The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

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Emerging Leaders: Shelly Sauseda

Our Emerging Leaders Program was developed to give individuals within our team the opportunity for growth by providing comprehensive management and leadership training. The Service Companies is dedicated to fostering and investing in our associates’ careers, and as a result, we have a number of tenured associates who have risen through the ranks from Kitchen Cleaners or EVS Attendants to Vice Presidents. Today, we highlight Shelly Sauseda, who recently reached her one year anniversary with us as an EVS Attendant at a casino in Bossier City. During Shelly’s first year, her manager noticed great potential and an eagerness to learn more, and urged Shelly to apply to our Emerging Leaders Program. Currently two months into the six month management training program, which includes learning about the housekeeping and stewarding functions and departments, , including rooms cleaning, office dispatch, room inspections, floor care, kitchens, human resources and project management. We interviewed Shelly about her experience so far.

Shelly Rooms TrainingWhen did you join The Service Companies?

I started at The Service Companies in March 2017 as a Restroom Attendant at a casino property in Bossier City, Louisiana.

How did you learn about our Emerging Leaders Program and what do you hope to take away from it?

I found out about the Program from Dekindra Thomas, the Project Manager at the property where I first started. I want to develop better leadership skills and to be an example so other employees can follow in my steps.

The Emerging Leaders Program involves six months of training. How is your training schedule broken down and where are you currently in your training?

I spend time at different properties learning the ins and outs of each department. I completed my final week  at a casino property in Bossier City, where I learned how to run an efficient and successful housekeeping department. Next I’ll move on to learn about floor care and kitchen cleaning at another casino in the area.

Shelly Dispatch

Can you describe what your typical day-to-day looked like during the housekeeping training portion of the program?

At first, I was cleaning rooms while learning room procedures and how to make beds. After I mastered those tasks, I was placed on dispatch for two weeks to learn about that housekeeping function. Next, I spent one to two weeks learning how to inspect rooms. I was also trained on the responsibilities of a house attendant.

What has been the biggest lesson or thing you’ve learned through the Program?

How to run dispatch was the biggest task I mastered. It requires strong multitasking skills. A Dispatcher has to take phone calls and radio messages while simultaneously managing the computer.  

What has been the most rewarding accomplishment for you since you started the Program?

Being given the opportunity to move forward in my career already feels like an accomplishment. I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about each department’s job functions, including how to be a Dispatcher and the room cleaning inspection process. 

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As you transition to the next stage of your training, what are you looking forward to learning or doing?

I’m really excited to learn how to detail kitchens and polish and wax the floors. My training at the next property will include kitchen deep cleaning, floor care, marble care and stewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the Emerging Leaders Program?

Be strong. Never give up. Push yourself to accomplish the new tasks that come with your position. It’s not always easy, but the outcome will be worth it.

To learn more about our associate programs and career opportunities, visit http://www.theservicecompanies.com/careers/why/.

How We Prepare for the Spring and Summer

Although Mother Nature seems to be confused this year regarding which season it is, summer is finally on its way. With schools beginning to let out for summer break, our luxury hotel properties across the country are increasing in occupancy, specifically with family travelers.

Opening Day WP 1Last month, The Service Companies completed our Annual Spring Cleaning Event, during which our teams cleaned and organized all back of the house areas, including offices, break rooms, storage areas and more. This was our initial step in preparing for the upcoming busy season. Maintaining a well organized back of the house area sets us up for success, as we are then able to quickly identify items needed and alleviate hiccups in service delivery.

jack_cinciAs we further prepare for the summer season, we focus on and place additional effort in stocking up on equipment and supplies, ensuring our staff is full, and providing refresher training to our teams so they are ready for the influx of guests. This includes making sure our teams are equipped with enough linens and amenities to accommodate each room and adjusting as needed. For example, a higher number of families requires us to need more towels than usual. Additionally, property information will be reviewed in our mandatory training meetings before each shift, as an increase in traffic will result in an increase in guest questions.

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While we are spending time preparing for the upcoming summer months, we can’t look too far forward. In May, not only are we stocking up for a busy season, we are celebrating Mother’s Day. We may not be able to give every associate who is a mother the day off, but we can ensure all team members can leave on time or early by making small adjustments to our schedule. Managers also celebrate with pre-shift activities to let everyone know they are appreciated, and to thank them for spending their special day working hard to service our guests.

Carpet Cleaning Processes

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The appearance of a property’s carpets can affect a guest’s experience and impression of the hotel or casino. I have seen occasions where carpet appearance has impacted guest satisfaction survey ratings. Carpets throughout the building are exposed daily to high traffic, heavy soils and spills, and chewing gum, and are many times, the first areas of a hotel, resort or casino to show signs of wear and tear. At The Service Companies, we have spent years evaluating different types of carpet care processes for both carpet deep cleaning and interim maintenance to keep our customers’ properties’ carpets in excellent condition. We have furthered that by partnering with Ecolab and Kärcher for our chemical and equipment needs at all of our customer properties.

 

The Importance of Daily Carpet Vacuuming

Customers normally bring soil, dirt and other types of debris into buildings. A daily vacuuming regimen with a strong suction vacuum cleaner is our best tip to maintain the cleanliness of the carpets. This will pick up the debris and soil, leaving the carpets fresh for the next day. It is also the best chemical-free carpet cleaning method for those who want to avoid using chemicals.

If this daily carpet maintenance is done correctly, then, when the time to shampoo the carpets comes, only a mild shampoo and water is required  to clean the fibers. Because of the daily vacuuming, there will be no soil remaining in the carpet fibers to turn to mud. 

 

The Process of Interim MaintenanceED-Carpet-1

Of course, interim maintenance is required on occasion to keep carpets in good condition. The two processes I detail – encapsulation shampoo and dry carpet cleaning (HOST) – are quick and do not use water, which allow the carpets to be open for traffic immediately after the process is complete. They normally clean the top fiber of the carpets and can be applied frequently.

Encapsulation shampoo: Polymers are used to encapsulate and crystalize particles into dry residue, which is then vacuumed from the carpets right after the process is completed.

Dry carpet cleaning (HOST): This involves a dry cleaning compound with mild soap.

The HOST carpet cleaning equipment has brushes which agitate the compound, clean the fibers, and vacuum them.

 

The Carpet Deep Cleaning Process     FullSizeRender (9) (1)

When it comes time to deep clean your carpets, we prefer hot water extraction and steam cleaning.

Hot water extraction: This is the most common method of carpet deep cleaning, and is recommended by many carpet manufacturers.

Steam cleaning:  In the dry carpet cleaning vs. steam cleaning debate, it’s important to clear up the myth that steam is actually used to clean your carpets. While home and commercial machines use hot water, which gives off steam, the steam itself does not clean carpet.

 

To inquire about our carpet cleaning services, visit http://theservicecompanies.com/contact/.

Leaders in Service: Stephanie Leger

Our next Leaders in Service series feature is Stephanie Leger, Corporate Compliance Auditor and support for our hotel, casino and resort properties across the country.  Prior to joining our team, Stephanie held a number of roles with The Ritz-Carlton brand, including Housekeeping Manager, Front Desk Supervisor, and Group Sales Coordinator, and was a Service Evaluator for Forbes Travel Guide, during which time she was trained and certified in over 550 hotel standards and identified service strengths and opportunities for improvement. We have interviewed Stephanie about her time at The Service Companies, her unique background in inspections and auditing, and what it takes to succeed and grow within our company. Currently, she is providing operational support and expertise to one of The Service Companies’ luxury hotels in South Beach, Miami.

StephanieLeger_1794What roles have you held while with The Service Companies? How long have you been with us? I’ve been with The Service Companies for two years, during which I’ve lead the team in account openings, helped with the expansion of accounts and evaluated how our accounts align with our company and brand standards. At the property I’m with right now in Miami, we’re running about 45 room attendants each day, and I’ve been training new associates every day.

What has kept you on our team, and what do you like most about this company? It’s exciting to be part of a growing company that isn’t just growing in one location, but across the country – over 30 states and counting! We’re also expanding into different calibers of hotels, and I like assisting in creating our company standards as we grow.

What does your job entail? I have a variety of job duties. I travel to our new accounts and assist in setting up the housekeeping department and training newly hired team members. Or, I visit existing accounts and audit the housekeeping department by testing associates’ knowledge and spot checking cleanliness in their rooms.

What do you think makes an Executive Housekeeper successful? Having skills in time management, teamwork and flexibility are important for success.

What do you think is the most important part of your role? Checking in on our current accounts and making sure they performing up to our standards, and if they’re not, assisting them to get them where they need to be.

What would you recommend to someone looking to become an Executive Housekeeper? Learn all the duties of each position of your team. Then as a leader, you’ll be able to understand how each position relies on each other to meet the needs of the guest.

What do you love most about your position? I love visiting our various properties and working with the team to take them to the next level.

How do you stay motivated, and how do you motivate your team? To keep myself motivated, I stay positive. My nickname is giggles; I’m always laughing and in a good mood. Housekeeping can be very challenging, but I use my positive outlook to motivate the team. Also, I work side by side with the team to get the task at hand done.  

Outside of work, how do you spend your time? What are you passionate about and what do you enjoy doing? I enjoy traveling to destinations I’ve never been before and touring the area. When not on the road for work I like to travel to tropical locations and enjoy the outdoors, hiking and fishing.

 

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All.

No matter what level, property or department, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Leaders in Service: Barbara Johnson

 

Our next feature of the Leaders in Service series is Barbara Johnson, Stewarding Supervisor at one of our casino properties in Shreveport, Louisiana. Barbara has been with the Service Companies for over 10 years, and has shown endless dedication and remarkable leadership.

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How long have you been with The Service Companies?

I’ve been with the company for 11 years, working at two properties in the Shreveport area since I was first hired.

What role(s) have you had here and what is your current position?

I started as an EVS Attendant and was promoted to Supervisor. My background includes working on EVS and Stewarding teams and I work closely with The Service Companies’ customer’s Food & Beverage team here in Shreveport.  

What does your job entail?

My job entails making sure my team is able to do their job, from roll call and pre-shift meetings at the beginning of the shift to making sure my team members are where they need to be and has what they need. I provide my team with everything they need to succeed each day.

How do you stay motivated or how do you motivate your team members/coworkers?

I make sure my team knows that the most important part of their job is about respect for themselves, their team and their guests, and I respect them. I motivate them by making sure they have what they need to do well, and also recognize associates with giveaways and announcements to let them know they are appreciated. This past holiday season, we all pitched in for a Christmas celebration, and I made sure everyone felt included and ate well.

What do you like most about your current role?

I love my team and being around people. I enjoy communicating with them about their jobs and training, making sure they have everything they need to succeed.

You have been with The Service Companies for over 10 years. What has kept you on our team and what do you like most about the company?

I love doing my job and I like my bosses. I enjoy the environment of The Service Companies and being a part of the team.

We are thrilled to have such a tenured member on our team. Through the years, we imagine you have experienced and learned a great deal. Is there any advice you’d give to a team member who has joined The Service Companies?

I would tell them to have a positive attitude, by happy and cheerful, and get comfortable with their job.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not working?

I like spending time with my friends and family, and being there for them when I’m needed.

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All.

No matter what level, property or department, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

Building healthy relationships with clients

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By Chip Parmelee

In this current business climate, establishing a healthy relationship with your potential and current customer is paramount since we do business with those we trust.

Creating and fostering relationships with customers takes time and excellent customer service. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years with a number of luxury brands like Marriott International and currently overseeing AAA Four and Five Diamond properties in Southern Florida for The Service Companies, I have developed tips and recommendations on how to go about building these healthy relationships.

  • Know the position/responsibilities of your main contact. Having a thorough understanding of their needs ensures you are providing them what they need to succeed.
  • Learn what you might have in common that both of you can speak to and relate to.
  • Seek to establish a business friendship. Find out what interests them. Reference those interests in conversation, when it makes sense. Does your customer like the local baseball team? Engage them in conversation about a thrilling game or news.
  • If a mistake is made, always professionally apologize for the inconvenience. Take responsibility and assure your customers you will do research to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. For any promises or assurances you make, ensure you follow up.
  • Be genuine. If you are unsure of something, ask questions to clarify your uncertainty and to be sure you and the client are on the same page
  • Insist on inspections. They are healthy for both a vendor and a client. They allow you to identify potential issue before they become larger problem.
  • Get to know all department leaders of those areas your teams service or work closely with. At The Service Companies, one of the teams we work closely with at each property is Maintenance or Engineering. It is important to be known among these departmental leaders. Ask your client to facilitate introductions if there are leaders he or she believes it is important you meet and get to know.
  • Always express your appreciation to the client for giving you their time when visiting or following a meeting.
  • Learn their business. Various departments have distinct business outlooks. Understanding how their department functions will enable you to tailor your service to best fit their needs.
  • Acknowledge your customers by sending greeting cards. It’s a nice gesture for these to include as many as your team members’ signatures as possible along with your business card. Some ideas for when to send a card are:
    • Congratulatory card for a promotion, the birth of a child, or to acknowledge your client’s accomplishments
    • Thanksgiving is the perfect time to thank your client for their business
    • Birthdays
    • New Year

While these tips contribute to building a strong customer relationship, the most important one to remember is email and text are always needed; however, nothing replaces the personal visit or phone call. The more you are able to have a conversation, whether on the phone or in person, the better your relationship will be.

Tips for Spring Break Travel

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When the spring crowds begin to arrive 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. 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 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.

Investing in the careers of our associates

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Occasionally, we are asked “What differentiates The Service Companies from a staffing vendor?” There are many differentiating factors, which we’ve touched on previously on the blog. One very important one is our investment in our associates and their careers.

We invest in each of our team members and their careers. Each associate, no matter their position, has a trajectory of advancement available to them. When possible, we fill open positions with our internal candidates. 250 internal promotions were given in 2017, a number we look to increase as our company grows.

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victor-vargasWe have a number of tenured associates who have risen through our ranks from Kitchen Cleaners or EVS Attendants to Vice Presidents. Victor Vargas, Vice President of Operations – Central Region, joined The Service Companies as Third Shift Kitchen Cleaner in 2002. Within two months, he was promoted to Supervisor, then joined our casino opening team in Lake Tahoe. Shortly thereafter, he became a Project Manager, City Manager and Director of Operations, until being promoted once again to Vice President of Operations – Central Region in 2009.

In addition to the numerous opportunities available within our departmental offices across the country, we also offer career development through our Developing Future Leaders Program. Our Management Training Program, Internship Program and Veteran Management Training Program, all introduce new associates to the tools needed to succeed at The Service Companies and the hospitality Industry. Our Emerging Leaders Program selects high performing individuals within our team and fosters their growth by providing management and leadership training. We also offer scholarship programs for our team members and their children who are enrolled in college or university courses.

For more information about our culture of investing in our associates, visit our website: http://theservicecompanies.com/careers/why/

What the recent NLRB ruling reversal means for the hospitality industry

With the recent reversal on its 2015 ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case, the National Relations Board has given welcome news to hotel owners and executive team: companies are no longer responsible for associates they do not have direct control over. While the ruling provides a clearer guide for what hoteliers are liable for, the hotel industry, which is heavily reliant on staffing vendors and subcontractors in many circumstances, is not in the clear from joint-employment liability.

 

The Political Environment

This reversal has shown how quickly policy can change; and with the ever-changing state of the political environment, it is not out of the question that the Browning-Ferris Industries may be reversed to its 2015 ruling. In fact, Republican Chairman Philip Miscimarra, member of the NLRB, left the board on December 16, and the opening of his seat has the potential to shift the makeup of the board. This potential is slim as the board seat will be confirmed by the Senate, of which the Republican party holds a majority. However, this plus the two additional board seats that will be opening within the next two years should be a cause for concern for the hospitality industry. With such a quickly changing political environment, hoteliers should approach joint employment as if the 2015 ruling of Browning-Ferris Industries was still in place. Not only is it the only way to fully prevent hoteliers and their ownership groups from being held liable for joint employment violations, but creates peace of mind and less work should the NLRB reinstate the Browning-Ferris Industries ruling again.

 

Vendor Contracts

Bryan Wroten, in his article titled “Joint-employer reversal: What hoteliers should know,” addressed legal concerns following the reversal and the importance that hoteliers review the contracts with their subcontractors or staffing providers. Referencing and quoting Dana Kravetz, managing partner at Michelman & Robinson, Wroten writes “It’s likely many hoteliers didn’t take a strong look at their contracts to make sure they only included components to protect them from joint-employer status, such as checking that the contract only maintains franchise standards rather than exerting control.”

 

While this reversal benefits hoteliers, it is important to remain vigilant on potential joint employment issues within a property. Continue to ask your vendors these important questions to fully protect yourself, your management company and ownership group, and review your vendor contracts with your legal team. For guaranteed protection, consider The Service Companies, the only provider of staffing, cleaning and managed services to the hospitality industry that protects a property and ownership from any potential joint employment challenges. We provide a full benefits package and training to our associates, document ID and social security numbers and require all associates to have I-9, W-4, criminal background checks, drug screens and E-Verification validations.

What to consider when hiring newly displaced workers from Puerto Rico

As a result of Hurricane Maria, the United States, particularly Florida, has seen a large influx of Puerto Rican refugees looking for work. This could be great news for the hospitality industry which, with the unemployment rate reported at 4.1% in October and November and the difficulty securing workers through the H2B visa program, has struggled to find labor to fill housekeeping, public area cleaning and stewarding positions.What should the executive teams of hotels and casinos with understaffed departments be taking into consideration as they look to hire from this group of over 200,000 individuals?

First, hiring from this pool of workers is costly. Hotels and casinos must be aware that they will be incurring costs from the recruitment and onboarding processes as well as ongoing fees associated with insurance. Recruitment costs will include background checks, drug tests and e-verification in addition to travel costs to attend job fairs, and relocation and lodging fees for the new hires.

Once hired, these new associates go through the onboarding and training process. While this varies from property to property, at The Service Companies, each of our associates completes a 30-day training program for any of our fully managed services including housekeeping, EVS and Stewarding. The costs that result from training can be high. In 2016, in conjunction with Navigate Corporation, a premier management consulting firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Service Companies took a deep dive to understand the drivers of associate retention and engagement. During this study, we saw that onboarding a new associate could cost thousands of dollars. Depending on how short staffed a hotel or casino is, just the onboarding costs could quickly and easily surpass $10,000 with only a few new hires. On top of this, add the costs for medical and dental benefits, general liability and workers compensation insurance, which will continue throughout the associate’s tenure at the property.

It takes a well-capitalized company or property to be able to successfully recruit this new influx of workers. Located across the country, The Service Companies, the one-stop-shop for managed, staffing and specialty services to the hospitality and gaming industry, is one of the few with the capital and experience (over 30 years) to take on this responsibility. With our turn-key housekeeping, public area/EVS cleaning and stewarding model, we assume full accountability of a hotel or casino’s most challenging departments, handling recruiting, background, drug and e-verification checks, training and insurance. No other company has the same resources, experience or nationwide presence. To learn more, visit www.theservicecompanies.com.

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