The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

Distributing Soap in Guadalajara with Clean The World & Caesars Entertainment

Social responsibility is important to us and we drive corporate social responsibility among our clients. In early November, we partnered with Caesars Entertainment and Clean The World for the fifth consecutive year to send two members of our housekeeping teams on a service trip to distribute recycled soap and hygiene kits to underserved youth and communities. This year, Cynthia Isrow (EVS Supervisor in Laughlin) and Yerky Santana (Housekeeping Supervisor at a casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip) were selected to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico with Clean The World and Caesars Entertainment’s winners.

Their trip began in Las Vegas, where the group received a tour of Clean The World’s Recycling Operations Center, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, to learn how Clean The World takes, sanitizes and repackages partially used soaps and hotel amenities collected by our associates. In Guadalajara, through Children International, Cynthia, Yerky and the trip participants spent three days distributing soap to impoverished families and taught them how to properly wash their hands to prevent disease.

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Now that they have returned from their trip, we took some time to speak with Cynthia and Yerky about the trip and how it affected them. Read our interview and view the photos from the trip below.

What was your reaction to hearing you were selected to go on the soap distribution trip to Guadalajara?

Cynthia: At first, I was a bit uneasy about traveling to Mexico. But I was very excited to have the opportunity to go.

Yerky: I was excited to go. I lived in Guadalajara for a time, so I know about the city and the living conditions in which many of the people live. I knew that by going with this group, I would be able to make a big impact. 

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What were your expectations of the trip when you were selected? How were they the same as or different than what you experienced?

Cynthia: I expected that we were just there to hand out soap, but it turned out to be so much more than that. We spent time with the families and children we were helping along with Children International. It was a very rewarding experience.

Yerky: The trip ended up being more impactful than I expected it to be. For me, I left Guadalajara thinking more about how other people live and the opportunities available to them. Before, I was more concerned about my life; now not so much.

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What advice or information can you give our associates participating in the Clean The World initiative on property?

Cynthia: Keep doing it. Collecting the soap is so important. To us, it might just be soap, but to others, it’s life. I am vocal about how important this is on property.

Yerky: People may not think about how much they can help others by collecting the partially used soaps left behind by guests. On the trip, I saw that one bar of soap has a big impact on these communities. One bar of soap for us is not a big deal, but for the people in Guadalajara, it’s life changing. I would encourage everyone to collect as much soap as possible.

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It is amazing to hear that one bar of soap, which may be something we take for granted, has such a significant affect on a family or community. Has this trip impacted you in any way?

Cynthia: It has impacted me in so many ways. Other than wanting to be more involved with my team, I am looking at sponsoring a child in Guadalajara through Children International. Hopefully by January, it will be all set up. When I was in Guadalajara, I saw how the programs Children International provides these families are so effective and I want to give one child the opportunity to have his or her education, medical bills and more covered. I left Mexico believing that one person can change one life.

Yerky: When we’re cleaning guest rooms, we don’t think about how the soap or toilet paper we collect is important. I left driven to do more to help people less fortunate. I’m just one person, and even though I can make a difference, this trip made me realize the great potential people with resources have to combat poverty in the world. I made a promise to myself to contribute more, but more people have to get involved.

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What was the most memorable part of the trip?

Cynthia: There was a mother that we met that I will never forget. When we were teaching the kids how to properly wash their hands, each would receive a gold star sticker. She also really wanted to learn and she was so excited to get a gold sticker. She was so thankful and grateful to receive the sticker, which is burned in my mind. This trip put my life into perspective and was a mind opening experience. The people we were helping work from 5am to 11pm each day and only make $150 per month. They make the most out of what they have, which is an important lesson for us all.

Yerky: For me, there were two very memorable parts to the trip. The first was when we visited a family at home. We showed everyone, from the children to the grandmother, how to wash their hands. Visiting them reminded me that my family and I used to live like this in Cuba. I understood how hard they work just to buy some bread and milk. It put my life into perspective. The second memorable experience for me was the visit to the Clean The World Recycling Factory in Las Vegas, where we saw how the soaps we collect are sanitized and repackaged into new soap.

5Are there any other memorable moments from the trip you’d like to share?

Cynthia: There was a moment with Yerky interacting with a child during a home visit that I think was memorable for all of us. Yerky asked the boy how many times he could jump on one foot in a minute. The boy responded with 50 times. Yerky stopped the boy after 30 seconds of jumping and told him that he jumped 78 times in half the time. Yerky told the boy to never underestimate himself and to always realize what he is capable of. Yerky shared that he was poor, just like the boy, growing up in Cuba and being told the limits to what he could do in life. Yerky continued that now he lives in the United Sates working on the Las Vegas strip, has traveled to 48 countries and accomplishing what he sets his heart to.

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What an incredible story. Cynthia, how has your team in Laughlin been so successful in collecting unused amenities that are donated to Clean The World?

Cynthia: Through constant encouragement. I think now that I can share my experience with them, they will begin to realize the value of what we do and we will be even more successful.

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Both of you have mentioned that now that you’ve returned, you want to do more. Can you elaborate on that?

Cynthia: I’ve already started looking at hosting community hygiene kit builds and getting more involved with Clean The World here in Nevada.

Yerky: I’d like to start volunteering, even if it’s just one day a week. I know I can make a difference, no matter how small the task.

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What hotels, resorts & casinos should ask when selecting a managed services or staffing vendor partner

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With budget season upon us for 2018, you may be accepting proposals from vendors to assume responsibilities of one or more departments at your hotel, casino or resort. To protect yourself, your management company and your ownership group, there are specific questions to ask as you review these proposals. The cheapest option is generally not the best option as there is always an underlying reason why prices are substantially lower.

  • Is the vendor well capitalized and able to meet their payroll needs? A number of service providers are unable to pay their employees on time, which opens their customers (you) up to liability and bad publicity.
  • What does the vendor’s workers compensation program look like? Many lower cost vendors create shell games that could put your property at risk to pay for their employees’ workers compensation claims.
  • Does the vendor follow Department of Labor regulations on overtime payment and payment timeliness?
  • Is there a plan for the management of their employees so joint employment issues are not found and filed?
  • Is there an employee training, retention and satisfaction program? What does the training program, if one exists, look like and are there processes that encourage continuous education (pre-shift meetings, for instance)? At The Service Companies we are constantly educating and training our associates, even if they have been with the team for over 10 years. There are always new techniques and best practices to share and learn.
  • Does the vendor provide benefits, competitive wages and retain their employees? If not, you may be looking at joint employment issues and a workforce that is consistently in flux and not up to speed on your specifications and standards.
  • What is the vendor’s approach to recruiting and staffing? Does the vendor run background and E-verification tests prior to hiring their employees? Unlike The Service Companies, many vendors cannot guarantee that their labor is legal because they do not run these checks, which opens your property up to issues with I.C.E. and the Department of Homeland Security.

These are just a few items that we have learned in our 30 years of experience are necessary for hotels, casinos and resorts to be aware of when making a decision on managed service providers. We take pride in becoming a seamless partner for each of our customers, so we put the responsibility of liability exposure, insurance, benefits, recruiting and quality assurance on our shoulders. This also means that we can guarantee our customers’ properties and ownership are fully protected from potential joint employment issues. Not many other companies put the same emphasis on this, and many times, that is directly reflected in price.

Leaders in Service: Kim Eichelberger

OKim Eichelbergerur next feature in our Leaders in Service feature is Kim Eichelberger, Project Director for a luxury casino property in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has been with The Service Companies, having served in a variety of roles for over 10 years. We’ve asked her to answer some questions about working for The Service Companies.

 

 

Congratulations on having just celebrated your 10 year anniversary at The Service Companies! What are some of your most memorable moments from your time at the company?

Working for The Service Companies has been memorable in a lot of ways, and I’ve experienced and learned a great amount since I first started. In the last 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel from account to account, running different customers’ housekeeping departments across the country. I’ve met and worked with a number of people, and had the opportunity to work at vacation ownership properties (where you complete unannounced QAs twice a year) and casino properties, where running occupancy is in the high 90s.

What does your role as Project Director entail? What are some of your responsibilities?

As Project Director for our casino customer in Lakes Charles, I am responsible for running the day-to day operations with 99% occupancy almost daily, motivating my employees daily and engaging with them as much as possible with standup meetings. I also managing our proprietary portals and productivity trackers, ensuring our cleaning standards are met by the property expectations. I also build relationships with the property managers and participate in weekly and daily meetings with property management since we are one team.

Out of all of the properties you have worked at for The Service Companies, what were the highlights of each?

I have worked at several of our properties around the country, but there are a few that were memorable and highlights for me. I worked at one of our hotel customers in Puerto Rico. It was a challenging project, but the views were amazing. In Key West, another time when I was surrounded by amazing views, we managed three properties from one end of the island to the other, which brought its obstacles to problem solve. Also, I will never forget the roosters in the tress in Key West. Yes, roosters.

I have also worked in Virginia, Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, Iowa, Connecticut, Arizona, Laughlin and now Lake Charles. Each property has had its own demands, and it’s been a great experience. I have loved the traveling, being challenged, and walking away with a sense of accomplishment.

What has kept you excited and passionate about working for The Service Companies for the last 10 years?

I’ve worked for The Service Companies for the past 10 years because I truly enjoy my job and the challenges I’m working to solve. There have been moments in my career that have been quite challenging; however, I try to look at the positive side of any and every event.

How do you motivate your team?

I motivate my team in many ways. We hold celebrations and recognize our associates, but, most of all, I interact with each associate on a personal level.

That’s amazing that you have interacted on a personal level with all 250+ of your associates. How do you keep your casino property running so smoothly while overseeing 1000+ rooms and 250+ associates?

How do I keep the property running so smoothly? It’s one of the toughest jobs, I must say. Building the relationship with our customer is the key as is a sense of urgency. I’ve been successful by learning this property and being proactive instead of reactive.

What do you enjoy most about being a Project Director?

The daily demands and building relationships with staff and customers.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?

Enjoying the outdoors and fishing.

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people make our company great and enable us to provide our customers Service. Above All. No matter what level, property or department you look, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we will feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Leaders in Service: Jurond Brazile

Jurond-BrazileAt The Service Companies, we understand that our people make our company great and enable us to provide our customers Service. Above All. No matter what level, property or department you look, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we will feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Our third feature of this series is Jurond Brazile, a Laundry Attendant/Public Area Attendant/Houseman in Key West. We’ve asked him to answer some questions about working for The Service Companies:

How long have you been with The Service Companies?

I have been working for The Service Companies for six years.

What role(s) have you had here and what is your current position?

Since I joined, I have held Houseman, Public Area, Laundry, Carpet Cleaning and Housekeeping positions. Currently, I am a Laundry Attendant/Public Area Attendant/Houseman for a vacation ownership resort in Key West, Florida.

What does your job entail?

I do any job that is asked of me. Since my role with The Service Companies includes Houseman, Laundry and Public Area duties, I help out wherever I am needed. I enjoy it.

That is a great attitude to have, and one that we value at The Service Companies. Our last question for you is what do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

When I’m not working, I like to read books and play sports, particularly soccer and basketball.

Taking on the War on Talent

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The turnover rate in the hospitality industry is one of the highest of any industry: in 2016, the overall turnover rate in the Accommodations and Restaurants sector was 72.9% (up nearly a percent from 2015 and steadily increasing since 2010.)[1] With such a high turnover rate, hotels, casinos, resorts and other hospitality venues are spending millions of dollars hiring the right number of and providing consistent training to their employees. The obstacle to hire employees is compounded with the current employment climate. With an unemployment rate of 4.4%, the lowest rate seen since 2008, low wage staffing has become increasingly more difficult. Not only do hoteliers, casinos and resorts need to spend more money and time sourcing, hiring and training the right candidates, but high turnover threatens their ability to deliver a high quality of service and guest experience. At The Service Companies, we call this the “War on Talent”.

Our leaders have noticed this War on Talent intensify over the last few years and, in 2016, The Service Companies invested a significant amount of time and capital to understanding the underlying issues that drive turnover of hourly workers and developing solutions to these obstacles. The first step in this process was partnering with Navigate Corporation, a premier human resources management consulting firm in Philadelphia, to dive deep into the drivers of associate engagement and retention. We also created a dedicated team, our Associate Success and Retention team, to work with Navigate, analyze trends, develop solutions and execute them across The Service Companies portfolio.

Our Associate Success and Retention team have taken a data-driven approach, looking at job types, days of tenure, accounts with highest turnover, reasons for termination and regions, and created cohorts to identify trends on why associates depart after a specific amount of time. From there, we have developed customized solutions for each cohort, analyzing the efficacy of each solution as they are implemented across each of our customers’ properties nationwide. The solutions include the launch of new engagement programs, a new training and onboarding experience that creates consistency across all properties and services, and new tools that encourage collaboration and communication among our various teams.

The War on Talent will not solve itself. In fact, it will only become more difficult for hospitality companies to find the right talent. With turnover costs steadily increasing, we see tremendous value to solving these problems and we have taken on the responsibility to fix these issues for our customers. If you’d like to learn how we can solve this problem for you, contact us here and one of our team members will contact you right away.

[1] http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/Hospitality-employee-turnover-rate-edged-higher-in

Driving The Check-In Metric

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When you think of an efficient check-in process, does the Front Desk operation come to mind? As hospitality experts, we all understand that the efficiency of the Front Desk and check-in relies tremendously on what happens behind the scenes within the Housekeeping operation. Without having sufficient inventory of clean rooms, they cannot satisfy early check-ins or unpredictable guest demands.

From my experience as a Front Office Manager and Director of Housekeeping, I developed processes and a guide that would ensure guestroom check-in efficiency. At The Service Companies, we employ these in all our of our Housekeeping departments across the country.

To download a copy of the guide, filled with best practices, fill in your information below.

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Leaders in Service: Griffin Long

Griffin LongAt The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All. No matter what level, property or department you look, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we will feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Our second feature of this series is Griffin Long, an Operations Manager for our Food & Beverage and Hospitality Staffing division, Acrobat Outsourcing. We’ve asked him to answer some questions about working for The Service Companies:

Tell us how long have you been with The Service Companies?

I have worked with Acrobat Outsourcing, The Service Companies’ Food & Beverage and Hospitality Staffing business segment, a little over two years.

What role(s) have you had here and what is your current position?

My first role with Acrobat was as a temporary worker doing catering for Sodexo. I then became a Staffing Assistant and began working out of Acrobat Outsourcing’s Houston office and became Operations Assistant Manager not long after. I was recently promoted to Operations Manager for Austin, a role I will be assuming this week.

Congratulations on your promotion! What does your new job entail?

What doesn’t my job entail is the real question. I do everything from staffing, recruiting, administrative tasks, check-in, client meetings, and more. That’s how I was trained, to cover everything. It’s always good to be well versed in what your entire team does.

So, how do you motivate your team?

I motivate my team by always asking if they need help. No matter how busy I am, I always find time to see what areas I can help them in. This builds teamwork and everyone knows their role, but at the end of the day they can wear all the hats in the office.

I know you were just promoted, but what was the best thing about being the Operations Assistant Manager in Austin?

The best thing about being Operations Assistant Manager was that I got to help upper management while also being able to focus on the team effort. Whether it’s speaking to clients or helping with admin work I did a little bit of everything for the greater good.

Tell us one thing about yourself that is not related to work or what you do for fun when you’re not working.

I enjoy fishing, camping, cooking, and hanging out with my family! I am a very family-oriented person. They will always come first in my life.

Stepping into the Shoes of a New Hire

Countless studies have shown that each newly hired associate goes through several emotional phases during the new hire experience, and a few more during the course of the succeeding months following their first 90 days. Results vary but, generally, he or she will go through 3 phases: the Discovery Phase, Learning Phase and Development Phase.

New hires will constantly be rethinking the newly chosen career path within the Discovery Phase, which typically spans the first 2 months on the job. During this period, new associates question their tenure at the company. Their perception of their role and the company is easily swayed, either positively or negatively. During the Learning Phase, within the first three months of being hired, new hires typically feel instability and self-doubt. By the 6th month, the Development Phase, new associates become more comfortable and begin to see their future at the company.

As managers responsible for the onboarding and integration of new team members into our organization, it is critical that we pay attention to how our new associates are feeling, stay constantly engaged and understand generation gaps. The best way to retain your new associates (especially the high performing ones) is to carefully recognize the pulse of your new team member experience. Ask questions, check with their counterparts and observe performance.

Understanding the 3 phases of a new hire

Discovery Phase

  1. Set the right tone with onboarding: When the new team member arrives, he or she will carefully observe and either eagerly work themselves into, or talk themselves out of being part of your team. Newly hired team members tend to be highly sensitive about their new surroundings. The leadership or management team should promote an enticing culture, be accommodating and also provide clear expectations. Don’t forget to give the associate an extra warm welcome. We will only encourage them to doubt their decisions of joining the team if we fail to provide a warm atmosphere right from the beginning.
  2. Put your corporate culture on display: A new hire will carefully study whether the organization is the right fit for them. It is imperative that we create an atmosphere where we encourage an open door policy so that they feel comfortable and safe. Leaders must constantly connect with new team members and make every effort to recognize small milestones they may be achieving on a daily basis. Reassurance is critical during this stage and continues to be a factor for the succeeding months.

Learning Phase

  1. Provide feedback: This is the stage where the leader, the team and the associate are all getting to learn more about each other. There will be differences and camaraderie formed amongst the group, and leaders need to recognize how each part of the puzzle will work, how everyone can contribute and how the team can work together effectively. Leaders need to consistently provide constructive and objective feedback because this will set precedence to a coaching type atmosphere. With this in mind, make sure that the performance is measureable and attainable, the instructions provided are clear and there is room for learning.
  2. Coaching: In this stage, a general understanding of a few mechanics within the team culture is developed. It becomes a source of inspiration when team members receive the proper coaching and they feel that they are set up for success. Make sure to provide one-on-one feedback during this time. Effective dialogue stems from being objective and balancing any failure with deserved recognition.

Development Phase

  1. Promote inclusion: Nurture your team member by making them feel included by letting them sit in on a leadership meeting, highlighting a best practice which they excelled on, or asking them how they would resolve an issue or challenge. When the associate feels that they are a productive contributor, he or she will take more pride in their personal brand and feel valued.
  2. Make them feel safe: Employees need to feel secure about their jobs to perform effectively. They will ultimately be more productive and glide through departmental expectations without feeling the need to worry about job security. Once the associate feels safe, he or she is no longer in the Development Phase. From here, as a leader you can fine tune skills as the employee becomes a tenured member of your team.

Leaders in Service: Ana Rodriguez

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people is IMG_0435what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All. No matter at what level, property or department you look, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we will feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Our first feature of this series is Ana Rodriguez, Director of EVS and Housekeeping Operations. We’ve asked her to answer some questions about working for The Service Companies:

How long have you been with The Service Companies?
All together 2 years.

What role have you had here and what is your current position?
I was a Property Manager for The Service Companies in the Housekeeping department at a casino in Bossier City, Louisiana in 2009. I’m currently Director of Operations for EVS and Housekeeping at a casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

What does your job entail?
My team and I are responsible for the housekeeping operations of a 2200+ room casino hotel, the upkeep of a 20,000 square foot casino and 400+ associates. All this while integrating The Service Companies’ standard practices with our client’s culture and priorities.

How do you motivate your team?
By showing them the power to make a difference that they each have within themselves. We talk about what inspires us, about the amazing leadership that drives our company and why we do what we do. And in times of need, we are there for each other.

What do you like most about being the Director of EVS & Housekeeping Operations?
The synergy we have created on this team and having the platform to lead so many people eager for growth. We have a achieved such a synergy that any time one of us is not at their best, the rest of the team reminds each other why we all love what we do.

We are always looking for dedicated and talented employees to join our team. If you’d like to join The Service Companies, apply here.

Team Member Spotlight: Ale Parker

IMG_4168At The Service Companies, we believe it is our responsibility to invest in each of our associates and develop them so they can excel in their role and build a career with us. One of the members of our Talent Acquisition team in Nevada, Ale Parker, who became a US citizen last week, reflects on her experience working for The Service Companies and what our focus on career development means for her. Read her story below:

Looking back at the day that I arrived in the United States, almost 7 years ago, it’s amazing to see how much I have learned and grown in different aspects of my life.

Since I was little, I heard the expression “Land of Opportunities,” and ever since I came to this country, I have discovered a deeper meaning behind it. The Service Companies has been an important part of this discovery, when 5 years ago my first leader took a chance on me and saw my potential beyond a foreign resume. Ever since, my leaders within the company have mentored and helped me reach that potential, developing my professional career beyond my own expectations.

It’s difficult to find the words to express how overwhelmingly grateful I feel living in the United States and working with the people here that came along the way and gave me a lifting hand when I was fallen, a hug when I was broken and opened a window when a door was closed. Each helped me imagine, build and pursue my very own “American Dream”.

I feel humbled and proud to be an American and I’m looking forward to living up to the promises I made when I became one.

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