Best Practices for Better Housekeeping in Hotels – RANGGO Top Tips
Merriam-Webster defines housekeeping, as it relates to the hospitality industry, as
– The care and management of property and the provision of equipment and services
– The routine tasks that must be done in order for a system to function or to function efficiently
Collins dictionary says that it is
– The part of the part of the organization of a hotel which deals with keeping the rooms clean and properly equipped
– The service that cleans and maintains the rooms
Whatever the definition, one thing is certain. Housekeeping is broader than you think and is one of the pillars (along with luxury, convenience, value, and culinary services) that a hotel stands on.
More importantly, it can make or break the reputation of the place. If an establishment serves food that is not so great, it’s not such as deal breaker as there are other options available to a guest. However, having not so clean rooms is non-negotiable, and will have a negative impact on the success of the organization.
In this article, we present a compilation of top tips for those in housekeeping. From how to increase repeat customers, to productivity gains, to increasing the bottom line through clever staff management and training, and more.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Change of Perspective
Housekeeping is not just about a bunch of glorified housemaids cleaning bathrooms, changing the sheets of the bed, washing used towels, and clearing out the trash. In the fiercely competitive hospitality industry, if you want to outshine competitors, and have guests praise your hotel and be repeat customers, then a better housekeeping department is the ace up your sleeve. Its also a sure shot way of getting guests to spread, by word of mouth, the quality of your establishment.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Boss with a Big Heart
With the highest attrition rates, the housekeeping department is one of the toughest in the hotel industry. Management needs to address staff retention and constantly motivate housekeepers. Experts suggest hiring an executive housekeeper based not just on talent, but with the proper attitude as well. In turn, staff will know that their needs are understood, and that management has their interests in mind. A secure employee is a happy employee, who gives better service and results in satisfied guests.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Spreading the Smiles
Housekeeping staff used to be dull and uninspired, but times have changed. People need to feel good about themselves before making others feel better. A well-motivated staff, having well-groomed appearances, prim and proper presentation topped with a bright smile can warm even the most indifferent of guests. There should be sincerity in their service and nobility in their appearance, in addition to promptness in their action. The motto of the Ritz Carlton best sums this concept, stating “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Recognising the Patterns
One way to endear the guests is to assess and identify customers’ needs even before they know it themselves. Top hotel management know this and take appropriate steps to make sure the staff are well trained in this regard. An example would be for housekeeping to already place a high chair in the room of a couple checking in with a toddler in tow. This anticipation of needs will make any guest feel truly special and pampered.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Part of the Package
While part of the housekeeping department’s goal is to get every nook and cranny of a hotel clean and tidy, hotel management should explore the possibility of making them an integral part of a guest experience. Give them room to reinvent policies and ideas so as to provide for guests in an emphatic manner. For example, empowering housekeeping to provide appropriate gifts or hotel souvenir to guests arriving at the hotel to commemorate an occasion acknowledges their customer’s hidden desire for a complete experience.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Balance the Scales
Housekeeping staff take more time and exert more effort cleaning a checkout room versus a stay-over room, averaging 43 minutes versus 23 minutes respectively. On heavy checkout days, housekeepers’ workload can increase by 80 percent, prompting management to reduce the number of rooms assigned, and therefore reducing productivity. Conversely, on days with fewer checkouts, room attendants would struggle to fill their eight-hour shift. The answer lies in adjusting credit values, such that checkout rooms garnered twice that of stay-over rooms. Adjust daily credit quotas to fill the standard eight-hour shift. Room attendants could work at a comfortable pace no matter what the mix of checkouts and stay-overs. This strategy can increase productivity by as much as 11 percent.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Do Not Hover
The average housekeeping department used to include inspectors, one following behind each attendant to verify that standards were met and maintained. These days properly documented random inspections produce higher quality than continuous inspection of every unit. Better yet, a more efficient solution is to empower your room attendants to release their own rooms and employ a smaller quality-control team to randomly select rooms for inspection.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Quality Equals Rewards
Documentation and scoring a housekeeper’s performance plays a huge part in pinpointing areas for improvement. Conversely, quality scores should be used to recognize and reward superior performance. Financial incentives await those employees who consistently complete their work assignments on time, and for maintaining excellent quality scores. Another form of incentive is to allow those who have completed their assignments, while maintaining a certain quality score threshold, to leave early and still receive a full days wage.
RANGGO Top Tips – Use the Right Tool for the Job
Housekeeping is sometimes literally, back-breaking work. It can help to use certain tools to lighten the load and minimise injury. Lighter, more quiet vacuum cleaners. Powered pole scrubbers for hard to reach surfaces. Proper non-slip shoes. Bed Made EZ bed wedge to help lift the mattress while tucking in the bed sheets. Using the CKI Pillow Genie for faster, easier changing of pillowcases. Carts with wheels that roll easily in carpeted areas. Step tools or ladders. Spring-loaded dirty linen bin risers so staff is not reaching to the bottom of the bin. Gloves and safety glasses. Hudson professional sprayers which can work even upside down to prevent stooping or crouching.
RANGGO Top Tips – Prevention is Cheaper
All the right tools in the world would be worthless if they are not used properly, and may even be detrimental if the user is not knowledgeable. This is where awareness of the risks of the job comes in. 80 percent of all employee injuries occur within the first 2 years. They can come from being struck by or bumping against objects, both sharp and blunt. Lifting and carrying, as well as pushing or pulling heavy loads also accounts for some injuries. But the biggest contributor to workers’ compensation claims, in both frequency and cost, is slipping, tripping, or falling. This injury can be prevented by following some common sense practices such as not standing on the side of a bathtub, avoiding to stand on wet towels, and using non-slip shoes and other tools (see the section titled Use the Right Tool for the Job), as well as proper training. Keep in mind that not only does it cost more to treat an injury, but staff count will be affected as well.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Work’s Hard, So Train Harder
Training begins with staff selection. Consider the physical condition and capabilities of the employee as they relate to the job description. Have physical exams for candidates applying for more strenuous positions. Don’t skimp on training and put new employees to work immediately. They should know the following:
– potential hazards of the workplace and the activities to be performed
– safe and proper lifting techniques
– established safety procedures for working alone
– current training on chemical hazards
– wearing protective equipment when handling cleaning products
– basic and emergency first aid
– washing hands frequently to prevent infection
– training on blood-borne pathogens, and practices to follow if needles or bodily fluids are encountered in the hotel room
– handling a sharps disposal container on the cart for needles and sharps
– wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment for the task
– emergency numbers, and keeping them always immediately available
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Get a Proper Trainer
In most cases, the housekeeper who has worked the longest is tasked with training new recruits. Consider having the employee with the highest cleanliness score provide the initial on the job training. Not only will this mean that quality is maintained and passed on, but it would also be beneficial for the new employee to see actual best practices being used as he/she shadows the trainer. Immediate feedback on the quality of work done by trainees means they learn faster. Additional training should be provided as the new employee eases into the job. Scheduled classroom instruction, conducted by knowledgeable experts, would result in bolstered performance and provide a progress report.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Go to the Gym
Most people are oblivious to the fact that hotels are designed for the comfort of the guest rather than the housekeeping staff. This makes it difficult to improve working conditions for housekeepers by means of better engineering. Space limitations require workers to adopt many uncomfortable postures such as stooping, squatting, kneeling, stretching, reaching, bending, twisting, and crouching. A housekeeper changes position every three seconds. It is estimated that around 8,000 different positions are assumed in a given shift. In addition, forceful movements accompany these awkward body positions. This can ultimately lead to RMI or repetitive motion injuries. The use of proper tools helps alleviate occurring. Additionally, physical conditioning would reinforce a resistance to these injuries as well. Whenever possible, have staff use gym facilities or get a subsidized membership to commercial gyms.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Reduce the Risk
Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI) are a very real (and expensive) cost to any housekeeping department. Proper tools and training can only go so far. Newer approaches need to be considered such as:
Job Rotation – requires workers to move between different tasks at fixed or irregular periods: workers must do something completely different to allow muscle groups already stressed to recover
Job Enlargement – increases the variety of tasks built into the job; breaks the monotony of the job and avoids overloading one part of the body; involves more autonomy and control for the worker
Team Work – can provide greater variety and more evenly distributed muscular work; the whole team is involved in the planning of the work; each team member carries out a set of operations to complete the whole product, allowing the worker to alternate between tasks
Taken as a whole, these innovations should drastically reduce the risk and occurrence of repetitive motion injuries.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – 15 Is The Finest Number
Petra, a risk solutions company based in Cerritos, CA, and is the largest independent insurance brokerage devoted exclusively to the hospitality industry in America, conducted an extensive statistical evaluation of hundreds of hotels across the U.S. They found that when housekeepers clean 15 rooms (checkout or stay over) or less, there is a major reduction in the number of injuries reported. Beyond that, at 16 rooms or more, the number of injuries reported rises significantly.
While conditions are different locally, it helps to use that data as a baseline for the number of rooms that should be assigned per worker per shift. Coupled with new strategies (see the section titled Reduce the Risk) costs due to injuries or increased insurance premiums would be drastically reduced.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Bathroom First
After collecting the trash and used linens, the first thing that should be cleaned is the bathroom since its usually in the far corner. The strategy is to clean from the back of the room to the front, allowing housekeepers to move through the room without tracking dirt and germs back into areas they’ve already cleaned. This routine is to avoid stepping on the wet floor and retracing footprints on the carpets and floors. Then comes the making of the bed, dusting, vacuuming, and finally mopping their way out of the room. Another reason bathrooms are done first is that it takes the most time to clean. Surfaces need to be disinfected thoroughly for the next arriving guest, and to prevent bacteria from spreading to the rest of the room.
RANGGO Top Tips – The Devil is In the Details
More than any other, the one item in a room that will get the most use is the bed. What state it is in will greatly influence the first impressions of guests. Knowing how to tuck in the sheets, comforters, or duvets is just the beginning. A light spritzing of plain tap water should help eliminate creases or wrinkles on the sheets, as it is shaken before being tucked. While a Pillow Genie (see the section titled Use the Right Tool for the Job) is a start, know how to press the air out of the pillow beforehand, so that it stands by itself on its side (but not leaning on the headboard) to give the impression of a “happy” pillow. This is done by pressing the pillow in the middle with both hands and slowly pushing them both out in opposite directions repeatedly until the pillow is flat as a board and about half as thick as when you started. Of course, other things need attention as well. Bathrooms need to be literally spotless, make sure the mirror is streak free. Any pictures on the wall need to be perfectly level, same goes for any lampshade. The alignment of the furniture, as well as small items like soap, pens, notepads, menus, and remote controls may not seem important until a guest with OCD shows up. It helps to think in straight lines and perfect 90-degree angles, and placing objects precisely in the middle of their setting. Dusting and vacuuming every speck should be a standard operating procedure. A special touch would be to have a signature fold for towels, bathrobes and even the toilet paper.
RANGGO Top Housekeeping Tips – Pamper Yourself
If you’re a housekeeper, you know you work hard for the money. But every now and then, make sure you treat yourself to a full body massage at the spa. Along with proper diet exercise and rest, a full body massage certainly goes a long way to help you recover from the stresses your job entails. Not only does it do wonders for the body (e.g. improve blood circulation) but it could just be the ticket to helping you mentally and emotionally face the challenges of having to clean somebody else mess for a living. If your company has gym privileges (see the section titled Go to the Gym) and they have a massage service, use it! You’ve certainly earned it.
There you have it! A greatest hits collection of sound advice from all over the globe. Whether you’re a participating partner of Airbnb, an employee of a Five-star hotel, or simply looking to enter the world of hospitality, there’s bound to be some nugget of wisdom that you’ve picked up. Stay tuned as we here at Your Hospitality Hub & RANGGO Magazine continue to bring fresh insights into the fantastic realm of hospitality and beyond!
Check out our article Revitalizing Hotel Room Occupancy for further Hotel Tips