Green cleaning

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, May/June 2010

Aloha Rose,
At a 2007 IEHA (International Executive Housekeepers Association) education program, you introduced a tool that electrically charges water into a cleaning solution that kills germs. Do you have updates on both topics to assist on green cleaning?
Mahalo, Leo

Aloha Leo,
The Professional Cleaning Institute of Hawaii (PCIH) in March 2010 sponsored two green cleaning seminars on “Solving the Green Cleaning Puzzle” by Green Guru Stephen Ashkin. Specific to hotels, the following green goals were shared.

1) Understand concepts of sustainability and green cleaning, that the goal of green is to reduce health and environmental impacts on people and the environment.

2) That caring for the building, the people and the environment is an act of stewardship, a core tenet of green cleaning.

3) Form a green team to include the: general manager, housekeeping, restaurant, laundry, front desk, sales and marketing, engineering, recycling coordinator, vendors and others.

4) Conduct baseline surveys and analyze data on: chemicals, paper, general conditions, building exterior, entryways, liners, equipment, storage areas, procedures, other products, waste management, recycling and pest management.

5) Understand the practical application of sustainability and the triple bottom line.

The tool you mentioned has been improved. The new IONATOR EXP kills H1N1 without the use of toxic chemicals. It cleans, leaves no chemical residue and eliminates the H1N1 influenza A virus in seconds. It performs as good as or better than traditional general-purpose chemicals at cleaning.

Good Luck!
Mahalo, Rose Galera, CEH

Cleaning cloths, microfiber

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010

Hi Rose,
What should cleaning professionals consider important in cleaning for health and cleaning as a science?
Mahalo, Miko

Aloha Miko,
Many cleaning professionals will agree that the most important tool is the cleaning cloth. Yet, why do many still call it a “rag”?

The dictionary defines cloth as “a piece of fabric used for a specific purpose.” It defines rag as “a worthless piece of cloth.”

A professional cleaning cloth should by no means be considered worthless. This valuable tool should rightfully be called a “professional cleaning cloth.” One in good condition will reduce cleaning time and improve the cleaning process dramatically. Edges should be hemmed, and the best sizes generally recommended are 11×11, 13×13 and 15×15. Properly folded, it can provide a maximum of 16 cleaning sides.

Cleaning cloths generally are taken for granted without much thought given to their type, use, care, cleaning processes, rotation of and budget inclusion.

The most phenomenal, efficient and effective cleaning cloths today are the super and ultra microfiber cloths. They collect more particles of dirt and enhance germ kill more than any other fabric known. Their cost is absorbed by their ability to perform outstandingly; they also do not require the use of chemicals, are environmentally safe and leave behind no chemical residue. A “green” cleaning tool is beneficial to everyone, especially allergy and chemically sensitive individuals.

As a cleaning professional, I have worked with and promoted microfiber technology for nearly 10 years and highly recommend it.

Consider this: A cleaning cloth is to a professional cleaner like a paintbrush is to a professional painter. It is the professional tool of the trade.

Communication, motivating and morale building

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

Hi Rose,
With a slumping economy important training is on hold. What one hot topic would you suggest as a briefing message to boost morale, confidence and motivation?
Thank You,

Aloha MM,
I recently attended an excellent Disney leadership workshop that was highly motivational. Inspiring passion, confidence and interest in others are the continued challenges of a leader. Ongoing communication is an essential tool.

As a supervisor or manager, are you “communicating” or are you just telling others what to do?

To succeed in business, you need all the communication skills you can master. This includes language, spoken and written, and nonverbal expressions. Emotions and gestures often communicate unspoken messages.

But your first step toward communication success is the art of listening! Listen not only with your ears, listen also with your eyes. You can hear a lot just by observing. So often we hear only what we wish to hear.

The following is a five-step formula for communicating powerfully:

1. Be friendly, be happy – communicate instructions in a friendly and caring way.

2. Keep it simple – be clear and concise.

3. Not just what, but why – explain not just what is to be done, but why the action is taken.

4. Get feedback – ask for questions or suggestions. Have instructions given repeated back.

5. Follow-up – monitor the activity, see if instructions have been followed. Ask for a report.

Managers and supervisors communicate daily, so work to improve daily.

Two key “take aways” for me from the Disney workshop were: 1) bring happiness to the lives of people regardless of age and culture, and in doing so, 2) create magic to enhance those lives.

Building on skills and abilities

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Sept/Oct 2009

Aloha Rose,
As a newcomer to hotel housekeeping, my manager suggested that I work on building my skills and abilities. What information can you share?
A Short-Timer

Dear ST,
Management has realized the importance of having highly skilled, knowledgeable and well-trained personnel in charge of housekeeping. Housekeeping managers must be progressive and current in their thinking and must know that continual training, education and Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) are the only means to keep up to date with new techniques, products and information.

An assessment is important to determine areas and needs for self-development and self-improvement. Considering the following in the various categories, how would you rate yourself?

Administrative: planning, organizing, controlling, directing, budgeting and purchasing.

Personnel management: leadership, supervision, interviewing, counseling and discipline, performance evaluation, problem solving, labor management relations, human relations and cultural diversity/sensitivity.

Communication: written and verbal skills, making presentations, developing procedure manuals, planning /conducting group meetings.

Training: assessment, program development, skills training, supervisory training, orientation training, attitudinal training, safety training, basic legal issue updates, guest relations training and specialized training: HazCom, blood-borne, etc.

Technical knowledge: cleaning techniques, laundry operations, product and equipment knowledge, workflow, work process analysis, systems of control, time to task, procedures development, staffing and scheduling, being computer literate, office equipment usage, environmental laws and waste management.

Other: innovation, creativity, humor, team building, interdepartmental relations, networking, CPI, benchmarking, best practices, basic cleanomics (economics of cleaning) and payroll management.

On July 22, the Professional Cleaning Institute of Hawaii (PCIH) opened its doors for all in the field. It would be helpful to check out the various classes. Good luck!

Ever Higher Standards: 25 Years in Housekeeping

By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jul/Aug 2009

Looking back 25 years ago, there have been many years filled with exciting learning experiences and rewarding opportunities working in Hawaii’s hospitality industry as an executive housekeeper and later as a contract cleaning consultant and training specialist.

Exactly 25 years ago in 1984, as the corporate executive housekeeper for Aston Hotels & Resorts, I was setting up the housekeeping operations for the opening of the 596-room Waikiki Hobron Hotel, which today operates as a condominium. Later that same year, housekeeping assignments took me to the plush Aston Waikiki Beach Tower to set up for the opening of 100 beautiful condo resort suites. The years followed with many more Aston openings and management takeover assignments on the mainland during 1987 to 1990 and to the neighbor islands from 1988 to 1991. There have since been other management takeover changes and property name changes.

Enhanced housekeeping technologies today through chemicals, tools and equipment, personnel, training and cleaning processes better service our Hawaii visitors and provide and insure for the unforgettable experiences of our aloha and ohana spirit.

In 1999, microfiber cleaning technology via professional cleaning cloths and flat mops were introduced to members of the International Executive Housekeepers Association, Hawaii chapter, at a chapter meeting. Interest and acceptance by housekeeping managers then were at a low and slow acceptance pace. In the past, common practice was to cut up and serge the edges of old and damaged terry and bed linens to create the key tool of the trade — a housekeeping cleaning cloth that was referred to, back then, as a “cleaning rag.”

Though it took awhile, today microfiber is highly utilized at many facilities. In the past, one would see room attendants on their hands and knees scrubbing and cleaning bathroom floors. Increased promotions and advertisements on the green movement, improvement in germ kill time of cleaning disinfectants and chemicals, and increased training and emphasis on hand-washing techniques, personal protective equipment and processes have seen cleaning results increase to higher standards. Green cleaning also has impacted guest room bath and bed linen changes, thus resulting in higher standards for in-house and off-premise laundry operations and services.

Other noted changes in hotel housekeeping operations today are mattress sizes, bed linen designs, thread counts and finished bed presentations. Duvets with enhanced coverlets are replacing bedspreads, and pillow counts per bed have increased in many hotels and resorts.

Most recently, housekeeping managers of the IEHA, Hawaii chapter, have been introduced to a new professional cleaning tool called Activeion. Tap water in a filled high-tech bottle is electrically charged and changes into an effective cleaning solution, which is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and tested with high germ kill results. Field tests were performed by many IEHA members. High schools have begun to show interest in Activeion for food management and service programs, health rooms and housekeeping special education life skills. A few high schools have since purchased the tool for students to use due to its safe, sanitizing and user-friendly results, as it does not require MSDS or HazCom training. Another new tool being introduced today is a germ measurement device, referred to as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) measuring of organic contamination. With higher concerns toward viruses, cleaning for health and safety comes before cleaning for aesthetics. The concerns of bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and bed bugs require enhanced cleaning processes and implementation of best practices.

As a training specialist and consultant, I have noticed that training in cleaning programs, trends, technology and guest services has increased. With career development and placement programs in our high schools, focusing on travel industry management, food service and hotel housekeeping programs, we will be able to prepare for the betterment of a new workforce generation for our hospitality industry. To further enhance training and learning opportunities, in the very near future, a Professional Cleaning Institute of Hawaii will soon be an integral body of our Hawaii educational settings.

Yes, 25 years have brought many challenging and rewarding opportunities and new changes to the hospitality industry and professional housekeeping. We must continue to move on to remain at the leading edge of tourism.

Ideas to improve productivity

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, May/June 2009

Aloha Rose,
At our hotel, we are reviewing guest room and other cleaning results and are seeking ideas to improve productivity and maintain effectiveness and quality. What ideas can you recommend?

Aloha CEH:
Work-loading process comes to mind. It’s a systematic approach to determine the hours required to clean an area. With time standards, it considers how many minutes each task will take. It yields close to realistic results of manpower requirements, translated into dollars.

The first step is determining production rates — the times required to complete particular tasks under normal conditions and include job costing, time to task, work measurements and methodology.

Labor is the largest expense. Factors that impact productivity are lack of training, problems and disciplines in processes, and improper supplies and tools.

Variables that affect production rates include amount of space, equipment, frequency of duties, climate, population density, facility activities, time of day, chemicals, supplies and personnel.

Calculating methods include actual testing; time to task analysis; square foot production per hour, per day; by unit method, work by area, piece, daily par levels; counting method, time applied to fixtures, furniture, etc.; benchmarking survey reports; the ISSA 447 Cleaning Times booklet; and benchmarking information from similar facilities.

Examples of information gained are: guest room cleaning, 16.8 minutes per 200 square feet by ISSA 447 Cleaning Times; standard hotel room, 25.15 minutes by Daniels Associates; and hotel room cleaning, 13-15 rooms per eight hour day by CMI Survey.

Information shared here is from studies and hands-on experiences during property openings, operational changes and consulting performed at diverse types of facilities. Mahalo!

What makes a housekeeping operation successful

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Mar/Apr 2009

Aloha Rose,
Please share with a new rooms manager your thoughts on what makes a housekeeping operation successful.
Mahalo, NRM

Aloha NRM,
Knowledge in the triad of housekeeping operations — administration, management and technology — is key to operational and individual success. Budgeting is one process that every housekeeping manager must face. In some hotels, it is placed as an accounting function, and unfortunately, the entire budgeting process is assigned to the accounting department; or, the general or rooms manager prepares it. The housekeeping manager thus loses the opportunity, in part, to manage and control the department’s operations. Success is in the ability to prepare a budget; to review, analyze and adjust it; and discuss the variances, needs and financial results of the department. Also important is creativity in implementing best cleaning practices and developing and implementing an operations manual. The following are a sampling of controls to ensure success.

Budgeting/purchasing: preopening, operational, capital; costs: labor, materials, equipment, service; labor: workload, flow, scheduling, methodology, training; quality: performance, guest relations, inspection processes; linens, uniforms: inventory, issuing, cleaning; rooms: work assignments, cleaning and service processes; keys: inventory, sign in/ out process; safety, security: accidents, incident reporting, training, lost and found; environment: recycling, indoor air quality; inventory: equipment, tools, chemicals; energy conservation: air-conditioning systems, utilities.

Talking and walking the talk above is a sure path to success.

Mahalo and good luck!

Control and maintain operational expenses – efficiencies and effectiveness

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2009

Dear Rose,
Because of the economic situation, managing housekeeping operations has been very challenging. What advice can you share with housekeeping managers to control and maintain operational efficiencies and also keep a low stress level, until things get better?
Thank you,
Stressed Sally

Aloha SS,
Your question flashes me back to the times when I, too, had to face similar situations. Yes, today’s and tomorrow’s economic woes present many challenges for hospitality housekeeping managers in working and controlling operational expenses. The hospitality industry and related businesses throughout Hawaii are impacted. The days and months ahead will present many learning opportunities and challenges. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful in managing your operation.

Think Smart and Strategically:
Working with your company’s policies and before making strategic decisions, you must gain a full understanding of your facility’s and the economy’s situation. Get to know the general and industry’s environment and comparative performances. Ask of yourself such questions as: What is happening in the marketplace and how does it work against us? What do our customers demand? What are my performance shortfalls? The first half of making a strategic plan is seeking the positive side of a negative situation. Only after you have identified and analyzed any shortfalls can you make decisions.

Important to a successful housekeeping operation is the ability to maintain a high morale and motivation of employees while controlling the following housekeeping areas: 1) labor, staffing and productivity; 2) supplies, chemicals and equipment; 3) in-room amenities; 4) in-house laundry, if applicable; 5) off-premise laundry inventory and control systems.

A daily focus on labor, as the highest cost factor in housekeeping, is critical. Review daily staffing requirements, working with actual occupancies. Regular use of a staffing guide is recommended. Check daily the number of occupied rooms versus actual rooms cleaned. Every effort should be made to complete cleaning of all required rooms for the day. Carryover of rooms can create staffing problems, impacting on productivity. Determine when, by time, do not disturb and refuse service rooms are reported. Plan all cleaning programs to be in line with projected occupancies keeping in mind the ability to be versatile and flexible. Working in small project cleaning tasks with routine cleaning is a key factor to staying on top of labor costs.

Conduct management by walking around and do on-sight job performance reviews and evaluations. Progressive and productive floor visits to praise, encourage, train and motivate are essential to high morale, thus optimal productivity. Look for what is right, not wrong!

Perform work samplings, workflow analysis, work loading and time to task exercises that will be helpful in managing and controlling labor costs. Ensure that room par levels are met consistently. Where possible, encourage increases in productivity with a focus on quality. Encourage and motivate actions with speed, efficiency and effectiveness. Review work pace, momentum and body movements and body savers such as walking, sitting, lifting, bending, etc.

Communicate with staff information on occupancies, cleaning programs, property budget, staffing requirements, financial results, purchasing needs and cutbacks, renovation programs, departmental and property goals and objectives. Hold general discussions on bottom line, payroll costs, benefits (hidden paycheck/costs), etc. Discuss the need to control supplies, linens, equipment, utilities and energy.

Review cleaning standards and frequencies to determine areas that can be temporarily or permanently eliminated without adverse impact on guest satisfaction, quality and value. Look for possible time savers to increase productivity.

Stress organization and care in all work and storage areas to eliminate unnecessary cleaning. Foster in your management and front-line staff the attitudes and values of “pride, proprietorship, and professionalism.”

Review your department’s hours of operation to determine opportunities for improvement and efficiency. Can hours be eliminated without adversely affecting service, value and quality? Review scheduling practices. Are staggered work shifts being utilized to maximize coverage with minimum staffing?

Purchase labor-saving cleaning tools such as microfiber technology, supplies, chemicals and equipment. Control purchasing of, issuing of and usage of supplies, chemicals and equipments. Consider implementing “best practice programs” and train; train continually in all aspects of the job and, if necessary, go back to basics of cleaning. Remember that cross training and clone training are values of a successful high-quality and high-quantity housekeeping operation.

The above shared have been the strategic values applied over many years that have worked successfully for me as a certified executive housekeeper. Passion of the job has been the icing on the cake of professional cleaning.

Best wishes for a happy and successful new year in 2009. Mahalo!

Work performance/performance evaluation

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2008

Hi Rose,
Please assist me with any information or tips on improving housekeeping work performances and also on performance evaluation programs. I’m at a small hotel and have the responsibility of setting up a department program.
Thank you,

Aloha Liz,
The following information on improving performance and on a performance evaluation process is provided. To perform is defined as: to begin and carry through to completion; to take action in accordance to requirements; to fulfill. Performance is considered to be the results of a person’s efforts and actions. This is what supervisors and managers are concerned about. In working to improve a worker’s performance, consider the following four items: quantity, quality, cost and timeliness.

• Quantity: How much was accomplished? How does it compare to what was expected? Were there circumstances beyond the employee’s control that affected the results achieved?

• Quality: How good were the results and how did the actual work done compare to the quality expected? What relationship exists between quality and quantity?

• Cost: What costs were incurred in the process of achieving the results? Consider such things as materials, tools and services. How do costs compare to the budget?

• Timeliness: Is work completed on time? If not, why not? Are delays due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control, or are they due to poor planning and control?

In supervising or managing employees toward improving performance, three phases are necessary:

1. Planning outputs: objectives, performance position descriptions and performance action plans.

2. Coaching outputs: performance progress sheets and employee document files.

3. Evaluating outputs: completed performance evaluation.

Communication and continuous learning/training are essential to improve the performance of workers. With planning, employees may be given the task of helping to set their own goals and objectives relative to the jobs they hold. Peak performance from all employees and self should be the optimum to reach for. Peak performance will result in success for the employee, management and the organization.

On Performance Evaluation: Performance evaluation is an ongoing responsibility of every supervisor/manager. Evaluations provide for meaningful feedback and discussions, allow for management to make appropriate administrative recommendations and assist in determining where improvement is required. It also provides for a written record to substantiate actions that differentiate among group members. Performance evaluations serve a dual function: an employee feedback system and a management information system.

What makes a successful performance review?

1. Meet with the employee to agree on specific performance goals.

2. Keep a detailed record of individual accomplishments during the review period.

3. Discuss performance at the end of the period. Together, come to terms on the evaluation rating and discuss its implications.

4. Continue an open dialogue with the individual, in which discussions on remedying any deficiencies and improving of important skills can take place.

5. Offer training, education, counseling, closer cooperation or anything else to support performance.

What to evaluate? Quantity. Quality. Cost. Timeliness.

Only actions and results are observable. Other issues are inferred.

Elements that contribute to results in performance evaluations:
• Relevancy: Important areas of an individual’s total responsibilities.
• Variability: Where a sampling exists, a range of performance can be expected.
• Individual bias: Individual bias can be minimized by involving others in the evaluation process that have direct knowledge of the person’s performance level, such as other managers and supervisors.

Be mindful that performance is a function of three variables:
• The person: talents, skills, interests, values and motives.
• The job: the work assigned and the opportunity it provides for achievement, growth, recognition and advancement.
• The situation: organization, administrative constraints, climate, supervision, resources assigned.

When addressing performance improvement, examine each of the variables in detail. The responsibility of the management evaluator is to assure a favorable interaction and balance among the three in the equation. Performance improvement should focus on strengths, not weaknesses, and should be compatible with career interests. Development of a working form for performance evaluations will be helpful. Good luck!

Drinking glasses cleaning processes

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Sept/Oct 2008

Hi Rose,
Over the past months, I have noticed the negative media coverage on improper drinking glass cleaning in guest rooms. The reports so far have focused on mainland hotels. What, if any, strategies can you provide to eliminate such concerns for Hawaii’s hotels?
A Caring EH

Aloha ACEH,
Yes, I am very much aware of this and have also seen a few of the media reports on television, two specifically on Fox News.

In the early 1980s, such concerns were addressed by Hawaii’s hotels. Executive housekeepers and members of the then National Executive Housekeepers Association worked with the then Hawaii Hotel Association and Hawaii Board of Health on what was considered to be the proper cleaning processes to avoid such concerns. Hawaii’s hotels that have ensured ongoing training, performance measurements and management inspection programs have had success. I’m sure you will agree that we certainly do not want to see such negative media coverage on drinking glass cleaning or cleaning in general about Hawaii’s hotels.

In developing a housekeeping manual titled a “Pail Full of Training” in 1995, the following on drinking glasses was included as one of the technical topics for hotel housekeeping operations. In my professional opinion, these two processes are the best approaches to employ when providing reusable drinking glasses in guest rooms. When trained properly and monitored, the processes work successfully.

Sanitizing Drinking Glasses:
The following procedures were approved by the Department of Health’s requirements on sanitizing guest room drinking glasses in hotel rooms in the state of Hawaii.

The major components of the procedures address: Separation of supplies and tools, washing, rinsing and sanitizing processes. Each hotel is required to adopt operating procedures to meet these established requirements.

Alternative 1:
All equipment used will be clearly marked to identify them from other cleaning materials and supplies and placed in a separate compartment or caddy to store cleaning utensils, an all-purpose spray bottle and an approved sanitizer.

1) Clean and sanitize sink; 2) Wash glass with, all-purpose cleaner or dishwashing detergent; 3) Rinse glass under hot running water; 4) Sanitize by spraying the approved sanitizer into the glass; 5) Air dry or dry with disposable towels.

Alternative 2:
Use a dishwasher or a three-compartment sink as required for food establishments. Every hotel is required to incorporate procedures into their training program. Effectiveness of training should be assured through supervisory procedures. In condo/hotel operations, drinking glasses will be washed and sanitized in the kitchen or where a separate bar sink is available.

Additional key points include:
1) Countertops and basins must first be cleaned, disinfected and/or sanitized before any glass washing of any type takes place; 2) A light scrub pad and dishwashing-type detergent must be used. 3) The same processes must be applied to coffee mugs and coffee carafes provided in the guestrooms.

To avoid such processes, hotels may provide disposable or one-use wrapped plastic or paper drinking cups.

It is this writer’s professional opinion that all in the field of professional cleaning management should responsibly focus on, follow through and provide ongoing training on the following to ensure for the safety, welfare and protection of the hotel, its employees and guests:

• Treat cleaning as a profession, a science and an art.
• Elevate cleaning to a science.
• Demand the highest professional behavior and performance.
• Teach and apply science as well as technique, because technique should be based on scientific principles.
• View cleaning as environmental management.
• Teach only those procedures that meet environmental health and safety guidelines for cleaning.

Housekeeping cleaning objectives should promote the following environmental stewardship principles:
• Clean for health first and appearance second.
• Minimize human exposure to contaminants and cleaning products.
• Recognize cleaning as an environmental health benefit.
• Commit to occupational development of cleaning personnel.
• Communicate the value of healthy buildings.
• Minimize chemical, particle and moisture residue when cleaning.
• Ensure worker and occupant safety.
• Contain and reduce all pollutants entering the building.
• Dispose of cleaning products in environmentally safe ways.
• Establish and document routine maintenance schedules.

Following and implementing all of the above will assist in enhancing your hotel’s housekeeping operations and thus reduce concerns of negative guest or media coverage in cleaning overall.