Owner of Housekeeping Services of Hilton Head, LLC
I'm pretty sure you woke up this morning wondering about the evolution of the housekeeping industry in the Low Country over the last twenty five years or so, so because you asked………
When Housekeeping Services was started in 1989, all of the Hilton Head property management companies operated in essentially the same way. The Island was extremely seasonal, with late March through mid-October being the busiest times, and homes and villas were rented on a weekly basis, with those "turns" (one guest leaving and another arriving) occurring primarily on Saturdays.
That pattern played havoc with the support services. As a Company, we were faced with telling a prospective employee, "We can keep you working two or three days a week for seven months a year."—hardly a persuasive argument for the recruitment and retention of a motivated labor base. On those busy seasonal Saturdays, we would often be faced with turning 300-400 homes and villas between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, not exactly a recipe for delivery of a quality product. Over the years, we tried everything to ease that pattern. Property Management companies were reluctant to change a system (to turning on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, for example, or offering mid-week cleaning) that had been so successful for so long. Reinforcing the labor base with part time weekend help worked to an extent, but led to training, transportation, and quality control issues. Good people who we had worked hard to train and keep busy invariably left at the end of the season—they had bills to pay during the winter months as well.
Without a consistent labor base, the professionalism of the Company and of the industry as a whole suffered. Ultimately, it became obvious that if a Company wanted to deliver a consistent, superior, and professional product things had to change fundamentally and substantially. The first and most dramatic change had to be in creating the ability to retain professional managers and employees, which meant developing a full time, year round, well paid work force, and that meant working to establish a full time, year round work load.
Consequently, we targeted as customers the less seasonal and less weekend intensive resorts. We approached those few off Island resorts whose typical season counterbalanced the prevailing patterns. We worked to expand into areas that were not seasonal and not weekend focused—residential housekeeping, post construction cleaning, and apartment "move out" cleaning, for example. We developed office, clubhouse, and facilities cleaning operations.
It has worked for us. Nearly all of our associates that want to work full time now work full time. Because we pay well, provide benefits, and provide meaningful year round work, our labor base is as stable as at any time in our history.
Once that was in place, creating the other components of a professional and well rounded cleaning Company became easier. Providing uniforms, name tags, clean and logoed vehicles, appropriate insurance coverages, extensive training, industry elite cleaning chemicals and equipment, and professional management have resulted in the creation and refinement of the Low Country's largest, most diverse, and most competent housekeeping company.
But we're not stopping there. We are forming a partnership with Goodwill and the American Hospitality Association to provide additional education for our people as they seek to become certified by the AHA in their field. We will soon have the only certified housekeepers, supervisors, inspectors, and housekeeping managers in the Lowcountry.
Unlike some of our franchised competitors, every cent of what we generate stays in the Lowcountry, through our employees to our vendors and our suppliers. We're local, and we intend to stay that way.
In that same vein, we are increasing our efforts on behalf of our communities and our charity causes. We have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to donate post construction cleaning for every home built by this wonderful organization in the Low Country. We continue to support Cleaning for a Cause to provide residential housekeeping at no cost for women fighting breast cancer. We donate a substantial amount of the proceeds of our residential housekeeping division during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to worthy charities promoting research and care for that horrible disease.
Ask Your Prospective Vendor These Simple Questions
If you are looking for a vendor, in laundry, resort housekeeping, residential housekeeping, post construction and move out cleaning, or any commercial cleaning application, ask your prospective vendor these simple questions:
- Do you require drug testing of every person you hire?
- Do you do a thorough background check on any prospective employee?
- Do you carry Worker's Compensation insurance for all of your employees?
- Do you carry liability insurance in sufficient amounts to effectively cover both your employees and your clients?
- Are you licensed in the cities and counties in which you work?
- Have you passed safety audits by your insurance company to ensure safety and liability issues are mitigated and properly managed?
- Are you bonded for theft and/or breakage?
- Do you have a year round full time work force that is paid well and has reasonable benefits?
- What is the turnover rate among your employees?
- Is your work inspected periodically by a quality assurance person?
- Do you supply all of the cleaning supplies and equipment necessary to perform the work we are looking for?
- Do you provide clean and logoed vehicles so we know who is coming onto our property?
- Are your employees wearing readily identifiable uniforms, with company name tags?
- Do you have absolute policies on things like cell phone usage, back packs, etc?
- Do you evaluate associates frequently, and base any bonuses and increases on customer feedback, quality of work, and quality of service?
- Do you constantly monitor cleaning chemicals and equipment to ensure you are using the best and most environmentally conscious products on the market at any given time?
- Are any of your housekeepers, supervisors, inspectors, or managers certified by the American Hospitality Association?
- Do you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee?
- Are you a large enough company to handle any unforeseen events?
Please be assured Housekeeping Services can confidently respond positively to any and all of those questions.
We are all aware the concept of perfection in housekeeping or laundry is, at best, elusive. One of the best compliments I ever remember receiving came in the form of a letter I got from a corporate customer several years ago. In it, she said the following... .
This is the best vendor relationship we have ever had. Everyone makes mistakes, but the difference is when you guys make one you acknowledge it and fix it and get on with life. When we make one you bring it to our attention, we collectively correct it, and everything goes on normally. I don't know what more I could ask for.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are a current customer, thank you for your business and your continuing support. If you are a prospective customer, please feel free to call at any time and ask for me personally.
Lastly, please spend a few minutes looking at the brief biographies of our Division Managers. I genuinely believe they are collectively the most competent group in the industry today.
Owner, Housekeeping Services of Hilton Head, LLC