The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

Tag: cleaning

Tips from the Field: Becky Burrows

The team at one of our luxury casino hotels in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has consistently achieved excellent EcoSure scores, which measure the level of cleanliness of our kitchens. Recently their Stewarding Department, led by Executive Steward Becky Burrows, were able to increase their EcoSure score from 95% to an outstanding 97%. Becky plays an integral role in this property’s success, due to her hard work and dedication to her job and her employees. We interviewed Becky to learn more about the secret to her team’s success.

Stewarding

What does an EcoSure inspection entail? What do they look for?

EcoSure looks for the cleanliness of the kitchen as a whole. All dish rooms are inspected to ensure the water is at the right temperature and that the sanitizer is up to standard. The inspectors check that no food or debris is left anywhere, and that all equipment is wiped down and dusted.

How was your team able to achieve such excellent scores?

Our team is well trained in what it takes to keep our kitchens and dish rooms clean, and do this every shift, morning, afternoon and overnight. They clean, dust, sweep and mop everything from top to bottom continuously.  We make sure each associate feels valued and a part of the team, so each shift works together to make sure our cleanliness is excellent.

What is the largest event you and your team have supported?

New Year’s Eve is usually our largest – we have done two seating’s of 800 people apiece. The Stewarding Department helps out the cooks in the kitchen often, especially during events. The team helps to plate the food, which is then run to tables by the serving team. During large events like this, we have employees who volunteer to stay over and help with everything. It’s truly all about the teamwork. Huge events can be fun, because there is a thrill in working together and accomplishing something.

How do you motivate your team?

The team is like a big family. We treat each other as individuals and make sure we’re training and then working with associates one-on-one. They truly care about their jobs and work hard to achieve consistently great scores. We also place importance on employee engagement events, and take time to listen to our employees and make sure they know they are valued. We have lots of team members who are far from home, from places including Haiti, so it’s important that they feel like they have a family here and are comfortable and involved.

Me and Ms Dina (1)When did you join The Service Companies?

I started as a Public Area Attendant in 2010 and then moved up to a Public Area Lead, then a Public Area Supervisor, and then a Public Area Night Manager. In 2013, I was asked to become an Assistant Executive Steward. 

How did you gain your expertise in Stewarding?

I gained experience by doing. When I was promoted to Assistant Executive Steward I barely knew anything about kitchens or the department. But, I was able to rise to the challenge and I was able to learn and train as I went. There was always someone there to ask for help or to answer questions.

What would you recommend to a property that might be struggling to achieve high inspection scores in their Stewarding Department?

First, I would recommend that they check their teamwork. 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift all have to work together to ensure consistency in cleanliness. Standards need to be met all the time, not just before an inspection. I would tell the management team to listen to their associates, to see what they can do to help them achieve what’s needed.

What do you love most about your job, and the company?

I love my staff – without them, I could not do my job. I’m a people person, and I like to be there for my team and have an opportunity to make changes in their lives.

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.

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.

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.

el dorado

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.

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.