Do you need a housekeeping manual for your hotel? If YES, here is a detailed way to prepare an effective housekeeping manual for your hotel.
Whether you run a cozy B&B or a five-star hotel, guests never expect to be greeted by dirt, hair, or dust in their room. And, given that majority of customers will read online reviews before booking a hotel these days, that can pose a real threat to any business.
If you want your guest bedrooms to be as clean as possible, you need to have an effective housekeeping strategy and manual in place. That means working out how many staff you need to employ per shift and creating a checklist for them to follow in each area to ensure cleaning standards are met.
A hotel housekeeping manual or standard operating procedure (SOP) protects your staff, guests, and business by structuring your housekeeping operations for efficiency, accuracy, safety, and consistency. In an industry with high employee turnover, these procedures keep your housekeepers aligned with your property’s ideal service and safety standards.
This manual also makes training staff much easier because they serve as a fixed set of rules and steps to follow that you can consistently refer back to. Hotel housekeeping manual also ensures that your property maintains a competitive guest experience.
A hotel housekeeping manual or standard operating procedure (SOP) is a shared set of instructions that states how to complete housekeeping tasks in the establishment. Think of it like a recipe: each step is expected to be followed to obtain the end result, and when each step is followed consistently, the outcome is the same – regardless of who makes it.
These manual or operating procedures are the recipes that keep your housekeeping operation running smoothly, safely, and efficiently – regardless of which employees are working during a particular shift. In the hotel industry, SOPs are more than just checklists.
They document workflows that may reach across departments and often involve high-visibility, high-risk, or otherwise high-impact routines.
Steps to Prepare a Housekeeping Manual for Hotel
Truthfully, housekeeping manuals or standard procedures are often overlooked until it’s too late. Sometimes it only becomes necessary that a procedure is needed after a dangerous, embarrassing, or costly incident has occurred. For new hoteliers and hosts, it can be daunting to begin instituting these standard operating procedures; however, don’t let that stop you from getting started.
Understand the Specific Areas that could Benefit from a Standardized Procedure
For smaller properties and hostels, there may be less distinction between departments, so this process could be broken down by either role or function. It could also simply be divided by front-of-house and back-of-house.
Identify Tasks for each Department that Could Benefit from the Manual
- Ask staff for their input. Your employees will know better than anyone the processes that could benefit from more clarity and consistency.
- Make a list of common routines. Look for repetitive tasks that require precision and safety/legal processes that should follow a set step-by-step procedure.
- Prioritize by impact. You want to start with the areas that are high visibility, high-impact. These are usually the areas that directly impact the guest experience (like the front desk), as well as safety, crisis communications, and disaster preparedness
Know your Audience
For your housekeeping manual, you will want to consider the following:
- Who’s the audience? Always put the end-user first so that the manual and procedure is accurate, relevant, and easy-to-use. This is especially important when it comes to safety-related SOPs that may be used under difficult circumstances.
- Are there any language barriers? If so, consider using images alongside the text, for example, use a map with arrows pointing to exits for fire escape routes. Manuals are useless if the end-user can’t understand them!
- Is this a new way to work or simply documenting an existing process? When introducing new work procedures or tasks, you’ll want to schedule additional training and implementation time.
Document the Procedure
Note that the easiest way to begin is to talk to employees and observe how housekeeping task is currently being done. Then, write down the specific steps and modify them, if necessary, before finalizing the steps into a shareable operating manual.
Also note that the observation process encourages team involvement and offers a direct view of how people do their work.
A collaborative process makes it more likely that staff will find the operating manual useful. As far as formatting your hotel housekeeping operating procedures, some may be simple checklists, while others are numbered steps or bulleted lists, or even made up of multiple components and paragraphs of instructions.
However, always try to make the manual visual and not too word-heavy, so that they are easy to read and use. In the case of more intricate manuals, you may consider using a flowchart to help staff quickly assess the right path to take.
Your format will indeed depend on the complexity of the procedure, as well as how your team will be accessing it (e.g. paper versus tablet or mobile). And, even though having digital copies of the operating manual is useful and helps with widespread accessibility, it is also advisable that you have several laminated SOP printouts around the property in case the power goes out.
Hotel Housekeeping Do’s, Don’ts and Tips
Note that it takes roughly 45 minutes for a housekeeping attendant to completely clean a room, but it may take less time if only a basic turn-down service is needed.
Assuming that a staff member works for eight hours (and allowing for a 30-minute break), they’ll be able to clean around 10 bedrooms per shift, depending on the size of the rooms. Nonetheless, here are dos, don’ts, and tips for hotel housekeepers, housekeeping supervisors and management;
Don’t Invite Friends and Family to the Property
Modern hotels have some pretty great amenities — i.e., pool, spa— that your friends and family might want to take advantage of. This is obviously not allowed, as these features are for guests only. Note that granting access to these areas will likely cause you to lose your job. Anyone who respects you will understand this, so stand steady with a firm ‘no’ on this one.
Collect Data and Pay Attention to Quality Patterns
If guests frequently complain about the same problem with room quality, it might be more than a housekeepers mistake. For instance, if shower cleanliness seems to be a consistent complaint amongst guests, then it might be time to redo the tiling or grouting in the shower.
Housekeeping staff could be cleaning showers with a toothbrush, getting into all the nooks and crannies, and it may still not meet guest quality standards. Finding patterns in the quality will allow you to determine when things need updating or when an issue needs addressing with staff.
Treat All Guests With Kindness
Every employee interaction adds to the guest experience, so do your part to make it a positive one. Smile at guests, greet them warmly and promptly address all questions, comments and concerns.
Always Streamline Housekeeping Team Communication
Note there are various personnel involved in the housekeeping process and finding ways to streamline communication is a huge time-saver. Management, reception, maintenance, concierge, and housekeepers are continually communicating throughout the day and having to run around to find the person you need is very inefficient.
Don’t Permit Room Access to Anyone But the Registered Guest
You can never be too careful when cleaning a room containing a guest’s belongings. Thieves are everywhere, and it is not uncommon for them to target hotel housekeepers servicing a room while the occupant is out. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so never allow anyone but the guest to enter the room on your watch. If in doubt, contact your supervisor for guidance, because you don’t want theft to happen on your watch.
Use Digital Hotel Housekeeping Checklists
Checklists are an ideal way to minimize errors and make sure that nothing is missed by housekeepers, but printing out paper checklists each day is impractical and untraceable. That is why most hotels are switching to digital checklists and also because it saves time, resources and allow staff to operate more efficiently.
Beyond just being environmentally friendly, they will enable you to access digital checklists directly from an app on your phone. The checklists update in real-time as the housekeeper checks off tasks and finishes rooms.
Behave Like a Professional at All Times
When on hotel property, you represent the business. You will spend a lot of your time unsupervised, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the rules. Stealing from guests and going through their personal belongings is a major ‘don’t’.
Leverage Technology and Analytics to Monitor the Hotel Room Cleaning Process
Inspecting rooms has always been an integral part of the housekeeping supervisor’s job, but the process is often inefficient. Having to wait for a cleaner to report back manually or mark a room clean in a long thread of WhatsApp messages can cause a delay in the final inspection process.
Coupled with that, if you found errors during an inspection, then you’d need to make a record of it, take a photo, and track down the housekeeper responsible.
Using hotel housekeeping management software, you can see exactly how far along their task list each housekeeper is and when a room is ready for inspection. During an inspection, if there are any errors, you can take a photo, upload it to the app, make comments, and reassign a task to the relevant housekeeper with the click of a button.
Put in 100% Effort During Every Shift
The cleanliness of a hotel room is frequently the deciding factor of whether a guest will return for subsequent stays. Just like any other job, certain responsibilities associated with it might feel a bit repetitive after awhile, but completing each to perfection is a must.
Often times, it is the little things that mean the most, so understand the importance of your job and always give it the energy it deserves.
Automate and Optimize Your Housekeeping Schedule
One of the biggest issues in housekeeping management is mitigating between cost, efficiency and quality. Note that being armed with data on actual housekeeping task performance duration that integrates with your PMS can help you make data-driven scheduling decisions. It allows you to balance the workload without overworking your staff members or over-hiring.
Even if you have advanced beyond pen and paper, spreadsheets don’t give you real-time data about availability, workload, and needs. Note that you can leverage housekeeping scheduling tools to automatically allocate rooms, using smart algorithms to reduce staff stress by ensuring equal distribution of work.
Good housekeeping is an invisible service, in that guests only really take notice of it when your team fails to deliver the expected standard of cleanliness.
A hotel room could play host to hundreds of different guests each year, but no guest wants their room to feel used, which is why it is the role of your housekeeping staff to ensure that there is no evidence of any previous occupants, and that every room is completely clean from top to bottom.
It doesn’t matter what size of your hotel — whether it is a tiny guesthouse, or a motel, there is no reason your rooms can’t be pristine. So, be sure to take the hotel housekeeping tips and tricks outlined above to ensure impressive results and happy customers every time.