Road Warriors Tackle Recruiting During Pandemic

We’d like to thank our “Road Warriors”, Gustavo Orozco and Kelsey Jeffords, for the tireless commitment to their jobs and overall team success during the midst of a global pandemic. When our clients began to reopen their doors, Gustavo and Kelsey stepped up to support our Talent Acquisition group, putting their personal lives on hold to travel to two of our biggest accounts and deliver critical recruiting support at a pivotal time for TSC. We recently caught up with our two “Road Warriors” on their journey providing assistance for the Talent Acquisition team throughout the country.

Female recruiter, Kelsey Jeffords and male recruiter, Gustavo Orozco.

How long have you been with The Service Companies?

Kelsey: I’ve been with the company in a staffing operations role since January 2014.

Gustavo: I’ve been with TSC since March 2018 and have always been involved in the company’s staffing operations.

What is your current role or what is the focus of your role?

Kelsey: Talent Acquisition. I recruit a variety of positions for our casino hotel clients in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Gustavo: Right before the pandemic I was a Strategic Operations Manager. In June I became a member of the Talent Acquisition team, traveling to and recruiting hospitality staff in Connecticut, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, and Reno.

What traits does a Road Warrior need to have? 

Kelsey: A Road Warrior should be willing to live life on the road, have strong work ethic, dedication, and lots of energy!

Gustavo: A willingness to travel frequently and the ability to efficiently perform your role from any location (airport, coffee shop, hotel lobby, car, etc…)

What’s been your biggest accomplishment or the most rewarding aspect of your new role?

Kelsey: The most rewarding part of this job is to be able to give others an opportunity to work. It’s always an accomplishment when the applicants that are hired are happy and able to provide for themselves and their families.

Gustavo: My biggest accomplishments have been seeing how my work impacts different parts of the nation. Establishing a better relationship in person with coworkers who I had only met through video before has been very rewarding. 

Any tips for traveling during COVID/a pandemic? 

Kelsey: Make sure to always wear your mask, especially when dealing with different people on a day-to-day basis. 

Gustavo: Enjoy the outdoors. If you’re traveling to a new place, keep your distance and stay safe. Being outdoors is a convenient way to do so.  I normally like to jog/hike outdoors when I visit a new city. 

Gustavo and Kelsey played critical roles in managing our talent pipeline with their recruiting efforts during one of TSC’s, and the nation’s, most unprecedented times. The dedication and teamwork that these two team members have displayed over the last 6 months is nothing short of outstanding.

Interested in joining our team? You can learn more about the various positions available at The Service Companies, including recruiting, operations, and business development positions, here.

Building System Performance Begins with a Robust Maintenance Program

Periodic inspection programs are a key component of the maintenance systems embraced at The Service Companies (TSC). Inspecting operating equipment and control systems periodically is key to longevity and reliability for any mechanical system associated with tenant comfort and property efficiency. As one of the largest investments an owner makes in a facility, tenant comfort systems are a critical component in customer satisfaction. TSC embraces and implements a program custom-designed for each of our client’s unique needs. At TSC our goal is to identify and correct small problems before they become critical issues affecting the quiet enjoyment of the space our client’s tenants or clients are entitled to. We aim to be in front of the problem – always – which enables our clients to avoid operational interruptions or tenant discomfort and ensure a smooth and problem-free delivery.

Chief engineer performing preventive maintenance procedures

We achieve this with our preventive maintenance (PM) protocols, planned maintenance and condition based maintenance procedures, which anticipate the needs of the operating equipment and identify issues and before they can adversely affect the normal delivery of comfort services at any of our clients’ properties. Included in our maintenance and inspection procedures are preventive maintenance tasks at specified periods which may include, but are not limited to oil changes, lubrication, minor adjustments, filter changes, motor overhauls, control calibrations, etc. Results are then documented in a formal maintenance program so we can track and forecast equipment deterioration and machinery failure before they occur.

In addition to ensuring reliability, extending equipment life cycles, reducing/eliminating unplanned breakdowns and ensuring overall tenant comfort, our PM program maximizes operational savings for our clients.

Our programs are designed around the avoidance of unplanned breakdowns and repairs whenever possible and to maintain our client’s equipment in optimum operating condition. Our custom programs include periodic non-destructive tests, measurements, adjustments, parts replacement and cleaning.

To learn how we may be able to improve the overall performance of your mechanical systems, contact our engineering experts today.

Relearning Service Standards Post Pandemic

We are thrilled to hear reports of many clients and industry friends opening their doors again.  While safety is of critical importance when returning to work post pandemic, as a company we have created a mandatory virtual reactivation and orientation for all associates returning to work. This covers many safety protocols as outlined by the CDC and refresher training for PPE and chemical usage. 

We understand in addition to safety training there is an essential need for refreshing service standards when it comes to customer and employee interactions. Many standards that have been ingrained and consistently practiced throughout the hospitality industry over the years look different today. For example, having meaningful interactions while remaining distant, expressing an emotional connection from behind a face covering and the hospitality zone known as “10 & 5” moving to “10 & 6”. 

Since our return to the workplace, we found some helpful tips for managers and team members to adjust to necessary changes and navigate comfortably within our crowded facilities. 

  1. Keep Smiling! Yes we can still read facial expressions while under that mask. This has been a fun ice breaker for the team.
  1. Associates along with some customers are trying to get used to adjustments for basic interactions, like escorting a guest to a specific location. Even while wearing a face covering we still must provide others appropriate physical space and always keeping our face covering intact, so speak more loudly and clearly while maintaining a safe distance. 
  2. Same as before, eye contact and a nod is important to let a guest or coworker know you are listening intently and and understand their message. 
  3. Something as simple as delivering a guest request could feel quite awkward with new safety measures.  While some properties have procedures in place to deliver as far as the door, others may require attendants to enter a guest room.  Whatever the standard, ensure your employees are comfortable and have opportunities to practice each process.
  4. As many in the industry are navigating through this new normal it is important to take a regular pulse on how our employees are doing and feeling. Be sure they know how to escalate a request where they may not fully understand. When in doubt have a manager or office staff follow up to ensure your employees and customers have resources along the way.

It is obvious that nonverbal communication is more important now than ever.  Continue to role-play scenarios during your daily briefings.  The ultimate goal is having an empowered team, well-versed and comfortable engaging with one another, always creating a warm and hospitable environment.

people wearing masks sitting at desks with arms raised

We would love to hear how you have changed service standards within your properties and facilities. Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Safely and Effectively Managing Chemicals Within a Public Facility

Many people have become much more aware of cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and cleaning processes these days. Previously the price point or a fresh scent may have intrigued your interest though now you may realize other chemical factors are so critical in disease prevention in the workplace and at home. 

During my time in the hospitality industry I have been able to find great ways to effectively manage chemical processes and procedures. Here are some practices that hopefully can assist within your facility, home office and everyday housecleaning. 

Smiling hotel cleaner using cleaning cloth to clean air conditioning unit

1. Have a strict policy in place on what chemicals are allowed within your facility. This begins by collaborating with your management, front line operators, procurement staff and vendors.  The majority of time your hotel and facility managers have the knowledge needed to make smart choices based on hands-on experience, as well as guest and client feedback.  Once you have established chemical products, clearly communicate this information with all associates handling them at any given time. A good practice is to post approved cleaning chemicals including, areas of application, manufacturer’s instructions, safety tips and PPE needed for each. 

In addition, read the fine print of your vendor agreements to ensure there are absolutely no chemical substitutions. If there are delays for any reason, they must obtain written approval before sending anything else.  Also, have your receiving and storeroom attendants well-informed on carefully verifying incoming deliveries.

2. Test various products before making a decision and exercise this process when considering a product change. New formulations are coming out all the time and I anticipate this will be happening more often moving forward. As a start, the Environmental Protection Agency has a registered product listing that meet various virus claims. This list is very fluid so continue to monitor updates. For those in the hospitality industry, our chemical vendor partners should have the most up-to-date resources for their product line. Continue to meet with them on a regular basis to find the best fit for your property’s needs.

3. Be a smart shopper looking at every factor impacting your overall labor cost.  Not every spray bottle is created equal. For example, comparisons should take into account everything from first application of the chemical to the finished result. We hear quite a bit about contact “dwell” time.  Associates must understand how long the particular chemical in use must stay wet to be effective, the proper “kill time”, and that it is not a quick spray and wipe. Evaluate and equate what timing looks like as well as other factors to account for such as; safety and environmental considerations to be aware of, required specialized training and PPE, bottles, supplies and mode of delivery.  

4. Along with finding the right chemical, thorough associate training must be conducted before anyone works independently. At times labeling is very similar if buying from the same manufacturer so it is important to retrain all staff during any chemical change period to review specific manufacturer directions and changes in PPE. This is a time when having the right chemical vendor partner that supports the training process is important

Man conducting chemical training

5. Another important tip is checking accuracy of dilutions. Many times facilities prefer concentrated options versus ready-to-use bottles which can reduce costs for yourself and business partners. I am an advocate as well though always train property managers to never put chemistry in the hands of our associates. No matter how skilled and experienced in handling cleaning chemicals, manual pours and mixing is not an option.  It is important to install dispensing stations wherever possible keeping dilutions at a safe and effective level. Ideally your chemical vendor will visit on a regular basis to verify everything is mixing and working as efficiently as possible, keeping your facility in pristine condition. 

Difficult circumstances, like those we are all currently experiencing, can provide an opportunity for a company’s leaders to take a step back, sharpen their skills and return with a higher quality and safer approach to products and services within their organization. If you have any tips of your own, share them in the comments section below.

Project Ideas for Your Engineering Teams During the Pandemic

With many public facilities closed or open on a reduced schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, the limited foot traffic and isolation period provide an opportunity for engineering and facilities teams to work on back of house and certain common area projects that normally require planning and scheduling due to tenant traffic. Our engineering team serving commercial and residential properties in Southern California has been doing just this. While these projects minimize our employees’ exposure to common area spaces, tenants and guests of the building, they are crucial to our engineering team’s role: protecting our client’s assets and overseeing the mechanical systems during operating hours.

Our Engineering Services team in Southern California compiled a list of projects that your engineering or facility teams can address during the next few weeks or months:

  • Detail the onsite fire pump room and equipment
  • Roof and roof drain cleaning
  • AHU plenum and duct cleaning
  • Coil sterilization
  • Ladder and tool inventory updates
  • Curb painting
  • Parking areas maintenance
  • Generator cleaning and painting
  • Address stairwells and certain common areas that typically require planning and scheduling

How are your engineering or facilities teams addressing your assets and projects during this unprecedented time? Leave a comment below.

Staying close to associates during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented and difficult situation for people around the world. With so much uncertainty around the virus and its effects on our lives, we believe that communicating with our team on various levels is key to keeping them safe, healthy and well-informed. With a team of over 8,000 employees located across the country, it is of paramount importance to our leadership team that we are regularly communicating with our employees on how to stay healthy, how we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what that means for our operations. How can other service providers or hospitality companies ensure they are reaching their employees with important information? Here are a few of the ways we have used existing communication platforms to effectively communicate with our employees during this difficult time:

  1. Mass Texting – The majority of our employee base are hourly housekeeping, stewarding, EVS and food & beverage associates who are dependent on text messages instead of email communication. Employing mass text messages, supplemented by with email communications, has been one of the most effective ways for us to communicate our updates and pandemic response across our company.
A screenshot of a cell phone

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  • SHINE on Shift – We developed our weekly SHINE on Shift communication in 2017 to easily and effectively communicate important information to our teams in the field. Our SHINE on Shift includes important topics such as our mandatory training topics, pre-shift calendar, benefits information, best practices, department updates and safety information. During this pandemic, we have added additional information around COVID-19: our pandemic response plan, CDC recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19, and other essential COVID-19-related information for our managers to communicate at their properties or facilities. Here is a snapshot of our SHINE on Shift from March 13th.
  • Mandatory Webinars – Our Operations and Safety leaders have been hosting daily webinars for our Supervisors and Managers at our hotels, casinos and resorts. The goal of these webinars is to keep our leaders in the field informed as well as listen and respond to their questions and concerns.
  • Dedicated Safety Site – Our Safety team expanded their safety-dedicated website to include a section on COVID-19. People within our organization can access the site at any time to review coronavirus-specific FAQs, guides, our company’s response, best practices, and CDC and OSHA recommendations/guidance.

How has your company ensured communication is reaching your team? Leave a comment below.

Project SEARCH Partnership

We believe in the importance of recognizing the positive impact we can influence in our local communities, nationally and globally. That is why The Service Companies is proud to partner with Project SEARCH, a national program with a mission to help young adults with disabilities transition successfully from high school to productive, adult life by placing them in internships and giving them work experience. In Washington DC, Project SEARCH is in partnership with The District of Columbia School System and SEEC, a private, non-profit organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In January, we hosted our first Project SEARCH intern, Denise, as a Housekeeping Aide at our client’s luxury hotel property in Washington, DC. Prior to her internship each day, Denise receives classroom instruction focused on effective workplace communication, how to build a resume, budgeting lessons, and travel training along with other skill development that is important in the workplace. At her internship at The Intercontinental Hotel, Denise received step-by-step training from our Room Inspector, Keeva. As a Housekeeping Aide Denise inspects vacant, clean rooms, and ensures that all room standards are met. Denise works side by side with Keeva, who inspects Denise’s room and provides feedback, and with a job coach provided by the local Project SEARCH team.

Amanda Pascoe, Area Manager of Washington, DC, who works directly with Denise, had this to say about working with the Project SEARCH: “Project SEARCH is an amazing program that allows students with disabilities to learn and grow in the workforce. It teaches them basic occupational skills that will set them up for success in the future. Denise has been with us since the beginning of January. She lights up the room when she walks in and works hard with our inspector Keeva to ensure our guestrooms are ready for our guests. She is working hard every day to learn our cleanliness and room setup standards and many she knows already.”

With Denise already a productive member of our team, we look forward to expanding this program to other properties and providing temporary and potentially permanent employment to many Project SEARCH interns.

Our Top Picks from the ISSA Show North America

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Several of our leaders had the opportunity to attend the cleaning industry’s most important event of the year – ISSA Show North America – where top manufacturers and suppliers showcase innovations. Holly Borrego (Regional Vice President of Operations – West), Jimmy Rakowski (Area Vice President of Operations), Ana Rodriguez (Director of Continuous Improvement) and Alan Ching (Director of Operations) walked, tested and brought back some of their top picks from the ISSA Show:

  1. Karcher/Brain Corporation Robotic Chariot iVac – Due out in the spring, this is one of the pieces of equipment we are most excited to see in the field.
  2. Karcher MC-130 plus Sweeper – used for large scale commercial cleaning of parking lots and such, these machines cover 2000 square yards in an hour!
  3. Zan Compute’s Zanitor – A smart facility AI platform for smart  washrooms with advanced sensing and machine learning. Our partnership with Zan Compute enables us to offer this service to our customers on a complimentary basis.
  4. 3M water-based stainless steel cleaner – Not only is this cleaner food safe, most importantly it contains no oil and contains Scotchguard to protect the surface from fingerprints after cleaning.
  5. Space Vac carbon fiber poles – Extending to allow cleaning up to 30 feet in the air without a lift! Space Vac’s kit can attach to a shop vacuum if you choose to buy only the attachments. As you can see, the Space Vac attachments are extremely lightweight.
  6. Makita back-pack vacuum – Weighing less than 10 lbs., this vacuum has interchangeable batteries for continuous run time.
  7. Purell – Purell’s cleaning products with a 30 sec Norovirus kill time are also food safe.

In addition to scoping out the newest technology, our team took part in various discussions and events that occurred throughout the show. Holly Borrego discussed the impact of automation in the cleaning industry, how it changes your RFP response, and the benefits to the business with Head of Business Strategy at SoftBank Robotics America Kass Dawson at “Rethink Your Cleaning Process from RFP to Confirmed Clean: A Conversation”. The Service Companies was also a proud sponsor of ISSA’s Hygieia Network’s 2019 Awards and Networking Reception, in which Holly Borrego participated as one of the founding members of the organization.  Over 1,000 people attended the event at the Bellagio.

Ana shared what she enjoyed most about the experience:

Overall, becoming more aware of what’s out there and getting to know the people that make a difference in the industry was for me the best part. Getting the face-to-face explanation from these innovative vendors on how their technology works was valuable, especially as we evaluate which technologies to introduce within our properties and accounts.”

Leaders in Service

Jessica Uriostegui

At The Service Companies, our associates are the key to providing a superior client experience. No matter the level, department or service segment, our dedicated associates allow us to perform at the highest level and cultivate a strong company culture. This is why we developed Leaders in Service, a series of interviews recognizing the high-performing associates, who have launched or continued their hospitality careers at our company. 

Jessica Uriostegui is The Service Companies’ Director of Field Talent Acquisition. She is responsible for the recruitment of associates at our Managed Services hotel, casino, and resort accounts across the country. 

What roles have you held at The Service Companies? How long have you been with us? Jessica Uriostegui

I have been with The Service Companies for 9 years. I started as an Operations Staffing Manager for our staffing accounts in South Florida. From there I moved on to Taskforce Manager, Accounts Manager in Arizona, Human Resource Manager for San Antonio, Regional Human Resource Manager for Texas, Regional Director of Talent Acquisition and now in my current role I am the Director of Field Talent Acquisition.

What does your job entail?

I lead the Field Talent Acquisition function in executing the full cycle strategy for attracting, sourcing, and selecting talent. I also monitor recruiter performance, activity and requisition by weekly reporting and metrics monitoring.

What do you love most about your position?

Interacting with all of our amazing teams and clients across the regions.

How do you stay motivated and how do you motivate your team? 

I think our best motivation in the talent field is being a pivotal part in placing associates within our departments, creating long term relationships and watching them grow and develop within the industry.

Outside of work, how do you spend your time? What are you passionate about and what do you enjoy doing? 

Outside of work my time is dedicated to my 4 amazing kids. Being a mom is what I am most passionate about. I enjoy spending time with my kids and supporting them in the sports or activities they are involved in.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while working at The Service Companies?

My biggest accomplishment was starting a job at The Service Companies completely outside my comfort zone and becoming one of the top performers in my region within the first year. Winning the first ever President’s Award was nice too!

What advice would you give those looking to launch their hospitality careers or considering joining our team?

Understand and research the industry and make sure you have a passion for hospitality because everything we do involves providing great customer service to our team and our clients.

Every day, people are starting their hospitality careers with The Service Companies. Join our team today to do the same! Apply here.

Read other posts in our Leaders in Service Series:

Preparing for Hurricane Season

With a large number of our properties in the southeast regions of the United States, preparing for hurricane season is something we take very seriously at The Service Companies. As a business partner to resorts, casinos, hotels and various other facilities at risk of hurricanes and tropical storms, we train and make our associates aware of each property’s emergency plan right from the start.

Storms in these regions are inevitable this time of year, but it is hard to be sure when, and where, a hurricane is going to hit. After experiencing some of the most severe tropical storms and hurricanes, our team knows that the key to ensuring safety on property is to be prepared, and with hurricane warnings coming days in advance, there is some time to prepare your building and guests for the storm ahead.

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Here are some important tips to remember when preparing for a hurricane:

Hurricane season calls for extra support, but staffing may be limited due to road conditions and the need for associates to be with their families. To work around this issue, it helps to have a “Storm Team” in place. This team, comprised of associates from different departments, is given living accommodations on property for the duration of the storm to support efforts.

While you have more manpower several days out, get exterior preparations done early. Anything that is not securely mounted must go indoors. Items such as waste receptacles and exterior furniture need to be moved to a safe location within the garage, storage area or lower level of the building. Balcony tower furniture can be stacked inside of the guest rooms. This also comes in handy for people to rest and ride the storm in the lower level of your property.

Many times, your hotel guests are unable to travel during the storm and must stay on property. If this becomes the case, remember to do the following:

  • Keep guests informed through regular communications. This includes items such as storm updates, evacuation plans and stairwell locations, safe areas to be within the building (i.e. away from windows), available food options and services during this period.
  • If your property rooms have outdoor space, be sure guests know to bring any personal items inside. Before heavier winds approach, take walks around the building to verify all is clear.
  • If you have guests in need of extra care or that use assisted equipment, make sure to make this information known to your team in the case that they need immediate assistance during the storm.
  • Pre-pack emergency kits so they can be delivered and/or available to each guest. Kits should include: bottled water, flashlights, extra linens, paper products, amenities, trash bags, and dry snacks.
  • Have battery sources available to charge devices, as this is a common request when electricity goes out.
  • Organize indoor activities and keep an inventory of games, especially for families with children.
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