Author: Laurie Katinos (page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

Tips For Safely Maintaining Your Public Areas During Winter Conditions

Shoveling Snow

Our Public Area and Housekeeping teams have been digging out from the recent snowfall in many parts of the country though we still have a long way to go. As we operate properties in all types of climates nationwide, each season brings different cleaning challenges. When asking about top challenges for cleaning public areas in winter, many will say snow and salt removal. The more it snows the more salt gets put down to melt the snow and eventually gets tracked into our facilities, potentially damaging our buildings and the surrounding environment.

We understand that shoveling and plowing alone cannot always keep the areas safe and that is when salt de-icers come into play. We want to share some cleaning and maintenance tips for these conditions in order to help keep your areas safe and clean, while managing salt being tracked in and around your property.

Many times the person who purchases or applies de-icers at our properties is not the same person responsible for cleaning it up inside or out. The key is to use de-icers moderately and to apply what product works best for your situation. There are many types of de-icing salts such as: sodium chloride “rock salt”, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride, which is far less damaging to concrete, plants and the environment. There is also an opportunity to add sand to provide grit for added traction. Whichever product is being used, there is the challenge to stay ahead of potential damage.

Many times salt is applied very close to the entrance. For maximum melting results, it is best to apply the product more sparingly in the highest foot traffic areas. A salt pattern should begin with product applied more heavily away from the entrance and less as you get closer to the entrance. The natural foot traffic spreads it as people come in.

Proper application can provide substantial cost savings especially for repairs to interior spaces and corrosion of metal door entrances. It also prevents harm to landscaping with over application of salt too close to vegetation.

Proper entrance matting is the next line of defense to keep the “wet” and salt outside.

Take a look at the quality and placement of matting at the property entry points. Entrances may have a scraper mat as you enter so guests can release some of the snow followed by a longer wiper mat made of absorbent material that can wick the water and salt off the shoes as they walk.

If heavy snow fall is occurring, these absorbent mats need to be changed when they become saturated, so be sure you have enough on hand to make frequent changes to all your outside entrances.

Although matting selection and placement is ultimately decided by the facility manager, it is up to all of us to maintain and inspect these often to ensure they remain in good condition.

Even with having extra matting in place, salt will still make it inside!

Your Public Area team must be ready to remove it in the most effective manner. Entrances should be swept and cleaned often during these times.

Vacuuming can work well for salt removal though for safety reasons make sure your team knows not to vacuum damp or wet carpets because it is an electrocution hazard. Also vacuuming up damp salt and soil can damage your equipment.

In addition, it is important to train your staff to thoroughly vacuum the carpeted areas surrounding the matting. Even if sufficient matting is placed, there is always more salt and soil deposited as guests are walking off.

Vacuuming often is a great start, though you must also have a regular interim carpet cleaning program in place in order to tackle problem areas near entry points. This will help eliminate the salt stains that tend to build up and seem to return even after you extracted the area.

We prefer our interim clean be done every couple days during heavy snows and the salting that follows. At times, an extraction method just using hot water with an added neutralizer can provide great results pulling the salt and soil out of the carpets. Although your carpet cleaning generally occurs during off-peak periods, be sure you have a floor blower available to speed the drying time. Once dried, always thoroughly vacuum the area.

Because salt and de-icers can wear on marble, one thing to keep in mind during the heavy winter days is to not grind marble. Reserve this process for days where salt will not be tracked into the property.

Be sure not to neglect your equipment during this period, as they are working extra hard. You will need to provide extra cleaning care and maintenance.

Before you know it, spring will be back again though your work is not complete yet. During any long thaws or once spring approaches, be sure to thoroughly wash down walkways, the base of your building and areas near vegetation to disperse product residue and prevent further damage.

Having a good prevention plan in place and keeping the salt outside your facility should provide a safe and clean facility and you will be off to a fresh start for spring.

Tips For Giving Thanks to Your Associates

We would not be able to provide quality service without the help of our dedicated associates. That is why we have created a work culture that is built on the foundation of associate recognition, celebrations, and engagement. This Thanksgiving, we are sharing some expert tips on how you can give thanks to the associates who work hard to make your business thrive. Want to know the best part about the following tips? They can be used each day throughout the year to recognize a job well done!

  1. A day does not go by without employees giving their all. It is all about leaders giving back and recognizing that hard work as often as possible.
    Popcorn & Cotton Candy (1)
  1. When guests share positive feedback, or a great service rating, spend time researching who made that possible.
  1. Always post and share customer compliments with your team. Take it a step further by including the associates’ photo and highlight details about the recognition.
  1. Write a personalized note of appreciation.  A simple “thank you” is great, though, be specific in how they made a positive impact.  We expect employees to be detailed with their work, so we should be detailed with their feedback.
  1. We all love a surprise treat now and then. Keep some goodie bags handy for that perfect moment to make someone’s day. You can always drop in your personalized note to make it extra special.  Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 9.32.26 AM (1)
  1. Some accomplishments happen without a manager noticing.  Encourage associates to share and acknowledge other team members whenever possible by creating a post-it board for their notes.
  1. Recognize their special dates outside of work such as work anniversaries or birthdays. More importantly, if they’re working that day, go out of your way to make the day extra special.
  1. Utilize every outlet to share recognition and congratulate team members. At The Service Companies, our leaders have several opportunities to share successes and engage in employee recognition by participating in the following:
  • Mandatory pre-shift meetings each day
  • Weekly recognition in SHINE on You through our company wide SHINE on Shift email
  • #TeamMemberTuesday across our Social Media platforms
  • Monthly recognition of our Top Performers through inspection and incentive programs
  • Quarterly In-brief newsletter
  • Annually through our company wide President’s Awards
  1. With all recognition, be consistent!  Morale can easily decline the moment you forget someone’s special day or don’t recognize a team member’s achievements. Robert Knowles- 70th. Birthday(2) (1)

For more information about how we focus on associate engagement to create a positive work culture at each property, visit https://www.theservicecompanies.com/contact/.

Work Relationships To Be Thankful For

As you look back on some of the most memorable moments you have experienced while working in the hospitality industry, many different events may come to mind. Most of your memorable moments may have taken place at your property, but mine took place in a more unconventional location- in a hospital’s delivery room with a housekeeper named Marie.

While working as a Manager at a resort in Orlando, the morning started the same as it normally would. I drank my morning cup of coffee and prepared my assignments for the staff. When Marie walked in, I could tell she didn’t seem herself. By this point, Marie was well into her pregnancy and her husband was working out of town. I decided to personally escort her to see a doctor.

Upon arrival, the hospital staff thought I was Marie’s Creole translator. They began asking questions as I helped Marie fill out necessary paperwork. Once the hospital staff understood we worked together, they asked me to find a seat in the family waiting area. Shortly after Marie made her way to the delivery room, a nurse handed me a gown and booties and I was escorted to a seat next to Marie. At first, I was surprised I ended up in the delivery room, but I quickly reached out to hold her hand and supported her along the way. Marie then welcomed her baby girl into the world.

Laurie blog post graphic

I have always believed that bonds between associates extend far beyond the walls of a property. In our industry, many associates like myself have lived and worked a distance from friends and family. Having the support and sense of extended family at work was very important to me. Employee challenges became my challenges and their accomplishments were our accomplishments; we kept our eye on goals together.

I always kept an open door and scheduled one-on-one time with the associates. Although our meetings always started with a bit about work, we were excited to later catch up on family and discuss our personal lives. I was grateful to be a go-to for employees needing advice about outside challenges. Although not knowledgeable in every area, I tried my best to listen and share advice.

Through close engagement with my team, many began to look forward to swapping new recipes at our covered dish events throughout the year. I couldn’t walk in the door without bringing a double batch of corn casserole. I could still taste Van Kim’s sticky rice and Melanie’s Lumpia. Terry always sent me home with an extra plate of her amazing peanut butter cookies.

Written holiday cards always started early to get them all in with a personalized note. I still look forward to receiving cards today from former coworkers. That valuable time spent at work was as much mine, as theirs.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I recognize how grateful I am for many unforgettable moments and traditions and look forward to creating future memories with my teams. Now that I have shared my story, The Service Companies would love to hear yours. What memory from working in the hospitality industry are you most thankful for? Let us know in the comments section!

Tips for Spring Break Travel

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With spring break travel approaching there are many dynamics to consider in order to best prepare your team. Since we have properties in all regions of the US, preparations vary based on weather, school schedules and other factors.

We have already begun speaking to our leaders in the field to prepare our teams for what will be happening one or two months from now.

Advance Planning

Advance Planning is critical when it comes to added stock of supplies, your staffing plan and seasonal uniform changes.

Get an earlier start on inventory of supplies. Since many of these may need additional budget approval and have longer lead times, you don’t want to find yourself running out of items such as; cribs, rollaway beds, room linen and pool towels.

If you haven’t begun pulling your extra pool and deck furniture out from storage for an inspection and deep cleaning, it is definitely that time. Even though resort properties may have a busy pool deck all year around, it is very common needing more to accommodate the spring break crowds.

As the temperatures begin to change, it is time to determine the appropriate spring HVAC “comfort” settings with your facilities team. We want the first impression at check-in to be a comfortable and welcoming experience. In addition, determine the best placement for your window treatments. As we welcome more sunlight during the winter months, keeping draperies closed a bit more will assist in cooling down the room during spring and into summer.

Review your uniform par levels for departments requiring a seasonal change. Ensure your associates are looking and feeling their best.

Staffing Plan

During these seasonal periods, the typical staffing plan will fail. Expect higher volume in all areas and plan accordingly. It is important for the leaders to communicate adjustments early so associates can make arrangements outside of work as well. Extra support will be needed in rooms, public areas, and food & beverage outlets to accommodate spring break travel. Some areas to consider;

  • More frequent public restroom checks and monitoring of high traffic areas
  • Providing extra support in the laundry department to expedite additional guest room, pool, and food & beverage linen demands
  • Accommodating additional food & beverage covers and extended outlet hours
  • Anticipate extended time needed in guest rooms. Since spring break typically has higher guest counts and a longer length of stay, this usually requires additional servicing time
  • For our resorts and coastal properties, ideal weather conditions usually prompt later checkouts, so if the weather is cooperating schedule staff accordingly for late services. I find starting some associates an hour later helps cover the late checkouts
  • Since we offer transportation for team members in many markets, this period may require more frequent stops

Many of our associates have children taking school breaks as well, so we try to be as accommodating as possible to allow them necessary time with their families. Sometimes a slight shift on their schedule is a big help during this period.

Setting Your Team Up for Success

Just before the crowds arrive, everyone should be well informed on how they can best contribute to your operation. As we know, in order to be successful with the influx of transient business you must adjust your usual agenda and methods of cleaning.

Be sure your daily pre-shift meetings include these important reminders and everyone is well-informed of the special activities and events happening at the property and surrounding areas. Keep daily events posted and copies readily available for your staff members.

Prepare all the extras for multiple guests and families; items such as extra pillows, blankets, rollaways and cribs. Many of these requests come in during the afternoon and evening hours so be sure to have them “delivery ready” and staged in convenient locations.

Be proactive by delivering extra items during regular services to accommodate multiple guests. In addition to stocking items for guest requests, there are a few to consider as part of the daily service such as; increased linen pars, soap and shampoo. Also, be sure to stock extra paper products in public area closets.

Most importantly, don’t lose sight of your repeat customers that may be visiting during this period.

For many, this kicks off the start of a long spring break travel stretch throughout the spring and summer where families and more transient business visit your properties. It is important to continue discussing the unique needs of travelers during these periods.


The Service Companies’ unique turn-key model provides complete oversight of the housekeeping, public area, EVS, and stewarding departments, including accountability over the productivity, operations and success of the departments. These services allow hotel, casino and resort customers to focus on driving revenues. To learn how The Service Companies’ turn-key model can help your property, contact us.

Driving The Check-In Metric

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When you think of an efficient casino or hotel check-in process, does the Front Desk operation come to mind? As hospitality experts, we all understand that the efficiency of the Front Desk and check-in relies tremendously on what happens behind the scenes within the Housekeeping operation. Without having sufficient inventory of clean rooms, they cannot satisfy early check-ins or unpredictable guest demands.

From my experience as a Front Office Manager and Director of Housekeeping, I developed processes and a guide that would ensure guestroom check-in efficiency. At The Service Companies, we employ these in all our of our Housekeeping departments across the country.

To download a copy of the casino and hotel check-in guide, filled with best practices, fill in your information below.

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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. Because of this, we have put together our spring cleaning tips and resources for hotel and casino housekeeping departments to keep guestrooms clean and fresh.

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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Tips for safely maintaining your public areas during winter conditions

Shoveling Snow

Our Public Area and Housekeeping teams have been digging out from the recent snowfall in many parts of the country though we still have a long way to go.

As we operate properties in all types of climates nationwide, each season brings different cleaning challenges. When asking about top cleaning challenges during the winter season, many will say snow and salt removal. The more it snows the more salt gets put down to melt the snow and eventually gets tracked into our facilities, potentially damaging our buildings and the surrounding environment.

We understand that shoveling and plowing alone cannot always keep the areas safe and that is when salt de-icers come into play. We want to share some cleaning and maintenance tips for these conditions in order to help keep your areas safe and clean, while managing salt being tracked in and around your property.

Many times the person who purchases or applies de-icers at our properties is not the same person responsible for cleaning it up inside or out. The key is to use de-icers moderately and to apply what product works best for your situation. There are many types of de-icing salts such as: sodium chloride “rock salt”, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride, which is far less damaging to concrete, plants and the environment. There is also an opportunity to add sand to provide grit for added traction. Whichever product is being used, there is the challenge to stay ahead of potential damage.

Many times salt is applied very close to the entrance. For maximum melting results, it is best to apply the product more sparingly in the highest foot traffic areas. A salt pattern should begin with product applied more heavily away from the entrance and less as you get closer to the entrance. The natural foot traffic spreads it as people come in.

Proper application can provide substantial cost savings especially for repairs to interior spaces and corrosion of metal door entrances. It also prevents harm to landscaping with over application of salt too close to vegetation.

Proper entrance matting is the next line of defense to keep the “wet” and salt outside.

Take a look at the quality and placement of matting at the property entry points. Entrances may have a scraper mat as you enter so guests can release some of the snow followed by a longer wiper mat made of absorbent material that can wick the water and salt off the shoes as they walk.

If heavy snow fall is occurring, these absorbent mats need to be changed when they become saturated, so be sure you have enough on hand to make frequent changes to all your outside entrances.

Although matting selection and placement is ultimately decided by the facility manager, it is up to all of us to maintain and inspect these often to ensure they remain in good condition.

Even with having extra matting in place, salt will still make it inside!

Your Public Area team must be ready to remove it in the most effective manner. Entrances should be swept and cleaned often during these times.

Vacuuming can work well for salt removal though for safety reasons make sure your team knows not to vacuum damp or wet carpets because it is an electrocution hazard. Also vacuuming up damp salt and soil can damage your equipment.

In addition, it is important to train your staff to thoroughly vacuum the carpeted areas surrounding the matting. Even if sufficient matting is placed, there is always more salt and soil deposited as guests are walking off.

Vacuuming often is a great start, though you must also have a regular interim carpet cleaning program in place in order to tackle problem areas near entry points. This will help eliminate the salt stains that tend to build up and seem to return even after you extracted the area.

We prefer our interim clean be done every couple days during heavy snows and the salting that follows. At times, an extraction method just using hot water with an added neutralizer can provide great results pulling the salt and soil out of the carpets. Although your carpet cleaning generally occurs during off-peak periods, be sure you have a floor blower available to speed the drying time. Once dried, always thoroughly vacuum the area.

Because salt and de-icers can wear on marble, one thing to keep in mind during the heavy winter days is to not grind marble. Reserve this process for days where salt will not be tracked into the property.

Be sure not to neglect your equipment during this period, as they are working extra hard. You will need to provide extra cleaning care and maintenance.

Before you know it, spring will be back again though your work is not complete yet. During any long thaws or once spring approaches, be sure to thoroughly wash down walkways, the base of your building and areas near vegetation to disperse product residue and prevent further damage.

Having a good prevention plan in place and keeping the salt outside your facility should provide a safe and clean facility and you will be off to a fresh start for spring.

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