HOUSEKEEPING AND MAINTENANCE
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
“Quality, service, cleanliness, and value.” - Cavett Robert, Leaving a Lasting Legacy.
Cleanliness is indeed, a major component of a successful business. In the tourism industry, “clean” is associated with care and quality. All of your customers want to stay in a clean, fully functional cabin or room. Rustic means simple and country-like; it does not mean old, musty, dirty, and run down.
As a business owner you must keep your operation clean and in good repair. This is necessary not only to satisfy your guests, but to build your reputation and to create a group of returning customers. It is also necessary to maintain and protect your investment. Your modern, clean operation transfers into money when it is time to sell and retire.
HOUSEKEEPING (Self Catering) AND LIGHT MAINTENANCE
Organizing and managing housekeeping and light maintenance is an important job and must be taken seriously. Depending on your type of operation there are a minimum of four areas which should be cleaned and maintained in a routine manner:
Cabins and guest rooms
Indoor public areas
Offices and employee areas
Outdoor public areas
1. CABINS AND GUEST ROOMS
Cabins and guest rooms should have three different types of scheduled housekeeping:
regular weekly or daily cleaning
Regular housekeeping, in operations with cabins, is usually done on a weekly basis. Guest rooms may have to be done on a daily basis, depending on your clients’ needs.
The basic steps of regular cabin cleaning are:
Assembling your cleaning supplies. Most operations have carts which carry the cleaning supplies, equipment, clean bedding, towels etc. Make sure that these carts are fully stocked prior to cabin cleaning day.
Clean the cabin once the clients have left. A systematic approach to cleaning the cabin will ensure that all cleaning tasks will be done. A checklist of cleaning tasks may help to organize cleaning staff and can serve as an inspection list for management. Regular cleaning of the cabin must include: cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, dining and living areas, making the beds, dusting, vacuuming or sweeping and garbage removal.
Inspection of the clean cabin should be done by management or the operator and will ensure that the cabin is clean for the next clients. Any staff cleaning problems can be noted and addressed. Inspection should also involve noticing any damages and making the appropriate repairs.
Occasional (or scheduled) cleaning involves such things as: turning mattresses, taking inventory of cabin items, dusting hard to reach places, cleaning of bedspreads, scrubbing down cupboards etc. Depending on the size of your operation and your own personal standards of cleanliness, occasional cleaning maybe done during regular cleaning.
Deep cleaning, in our industry, is routinely done at the start and/or end of the season. Deep cleaning involves such tasks as: high dusting, cleaning walls, windows, cupboards, shampooing rugs, furniture, washing curtains, bedspreads, vacuuming trim, corners and carpet edges. Any major repairs and cosmetic changes, such as painting, can be done at this time.
2. INDOOR PUBLIC AREAS
Indoor public areas are places where you meet and greet your clients (or guests) and they meet other (clients). It is best to clean these areas once a day.
The lobby, or place where the register client registers, will create a first and lasting impression. The lobby should always be clean and the front desk should be free of clutter and paperwork. This area should reflect the nature of your business and have some suitable seating. Pictures, photos of previous guests, information, membership plaques, awards and magazines will add to the ambiance of your operation.
Entrances to indoor public areas must be easy to access and must be safe to use. Entrances must also always be clean. Snow and ice removal is an absolute necessity in four season operations. Mats, inside and outside of all entrances will keep down tracked dirt and provide added traction. Mats must be cleaned regularly to be both pleasing to the eye and safe.
Common rooms or meeting rooms or a common cabin can be used for events such as weddings or can be used by your customers as an entertainment center. These areas should be cleaned right after an event but, if they are more of an entertainment center, they can be cleaned in your weekly schedule.
3. OFFICES AND EMPLOYEE AREAS
Offices and employee areas need to be as clean as client areas and public areas. Providing a safe, clean environment for yourself and your employees is another sign of a quality, caring operation. The cleanliness and quality of your staff’s working and living areas is reflected in the quality and loyalty of service that they provide to you and your guests. Too many operations are neglectful in meeting the needs of their staff in this area.
Each staff member is responsible for keeping their working and living areas neat and orderly. Regular, usually weekly, cleaning of these areas must be scheduled with the housekeeping staff.
4. OUTDOOR PUBLIC AREAS
Outdoor public areas are the places that your clients see and use while they are staying at your facility. It is important to note that outdoor public areas create much of your operation’s image and can influence potential clients and local citizens. Outdoor public areas include such things as: building exteriors, landscaped areas and lawns, driving and parking areas, beaches, docks, swimming pools, hot tubs, etc. The types of outdoor facilities will vary according to your type of operation.
Building exteriors should be clean and in good repair. Painting and general maintenance should be scheduled yearly, preferably during the off season. Renovations and major repairs should be scheduled in your long term plans.
Landscaped areas or grounds require a maintenance program. Lawn care is routine and will consist mostly of mowing during your busy season. The use of fertilizer and chemicals is not necessary in a rustic setting and can contribute to the growth of algae in your lake. If you insist on using fertilizer and chemicals, use them before or after your busy season and ensure that there is no run-off into your water body.
Trees and shrubs should be maintained as not to interfere with guests or their view. Dying and dangerous trees should be removed in the spring or fall. Make sure that the tree you have removed is replaced and make tree planting an annual event. A forest setting is part of our Northern Ontario landscape and can provide privacy around your cabins.
Brightly coloured blooming flowers, either in beds or in planters can enhance your landscape. The area outside of your main entrance to the lobby should have some special landscape feature to help to direct clients to this area. Your public entrance or identification sign, visible from a public road, should also have a well maintained landscape area around it to show the quality and care that your operation projects to the public.
Driveways and parking areas must be clean and well maintained. Provide garbage cans and pick up garbage daily. Sweep areas, if paved, to remove sand, gravel and leaves. Snow removal in the winter and access to your buildings is a necessity even if your operation is not four season. In many instances, for full insurance coverage, access to your buildings must be provided at all times of the year.
Signage on your property must be easily visible, accurate, and have a uniform theme. Make sure that your signs are in good repair by inspecting them on a yearly basis.
Beaches and docks should be clean and in good repair. Swimming pools and hot tubs must not only be clean and in good repair, they must meet public health standards. A maintenance schedule will ensure that you meet these requirements.
CONTRACT OR IN-HOUSE CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
It is up to you, mostly based on the size of your operation, to determine whether you will hire staff to clean and maintain, do it yourself, or contract it out. Some tasks may be done by staff but many operations contract out such things as laundry, landscaping and snow removal. It is best to examine all options and then chose the most cost effective method.
MAINTENANCE, ENGINEERING AND REPLACEMENT SCHEDULING
All facilities, water, sewage and heating systems require regular inspection, regular maintenance and future replacement as facilities and systems age. Again, keeping your facilities in good working condition makes your business attractive to clients and ensures that your facility will be attractive for future re-sale.
Regular inspection of cabins, guest rooms, and public areas, at least once a year will ensure that the necessary repairs are made. An inspection or maintenance checklist should be created for you cabins. A checklist can include:
lighting, indoors and outdoors
plumbing and fixtures
heating and air conditioning
doors and windows
After the inspections, repairs should be prioritized and completed during the off season. Plans for major repairs and upgrades should be built into your long term financial planning. By planning repairs and upgrades you will avoid emergency repairs and have a higher quality unit to rent out at a higher price.
Your operations’ plumbing and sewage systems also require regular inspection and maintenance especially if you use lake or well water and only run these systems during the frost-free time of year. Much of the regular maintenance and repair of these systems can be done by the operator or a maintenance person. However, for larger, more complicated projects a professional should be employed.
Routine inspection and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and air conditioners should also be scheduled. Again, any major repairs should be done by a professional.
Most operations have a workshop or equipment shed where tools, maintenance equipment, spare parts etc. are kept. Make sure that your workshop is clean, orderly and that you have plenty of spare parts on hand.
The Outfitters’ Manual. NOTO. Circa 1985.
Lodging Operator’s Manual. BC Motels Campgrounds Resort Association. 1997.