Housekeeping manager career: there's a lot more to it than you think
If you’re like most people, you think about stocking towels and toiletries, changing linens, emptying trashcans and vacuuming rooms when you think about housekeeping. You might, therefore, assume that a housekeeping manager would merely train, schedule and supervise the team responsible for those duties. However, you’d be wrong. Housekeeping management requires so much more!
From overseeing the daily operations of the housekeeping department and ensuring guestrooms and public areas are clean and comfortable, to managing inventories and budgets while maintaining excellent service standards, professionals in housekeeping management have a lot on their plates. That’s probably why the average salary for the positon is close to $43,000. Housekeeping directors can earn even more (an average of $53,560, in fact), though actual wages are affected by location, property size and other factors.
If you think a career as a housekeeping manger might be a good fit for you, you’re going to want to read on. We talked to three professionals in housekeeping management who work at properties of a range of different sizes so that we could give you an inside, real-life look at what you can expect from this challenging career.
Joe Pierce, Director of Housekeeping
Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Though he has been working in housekeeping management for nine years, Pierce held many other hospitality positions prior, from front office agent and front office supervisor to bellman, guest experience manager, and pool and beach supervisor. “I was a laundry manager at a property and assisted the housekeeping department,” he explains when asked how he got his start. “A position opened up and I moved to housekeeping manager full time.”
Pierce’s typical day begins with an exterior walk of the property. “Then I attend our daily housekeeping line-up with our room attendants and housemen,” he says. “After the line-up, I meet with the supervisors and managers to review the day’s VIP arrivals, projects, and anything else that is pertinent.” He spends the rest of his day walking rooms, dealing with administrative tasks, and attending weekly meetings.
While his favorite management duty is having one-on-one meetings with each of his staff to learn more about them and guide them along their career path, his position does have its challenges. “The most challenging part of my job is finding the balance between providing five-star service while maintaining financial responsibilities,” he says.
His best piece of advice for professionals who want to get into housekeeping management? “Be as hands on as possible,” he says. “Spend time with a room attendant cleaning a room, with a houseman and in other areas to learn exactly what everyone does. You’ll learn where the breakdowns are.”
Lawrence Wong, Director of Housekeeping
The Upper House, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Hong Kong, China
With more than a decade of experience as a housekeeping director, Wong’s first job in hospitality was as a room attendant. “I became floor supervisor three years later,” he says. “Then I studied part time to get a degree in hospitality, which equipped me to better develop my career. I have worked in four different hotels and was progressively promoted until I reached my current position.”
His typical day begins with a morning team briefing. “We share news of special VIPs and daily training,” he explains. “Then I do a quick walk through the hotel to see any major happenings or follow up on issues from the overnight team before the busy day begins.” After another meeting with respective department heads to review arrival guests, restaurant bookings, and special events, he spends the rest of his day seeing to a variety of duties.
“The few things that are routine and done every day are room inspections, to ensure rooms are in perfect condition for our guests and to identify any areas for improvement, which I share with my team and the hotel,” he says. “Also, patrolling public areas. First impressions count, and we need to maintain the hotel in good condition for not only our room guests, but also the patrons of our restaurants and events. Finally, planning upcoming activities. The housekeeping team is not only responsible for cleaning the guest rooms, but also for cleaning back of house, public areas, restaurants, and even event space. Proper planning and cleaning scheduling is essential.”
While Wong thoroughly enjoys providing the hotel’s guests with good service and clean, comfortable rooms, and appreciates their compliments and those of other departments that recognize the efficiency of his team, serving in housekeeping management is not without its challenges. “Housekeeping is one of the most physically demanding and repetitive roles within a hotel, and how I motivate my team and maintain consistency in performance is crucial,” he explains. “It is important for anyone in my position to engage their team in a way that recognizes their hard work. On the other hand, it’s also vital to develop a systematic training program, which will help achieve consistency and allow for continuous improvement.”
His best piece of advice for professionals who want to get into housekeeping management? “A meticulous attention to detail is crucial,” he says. “Do not underestimate your importance and contribution to the overall success of the hotel. Many people give recognition to front line departments like guest experience, sales and marketing, and restaurants that have more direct contact with guests. While housekeeping always stays at the back to support, it plays an undeniably essential role in maintaining the core business of the hotel. Be proud of what you do to make a difference every day.”
Barbara Richards, Executive Head Housekeeper
The Stafford London, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Richards began her hospitality career as a room attendant with The Lanesborough Hotel in London where she was quickly promoted to floor housekeeper. “I joined The Stafford as deputy head housekeeper in 2014 and progressed to my current role of executive head housekeeper in October 2015,” she says.
Her typical day is spent focused on her primary role. “I supervise, train and work alongside my team to ensure that all services offered by housekeeping are always available and carried out with the utmost efficiency and courtesy,” she explains. “The role is very much operational based and includes ongoing inspection of all guest rooms and public areas to make sure that our high standards are maintained consistently for the comfort of our hotel guests.”
She also spends time meeting with the hotel’s general manager and heads of other departments, attending regular meetings, and working on special projects. “We have two major projects happening in the hotel in 2017,” she says. “One involves the renovation of our historic 18th century Carriage House and the other is the refurbishment of our restaurant.”
Additionally, Richards is responsible for maintaining stock levels of linen and toiletries, dealing with suppliers, controlling costs, scheduling staff, and overseeing budgets, maintenance reports, and safety audits. “I also have to be aware of and maintain our green and environmental policies,” she adds.
While she considers housekeeping one of the toughest jobs in the hotel, she also finds it very rewarding. She says, “Generating customer satisfaction and working with a great team and like-minded heads of department in a wonderful hotel” is her favorite part.
“With high occupancy levels, it is rewarding to see that the standards of the hotel are maintained in addition to making certain the management of the department is effective and flexible, allowing team members to work together and cover tasks with each other,” she adds. “Receiving high guest satisfaction comments really motivates the team and me. In the hospitality industry, it’s all about the guest!”
Her best piece of advice for professionals who want to get into housekeeping management? “You have to be committed and willing to adapt to whatever is asked of you,” she says. “You must be organized and have good time management skills to run the department efficiently. It’s helpful to have front of house knowledge and vice versa, so you have a good understanding of why there is so much pressure on the department. And always remember when things don’t go to plan, don’t get emotional but think outside the box for alternative solutions.”