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. 

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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.
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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, we understand that our associates are the key to providing Service. Above All. No matter the level, department or service segment, our dedicated associates allow us to perform at the highest level and cultivate a strong corporate culture. This is why we developed Leaders in Service, a series of interviews recognizing the high-performing associates across our company.

Jessica Uriostegui is The Service Companies’ Director of Field Talent Acquisition, 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.

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.

Leaders in Service – Cornel Sneekes

At The Service Companies, we understand that our associates are the key to providing Service. Above All. No matter the level, department or service segment, our dedicated associates allow us to perform at the highest level and cultivate a strong corporate culture. This is why we developed Leaders in Service, a series of interviews recognizing the high-performing associates across our company.

The newest addition to our Leaders in Service series is Senior Vice President, Engineering Services, Cornel Sneekes. Before bringing his engineering expertise to The Service Companies to establish our Engineering Services division, Cornel held key executive positions at ABM, ABLE, ISS and was a co-founder, along with our Chairman & CEO, Mike Latham, of MCR Facility Services (now established as The Service Companies Engineering Services division). Since the start of his career in 1981, Cornel has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of facility systems, staffing, labor relations, contract development and delivery of services for data centers, class “A” high-rise, industrial, hotels, medical, retail and truck route services. Learn more about Cornel and the positive impact he has made on The Service Companies through our Engineering Services division!

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What is your role at The Services Companies? How long have you been with us? 

I am currently the Senior Vice President, Engineering Services, a division of The Service Companies. I joined the team in June 2018.

What does your job entail?

As the Senior Vice President, Engineering Services, I am responsible for the delivery of our contractual obligations to customers and expanding our engineering model into different markets across the country. My team and I provide labor, monthly site visits, energy analysis, equipment inspections, preventive maintenance implementation, protection of customer assets and improved ROI on their investments. In addition, I am responsible for the design, development and implementation of custom service delivery models.

What projects have you and your team been working on? 

In my first 12 months my team and I have traveled extensively meeting clients and team members, touring facilities, and introducing our Engineering Services platform to new, existing, and potential customers. We are currently working on a new line of business offerings that will fulfill our main goal of generating value and results for our customers.

Since our Engineering Services division is relatively new, can you tell us what distinguishes our services from other companies that offer engineering services to the facility services and hospitality industries? 

Our greatest differentiator is our ability to adapt and change. We are a group of people that look for continual improvements and out-of-the-box service models that fit the needs of our customers. We accomplish this through the use of technology and strategic partnerships. As a private organization with a senior management team and a board that embraces change, we are not held back by the decision-making processes or “tunnel vision” approaches. This allows us to focus on how to best service and meet the needs of our clients and employees. Change is embraced, communication is valued and employee involvement is treasured.

What do you love most about your position? 

I love the positive effect our team and services have on our customers and their facilities. Creating long-term relationships with these clients, who become friends, is very special. I also enjoy helping my employees see their potential and achieve their personal goals. Having the ability to guide my team members to self-improvement through training, continuing education and working hands-on at the job site brings me a lot of satisfaction. Finding new ways to drive value, improve job site experiences and motivate employees to become their best self brings its own rewards.

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

Identifying opportunities for process improvement is hard work that brings many challenges, but having the ability to work with employees at different locations keeps me motivated. The people we have in this company, and their desire to be the best in what they do, drives me to excel in my areas of responsibility.

As for my team, I keep them motivated by proving a positive work environment and ensuring that they feel valued. Acknowledging a job well done creates an environment where each employee is able to do their best for their co-workers and customers. The challenges that come with the job, paired with defined goals and renewed performance standards, are motivators on their own and keep employees engaged.

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

My greatest passion is my family. My wife and I have four children and three grandchildren, who are the greatest joys in our lives. Watching my children become parents and take on the responsibility of raising children is something that has had such a profound effect on my life. When I am not working I enjoy outdoor activities such as golf, tennis, pickle ball and motorcycle riding. I also enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and learning more about other cultures. Finally, I am a sitting board member at PCRF, an organization that is working to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

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

My biggest accomplishments have been providing a new, positive outlook on how we are moving forward as a company and being part of a team that is committed to providing consistent improvements to the gaming, hospitality and facility services industries.

What advice would you give those looking to join our Engineering Services team? 

Come ready to work and bring your “A game”! The Service Companies is on the path to becoming the best in our fields of expertise and we are looking for dedicated associates that are committed to professionalism and growth. We can promise you a great working experience where you are valued, rewarded and appreciated for all of your efforts.

Contact us for more about The Service Companies’ Engineering Services division.

The Future of Janitorial Services for the Gaming, Hospitality and Facility Services Industries

According to a survey conducted by the IFMA, “poor janitorial service” and a “lack of cleanliness” were among the top three complaints facing facility operations today. These complaints destroy a property’s reputation when shared online and reflect poorly on guest service scores. To combat this issue, management has resorted to pulling staff from other departments to fulfill the janitorial needs of the property. This process is only a short-term fix, as the redistribution of staff creates a lack of productivity in other departments.

Our team of experts have been dedicated to finding the most technologically advanced solution that not only solves cleaning issues, but also improves the guest experience. That is why The Service Companies partners with a best-in-class technology provider to offer smart facility solutions to the gaming, hospitality and facility services industries.

What is our smart facility solution?

Through our partnership with a smart technology provider, we are able to offer a facility solution that uses AI to automate the janitorial process. By installing sensors in strategic areas of the restroom and other public areas, management is able to monitor the needs and cleanliness level of the space, without pulling employees from other departments or hiring additional labor.

How does it work?

By installing smart sensors in or around garbage cans, soap dispensers, faucets and more, management is notified when restrooms and public areas need attention. From a dispenser in need of more paper towels to an overflowing toilet that needs immediate attention, smart sensors send real-time notifications to any smart device for a quick resolution.

In addition, we are able to track usage patterns and traffic flow to project the restroom’s busiest times during the day. This allows management to staff for the need and create an accurate cleaning schedule. Because supplies are replenished when needed, it also saves costs by reducing waste.

What are its benefits?

Implementing our smart facility solutions on property will allow you to experience the following long-term savings:

Time – Instead of checking on each restroom multiple times per day, you get the what, when and where for each janitorial issue that may arise. This allows employees to spend their time attending to other problem areas on property.

Resources – Smart sensors monitor each trash container, toilet paper, soap and paper towel dispenser, and faucet to ensure water and hygiene products are only replenished when needed.

Money – The more resources you save, the more money you save! In addition, the smart sensors eliminate the need to pay associates overtime for spending unnecessary hours patrolling the restrooms areas, along with eliminating the need to hire additional labor to attend to the restrooms.

Status – Negative guest service scores and bad online reviews can be a thing of the past. Notifications from the smart sensors will allow your team to tend to any janitorial issues right after they occur, leaving your facility in prime condition throughout the day.

To learn more about our smart facility solution and the positive effects it can have on your property, contact us today!

Leaders in Service – Alan Ching

At The Service Companies, we understand that our associates are the key to providing Service. Above All. No matter the level, department or service segment, our dedicated associates allow us to perform at the highest level and cultivate a strong corporate culture. This is why we developed Leaders in Service, a series of interviews recognizing the high-performing associates across our coAlan Ching 2mpany.

We welcome Alan Ching, Director of Operations at a casino hotel in Laughlin, Nevada, as our newest addition to our Leaders in Service series. A member of our Managed Services division, Alan has been integral to the segment’s success over the past four years. His passion for the job, dedication to service and his associates, along with his knowledge and expertise in the field, makes him a respected leader within our organization. Learn more about Alan as he reflects on what it’s like to work at The Service Companies!

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

I have been with The Service Companies since January 2015. I started as a Housekeeping Supervisor and have held multiple positions within the company including Housekeeping Operations Manager, Housekeeping Executive, and Assistant Director of Housekeeping and EVS. I have been working as the Director of Housekeeping and EVS Operations at one of our properties in Laughlin, Nevada since June 2017.

What does your job entail?

I am responsible for the overall management of our housekeeping and EVS departments on property. That includes handling finances, scheduling, training and coaching, and making sure our guests have a positive and memorable stay.

What do you love most about your position? 

I love working with associates and guests of different cultures and backgrounds. I also love that everyday is different from the day before. Even when the same associate is performing similar duties as the day prior, the day always brings something new.

How do you stay motivated? 

Providing for my son keeps me motivated each day. I also enjoy watching how hard my bosses work; it drives me to do the same. View More: http://imagodei127photography.pass.us/likeness

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

On my days off, I love spending time with my son. Some of our favorite activities include going to the movies, bowling, and hiking; we do these multiple times each month. I also run a football organization on the weekends where I am the head coach for two youth teams.

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

My biggest accomplishment while working at The Service Companies has been getting nominated for both Manager of the Year within the organization, as well as Emerging Leader of the Year for Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career with The Service Companies? 

Two months after I stepped into my current role as Director of Operations, I went back to my previous location to speak with the employees. Without my knowledge, the entire team gathered in the basement and I walked down to a crowd of employees chanting and screaming my name with excitement. It was in that moment that I realized why I love being in this industry: to make an impact on my employees’ lives.

What do you look for in a potential team member? How can they set themselves apart to start their hospitality careers? 

When it comes to line level employees, I look for a positive attitude. You can teach employees every type of skill, but one thing you cannot teach is positivity. As far as management goes, I love helping my associates grow through the company. I want their dedication and work ethic to prove that they have the ability to take on a management role.

Our associates are launching their hospitality careers each and every day. To do the same, apply today!

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