Managing 185 guest rooms, a waterpark, ballroom space and a full-service restaurant is no easy task. From unruly sprinklers to switching out light bulbs and regular maintenance repairs, there's a lot to do and track.
But no matter where a maintenance issue might arise, Roger Kram, chief engineer of the Ramada Plaza & Suites, a Presidential Award-winning hotel in Fargo, N.D., knows exactly what to do.
Here are a few tips Kram suggests adding to your hotel's maintenance checklist to keep everything running smoothly.
1. Train the Front Desk
Sometimes tiny mistakes have major consequences. For example, Kram once had a hotel guest who placed a hanger on the bathroom's fire sprinkler head, which punctured the glass bubble that held the sprinkler in place. The fire alarm went off as water gushed throughout the bathroom, bedroom and even into the hallway. "The guest left as the room was flooding and didn't tell anyone," Kram says.
The guest returned hours later. But by the time the hotel staff became aware of the problem Kram says 200 gallons of water had leaked into six rooms and the hallway. A team from the sprinkler's service company was called in to repair the broken sprinkler head while Kram, his staff and the local fire department cleaned up water.
The next two to three weeks were dedicated to repairs. Kram and his staff peeled back the room and hallway carpet. They then replaced the three-eights inch vinyl carpet pad underneath with new medium-duty carpet padding that Kram keeps on hand at all times. They then tacked the carpeting back over the new pad.
To prevent the incident from happening again, Kram trained the hotel's front desk staff and managers on where to find the water valves and how to shut them off if necessary. It's not that complicated to learn, it's just knowing where the valves are located and practicing how to do it, Kram says
2. Have Housekeeping Check the TVs Daily
When a TV screen is cracked, it forms a spider web formation on the screen that is difficult to see unless the TV is switched on, Kram says. To stay aware of these issues, Kram trained the housekeeping staff to turn on all the TVs in each room while cleaning to ensure they're working properly or replace them if necessary.
Checking the TVs during each guest's stay also helps determine if a guest has damaged the TV, he says. Even though this has only happened three times in the past two years, failing to do so can result in a new guest getting stuck with a broken TV long after the person who damaged it checked out of the hotel, he says.
3. Check Appliances Every 10 Weeks
The maintenance staff at the hotel used to be bombarded with approximately 20 calls each night from guests complaining about broken appliances in their rooms.
To improve the guests' experience and reduce the number of complaints, Kram started a maintenance program that divides the hotel into 10 sections each consisting of 18 to 20 rooms. Each week, a member of the maintenance staff examines all of the equipment — including faucets, outlets, drains, hairdryers and smoke alarms — in every room of a different section. By the end of the year, each room has been checked five times. These regular evaluations typically take six to eight hours, per block of 18-20 rooms. "They're finding problems in the rooms before the guest does, which leads to happier guests," says Kram, and less phone calls.
4. Save Money, Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
After the hotel was renovated in 2010, the staff switched 1,500 light bulbs from using 100 watt incandescent light bulbs to 23 watt compact fluorescent bulbs in all of the lamps. More than two years later, the bulk of the bulbs — all but 50 — are still burning. By using compact fluorescent light bulbs, Kram estimates he saves the hotel $450 a month in energy costs.
5. Don't Skimp on Quality
The hotel previously used pewter drains in the bathtubs, but Kram found that the material was too thin and would bend and deteriorate within 12 months of installation. The staff decided to move to a heavy brass drain that costs twice as much as the pewter drains, but has a durability that pays off. "We ended up with a unit that will be there until the finish comes off because it's just that tough," Kram says. Since they don't have to replace the drains as often, Kram says its saves his staff about 125 maintenance and repair hours per year.
Using quality materials and anticipating maintenance repairs and issues before they happen are just a few ways to keep your hotel in great shape. And with thorough staff training and a lot of teamwork, you can easily resolve any surprises along the way.
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