Efficiency in Housekeeping via Process Improvement Techniques
By Amy Bair Career Services Analyst, Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management | June 09, 2013
In a 2006 PKF slideshow, labor consisted of 61.7% of the rooms department expense. Laundry, linen and guest supplies take up an additional 10%.(1) As you know, controlling these costs is under constant scrutiny. PKF says it best when they state "Profitability is driven by revenue management and expense control."(2) However, there is an overarching concern that the effort to reduce overhead will also reduce output quality thus making your guests unhappy.
You may get a review that looks like this "Found several water and beer containers under the bed and obviously the floor and baseboards had not been swept in a long time. While examining linens for spiders found several stains on sheets…"(3)
With a focus on never having a review like the one above show up on your TipAdvisor profile but still make efforts toward reducing costs, I propose some innovative and creative thinking. This is where the concept of process improvement becomes invaluable.
On my website, I discuss a HBR case study featuring Continental Airlines. In 1993, they were ranked 10th out of ten "in all key customer service areas" by the Department of Transportation. Greg Brenneman, then COO for Continental, knew that saving Continental required going back to the basics: "Fly to places, people wanted to go, when they wanted to go, in clean attractive airplanes; get them there on time with their bags…"(4) (I am especially amused by the last goal.)
What did Greg do to revive the airline? Process improvement, of course! Among other projects, he eliminated the 18% of flights that were losing money, reduced the "fleet types from 13 to 4" and established a "consistent and reliable flight schedule." Addressing these and all other processes that were causing Continental to fail shifted their net income from -$613 million in 1994 to $385 million in 1997.(4)
Another HBR case titled "Carnival Cruise Lines" discussed the company's desire to better manage its customer relationships. One of the challenges faced and addressed was that Carnival didn't have access to all of its customer's data. In 2001, a third-party company that had control of several million client records went bankrupt. Although it was able to purchase those records, Carnival vowed it would "never lose control of its customer database again." After a year of cleansing the data, they had 10 million records available to learn more about their customers' desires and needs.(5)