She also noted that her parents feel the same way, and want her to continue with her education so she can have a future.

And just what does Blanc see in her future?

"I want to own a business someday. Either come back here and take over, or start my own," she said.

Knowing what direction she is heading but saying she wants to take one year at a time, Blanc plans on attending Confederation College in Thunder Bay for a two-year business course in a year’s time.

Blanc said if she has learned anything in her four months as maitre d’, it’s that "the customer is always right."

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