Cutting costs should never mean cutting quality, especially when it comes to housekeeping.
Smart companies seek ways to cut costs across the board. Keeping an eye on overhead is rarely a bad idea. Plenty of costs can sneak up on hotel owners. Food costs, energy costs and staff costs squeeze profit margins daily, even if your hotel runs in tourist seasons. Many hotels big and small are looking into green initiatives to save money and increase guest awareness. Another option is doing the math on housekeeping and laundry expenses. An hour or two with a spreadsheet and a search engine can help owners figure out how to get the most for their money.
Housekeeping and Laundry Costs
Labor costs should be calculated by taking the employees required to service a guest room and dividing that by the number of guest rooms serviced in a specific time period. Don’t forget to factor in things besides wages, like insurance and other benefits. How does this number compare to other labor costs? Cleanliness is an important part of what makes guests decide to return to a room. Are there other parts of the hotel that have higher costs that can be trimmed?
Laundry expenses can be calculated in a similar way. Occupied rooms increase laundry costs because a guest will dirty sheets, use towels and eat into your room rate depending on their occupancy length. Add up labor costs, supplies used and utilities used to find out laundry expenses. Where does this sit in your other overhead areas like restaurant food costs? Since these costs are more about supplies than labor, small changes to things like laundry soap or big changes like installing new washing machines can be easily controlled.
There are several ways to control costs without cutting hours. Monitoring overtime can save a lot of money by making sure time-and-a-half is only paid during unexpected surges or other emergencies. Make sure to assign extra tasks to your housekeeping staff to maximize utility by creating a list of deep cleaning areas or special downtime projects they can do when not turning around guest rooms. Many employees often seek out cross-training or other self-improvement with the idea of moving out of housekeeping and into other areas of hospitality. Provide advancement opportunities to employees and provide flexible options when scheduling staff and you’ll notice a surge in employee loyalty.
Housekeeping and Laundry Standards
Clearly define what the hotel expects from the housekeeping staff:
- Be clear on how they should enter a guest’s room, giving plenty of warning to make sure the room is empty or the guest is decent. Many housekeeping staffs observe the three knocks rule. Most hotels have a security protocol in place for guest and staff safety if the guest doesn’t respond to a staff inquiry within 24 hours.
- Make sure your staff has a list of what needs to be done every day as well as what needs to be done in between guests.
- Have a protocol in place for lost items as well as rules for tipping. Often, guests will leave a note saying it’s okay to take money for a tip, so make sure the staff turns in these notes for everyone’s protection.
Laundry standards should also be considered:
- The type and style of guest sheets will determine the attention needed to clean them between occupancies.
- Cheap linens will be rendered unusable more often, which will drive up costs as they need to be replaced more often.
- To save money on bleach, consider beige bedding. Not only does it save money, it also looks less institutional and gives a room a homier feeling.
- Make sure linens are washed & processed carefully by using the right equipment and cleaners.
- Keeping reliable inventory will also help keep costs down by knowing when the hotel needs more detergent or when bedding needs to be replaced.
Some hotels outsource their cleaning services. Hiring a company to come in and clean things saves money on HR and recruitment expenses since the agency handles that end. Those companies also handle healthcare expenses with their contractors. Downsides include a lack of continuity in the presentation of rooms. Staff hired by the hotel knows standards inside and out, while outside contractors service multiple hotels in a day. Disciplinary issues can also be a challenge since the contractor handles those personnel elements. Outsourcing can prove to be advantageous when a hotel is struggling, but an owner should weigh what services should be kept in-house and which ones can be contracted without damage to the hotel’s reputation.
Save on Costs while Saving the Earth
One way to lower costs that’s on the rise is giving guests the option to keep their linens during the stay.
Fresh towels are a tradition of a hotel stay, but many guests are concerned enough with the environment that they would rather reuse their towels to save the water used to wash them. Programs like these put eco-conscious consumers at ease, but they also save the hotel money – making it an easy win-win solution for little effort. Training staff members on proper conservation techniques also can lower costs.
Reducing housekeeping and laundry expenses can be an excellent way to reduce overhead costs for running a hotel. A good manager should have labor costs well in hand as well as laundry costs. A new analysis every few months will shed light on new ways to tighten up business. There are several small improvements that can be made to lower costs, from monitoring overtime to cross-training housekeeping staff. Making sure housekeeping and laundry staff adhere to standards offers more control over this area. Some hotels find outsourcing cleaning services completely is an excellent solution. Hotels big and small are getting in on green practices that save both the customer and owner money. Finding the balance means keeping everything clean for the guests, while staying greener and cheaper in the long-run.
Featured image “hotel PORTO BAY RIO INTERNACIONAL | Housekeeping” courtesy of Flickr user PortoBay Hotels & Resorts licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Towel Display” courtesy of Flickr user Sarah_Ackerman licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Save the Planet” courtesy of Flickr user Dan McKay licensed under CC by 2.0.