If you don’t measure it, you won’t save it. Regarding labour in a hotel, almost every position should be based on occupancy metrics. One of the departments most commonly overlooked is the laundry department. We all have metrics for how many rooms a room attendant should clean daily, but how much laundry should a laundry attendant do?
This number is more variable from hotel to hotel than one might think. First, we’ll assume your laundry equipment is big enough for the job. However, you also need to look at the guest's expectations for the hotel. If you are dealing with a non-luxury property where guests don’t expect their linen to be ironed, this will save you some substantial time. Another, and perhaps the most critical factor that varies from property to property, is your room type mix and leisure/corporate dynamic. The more leisure guests you have, the more linen will be used. If you have a property with predominantly two queen rooms in a leisure market, you will be doing much more laundry than the opposite.
Now that you know where you fit in, it’s time to establish what an efficient laundry department looks like to you. The easiest solution is to use a metric based on a set amount of time allocated per occupied room in the hotel. This number should not change often. However, you may vary the number occasionally due to seasonality (IE., more leisure travel in the summer). So how does this work?
Your budgeted number should be done weekly to simplify and average results. When making your schedule the week before, you want to forecast how many rooms you believe will be sold in the week. Within this schedule, you will want to schedule shifts that are “on call” so you can increase your capacity on the week if needed (or cut back if required). You will also want to ensure you have an adequate PAR level so your hotel can survive a missed laundry day or shift without operations crippling.
It is best practice to schedule a laundry shift every day during set hours, as this position may be your flex position in many ways. IE, they may be required to do a daily common area cleaning (set an allocated time for this and deduct it from your budgeted laundry hours). However, they may get called up to help with breakfast or some emergency help in housekeeping. Having this primary daytime position cross-trained is always a good idea. After this shift is set every day, it’s time to layer on with strictly laundry shifts. These shifts can come in the afternoon or evening. Attracting laundry staff on evening shifts is usually quite popular as many seek part-time evening jobs.
OK, this is all fine and dandy, but what’s the number!? We find it to be anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes per occupied guest room for a standard non-extended stay property. If gauging extended stay, you would deduct your extended stay room from your calculation and assign them your own metric, i.e. 2 minutes per occupied extended stay guest room. What does this all look like?
Let's say you use 6 minutes per guest room.
Assume you're going to average 100 guest rooms per night. (100 x 7 days a week ) = 700 occupied rooms, (700 occupied rooms x 6 minutes per occupied room) = 4200 minutes. (4200 minutes / 60 minutes) = 70 hours.
You now have 70 hours to play with in your week. Schedule appropriately so you put more people on your peak laundry days and the minimums on your non-peak days. Check if you hit your metrics when you're done for the week. Now you have something to work towards and a schedule that makes sense. If this seems too complicated, there is software that automates all these calculations for this as well. Hey, I guess not everything in hospitality is exciting…