Increasing Staff Efficiency through Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment

By Kyle Rogg President & COO, Value Place | May 25, 2014

When it comes to increasing your hotel staff's operational efficiency, detailed furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) decision making might not be atop your list of priorities. But it probably should be.

At Value Place, when our executive team dedicated itself to smart design, we made a conscious effort to honor our core values – being clean, safe, simple, and affordable. Today, before the first shovel of dirt is scooped at one of our construction sites, the impact of every decision made in the design, construction, and ongoing operation of our properties is evaluated to ensure it has a positive effect on staff efficiency and return on investment for the franchisee.

Smart FF&E design starts on paper, when mistakes cost far less than they do on the job site or after a property is in operation. We've made continual improvements to our prototype hotel design at every step of construction and operation, resulting in staffing efficiencies that surpass industry averages. Staffing costs at the average economy extended-stay hotel are 22 percent of revenue (Ref: Highland Group). Yet our business model, driven in part by well-planned FF&E design, results in staffing costs that are nearly half the industry average. For us, that efficiency started in the design stage where staff productivity and positive operating income are our primary goals. With the right staff and FF&E decisions, the benefits of our pursuit can be seen every day that a property is open.

What's On the Floor Can Drive Staff Efficiency

The initial Value Place design featured carpets in guest rooms. A traditional hotel element, it seemed the obvious choice. In addition to the anticipated problems associated with carpet, including stains, odors, damage, and wear, we have a unique issue. As an extended-stay hotel, we experience a higher level of wear and tear on our flooring since guests spend more time in their rooms than the average hotel guest. That fact, coupled with our promise to deep clean the carpet between each guest, meant spending a lot of time turning rooms around and costly carpet repairs impacting our bottom line. Industry surveys show that carpet replacement averages are approximately $1,000 per room, including labor and materials (Ref: JN+A/HVS Design Cost Estimating Guide).

To remedy this issue, we looked at numerous options and solutions. Today, all new Value Place construction projects feature wood-plank vinyl flooring throughout all guest spaces. Installing this flooring, which is popular throughout Europe and Japan, has helped eliminate carpet throughout the building, a decision we made with the guest in mind. The new flooring is soft to walk on, dampens sound, and looks very modern.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.