Saturday, January 28, 2017

How many room attendants needed to clean 150 guest rooms in a hotel?

In a 150-room hotel (which is larger than the 60 to 80 rooms we recommend building in most places, and the only reason we'd plan on that many is if there were going to be meeting and banquet facilities attached) that stays pretty full, I'd plan on eleven to maybe thirteen or fourteen housekeepers.

In hotel housekeeping, there's this weird thing about the number fourteen: that's how many rooms that most housekeepers like to make per day. I've seen some who'll do 20 or more rooms, and still do a good job. 

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(Generally, it should take 30 minutes for a standard hotel room with the usual furnishings, if the guest checks out; and 15 minutes for a guest staying over. [Stephanie De La Rosa's answer to What is the average amount of time housekeeping spends per room to prepare a hotel room for a new guest? ] I allow 35 minutes for a checkout, 20 minutes for a stayover, and have the night auditor pull the housekeepers' time records and do the math on it every night. My housekeeping supervisor knows - and passes it along to all the girls - that if it takes more than that, I'm going to want to know why. I'm okay with it if they actually spent the time doing useful work that needed doing, or even if one or two of them had a bad day and things took longer than usual; but I, too, have to be able to justify my payroll costs.)

I've seen other room attendants who are quite happy to take six rooms, knock them out quickly, and go home in a few hours.

But with most housekeepers in the U. S., if you give them too many more rooms to clean too often (even 16 to 18), they complain that you're working them too hard, even if many of those rooms are nice, easy stayovers where there isn't much more to do in each one than change out the towels and provide the guest with fresh ones. Give them too many fewer rooms too frequently (even 10 to 12), and they fuss because you're screwing them on hours, even if you usually include several rooms where a rock band checked in or a wild party occurred, that take an hour or more to clean even if there isn't a jacuzzi in it. 

So . . .  150 divided by 14 . . . let me bring up my trusty Microsoft Calculator - it'll be 10-point-something . . . If you give them all checked-out rooms to do, that makes for a seven-hour day, plus a half hour to load their cart, take laundry to the laundry room if you don't have a utility person to do it, plus a half-hour lunch break to round out an eight-hour day. 

In most hotels, the housekeepers start at nine o'clock, and you want them to be close to finished by three, which is usually the hotel's advertised check-in time. I was a general manager for one owner who didn't want them starting before ten: the idea of having one or two of them sitting around waiting for rooms to clean drove him nuts, even though I've never seen it work that way in real life. Nine usually works. But in a busy property where I can usually count on several early check-outs each morning, I like to start one or two room attendants around seven-thirty or eight: they can go ahead and clean those early check-outs, give me some clean rooms by lunch time, and I have some wiggle room on the check-in time for early-arriving guests with reservations. (It's like a law: when they make a reservation, we always tell them three o'clock, but there's always some who arrive early in spite of that and count on being lucky. Often they are, and we'll try to accommodate them if we can, but it's just luck: sometimes we can't.)  

We encourage them to break for lunch at the same time: we're legally required to provide any employee who works six hours or more a lunch break, and we like to know when they're breaking for lunch and that they're clocked out and clocked back in for it properly. Many, more upscale, hotels like to keep the 'domestic help' out of sight and provide a break room: I let them eat in the breakfast area: they're not that repulsive, they do an important job for the hotel, and they deserve some respect accordingly (see Michael Forrest Jones' answer to How lenient are hotels when it comes to checking out late? ). Like everyone else on the staff, they're given some access to any food (e.g., the complimentary breakfast) that we make available to the guests, with the understanding that it'll only take one or two little piggies -- in terms of either quantities consumed (or taken home, which we don't allow) or mess left behind -- to screw it up for everyone and provoke the g.m. to padlock the pantry. 

In a busy hotel with 150 rooms, you'd want an additional housekeeper doing the laundry. I'd have three washers and three dryers turning, not two of each as you would in a smaller hotel, so she'll stay pretty busy in there. Every hotel, no matter how small, needs at least two washers and two dryers - it's like they teach you in the Navy about critical components or equipment, "two can be as good as one, one can be as good as none". You're in trouble if you have only one of each, and one of them breaks down. In a hotel with only two washers and dryers, the one who's doing the laundry won't be as continuously busy, and I'll give her a half dozen or so nice, easy stayovers close to the laundry room to do.

This assumes a full house. If you don't rent as many rooms, you won't need as many girls (they're usually women, but there's no reason a guy can't have the job and do it well): just try to stay close to your fourteen-rooms-per-housekeeper target. 

In any hotel, checked-out rooms will be made for arriving guests first, then stayover rooms will be serviced. If you're a guest staying over, you can request  otherwise, but you can be assured that your room will be serviced early in the morning only in more upscale hotels, or only if you're a guest who's  good for lots of revenue. If you're staying in one of our hotels and we've given you a three-day rate or a seven-day rate, your room may not get serviced at all: our ability to give you that lower rate (12 to 20 percent off our regular rate) is based on our ability to get away with giving you housekeeping service only at two or three day intervals. 

The reason Value Place can afford give you a rate of two hundred dollars a week, more or less, is because you get a very simply furnished room and no service at all. Even if you need so much as extra towels during your week, they'll charge you an extra fifteen bucks for them. It makes many people mad to be charged extra for what most of them assume to be services basic to a hotel (and frankly, if I'm staying in one, I'll go to Wal-Mart and buy an twelve-dollar coffeemaker rather than pay them twenty bucks extra to put one in the room: I have to go out for coffee and creamer and other groceries for the stay, anyway, and at least I get to keep the coffeemaker), but it's how they can afford to make the numbers work, it's affordable, and it works for me. Other all-suite and extended stay hotels have varying levels of housekeeping service, based on their targeted customers and market. A franchise sales rep explained to me that a Staybridge Suites will offer a level of service much closer, if not quite similar, to that you'll find in a more conventional mid-market hotel. In a Candlewood Suites, owned by the same company and franchise organization, it's more like "here's the key, and see you in a week". 

Some hotels are at their busiest during the week, and business falls off on weekends: these are the ones who cater mostly to business travelers, and have to come up with specials or creative packages to get people to rent rooms on the weekends. 

Other hotels - generally, convention hotels, resort hotels, and roadside motels - tend to fill up on weekends instead. So you'll need enough housekeepers to clean all of the rooms that you'll rent. This will require that every housekeeper work every weekend: it's mandatory. Nobody likes that: everyone likes to have weekend time off, or even an entire weekend off, at least once in awhile. But if I have to have one or two extra housekeepers so I can rotate around weekends off, there won't be as many hours available for the ones who want to work full time. So what I do in most places where this could be an issue is put it to a vote, and let them decide themselves. For a 150-room hotel, that would bring the number of housekeepers from twelve to thirteen or fourteen.

Hope this helps . . .

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