Life, People

My week: Shanon Ferguson, director of NY operations

It’s his job to make sure all our New York sites are running smoothly, but what does he get up to in a typical week?

MONDAY

It’s my job to make sure our New York sites are functioning as they should. It can be intense and fast-paced, so I try to begin the week with a clear, fresh picture of what’s happening on the ground, taking a walk around the sites and shaking hands with the team. I check in with my boss, Pierre [Dourneau, director of North America] as well as the GMs and guests so I know who’s about. Soho House New York is a good place to start because with a hotel, spa and pool it’s our most challenging venue – especially during winter, when we close part of the roof and everything gets more crowded. Put simply, I make sure we’ve taken care of any problems from the week before and that all our guests, members and staff are happy.

TUESDAY

Most Tuesdays I’m at Ludlow House. I like to spend a whole day at each venue because they’re completely different businesses. Ludlow, for instance, has no bedrooms, and is just four floors of club space with two very distinct food concepts. I pay especially close attention to our vendors. There’s a lot of interesting politics that goes on behind the scenes with suppliers, especially in New York, but we work hard to establish strong working relationships. Fortunately, vendors like being associated with the Soho House brand. I’m still impressed that we were able to get Katz’s deli to come in serve their signature pastrami sandwiches to members every Tuesday. No long lines, but the same great food.

WEDNESDAY

Midweek, I’m usually at Cecconi’s Dumbo. It had a few teething problems when we first opened; mechanical stuff, glitches… it’s a massive space in an old building so it’s natural we’d have some growing pains.

That was also my first experience of dealing with Yelp reviews. We monitor reviews closely and are proactive making changes on an operational level, then reaching out. An under-27 member once posted something negative, so I met with her, invited her back, and now she’s a regular. Being able to tap into members as a customer base is really unique because their feedback is honest and valuable. We appreciate that. On the other hand some reviewers are clearly angling for a free meal, so we have to be smart.

THURSDAY

A big part of my job is paying attention to what’s going on in the food world, both at Soho House and beyond. The chefs, GMs and I are constantly sharing thoughts about new restaurants, dishes we see on Instagram, where we see the menu going next. I take lots of photos when I dine out, anything that catches my eye, from dishes to stemware. The team joke that I take bad food photos – I obviously disagree.

Part of our success is that we’re an integrated team. I have secret handshakes, running jokes with a bunch of them. They know I have high standards: if the pool is the wrong temperature, or the candy bar is looking tired, or the DJ is playing too loud they’ll hear about it from me. But we also have fun, because we trust and want to see each other succeed.

FRIDAY

Far from slowing down as the week comes to a close, Friday is probably my busiest day. I’m on the phone a lot more, catching up with the support office before they head off for the weekend. Our Houses are gearing up for the Saturday rush and my inbox has usually filled up through the week, so I’m working through everything from member complaints to staffing. My assistant Jessica, who’s also House co-ordinator, helps with the smooth running of everything, tackling all sorts of problems, billing disputes, and running the social media feed for Soho House New York. She is a dream.

SATURDAY

Weekends are when I interact most with members at the Houses, or customers at Cecconi’s. When our venues become more social (as opposed to working) spaces hiccups are bound to happen, like a mix-up at the coat check, or a member walking out with an open tab. We’re vigilant, but sometimes if a member has a personal relationship with Nick Jones, he’ll hear about problems before we’ve had a chance to get in front of it… I try to make sure the members see our team as an extension of membership and come straight to us.

SUNDAY

I’m almost always off on Sundays, spending quality time in Brooklyn with my son. Usually I wake up with a run in Prospect Park, coffee at Café Regular and breakfast at Bagel Pub. On occasion I’ll knock a new restaurant off my list, but during football season I’m focused on the
Seahawks. It’s my day to relax.

Interview: Andy Hill. Photography: Emily Winiker

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