A Brief Guide to Keeping Your Hotel Clean and Hygienic
The most important and costly department of most medium-sized and large hotels is the housekeeping department. Keeping a hotel clean, sanitary, safe and presentable is absolutely critical to its success, and hiring a head housekeeper is always a crucial appointment for a hotel owner or manager. However, unless you want your hotel to look like Fawlty Towers on a bad day, the appointment of a housekeeper should only be the start of the process.
Your head housekeeper must be prepared to go the extra mile to keep your hotel clean and sanitary. That can sometimes mean coming into work early, leaving late and covering sickness and holiday. Your head housekeeper should also take full ownership for the cleanliness of your hotel – treating their job as if the hotel were their own. This can be a big ask; however, someone who has risen through the ranks at another hotel will probably be someone you can depend on.
The person you employ will probably be in charge of recruiting room attendants, so you should ask any prospective head housekeeper what character traits and experience they look for in staff, and how they would go about identifying them. When recruiting room attendants and front of house cleaners, it may be a good idea to include a practical element to any interview. Take applicants to a dirty room, and have them tell you what needs to be cleaned and tidied.
Perform Regular Audits or ‘Walk Arounds’
Create a checklist of essential standards, and make sure that detailed cleaning is included within the document. This checklist can then be used to audit cleaning standards during unannounced inspections. It is important to use such a checklist as a tool, however, instead of simply filing it away. A meeting should be called with all housekeeping staff after every audit. During this meeting, communicate your findings and devise an action plan with a review date. However high your hotel’s cleanliness standards are, there will always be room for improvement.
Effective Scheduling and Training
It is important to be realistic about what you’re asking your staff to achieve. Schedule accordingly, and make sure you have contingency plans in place in case your cleaning staff fall ill. Training will be a critical facet of your hotel operations, so it is important to schedule accordingly. Manu Sareen, the manager of Green Facilities -a contract commercial cleaning company in London reiterates the point and states, “It’s important to set the bar high from the outset, make sure your staff are trained thoroughly, and your hotel will reap the rewards in the long term.”
Effective Stock Management
Empower your head housekeeper to take charge of stock management. Essential cleaning materials, spare linen and bedroom supplies such as toilet rolls and shampoos should always be available. However, you don’t want to tie up more cash in stock than you need to. Create par levels for all of your essential products, and have your head housekeeper perform a weekly stock take on the day before your weekly or monthly order goes in. Your par level minus your current stock holding will leave you with what you need to order.
Health and Safety
If practical, make sure your head housekeeper has some formal health and safety training from a recognised training body. Then, your housekeeper can take charge of providing effective health and safety training for room attendants, front of house cleaners and linen porters. Make sure that a record of their training is held on file, complete with signatures of the trainer and the trainee.
You or your housekeeper should also hold a quarterly health and safety meeting with a cross section of hotel staff. During this meeting, an agenda of health and safety issues should be discussed, and a list of actionable points should be devised. This ensures that hazards are reported and rectified before they cause accidents. Remember to keep minutes of your meetings, however, as the Health and Safety Executive may ask to see them in the event of an accident.
Anyone who watched Channel 4’s Hotel Hell will have been given an interesting insight into hotel operations, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of keeping a hotel clean. In the real world, staff get sick, equipment breaks down, things go missing and residents complain. However, with some robust systems in place, your hotel should always look pristine and welcoming.