The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

Author: Laurie Katinos

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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Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

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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Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

Tips for safely maintaining your public areas during winter conditions

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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.

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

How to wow your guests – housekeeping service tips

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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.

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

Flu Prevention in Hotels, Casinos and Resorts

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As we approach each season it is important to train associates on flu prevention steps and continue refreshing the team on these topics throughout the season. While the number of flu cases is highest in the fall and winter, the flu can infect people at any time during the year.

Housekeeping, Public Area, and Stewarding team members especially play a critical role in hotels, casinos and resorts in disease control and prevention, which spreads often by customer and employee contact. These associates can take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs through various cleaning methods, frequency and procedures for high touch points.

Here are a few of the key areas for prevention.

  1. Ensure you have the safest and effective chemicals to disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. The Center for Disease Control states:

“Influenza viruses can be destroyed by heat (167-212°F). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodine-based antiseptics and alcohols are effective against influenza viruses if used in proper concentrations for a sufficient length of time.”

Although many of your chemicals are effective to disinfect surfaces, they may not be as safe to apply on all areas. It is important discuss with your chemical provider to better understand application methods for these delicate surfaces.

  1. Be sure your associates are aware of high touch points, the areas touched often, which are included in their assigned areas. Examples include: handles and door locks, light switches, countertops, paper towel dispensers, telephone handset and buttons, elevator control buttons and handrails, casino/ATM machines, drape wand, in-room electronics and more.
  1. Discuss frequency, which varies for each surface. For example, a guest room sink knob may be cleaned once during daily service whereas a public area restroom sink knob will be cleaned multiple times during each shift.
  1. Keep front and back of the house areas well-stocked with an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels and alcohol-based hand rubs.
  1. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. As associates get busy during their day, they may forget the basics, so make sure they are reminded how to maintain proper hygiene, even in places where soap and clean water may not be available.

Although we are well into the season, it is never too late to remind associates the importance of specific cleaning methods and frequency of each task in an effort to keep ourselves and one another healthy.

Stay well.

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

How to create a successful inspection program

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You may have heard the adage “Expect What You Inspect” at some point during your hospitality career.

An inspection program will provide more detailed feedback to all parties involved with a common goal to continuously improve the service provided to the customer. Whether it is inspecting a casino floor, guest rooms, hotel public areas or corridors, kitchens, vacation ownership grounds, or employee back of house areas, the following practices will assist in implementing a more successful program.

Quality, Not Quantity

During regular discussions with our team, I always share my #1 rule for achieving your expectations: Quality, not quantity! The quality of our inspection process, along with follow through, is more important than tracking large quantities. It is critical that the inspector provides immediate feedback so associates may avoid further deficiencies. As we go, hopefully the feedback becomes more praise and rewards versus critique.

Keep Score

Don’t forget to keep score! Having a point value or goal for each assigned task allows you to track progress. The manager will have a better understanding of what training is needed for an individual or the entire team.

Consistent Analysis of Inspection Form

Another important factor for a successful inspection program is keeping your inspection form aligned with current trends. If you find a substandard area or common deficiencies, a manager should react by placing more emphasis in that area. An inspection form is customized for each property reflecting the layout and furnishings of the various rooms, suites, public space, kitchens, etc., though we have an opportunity to increase point values and focus on the “hot” spots. Review your format often. Your inspection form today should not be the exact form used a year ago.

Create Brand Standards and Benchmarks

In order for associates to fully understand the expectations and be compliant of all cleaning standards, they need to have a clear understanding of the brand standards and departmental benchmarks.

Start by providing every associate with a copy of the current inspection checklist during training and review this before they work independently. Associates need to have a clear understanding of their tasks and desired goals. If at any time revisions are made to an inspection form, be sure to provide a revised copy. A good practice is to post current copies of the inspection form along with room placement photos in a highly visible area within your department for easy reference.

We Are All Inspectors

We are all inspectors and accountable for providing the very best service to our client and customers. It is important that every associate identifies areas that need attention whether it is a cleaning or service issue. We all have a unique eye for detail, so as a team we will see a whole lot more.

Informing Associates for Processes to Address Issues They Cannot Address

All associates should understand the proper channels and resources if they cannot address something on the spot, such as maintenance issues. If something they had reported cannot be handled quickly, keep everyone informed of the projected completion time.

Inspect Everyone

What you don’t inspect someone else will. No matter how seasoned the associate is, everyone needs to be inspected to ensure they are exceeding expectations and reaching desired goals.

Associates are encouraged to frequently inspect their assigned areas with a manager or supervisor so they may share helpful tips with one another.

Listen To Feedback

I’ve inspected thousands of guest rooms during my career and always find opportunities to learn through associate’s and customer’s eyes. Listening to customer feedback and sharing best practices is the best way to move your team ahead and achieve quality and service targets.

In addition to associates being accountable for achieving goals, we as managers are equally accountable for setting associates up for success providing support and coaching along the way.

Once you prepare yourself and team, expect to see positive results!

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.