Is doing a little work now worth not having to call in expensive experts during an emergency? In the long term, yes.
Benjamin Franklin famously said “A stitch in time saves nine.” The saying is about taking steps now to prevent problems in the future. More often than not, big issues start as little ones, so taking time to resolve little issues before they become big ones can save time, effort and, most importantly to your hotel property: money. The stich in this case is called preventative maintenance. The nine refers to the other stitches you’ll have to make by skipping preventative maintenance.
What is Preventative Maintenance?
Nearly everything requires a little bit of preventative maintenance. It’s a safeguard against future problems. If you’ve changed the oil on your car, installed antivirus software on your computer or taken vitamin C to fight off a cold, you’ve already performed preventative maintenance. Doing a small thing now keeps any problems from building up without your knowledge and becoming a big thing later. Don’t let poor planning now turn into a crisis in the future. Take steps to protect your equipment from the elements.
The most obvious benefit of becoming proactive is stopping problems before they start. Tightening the seals on a pipe now might keep it from bursting and flooding several rooms later. Emergency repair calls are costly for a reason; the contractors can charge a premium because they have the leverage to do so. Preventative maintenance also keeps your maintenance staff working efficiently. Finding small problems will generate small work orders, which will set your staff’s schedule. Small repairs on essential machinery helps those machines last longer and save you from having to replace them as often.
Check the Obvious Things
Most of your equipment came with some sort of manual that explained how to do preventative maintenance. Ensure this information is kept somewhere where your maintenance staff can access it easily. Even if those manuals are long gone, that information might be available online, like on a manufacturer’s website. Maintaining things in the public spaces of your building is important. You want to make sure the plumbing works, the HVAC has been checked and the furniture remains in good condition. Your staff can even check machines that might not be covered by your staff, such as vending machines, but forward those requests on to the contractors you use to maintain those services for your guests.
The same goes for your guest rooms. Make sure that lightbulbs are changed regularly and that toilets flush properly. If guests see paint peeling and flickering lights, they might request a new room or a refund, which will reflect poorly on repeat stays. Once you’ve started doing preventative maintenance checks, have the staff member in charge assist in coming up with the checklist for everyone to follow. Once they’ve gone through your rooms a time or two, they’ll get a better sense of what parts of your hotel need a bit more attention on a regular basis. The hard part about preventative maintenance is the inertia. Once it becomes part of a routine, it turns into an easy part of the day.
Check the Not So Obvious Things
Your guests may never see the back of the house, but that doesn’t mean it won’t need maintenance. The machines here are what keep your guests comfortable and happy. Make sure you check your HVAC system. Nobody wants to have the air conditioning break down during a heat wave. You can’t keep your landscape well-trimmed if your lawn mowing equipment is broken.
More and more, electronics and computers are becoming an important part of how hotels do business. Making sure your electronics function properly lets you makes running your hotel easier for your guests and your employees. It can be as simple as replacing the batteries for your television remotes or updating the software that runs your booking system. Preventative maintenance goes beyond wrenches and tool boxes these days.
Get Your Staff On Board
You can’t do all this maintenance on your own, so you’ll need your staff members to assist. Setting up, and sticking to a schedule lays out what your expectations are to your staff. Preventative maintenance can be effectively scheduled during slow periods or off of peak hours. Get feedback from your maintenance staff on how to set up the schedule. Set a pace that your staff can handle, but make sure that they cover anything they might miss should an emergency crop up. Before locking in a schedule, do a test run during a week and see how much gets done.
The second way to get your staff ready to keep things running smoothly is through proper training. Give a general overview of the types of things they should look out for, but also train staff working in specific areas on what to look for and fix. Your kitchen staff, for example, will know their refrigeration units better than general maintenance. Once you’ve got your staff trained to watch for problems to fix, you’ve got to be sure to follow-through on your end. If a staff member files a report and you don’t take steps to correct it, it makes them less likely to file the next report because they may grow disheartened.
If you could stop a problem before it started, wouldn’t you take that action? Preventative maintenance stops horror stories like floods, computer crashes, and more from happening. Spending a little time and money now goes a long way in keeping problems happening now from blossoming into disasters in the future. You are already halfway there by paying attention to the owner’s manuals for all your equipment. Keeping up your guest rooms will make your guests happier—and you’ll be more likely to see them again. Keeping the back of the house in order is just as important as keeping up appearances. That includes electronics vital to your operation. Once you’ve decided to keep things, maintained, training your staff will share the burden with everyone. Stitching now saves a lot later, keeping more money in your pocket.