The hotels of Orlando and both the East and West Coasts of Florida are gearing up for the madness that is summertime in Florida. However, those of us in urban and central locations that lack heavy tourism drivers are looking for ways to control expenses and manage costs. To ensure that we are operating as profitably as possible through the sweltering, mosquito-heavy, hurricane-watching, dog days of summer, I’ve compiled a list of the biggest money wasters and some tips for controlling them.
Payroll is always one of the greatest expenses in any business. Properly controlling labor hours and costs can create deep savings for any operation, while still ensuring that guests’ service expectations are met. When business slows to a level that can be maintained by fewer staff, we need to make sure we are not overstaffed and incurring unproductive payroll expenses. This is a great time for employees to use vacation time or just take time off. Keep in mind that these employees may seek additional or alternate employment and may not be available to return to your location full-time when the busy season returns, so be sure to keep your core staff members strong. Always make sure that your key employees are getting enough hours in their department or another department. You’ll need these key people to train and inspire any new staff you hire as business levels rise.
A reduction in staff usually calls for a reduction in supervision as well. This does not mean that summer time is “party time” for managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors must do their share to reduce the number of employees needed in the day-to-day operation of your organization. As business slows, ensure that all supervisors and department managers are spending at least one day a week pulling a shift. As mangers, we should be accustomed to doing more and working harder when sales decrease. Also, slow demand periods are a good time for managers and supervisors to take vacation time to get rested and recharged for the busy period, when time off is more difficult to schedule.
Be sure the staff is working smarter. Whenever possible, condense your operation to a level that can be managed by a smaller staff, yet continue to provide top-notch service to the customer. For example, shutting down certain floors of a hotel and closing a branch/wing for the summer season can result in a more efficient and less expensive operation. Limiting the time an employee takes to move from task to task as they go through their daily activities, along with streamlining the supply process, will result in tremendous manpower savings for your organization without impacting the guest experience.
“Lights out for summer” should be the theme of any organization that sees a slump in sales during the season. Particularly important in the hotel business, controlling the waste of electricity can save as much as twenty-five percent of annual utility expenses. Keeping unused space in the dark with motion-sensitive lighting and with a properly controlled climate will result in tremendous savings on utilities. In Florida, climate control can be critical. I am not advocating a complete shutdown of areas where humidity or positive pressure may be an issue, as asset preservation is paramount. Just make sure that air conditioning is set at an acceptable level, and the lights are turned off where possible. Banquet and meeting facilities are where some of the largest energy waste occurs. These rooms often become a hangout or a “shortcut” passageway for employees as they break or migrate from one workspace to another. Be sure to secure all meeting and banquet facilities whenever they are not in use and educate your staff on both the environmental and financial benefits of energy conservation.
Water temperature and water usage should be evaluated regularly throughout the year as part of any ongoing conservation initiative. A summertime decrease in business can make spotting a leak or other anomaly easier. These problems normally go unnoticed, but with decreased consumption, they stand out. Summer is also a good time to have your local water department visit your business to look for any spike in consumption and offer tips for conserving energy and reducing waste at your facility.
Check water temperatures for guest, laundry and kitchen use, as overheating water is a drain on any company’s utility budget. Water for guest use should be around 120°F, while water for dish cleaning and laundry should be around 140°F. Contact your local vendor to inquire about the use of low temperature machines for dish cleaning. In an office or retail environment, eliminate hot water where it’s practical. Overall, ensure that the temperature of the water is correct wherever it is being used and your temperature regulators are in place.
Simple enough, right?
Engage your staff by educating them on the importance of saving money throughout the summer. By educating employees and monitoring these three things, you can deliver bottom line profitability that otherwise may have gone to the utility company or to unnecessary payroll.
by: Larry Collier, Director of Operations