The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

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The Meaning of Leadership

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 12.03.29 PM When thinking about leadership, I see a leader as the person who’s always quoted and remembered. They’re always the star of old blockbuster movies where the underdog team beats the odds and wins the championship, whether it’s the coach, the star quarterback or even the unsung hero in the stands.

What are the qualities we seek in a leader? There is no specific formula, no specific answer to this question. Of course, we see a leader as someone who reaches for their goals and is victorious.

Some believe that leaders are born and not made, a matter of nature versus nurture. I believe that leaders need to possess a quality of charisma – specifically the ability to influence others positively – which I think you can either be born with or hone as a skill through your experiences. It is accomplished through leading by example, showing associates that even though it may not be easy, doing the right thing will always lead you to success. It will teach them how to handle new situations in the future.

Effective decision-making is another important quality in a leader. If you make decisions thoughtfully but efficiently, and stick with your decision no matter the outcome, your team will be able to understand how each decision has a consequence, good or bad. The important thing is that you all stick together and trust and rely on each other, your teammates. If a coach decides on a certain play during a game, the team needs to trust each other in order to successfully run the play. If unforeseen challenges pop up, the decision might need to change on a dime, and the team as a whole needs to embrace that.

At The Service Companies, we are surrounded by leaders, in all departments and at every level. Our leaders use numerous tactics to ensure our associates continue to grow, learn and become better every day, so that they can one day step into their own leadership role.

Our management teams across the country share mandated service and safety topics daily. They listen to and act upon feedback from both our associates and clients, which is then shared to ensure everyone is on the same page, on both a property and company level. We promScreen Shot 2018-06-21 at 12.04.43 PMote our SHINE campaign associate engagement culture by recognizing and sharing the successes and accomplishments of each associate and team. Open communication and being the first to welcome and shake associates’ hands from day one is important.

It is vital that our teams across the country work together with each other and their leaders, whether they be managers or fellow associates. It’s the hard work and dedication of all of them who make it possible for us to deliver on our promise to our clients of Service. Above all.

Stepping into the Shoes of a Guest Room Attendant

IMG_3601 2At The Service Companies, we value our associates because we understand they are what make us great. Our Guest Room Attendants across the country work tirelessly each day to deliver on our company’s promise and create the best possible experience for guests. It is important to us that at no matter what level, property or department, our whole team contributes to a strong culture and works toward a common goal. Recently, our Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Matt Sanfilippo, visited one of our luxury casino hotel properties in Laughlin, Nevada, where he spent the day working as a GRA. Read below about his experience and what he learned.

Which property did you visit?

I visited one of our luxury casino hotel properties in Laughlin, Nevada.

What position did you fill in on?

I was a Guest Room Attendant in the Housekeeping Department for the day – I worked with another GRA, Latosha Jackson.

What was your schedule like for the day?

The schedule was intense. We were expecting a very busy day with many early arrivals. The house had to be turned by 4pm to accommodate the influx of new guests. On top of that, there were a large number of VIP guests flying in for a concert at the property that night.

Did you receive training?

I did receive training, but for me it was strictly on the job, bootstrap style. We had a mission to get the house turned. I stripped the rooms and made the beds. Latosha took care of the bathroom and vacuumed.

What were your observations about the culture of the department/property?

I was concerned as I drove down to Laughlin from Las Vegas that the day was going to be intense with the momentous task that had to be completed. However, upon arrival, I was delighted to find that the staff was upbeat and positive about the challenge they had ahead of them. The culture is one of respect for co-workers and leaders. Latosha, the GRA I was working with for the day, loves her job (and does it well). Everyone embraces Project Director Alan Ching, who has done a fantastic job of shifting the work environment at the property.   

I took this opportunity to learn what motivated the employees to come to work each day.  I found that it’s the culture, the way they are treated, and the camaraderie that is shared throughout the team. They appreciate working in an environment where they are respected by their peers and managers, and feeling like they’re a part of something bigger. The associates are truly hospitality people and love giving service to our guests.  

What did you learn or take away from this experience?

The job of a Guest Room Attendant is very difficult.  It’s hard to imagine what cleaning eighteen rooms looks and feels like until you do it. The physical component is demanding. Mattresses are heavy. Linen is sometimes turned inside out. You question why a bed needs four pillows. Why do they need so many sheets? I attempted to leave each room in the condition that I would expect if I were a guest at the property.  

The experience was impactful and humbling because it gave me the opportunity to experience what all those terms I typically hear on conference calls mean. Turning the house means you are not leaving until all rooms are cleaned. A board is your roadmap through the day for your housekeeping experience. A Do Not Disturb sign is a happy sight when you’re close to the finish line. Make friends with a Houseperson, they can be life savers.

I have a ton of respect for our Housekeepers throughout the country. It’s definitely one of the hardest jobs out there!

 

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Emerging Leaders: Shelly Sauseda

Our Emerging Leaders Program was developed to give individuals within our team the opportunity for growth by providing comprehensive management and leadership training. The Service Companies is dedicated to fostering and investing in our associates’ careers, and as a result, we have a number of tenured associates who have risen through the ranks from Kitchen Cleaners or EVS Attendants to Vice Presidents. Today, we highlight Shelly Sauseda, who recently reached her one year anniversary with us as an EVS Attendant at a casino in Bossier City. During Shelly’s first year, her manager noticed great potential and an eagerness to learn more, and urged Shelly to apply to our Emerging Leaders Program. Currently two months into the six month management training program, which includes learning about the housekeeping and stewarding functions and departments, , including rooms cleaning, office dispatch, room inspections, floor care, kitchens, human resources and project management. We interviewed Shelly about her experience so far.

Shelly Rooms TrainingWhen did you join The Service Companies?

I started at The Service Companies in March 2017 as a Restroom Attendant at a casino property in Bossier City, Louisiana.

How did you learn about our Emerging Leaders Program and what do you hope to take away from it?

I found out about the Program from Dekindra Thomas, the Project Manager at the property where I first started. I want to develop better leadership skills and to be an example so other employees can follow in my steps.

The Emerging Leaders Program involves six months of training. How is your training schedule broken down and where are you currently in your training?

I spend time at different properties learning the ins and outs of each department. I completed my final week  at a casino property in Bossier City, where I learned how to run an efficient and successful housekeeping department. Next I’ll move on to learn about floor care and kitchen cleaning at another casino in the area.

Shelly Dispatch

Can you describe what your typical day-to-day looked like during the housekeeping training portion of the program?

At first, I was cleaning rooms while learning room procedures and how to make beds. After I mastered those tasks, I was placed on dispatch for two weeks to learn about that housekeeping function. Next, I spent one to two weeks learning how to inspect rooms. I was also trained on the responsibilities of a house attendant.

What has been the biggest lesson or thing you’ve learned through the Program?

How to run dispatch was the biggest task I mastered. It requires strong multitasking skills. A Dispatcher has to take phone calls and radio messages while simultaneously managing the computer.  

What has been the most rewarding accomplishment for you since you started the Program?

Being given the opportunity to move forward in my career already feels like an accomplishment. I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about each department’s job functions, including how to be a Dispatcher and the room cleaning inspection process. 

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As you transition to the next stage of your training, what are you looking forward to learning or doing?

I’m really excited to learn how to detail kitchens and polish and wax the floors. My training at the next property will include kitchen deep cleaning, floor care, marble care and stewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the Emerging Leaders Program?

Be strong. Never give up. Push yourself to accomplish the new tasks that come with your position. It’s not always easy, but the outcome will be worth it.

To learn more about our associate programs and career opportunities, visit http://www.theservicecompanies.com/careers/why/.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

How We Prepare for the Spring and Summer

Although Mother Nature seems to be confused this year regarding which season it is, summer is finally on its way. With schools beginning to let out for summer break, our luxury hotel properties across the country are increasing in occupancy, specifically with family travelers.

Opening Day WP 1Last month, The Service Companies completed our Annual Spring Cleaning Event, during which our teams cleaned and organized all back of the house areas, including offices, break rooms, storage areas and more. This was our initial step in preparing for the upcoming busy season. Maintaining a well organized back of the house area sets us up for success, as we are then able to quickly identify items needed and alleviate hiccups in service delivery.

jack_cinciAs we further prepare for the summer season, we focus on and place additional effort in stocking up on equipment and supplies, ensuring our staff is full, and providing refresher training to our teams so they are ready for the influx of guests. This includes making sure our teams are equipped with enough linens and amenities to accommodate each room and adjusting as needed. For example, a higher number of families requires us to need more towels than usual. Additionally, property information will be reviewed in our mandatory training meetings before each shift, as an increase in traffic will result in an increase in guest questions.

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While we are spending time preparing for the upcoming summer months, we can’t look too far forward. In May, not only are we stocking up for a busy season, we are celebrating Mother’s Day. We may not be able to give every associate who is a mother the day off, but we can ensure all team members can leave on time or early by making small adjustments to our schedule. Managers also celebrate with pre-shift activities to let everyone know they are appreciated, and to thank them for spending their special day working hard to service our guests.

Leaders in Service: Barbara Johnson

 

Our next feature of the Leaders in Service series is Barbara Johnson, Stewarding Supervisor at one of our casino properties in Shreveport, Louisiana. Barbara has been with the Service Companies for over 10 years, and has shown endless dedication and remarkable leadership.

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How long have you been with The Service Companies?

I’ve been with the company for 11 years, working at two properties in the Shreveport area since I was first hired.

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

I started as an EVS Attendant and was promoted to Supervisor. My background includes working on EVS and Stewarding teams and I work closely with The Service Companies’ customer’s Food & Beverage team here in Shreveport.  

What does your job entail?

My job entails making sure my team is able to do their job, from roll call and pre-shift meetings at the beginning of the shift to making sure my team members are where they need to be and has what they need. I provide my team with everything they need to succeed each day.

How do you stay motivated or how do you motivate your team members/coworkers?

I make sure my team knows that the most important part of their job is about respect for themselves, their team and their guests, and I respect them. I motivate them by making sure they have what they need to do well, and also recognize associates with giveaways and announcements to let them know they are appreciated. This past holiday season, we all pitched in for a Christmas celebration, and I made sure everyone felt included and ate well.

What do you like most about your current role?

I love my team and being around people. I enjoy communicating with them about their jobs and training, making sure they have everything they need to succeed.

You have been with The Service Companies for over 10 years. What has kept you on our team and what do you like most about the company?

I love doing my job and I like my bosses. I enjoy the environment of The Service Companies and being a part of the team.

We are thrilled to have such a tenured member on our team. Through the years, we imagine you have experienced and learned a great deal. Is there any advice you’d give to a team member who has joined The Service Companies?

I would tell them to have a positive attitude, by happy and cheerful, and get comfortable with their job.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not working?

I like spending time with my friends and family, and being there for them when I’m needed.

At 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 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 feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Building healthy relationships with clients

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By Chip Parmelee

In this current business climate, establishing a healthy relationship with your potential and current customer is paramount since we do business with those we trust.

Creating and fostering relationships with customers takes time and excellent customer service. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years with a number of luxury brands like Marriott International and currently overseeing AAA Four and Five Diamond properties in Southern Florida for The Service Companies, I have developed tips and recommendations on how to go about building these healthy relationships.

  • Know the position/responsibilities of your main contact. Having a thorough understanding of their needs ensures you are providing them what they need to succeed.
  • Learn what you might have in common that both of you can speak to and relate to.
  • Seek to establish a business friendship. Find out what interests them. Reference those interests in conversation, when it makes sense. Does your customer like the local baseball team? Engage them in conversation about a thrilling game or news.
  • If a mistake is made, always professionally apologize for the inconvenience. Take responsibility and assure your customers you will do research to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. For any promises or assurances you make, ensure you follow up.
  • Be genuine. If you are unsure of something, ask questions to clarify your uncertainty and to be sure you and the client are on the same page
  • Insist on inspections. They are healthy for both a vendor and a client. They allow you to identify potential issue before they become larger problem.
  • Get to know all department leaders of those areas your teams service or work closely with. At The Service Companies, one of the teams we work closely with at each property is Maintenance or Engineering. It is important to be known among these departmental leaders. Ask your client to facilitate introductions if there are leaders he or she believes it is important you meet and get to know.
  • Always express your appreciation to the client for giving you their time when visiting or following a meeting.
  • Learn their business. Various departments have distinct business outlooks. Understanding how their department functions will enable you to tailor your service to best fit their needs.
  • Acknowledge your customers by sending greeting cards. It’s a nice gesture for these to include as many as your team members’ signatures as possible along with your business card. Some ideas for when to send a card are:
    • Congratulatory card for a promotion, the birth of a child, or to acknowledge your client’s accomplishments
    • Thanksgiving is the perfect time to thank your client for their business
    • Birthdays
    • New Year

While these tips contribute to building a strong customer relationship, the most important one to remember is email and text are always needed; however, nothing replaces the personal visit or phone call. The more you are able to have a conversation, whether on the phone or in person, the better your relationship will be.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

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.
Having a distinguished 35 years of experience in all facets of hotel development and operation, Victor Lopez is a true hospitality expert. Before joining The Service Companies, he held leadership roles at Hyatt, overseeing the operations of 32 properties from South America to Hawaii, including all resort properties in North America. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Camp Hyatt, Spa Hyatt, Golf Hyatt and learning vacation programs, as well as the gaming operations attached to Hyatt Resorts.

A Great Service Example

stewleonardsrockA few weeks ago I had the chance to visit a special place that was a prominent part of my childhood. It was a dairy store. That’s right, a dairy store, but it was not just any dairy store. It was the world’s largest dairy store; however, it didn’t start out that way.

The name of the store is Stew Leonard’s and it opened in 1969 selling bottled milk with 7 employees. Today, Stew Leonard’s has annual sales of over $400 million and more than 2,000 employees. The genius of Stew Leonard’s wasn’t selling bottled milk; it was the unrelenting commitment to customer service and the customer experience.

As a kid, we couldn’t wait to go to Stew’s to watch, through the big glass window, the milk actually getting bottled while jamboree music was being played by Disney-like animated farm animals (the real farm animals were right outside). Today, Stew Leonard’s is more like Whole Foods meets Costco and Disney World.

Why has this dairy store idea been such a success? It is because of their customer service culture that was established one day 47 years ago and has never wavered. As you enter Stew Leonard’s, there is a huge granite rock engraved with:

Rule 1 – The customer is always right!

Rule 2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1.

As I think about The Service Companies, I believe more than ever that our commitment to our brand, service code and Service. Above All is the engine that drives our success. Just like Stew Leonard’s customer service-oriented culture, our brand and service code put our customers first:

Service is not what we do – it is who we are.

We come to work to make our customers shine.

We are guests in our customer’s ‘house’.

We trust our co-workers, in all ways.

We leverage our expertise to solve problems.

Companies become successful and grow by providing either great services or goods to their customers. That is why we, The Service Companies and its 10,000 employees, strive everyday to live our service code and provide our customers and their guests exceptional service.

To learn more about our service code and who we are, visit our website here.

 

Steve Wilson is the President and CEO of The Service Companies, the leading provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry. With over 30 years of experience in service and hospitality, he flies more than 200,000 miles per year (all domestic) and spends over 200 nights per year in hotels visiting the company’s associates and customers, located in 44 states across the country.