6 actionable ways to help you ace your next QA inspection

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Have a great tip to share on quality assurance or guest satisfaction? Write to our editor at todayshotelier@naylor.com.

How did your hotel’s last quality assurance inspection go? Did you pass with an awesome score, or could it have been better?

by Rupesh Patel

Like many of you, I’ve been through my share of nail-biting inspections. You know the kind that keep you up at night. Then, that semi-magical day when the brand’s inspector hands her card to the front desk and says, “I am here to fail you and put you out of your misery.”

Only kidding.

Seriously, no matter how many times we go through a quality assurance (QA) inspection, it can still be a nerve-­wracking experience. As a hotel franchise, it’s extremely important for us to ace these inspections so we can continue leveraging on the brand’s objectives and make more money, of course.

Receiving an outstanding score is a testament to the overall quality, high standards and the profitability of your property. Besides, I’m not a fan of losing, and I view a hotel QA inspection as a game I’d like to win. Every time. So let’s see how many points we can keep and how we can get to the finish line without getting a flag.

It’s highly likely that you just had an inspection or you’re expecting one soon. Here are six actionable tips that have helped my hotels pass with flying colors, and yours can too.

1. Know the standards
If you’re a franchised hotel, it’s imperative you understand the brand’s standards and rules of operations.

  •  Get the latest version of the standards from the brand’s portal site.
  •  Print out the self-evaluation form, and actually perform a mock-QA.
  • Contact your franchise area director or brand representative to have them do a QA run-through with you. They can give you an outside perspective of the condition and cleanliness of your hotel. Plus they typically know what will pass or fail.
  • If you don’t know whether something will pass, ask another GM or reach out to the brand.
  • Get your waivers together and have them ready to show (if applicable).

2. Review past results
Whether you’re brand new to the property or have been there for years, to start on the right path to a passing score, you should review the last two to three inspection reports. This will prevent you from getting hit on stuff that should have already been corrected. Plus, you’ll know what areas of the hotel you really need to concentrate on the most.

  • Share and review past reports with all employees.
  • Focus both on the good and the bad of past reports.
  • Compare previous reports with where you believe you stand today.

3. Create a punch list
After reviewing the standards and going over past inspections, you now know what items are crucial to pass this test. Now it’s time to make a detailed ­checklist. Ensure that all department supervisors are involved in making this list. For those who want to keep their list digital, use PunchLists or Evernote apps.

When making your list:

  • Break the list up into areas, sections or departments for efficiency.
  • Highlight deficiencies or reoccurring items that failed in the past.
  • Prioritize major and minor items (based on guest impact).
  • Note due dates.
  • Don’t forget to assign specific personnel to tasks, which creates accountability.
  • And leave a spot for comments.

4. Get the entire team involved
Passing your QA inspection should not only be the responsibility of your hotel’s management team alone. Your staff – who are on the frontlines of your hotel’s operations – should be involved. Delegate tasks to team members, and hold everyone accountable to a key areas.

When it’s time to execute the list:

  • Have each department go over their own standards.
  • Have departments inspect other departments.
  • Follow up with team members on status and completion.
  • Consider incentivizing employees or creating a fun-natured competition.
  • Don’t lose easy points for a missing name tag or uniform.
  • Make sure you have full stock of the Forgot Me Amenities (toothbrush, comb, deodorant, etc.) at the front desk.
  • The owner should be directly involved – especially for capital expenses that could positively help business growth.

5. Inspect
Can you taste that A+++ score yet? We’ll, you’re headed in the right direction! Now that you and your team have been diligently fixing room issues, deep cleaning, checking and double checking, it’s time to inspect.

As a manager or owner, you should actually be walking through your hotel on a regular basis. If you have a smaller property, go through all the rooms. Properties with 75 or more, have a few people inspect with you, including room supervisors. Pay attention to articles inside/under/around/behind beds and dressers.

I once found moldy food in a guestroom fridge – it was probably there for a week or more. And I definitely don’t want to mention what I found between the mattress and box spring. Oh and if you find money in a room during an actual inspection, you get hit.

Pay close attention to:

  • Dust and debris – up high, down low and everywhere in-between.
  • Hair – in tubs, around toilets, on beds, on mattress pads – NO HAIR.
  • Check batteries in alarm clocks, TV remotes and smoke detectors.
  • Look out for burnt-out bulbs and/or the correct wattage use.
  • Dirty and stained linen or terry.
  • Details! They matter.

6. Guest feedback – surveys and reviews
I saved my favorite for last. When it comes to guest satisfaction, all hotel brands require their franchises to be in compliance with a minimum standard threshold. This means your hotel needs to be above a certain set number to pass a portion of your QA. Many brands use guest feedback software, such as Medallia, to solicit, track and measure guest satisfaction at your hotel.

Passing your next QA inspection can seem challenging, but if you use these tips and remain calm, cool and organized, you have nothing to worry about. Just think about how you’re going to feel when it’s all over and you PASSED.

Expert advice:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to start improving.
  • Don’t take it personal.
  • Stay positive.
  • You’re not alone. Ask for help.          ■

Rupesh Patel is a hotelier, entrepreneur and CEO at SmartGuests.com. Rupesh helps businesses like yours think differently with innovative ideas and strategies. He also shares his passion for entrepreneurship, customer service and marketing on numerous industry sites, social media and blogs. Connect with him on LinkedIn. 

Guest satisfaction scores are crucial to passing
Focus on touchpoints during their stay, at checkout and post-stay

So how do you improve guest satisfaction scores? First, you’re going to ensure your hotel meets and exceed the standards set by the franchise. Today’s guests are smart; they know when you’ve cut corners and reduced quality. Just providing a clean room with a cable TV isn’t going to cut it.

To get great guest feedback, your hotel needs to go above and beyond with exceptional service. Start by training your team (if you don’t know how, I can refer you to some amazing hospitality customer service trainers). Next, you’ll need to get direct feedback during, at checkout and after their stay. To do this, you’ll need to ask. You’ll never get anything if you don’t ask for it.

DURING “Mrs. Smith, how is your stay with us? Is there anything I can do to make it more enjoyable?”
AT CHECKOUT “Mr. James, how was you stay? What is one thing we can do to make your next stay even better?”
POST STAY (EMAIL OR HANDWRITTEN CARD) “Ms. Perry, it was such a pleasure hosting you and your family. Because we receive feedback from wonderful guests like yourself, we continue to improve. I would love to hear about your experience with us…”

 

Now that your hotel has received feedback, issues must be corrected. Resolving complaints and/or recovering guests is very important in improving your guest satisfaction scores.

A happy, satisfied guest will be more than happy to give your hotel the positive feedback it deserves!

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