Keeping Hotel Labor Costs in Check:  How Mobile Inspection Apps Can Help

By keith bateman on October 5, 2017

Creating a Better Way to Inspect Hotels

When guests visit a hotel, they expect a clean room, of course, but beyond that, they expect service. They assume a concierge will greet them at the front desk, a cleaning crew will tidy their room each day, and a whole host of staff members will be on call to meet their every need.

Service is an essential part of the hotel experience — so essential, in fact, that labor is one of the largest costs for hotels, accounting for 45 percent of total expenses.

And it will likely only get more expensive. As the unemployment rate in the U.S. drops, hotels must increasingly compete for talent by offering higher pay. And in some states, such as California and Washington, there’s been pressure to increase the minimum wage and pay hotel staff more.
To keep guests happy, hotels can’t skimp on service. They must continue to hire quality staff who can meet the needs of customers. But they also can’t succeed if profit margins get too thin. So as labor costs rise, hotels need to figure out how to increase staff efficiency to stay profitable and keep guests happy.

Here are a few ways hotels can improve employee efficiency:

Expedite room cleaning

To keep labor costs low, your cleaning staff must be efficient; the more rooms your employees can clean in less time, the higher your profit margins. At the same time, you can’t sacrifice quality for the sake of efficiency. If your cleaning staff rushes through the cleaning process and misses important tasks, your guests will probably notice — and those issues will likely end up in a negative online review that could hurt your business.

Mobile inspection apps can help speed up the cleaning process while keeping quality high. For example, staff members can document each room they clean with photos within the app rather than by writing lengthy explanations. And by using an app, the information for each room is immediately available to supervisors, eliminating the need to collect papers and return to the back office. Plus, staff members can quickly reference a checklist for the tasks they need to complete, so they don’t miss any critical steps in the cleaning process.

Address issues proactively

Maintenance costs can get out of hand if you have to keep addressing the same issues over and over again. Maybe the same toilet overflows every couple of days so you have to send an employee to fix it. Or maybe your staff has a habit of forgetting to empty the trash under the bathroom sinks, which means a team member has to routinely double back empty it, slowing down the cleaning process (and inviting guest complaints).

Having an efficient way to spot and track patterns is key to managing labor costs. If your staff is documenting tasks and inspections on paper (or not at all), it’s impossible to get a big picture of where recurring problems appear or which employees seem to be involved in high numbers of them. Mobile inspection apps allow you to identify areas of weakness, address challenges proactively, and be more efficient overall. You also get real-time access to your data, and the ability to easily create summaries that can show trends for future planning.

Train new employees faster

When you have new employees at your hotel, you probably require them to shadow a more senior staff member for a few weeks until they’re capable of performing their responsibilities without supervision. While that can make for effective training, it can also significantly slow down your cleaning teams until the new employees are up to speed. And when you consider the high turnover rate in the hospitality industry — 72.9 percent in 2016 — that less-than-efficient training time can add up.

Finding ways to train your new employees faster is key to keeping your labor costs down. For example, you can use mobile inspection apps to give your employees easy-to-follow checklists that are accessible on their own mobile devices. Employees are quick to train, more compliant, and have an easier time completing necessary forms using mobile inspection apps since they can choose from drop-down menus and common fields can be pre-populated.

Maximizing your team’s efficiency can help keep your labor costs low — but that’s only part of running a successful hotel. Get more tips for keeping your rooms full and guests satisfied in our interactive eBook, “Fresh and Clean: How Mobile Inspections Save Hospitality Industry Reputations.”