The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

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.

Commitment to being green

At The Service Companies, one on our primary commitments is providing superior hospitality services to our customers by using the most effective and safest cleaning equipment and chemicals. Equally important, though, is ensuring that we are environmentally conscious at all of our 750 locations across the country. How do we do this? We have set up company-wide partnerships and programs that minimize our environmental impact, but also give our individual teams the liberty to come up with “green” initiatives that are most effective for them. Here are a few of the ways The Service Companies has gone green:

  • Ecolab photo 1 (4)Partnerships with Environmentally Friendly Suppliers: Ecolab is equally committed to the sustainability of their operations and offers products that are environmentally responsible. Our nationwide sponsorship with Ecolab means we work with their representatives to tailor select chemicals for each of our customer’s properties. When available, our first choice is to source environmentally friendly chemicals and solutions.
  • Durable, Long-Lasting Equipment and Repairs: The Service Companies is committed to using best-in-class, energy-efficient equipment, which is more effective and durable. Our equipment specifications must meet goals for improving or liming the impact to indoor air quality, water consumption, energy consumption and lower chemical usage. By working closely with our manufacturers, including Karcher, we are able to determine the right process to achieve the highest possible results at the lowest possible cost. This means our team is consuming less energy, chemical and water to clean our customers’ areas. Also, instead of replacing equipment at the first sign of an issue, we repair it to its original efficiency, increasing the lifetime of the equipment. When equipment and materials are to be disposed, we never send them to a landfill. The Service Companies contracts with local and regional resource recovery companies to recycle or redistribute material and equipment we no longer have a need for.
  • IMG_6406 (2)Clean The World: For the fourth consecutive year, many of our on-property Housekeeping teams have partnered with Clean The World, an organization that collects discarded hotel hygiene items, re-purposes them in a sanitary manner, and distributes them to people who are at risk of contracting hygiene-related illnesses. Our Housekeepers have been integral to collecting the 40 million+ bars of soap that Clean The World has distributed to over 115 countries.
  • Recycling: We support our customers’ recycling efforts by ensuring proper separation of recyclables from landfill trash. In some operations, we have one person dedicated to this task. Our employees are trained to prevent cross-contamination of landfill trash with recyclables. We use color-coded trash bins that are clearly marked for the type of trash – green for landfill, blue for recycling.
  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: We reduce emissions related to our business by limiting the number of product orders per month, using battery operated equipment where feasible and limiting the use of fuel-powered equipment when work can be done efficiently by other means, to name only a few. We run estimated monthly emission reports that show total carbon dioxide tonnage created and saved in operations. These reports are critical to The Service Companies meeting and exceeding our emission reduction goals.

Keeping rooms clean and fresh this Spring and beyond

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Spring is right around the corner, and many of us look forward to opening our windows and letting some fresh air in. Hotel rooms can be extra challenging where many rooms are sealed tight all year long.

Housekeeping plays a significant role in keeping the guest areas clean and fresh. Following the basic cleaning standards is a great start, though there are additional practices that will help along the way no matter what hinders the process. Each of your guests should enjoy a pleasant room experience with no sign of a previous guest. Having these processes in place can greatly impact your rooms for the better and create a lasting impression with our guests.

We have created our own list of additional practices to employ. To download your copy of Spring Season Cleaning Tips, fill out your information below.

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The results are in: our newest opening

This month, The Service Companies took over third shift cleaning operations at a luxury resort in Florida. The property’s management team looked to us to solve some issues for them. Having previously used multiple cleaning providers to manage the property’s overnight cleaning, the management team sought a strategic partner that would seamlessly integrate into the property’s surroundings and ensure a consistent high level of cleanliness across the property. As a large, well-capitalized hospitality partner, we are one of the only managed service providers able to guarantee and deliver this. Plus, by taking over areas that were previously overseen by multiple independent providers, we were able to provide savings along with a higher level of service than previously provided to the property.

With every opening where we provide public area, EVS or third shift services, we start off with a full assessment of the floor types to determine a floor schedule and equipment needs with our equipment partner, Karcher. We also work closely with Ecolab to spec out the right chemicals and cleaning processes for all surfaces to ensure they are perfectly cleaned and maintained. After completing this and only two weeks into servicing the property, our opening team has achieved incredible results. Take a look at our before and after pictures below to see for yourself.

Team Member Spotlight: Mildred Botley

Mildred Botley

Mildred Botley

At The Service Companies, we embody a culture of internal advancement. If an associate works hard, embodies our service code, and shows pride in their work and a desire to learn more, he or she has fantastic opportunities for growth within our company. We have a number of long-standing associates who joined our team at the lead level and are now Supervisors, Executive Housekeepers and Regional Vice Presidents. One of these people is Mildred Botley, who has been with the company since 2011 and has been promoted three times during this time. See her story below.

“I joined The Service Companies’ team in September 2011 as a driver. Determined to be the best driver, I drove associates locally as well as long distances, which I enjoyed. I had the opportunity to meet a large variety of people, each of whom told me about their culture and roots. Learning more about where each of the associates came from was so much fun.

In March 2012, I began helping out in the local Human Resources office when the Office Coordinator was off. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to join the Human Resources team full-time as an Office Coordinator. In this new role, I had to learn about the administrative duties and HR procedures. My favorite experience in this role was organizing the annual family and friends day for the property associates. Along with the corporate team, we had arranged fun events with food, dancing, games and prizes. Watching the team eating, dancing and interacting with each other gave me pride in what we accomplished.

In July 2014, I was promoted to Human Resources Associate, where I was given more responsibility as I grew within the company. I had the opportunity to coordinate employment with our J1 and H2B team members. I loved taking them on cultural trips while they were visiting the US. This was an adventure and I enjoyed helping them understand our culture.

In 2016, I was again promoted to Talent Acquisition Specialist, which involves in-office and field work. Being out in the field gives me an opportunity to meet future employees and explain what working for The Service Companies can do for their career, like it has done for mine.”

The Service Companies gives its 10,000 associates the opportunity to become an expert in their craft, learn new skills and advance through various departments in the company, as Mildred has. To learn more about careers, culture and employment benefits at The Service Companies, click here.

Tips for safely maintaining your public areas during winter conditions

Shoveling Snow

Our Public Area and Housekeeping teams have been digging out from the recent snowfall in many parts of the country though we still have a long way to go.

As we operate properties in all types of climates nationwide, each season brings different cleaning challenges. When asking about top cleaning challenges during the winter season, many will say snow and salt removal. The more it snows the more salt gets put down to melt the snow and eventually gets tracked into our facilities, potentially damaging our buildings and the surrounding environment.

We understand that shoveling and plowing alone cannot always keep the areas safe and that is when salt de-icers come into play. We want to share some cleaning and maintenance tips for these conditions in order to help keep your areas safe and clean, while managing salt being tracked in and around your property.

Many times the person who purchases or applies de-icers at our properties is not the same person responsible for cleaning it up inside or out. The key is to use de-icers moderately and to apply what product works best for your situation. There are many types of de-icing salts such as: sodium chloride “rock salt”, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride, which is far less damaging to concrete, plants and the environment. There is also an opportunity to add sand to provide grit for added traction. Whichever product is being used, there is the challenge to stay ahead of potential damage.

Many times salt is applied very close to the entrance. For maximum melting results, it is best to apply the product more sparingly in the highest foot traffic areas. A salt pattern should begin with product applied more heavily away from the entrance and less as you get closer to the entrance. The natural foot traffic spreads it as people come in.

Proper application can provide substantial cost savings especially for repairs to interior spaces and corrosion of metal door entrances. It also prevents harm to landscaping with over application of salt too close to vegetation.

Proper entrance matting is the next line of defense to keep the “wet” and salt outside.

Take a look at the quality and placement of matting at the property entry points. Entrances may have a scraper mat as you enter so guests can release some of the snow followed by a longer wiper mat made of absorbent material that can wick the water and salt off the shoes as they walk.

If heavy snow fall is occurring, these absorbent mats need to be changed when they become saturated, so be sure you have enough on hand to make frequent changes to all your outside entrances.

Although matting selection and placement is ultimately decided by the facility manager, it is up to all of us to maintain and inspect these often to ensure they remain in good condition.

Even with having extra matting in place, salt will still make it inside!

Your Public Area team must be ready to remove it in the most effective manner. Entrances should be swept and cleaned often during these times.

Vacuuming can work well for salt removal though for safety reasons make sure your team knows not to vacuum damp or wet carpets because it is an electrocution hazard. Also vacuuming up damp salt and soil can damage your equipment.

In addition, it is important to train your staff to thoroughly vacuum the carpeted areas surrounding the matting. Even if sufficient matting is placed, there is always more salt and soil deposited as guests are walking off.

Vacuuming often is a great start, though you must also have a regular interim carpet cleaning program in place in order to tackle problem areas near entry points. This will help eliminate the salt stains that tend to build up and seem to return even after you extracted the area.

We prefer our interim clean be done every couple days during heavy snows and the salting that follows. At times, an extraction method just using hot water with an added neutralizer can provide great results pulling the salt and soil out of the carpets. Although your carpet cleaning generally occurs during off-peak periods, be sure you have a floor blower available to speed the drying time. Once dried, always thoroughly vacuum the area.

Because salt and de-icers can wear on marble, one thing to keep in mind during the heavy winter days is to not grind marble. Reserve this process for days where salt will not be tracked into the property.

Be sure not to neglect your equipment during this period, as they are working extra hard. You will need to provide extra cleaning care and maintenance.

Before you know it, spring will be back again though your work is not complete yet. During any long thaws or once spring approaches, be sure to thoroughly wash down walkways, the base of your building and areas near vegetation to disperse product residue and prevent further damage.

Having a good prevention plan in place and keeping the salt outside your facility should provide a safe and clean facility and you will be off to a fresh start for spring.

How to make your marble floors shine

The appearance of a property’s marble floors can affect a guest’s first and lasting impressions of a property. While these floors may have gleamed a few months ago, constant and consistent traffic on the floors can leave them dull and lackluster. What should you do when this occurs? At The Service Companies, we have spent years honing our floor care techniques and have developed a step-by-step guide for you to use. Following this guide will give you the results shown below in our before and after photos, which we’ve taken at a luxury hotel property we recently began servicing.

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Partnering with the best

With the popularity of social media forums and review sites like TripAdvisor, now more than ever, our hotel, casino and vacation ownership resort customers are increasingly focused on providing their guests an exceptional experience. Cleanliness, interactions with the property’s staff, and amenities all factor into these reviews and our customers look to us to utilize our expertise to enhance their guests’ experiences. We achieve this by providing high quality service and by partnering with the most trusted providers in the industry. Our belief is to be the premier provider of managed services in the hospitality industry, you need to also partner with the best.

Ecolab

Ecolab demonstration at Leadership Summit

Ecolab demonstration at Leadership Summit

After several years of exclusively using Ecolab products, we signed a national partnership agreement with the company to better create property-specific cleanliness solutions for our customers. As part of each property’s opening, we work with Ecolab to determine the optimum chemicals and tools to ensure we maintain the property in first-class condition. What if a property has travertine floors or countertops in the rooms that require a particular solvent? We work with Ecolab to ensure that all materials on property, as well as the safety of your guests and our associates, are taken into account. We also bring Ecolab’s Corporate Training Team to each of our new accounts to train our associates on these specifically chosen tools and chemicals to ensure they are used correctly and safely.

Kärcher

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Kärcher equipment demonstration

Kärcher is a market leader in cleaning technology and equipment. That’s why we partner with them to furnish the equipment for the turn-key housekeeping, EVS and public area, stewarding and kitchen cleaning services we provide our customers. Like Ecolab, our management team works with Kärcher to select the best equipment based on the needs of each property and sets up regular training sessions and demos to teach our team how to effectively use the equipment and to keep our team on the cutting edge with the latest equipment. As part of our critical path to opening each new account, we dedicate a minimum of one full day of training to Kärcher’s equipment and how to utilize it best.

Honda

Honda is known for being one of the superior choices for pressure washing machines. Because of this, we, through our subsidiary JRS International, utilize Honda pressure washers for all of our large pressure washing jobs nationwide. Honda’s track record of durability and longevity translates into a higher quality of cleanliness that our pressure washing experts provide to our customers.

Ceridian

Ceridian, the leading and award-winning provider of human capital management system Dayforce HCM, helps companies design their workforce for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. With our commitment to our employees and being at the forefront of recruiting strategy, we partnered with the company in 2016 to provide us with innovated technology to manage all aspects of our day to day business functions including payroll, time and attendance, Human Resources, benefits, recruitment, onboarding and performance management. Dayforce HCM’s intuitiveness makes day-to-day activities productive while reducing redundancies and increasing productivity. This gives our team more time to dedicate to our customers and their needs.

At The Service Companies, we are committed to setting the quality standard in the marketplace and keeping our customers’ properties spotless. Our partnerships with Ecolab, Kärcher, Honda, and Ceridian enable us to provide tailored solutions to our customers that we know will benefit them.

How to develop great customer relationships

As we begin 2017, it’s important to remember the value of developing good customer relationships and providing exceptional customer service. At The Service Companies, one part of our Service Code is “Service is not what we do – it is who we are” and we are always focused on providing the best service possible to our hotel, casino and vacation ownership customers and their guests.

As we provide primarily “back-of-house” services, our customers are not only the guests of the property, but also of the various operational departments we work closely with throughout the day and night. I’ve found that good customer relationships stem from delivering good customer service. If your client is happy and satisfied with your work and response, then it is a sure way to not only grow your business, but also to maintain a lasting customer relationship. Here are some tips to accomplish this:

  1. Develop relationships with front office staff. Invite them to a pre-shift meeting so they see and understand your services and operations. Consider sending the front office staff treats during particularly busy times. Being in the hospitality industry, we are all working long and hard hours. It’s nice to show your customers your appreciation for their partnership.
  2. Remember special occasions that are important to your client. Keep track of your clients’ birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays, etc. Send a note on these dates. It will let your customers know you care and that they are important to you.
  3. Communicate with your clients on a regular basis. Even just a short note or, better yet, a call to see if they have any feedback and discuss upcoming busy dates and important group and guest arrivals; this communication is critical to providing the service they need and expect from us.
  4. Make great first and lasting impressions. First impressions are important because a lack of familiarity can raise anxiety and heighten emotions. In the beginning of a relationship, your customer may feel sensitive or tentative. Give them a warm greeting every time you see them. This often translates into a lasting positive memory. Over the course of your relationship, the pleasant, short contacts you have with your customer and the service you provide will increase the perception of friendliness. In addition to this, always be thinking how you can provide a lasting impression, which comes from creating a memorable ‘moment of difference.’ Associates who are always ‘looking to help’ and proactively take action to assist or give information will create the moments customers remember. The lasting impression is the goodbye and, unsurprisingly, a person seems to recall these interactions later in the experience more readily than those earlier.
  5. Create Moments of Difference. For The Service Companies, our customer’s guests and their experiences are incredibly important. To make sure their stays are memorable, create at least one special memory that they will remember after they leave. For repeat guests, aim to build on their memories. Allow staff to be inspirational, help, give information and make recommendations to guests. Give or do something unexpected (for instance, Housekeepers leaving extra tissues or delivering hot soup for sick guests). Give staff enough freedom to be able to provide exceptional service. Finally, have fantastic, friendly and easy receptions with great goodbyes.

How to wow your guests – housekeeping service tips

turn-key housekeeping

How confident are you that your associates are regularly looking for ways to fulfill requests or resolve problems before guests have time to think about them?

In the hospitality industry, this is the norm if you want to stand out and exceed guests’ expectations.  At The Service Companies, we partner with many properties and brands. While service cultures and standards differ across them, all of our clients have a similar desire to wow, delight, and add value and a personalized touch to the customer experience.

As I was inspecting a guest room a while ago, I noticed the guest’s toothpaste was squeezed to the last drop.  I immediately thought about that guest coming back after a long day without toothpaste and having to call and wait for more to be delivered. The natural thing for me to do was place another tube of toothpaste for the guest. This made me think – what seems to be an ordinary task for me, doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

During our corporate mandated daily pre-shift meetings, our housekeeping leaders make this service training a regular practice. It is important to share ideas and best practices with associates so they are confident and empowered to create more memorable moments.

The first step is learning to read cues.

How well do you know your guests? Is your guest a coffee or tea drinker? Do they prefer regular or decaf? Does your VIP guest enjoy red or white wine, diet or regular soda, ales or lagers?

Once your housekeeping associates are aware of what the guest has been using, empower them to place extra items during service. Your guests will definitely take notice and appreciate your attentiveness.

A few simple practices our team employs:

  • Having a favorite beverage in a fresh bucket of ice waiting for the guest.
  • Leaving an extra bottle or two of water if the guest is a runner or utilizes the fitness center. Additionally, leaving a note and wishing them a great workout is a nice gesture.
  • Leaving extra tissues and/or tea service if you notice your guest is feeling under the weather or has the sniffles.  A “Get Well” note with the associate’s name offering additional assistance is a thoughtful touch.
  • Leaving them reading material such as a magazine or newspaper many properties stock. Provide this the afternoon or evening before checkout so they can take it along. Wish them a safe trip and hopefully a return visit soon. This is one of my favorites and it is very effective.

One drawback of travel is not having all the conveniences of home during a hectic business trip or jam-packed vacation schedule.  Implementing just one of these extra steps takes some of the planning and thinking off of a guest’s plate and creates more of those memorable experiences that your guest will look forward to coming back to.

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