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Four Housekeeping Myths that are Costing You More than You Think
By feature writers Naomi L. Stark and Amy Bair
Do your Housekeeping & Maintenance departments still use manual tracking? (Most still do!) How much paper do you think they use? These two departments are definitely the last to go "paperless" in hotels. We've updated and upgraded most departments in our hotels except those. Why is that? Perhaps today's article will be a tipping point, permanently shifting our industry forward, at least for you.
Let's begin by getting down and dirty with some hard facts:
Are you thinking ‘I do not believe that for one second!'? I have an example. "Citigroup, a large financial services company, determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year." 1 That is a big savings for such a small change! Let's make this relevant to our industry…
How many trees do you think are affected by this?
Oh wait, it gets even better (well, worse actually):
Ahhhh, "But we buy recycled paper!" and... "We have a recycling program at our hotel!" That's great but those figures above are current. That means much more can be done! And perhaps more importantly, more money can be saved at your hotel.
Let's talk about some current myths that get in the way of streamlining housekeeping, making them a little more green, and moving in the direction of the 21st century. Here are four Myths & Facts for your consideration that might motivate you to start drastically reducing the amount of paper your property consumes.
Housekeeping Myth 1: Manual systems are more cost effective and faster than electronic options.
Having just detailed the cost of paper, let's put the spotlight on how much paper is used by Housekeeping, a predominantly paper-based department: schedules, room assignments, inspections, maintenance tickets, deep cleaning tracking, etc... Let's focus on just one of these: Room Inspections.
Additionally, how many hours, and therefore labor dollars, do you think is spent on this paper only process?
FACT: In a recent sampling per room:
Front desk went "paperless" a decade ago. Why can't housekeeping automate as well? Web-based systems do currently exist that help Housekeeping & Maintenance staff eliminate paperwork and improve efficiency. As we just saw, this is resulting in substantial labor cost savings and increased productivity as these individuals are now able to put their time and energy where it belongs - on their people and their product, not on paperwork. If you could capture and document inspections from anywhere on your property paperlessly, how much paper would you save, and how much would your productivity numbers increase?
Myth #2: Manual systems are effective.
FACT: Paper tracking does nothing for progress. Much like running on a stationary bike, you are spending time and energy and ultimately just spinning your wheels. You aren't going forward.
If your inspection process is effective, you will know the answers to the following questions:
If you don't know the answers to those questions, don't despair! A system like the Stark Housekeeping PM Touch SystemTM can answer all of those questions for you and get you moving forward ending the fruitless wheel-spinning of yesterday.
Myth: Implementing a software system will require a capital investment
FACT: Many cloud-based web systems are super affordable. There is usually a low setup fee and then a low monthly maintenance fee. The upside to going cloud-based is that somebody else hosts all of the servers and hardware.
Maintenance is not your responsibility. Additionally, many systems allow you to customize to fit your hotel. Do you have certain items in your hotel you want to ensure are cleaned regularly? In your new system, you can ask pointed questions to ensure these areas are addressed.
Myth: We need computer savvy people
FACT: Does your staff know how to use their mobile phone? For many systems, that's all you need!
AT&T Case study: 3 In 2001, after implementing a company-wide intranet, introducing online billing to customers and instituting several e-systems they eliminated the number of sheets of paper listed below:
Moving the newsletter to an online format saved 100 trees and 2,400 gallons of oil. Moving to intra-company email saved 2,174 trees and 50,000 gallons of oil.
Shifting to online billing for business accounts eliminated over 22 million sheets of paper. Cost of rendering a bill:
Money saved for only the 43,000 new customers AT&T added from January, 2001 to August, 2001: $730,000
As you can see, we have the opportunity to improve the environment just by making changes to one department. These changes will not only reduce pollution but they will also save your hotel money AND increase efficiency and scores! It cannot get any better than that! So, become a "tree-hugger" - even if it's a money-tree!
About the Authors:
Naomi L. Stark, President & CEO Stark Service Solutions, LLC, Current Former Chair, AH&LA Technology & E-Business Committee
An expert in hospitality operations, Ms. Stark founded Stark Service Solutions, LLC in 2001 following several years with Starwood Hotel and Resorts as an Area Director of Guest Satisfaction Management. Ms. Stark has developed transformative training and software programs helping her clients internationally achieve remarkable successes in satisfaction and loyalty ratings. Ms. Stark is very involved in industry organizations and is an industry event speaker, including HITEC and the AH&LA Fall Conference. www.starkservicesolutions.com
Amy Bair, Lead Consultant Business Process Excellence, LLC
Amy Bair is a Problematic Process Problem Solver focused on the Senior Care and Hospitality industries. Her company Business Process Excellence (www.BPeNow.com) partners with organizations to improve productivity, increase revenue and reduce costs. She recently worked with a hotel where together they created a method for saving over $30,000 in housekeeping wages annually. Sign up for her monthly newsletter here.
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