The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

Tag: housekeeping

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.

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.

Investing in technology: improved productivity, engagement and service

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The Service Companies’ proprietary TAMS system

Technology has completely transformed each and every one of our daily lives. It has made us more productive, given us greater access to information, and simplified procedures that used to take days, weeks or months to complete. At The Service Companies, we believe that technology is integral to increasing the productivity of our associates, creating best-in-class employee engagement and training programs, and providing the highest quality service to our customers and their guests. As the premier provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts nationwide, The Service Companies has made a significant investment in proprietary technology to increase the efficiency of our Managed and Staffing Services.

Talent Acquisition

Recruitment, training and employee engagement typically involve the most investment of money, time and energy from Housekeeping operational leaders. We recognized that our 30 years of success had provided us invaluable operational and recruiting knowledge that we translated into our own system – Talent Acquisition Metric System (TAMS). In 2016, we launched TAMS, which allows our Talent Acquisition team to create daily task lists focused on ground level recruiting, to analyze historical data on staffing levels for each of our customer’s properties (enabling us to anticipate ebbs and flows), and to review real time dashboards reflecting staffing levels at our properties and regions throughout the country.

Productivity Analysis

The Service Companies has successfully quantified the productivity of their team members. With our proprietary Flash Program portal, our operations leaders and executive team can view and track the productivity of a Housekeeping Department as well as analyze the daily productivity of each Guest Room Attendant. For any Guest Room Attendant that falls below a certain range, we pin point the issue and work on a resolution to increase those scores. Our portal is transferable across the multiple brands we operate within, and comes complete with a mobile site accessible via tablet. Our Executive Housekeepers get real-time, actionable intelligence to help them manage their teams and properties.

Employee On-boarding and Retention Tracking

In 2016, The Service Companies partnered with an external consulting company to collect data and analyze why associates join or don’t join our team or stay for a certain amount of time. The intelligence we gather through this exhaustive analysis of our on-boarding and retention strategies will help us get a clear picture of what we can improve on so that we continue to be the premier employer of hourly associates in the managed service space.

Training

Coming in 2017, The Service Companies will be launching a customized and proprietary training and engagement mobile app, Star Service Training. While we have been utilizing digital training checklists, inspection forms and tools for years, Star Service Training enables us to keep all of the files in one place that our associates can access on their phones to complete. Training will be able to be completed on the app, with our most anticipated augmented reality feature that enables the phone to complete the inspection itself using the camera. Associates will be recognized and rewarded with points, which they will then be able to use to purchase gift cards and items from The Service Companies’ online store. This training app and our other proprietary technology will also be integral to the operations of a new simple, reliable and compliant housekeeping staffing service for hotels and resorts that The Service Companies will be launching in January 2017.

As a large, well-capitalized strategic hospitality partner, we continue to invest in, and help develop, the latest technology to streamline our processes and increase efficiency across all departments of our organization, which also enables our customers to command premium pricing and potentially produces savings.

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.

Flu Prevention in Hotels, Casinos and Resorts

Cleaning common guest touch points in a bathroom

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.