Room Inspections: What is the Role of the General Manager?
By Michael Haynie, SR. President, Parkway Hospitality Management | February 12, 2012
The housekeeping department in reality is what keeps everyone in the hotel employed, especially a general manager. The relevancy of a clean guest room or hotel building is paramount to the success of the business. It is incumbent on the general manager to ensure his building is meeting his or her standards. The biggest fear a general manager has is being featured in an undercover story on the cleanliness of their bathrooms, or their bedding, or any part of their building. As a general manager, who served as an executive housekeeper for over eight years, I realize the importance of my participation in this process.
This is not some "big" pomp and circumstance inspection but a very methodical process of showing support for the executive housekeeper, as it is not easy motiving a staff of room attendants and house persons in the process of cleanliness on a daily basis. The inspection process starts for me at the hiring phase of the staff. This is where I, as a general manager, emphasize that this is a team effort and not just an individual job. There are certain tools you need to make this an effective exercise: proper pay for the housekeeping staff, well kept uniforms and support of good nutritional habits. There is no need in inspecting anything if the proper foundation has not been laid to ensure success.
Cleanliness is the most important criteria in the hotel from the guest perspective; the importance of the job has to be indicated by proper compensation. It is very difficult to recruit the best housekeeping staff if your pay scales are not on par with the competition (this includes health insurance and other forms of compensation). It is important that regular wage and benefits comparisons be done. I usually will not take on a general manager position prior to doing my homework and investigating the pay scale of the employed staff. Having a happy, well paid staff is going to be critical to my success as a general manager particularly in the housekeeping department. A smart ownership team has usually anticipated this.
Having the proper uniforms is also an important part of a well functioning housekeeping department. Many room attendants like fluidy of movement. Uniforms that are too tight or do not allow for proper movement in bending or reaching restrict their ability to properly carry out the demands of their job. In addition the staff will feel much better when they look good. I always allow the housekeeping staff to participate in the selection of uniforms. They are going to wear them so they should have a say in the choices available to them. We make this fun by having staff member model the choices; it is usually fun and a "feel good" session which the employees take very seriously. Once we choose uniforms, having correct fittings and supplies are important. Don't think one uniform or even two, is enough for employees. You want to have a clean professional appearance on a daily basis. In addition have a system in place for the cleaning of the uniforms, as this could become problematic. Success is all in the details. If management shows the housekeeping staff what they are willing to go through to attain success the staff will begin to understand management's expectations and the level of standards they will be held to.