What makes an EH tick?

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007

Dear Rose,
Aloha. I am new in sales to the hotel industry, and I have had some struggles and difficulties in approaching managers of housekeeping operations to present and show my cleaning and guest supply products. I find housekeeping managers to be of a different breed. What, if any, tips could you share to help me become better at what I do, and also could you give me some insights as to what makes an executive housekeeper tick?
Thank You,

Dear Frazzled,
Welcome to Hawaii’s hospitality industry. As you become acquainted with the industry you will be faced with interesting challenges and opportunities. To find out what makes an executive housekeeper (EH) tick, you first must understand that the housekeeping department is vitally important to the success of any property. Having a clear understanding of its functions and operation will be a key factor in your sales results and success. Housekeeping typically is the largest department with a large personnel force; an operating budget for labor, supplies and other controllable items; and a capital budget covering furniture, fixtures and equipment. The responsibilities of an EH are many and varied, of which control is key to being a successful manager. There are duties of planning, coordinating, scheduling, staffing, inspecting, insuring of health and safety regulations, training, supervising, guest relations, payroll, budgeting, financial record keeping, purchasing and more. As with the ticking of a clock, the work day of an EH is a busy one, full of ticks and tocks ongoing toward a work day’s end. The top ticking priorities of an EH is to best service all guests and personnel and to be available on an instant’s notice for problem solving, while focusing on that important bottom line. The EH is generally multitasked and multiticked, often with a daily to do list that will take up a major part of the day.

To answer your question on what makes an EH tick, here are a few critical tips you may want to consider. First, be knowledgeable about the products and company you represent. To not be well informed on product knowledge can be a problem for you. If chemicals are on your list of products, I would suggest becoming well versed in this area.

Learn and become knowledgeable of the facilities you will be serving: their size, type of operation and type of standards.

Become knowledgeable of the facility’s management staff and the “Who is Who” of the property. If the EH is a member of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), Hawaii chapter, you may want to also become a member. Here, you will gain information on EHs in the industry and educational information on professional housekeeping today. Here, you will gain further knowledge on the versatility of how hotel housekeepers tick. You may be amazed at your findings. The Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association is another trade association and avenue that would be beneficial to you as a vendor in the industry.

I would advise against a “cold walk in” on the EH, or any hotel manager for that matter. Arrange for appointments by telephone or mail with company information and your business card. Include a one-page flyer of an interesting new product or industry trend.

On arranging to schedule an appointment, I recommend avoiding the days of Monday or Friday unless requested by the EH. You may also find out as to when the property holds its weekly management meetings. I recommend avoiding that day and time.

Selecting the right time for your appointment is important. For mornings, I suggest the hours between 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Unless you have a luncheon meeting with the EH, avoid the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and unless requested, a late appointment after 3 p.m. is not advised. Shift changes and the end of the work day for employees may interrupt appointment times. Understand also that you may run into a hotel chain with a central purchasing department. EHs will generally provide recommendations on products, supplies and chemicals based on tests and evaluations and can be instrumental in the selection process. In the purchasing process, know and understand that while cost will be an important deciding factor, a seasoned and well-versed EH will take the time to do a product evaluation, to consider its environmental impact and determine whether it will enhance and improve service, quality, safety and productivity.

Involvement in a professional trade association, such as IEHA, in the educational certification program, ongoing seminars and webinars, and attendance at annual conventions and tradeshows have made today’s EH a new and well-informed breed. Professional skills and abilities, being “in the know” and blessed with everyday “street smarts” are what make today’s executive housekeeper tick. Tap in on these values and you too will be ticking along happily with the EHs in our hospitality industry. Mahalo!

Posted in Clean Talk Columns.

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