Inefficiency can be a constant drain on your hotel’s profitability, and can appear in an exasperatingly wide array of forms across every department in your organization. The solution is vigilance and a willingness to examine every little detail of your operational practice to identify waste. Just as the principle of minimal gains holds that tiny incremental improvements in each of a large number of areas can amount to a substantial overall gain, a series of tiny savings in different aspects of your business can add up to a significant reduction in waste and losses.
For some examples of things you can do, let’s start with the staff. You will have heard of the notion that work expands to fill time, so try observing what your employees are doing in the opening and closing 30 minutes of their shifts. You might find that they could actually accomplish much more work in the same timeframe, or that you could get the job done with fewer staff.
One area where greater efficiency counts is housekeeping. Too many hotels allocate a fixed number of minutes for cleaning each room. This often fails to take into consideration the different room sizes and grades, and the fact that some rooms have guests for extended stays while others are transitioning between guests. Even seemingly absurd factors such as the time taken for laundry workers to fold bed linen, only for housekeepers to subsequently unfold it for use, can make a difference. Looking at this kind of thing a little more closely can reveal opportunities not only to make savings, but also to put resources where they’re needed most.
The last thing to look at with staff concerns each individual’s particular skill set. Flexibility in scheduling allows greater efficiency than fixed schedules, so although specialization is in itself efficient, you can have the best of both worlds by cross-training your staff so that they develop more than one area of expertise. Now they’ll excel in whichever role you currently need them to fill.
On the physical equipment side of the equation there are further efficiencies to be uncovered. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems all operate more effectively when they are cleaned regularly and constantly monitored to optimize performance. If you wait until things are noticeably not working well before you have your HVAC systems checked, you will already have incurred substantial losses.
With regard to green energy, you may find that wherever in the world you are operating, the national government has schemes available to support the installation of equipment which will help you to lower your energy costs. For example, this might involve subsidies for installing solar panels, or tax breaks for employing other energy-saving technologies. It’s useful to check out those government policies and see what incentives might be available.
Finally, if you’re going to have your heating and air-conditioning working effectively, you might also like to check your hotel for leaks and drafts. There’s no point having your heating running smoothly if you’re allowing cold air in through cracks in the window seals, so have your maintenance department find and fix these problems.
Becoming more efficient is not something that can be accomplished through one or two big ideas. It is a continuous process of finding minor shortcomings and working on ways to iron them out. It is the duty of everyone in the hotel to contribute wherever possible – and with efficiency, it’s always possible.