5 Steps to Improve Front Office Organization

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As the saying goes: A place for everything, and everything in its place.

by DAWN M. BERRY

Being organized is the key to being successful in all areas of life. For a hotel front desk team, organization is critical to ensure staff and guest satisfaction. It will not only have an immediate and visible impact on your team morale and guest satisfaction scores, but it will also assist in keeping the entire property running smoothly. Take a moment to review these steps to improve front office organization.

KEEP EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

The front office is the catch-all space of the hotel. When in doubt give it to the front desk, they will know what to do with it. Does this sound familiar? Take a moment to review the front office space every quarter – and minimize what the staff has to work with to make them more successful. Use the parameters below to evaluate what is kept at the front desk.

  • Does it make sense? Are the items that are used multiple times during a shift in the proper location and easily accessible?
  • What does not need to be there? The menu and coupons from the restaurant down the street that closed two years ago can be tossed out. If it has not been used in the last quarter, you do not need it. Get rid of it.
  • Does it have to be a printed copy? Can the document be saved or scanned to a shared drive, desktop or folder?
  • What is the guest’s visual? Multiple times per week, walk through the front entrance of the hotel. What do the guests see? Is the front desk organized and free of clutter? What can they see when they are checking in or checking out?

USE A CALENDAR, PLANNER AND/OR SMARTPHONE

How is the front desk keeping track of VIP arrivals or special requests? New technologies like Alice App or the famous Red Book are ways for the front desk staff to stay organized. Regardless of how you do it, find a system and stick to it. Work with your team to see what works best. When managing deadlines and meetings, an online calendar is your friend. Whether it is Outlook, Google, or the one on a smartphone – having a calendar is everything.

MAKE LISTS/REVIEW CHECKLISTS

Lists and checklists are only as good as what is put on it and what is crossed off of it. If they are not going to be used or checked – it won’t work for the front office manager or their teams. Successful front office managers make a list for the week, month and life. Getting organized is all about priorities.

  • Do the shift checklists make sense? Does it include a deadline for when the tasks should be completed? Is the front office manager checking checklists? Where do they put them when completed? Review all shift checklists quarterly to make sure they are current and applicable. When completing shift checklists, add deadlines to when items need to be completed to assist in team member’s ability to manage their time.
  • Make a list for the day. The daily list should never be more than five items long, or it is a set up for failure. Starting the list can be daunting; when determining the list, start by deciding what will have the most impact and start there. If an action item can’t be completed, they should be made aware as soon as possible and then move on to the next priority.

PLAN AHEAD

Are department schedules made two weeks in advance? It is common for schedules to change based on occupancy, but think about creating schedules two weeks in advance versus one week, so the team can plan ahead. The schedule can always be changed if occupancy increases or decreases.

WORK EFFICIENTLY

  • Delegate: Most tasks are better complete than set aside to be completed perfectly. Delegating is an exceptional tool for the manager and the staff members. It teaches staff not only how to complete the tasks, but also how to address related problems. There are team members in every hotel who want to learn, grow and help. Let them shine – let them help you shine.
  • Make more decisions: Disorganization is often the result of failing to decide what to do about, or with something. Start making decisions about little things, and soon you will find yourself more confident about taking action – try it today!
  • Turn cell phones OFF: Even when a cell phone is on vibrate mode or quiet, it is a distraction. Productive people take time away from their phones during the day. Try it when completing the schedule for the following week or doing monthly inventory. Tasks will be accomplished much quicker. This is especially true for tasks that may not be a favorite.
  • Turn off email pop-up notifications: We are all susceptible to distractions – big or small. When working on a project or task, what do your eyes do when an email notification flashes on your screen? You know you should finish what you are doing, but now you are distracted and stop what you are doing to read the email. It is the same theory as to why we all slow down to look at an accident – we are human. To stop email notifications go into your outlook, select options, mail, message arrival, deselect the show desktop alert option.
  • Take the clock off your desktop: Have you ever wondered why there are no clocks inside casinos in Las Vegas? It is because they don’t want you to focus on the time; they want you to focus on the task at hand (losing money). The same rule applies to your desktop. We all have plenty of clocks in our offices; between our cellphone, office phone and wall clock; usually we are always aware of the time. When overwhelmed, it feels as if the illuminated clock on the desktop is mocking you. Often times, continually glancing at the clock causes you to think, “Is that really the time,” “What do I have left to do,” “How am I going to finish everything?” Guess what? You just wasted 10 minutes looking at the clock, and thinking about what you are not getting done instead of actually getting it done. To remove this distraction, right click or click (based on your version) on your tool bar, click on customize, turn systems on or off, and select the option next to clock off.
  • Shut the door: “I have an open door policy.” That makes a good manager, right? Technically, this statement is wrong. An open door policy means managers are available for questions or concerns based on your schedule. It doesn’t mean the door is kept open at all times. Pop-ins average 10 to 15 minutes each time. Manage your office door like you manage your calendar.

Hopefully these strategies will help you and your team be more organized, and get through your day in an effective and efficient manner.   ■

Dawn Berry is president/CEO of PHD Hospitality, a hotel property management firm founded in 2006, located in Scottsdale, Ariz. As a 26-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Berry spent the majority of her career climbing the ranks within Hilton Hotels Corporation, capping off her tenure there as vice president, brand management, for Hilton Garden Inn. To learn more, visit www.phd-hosp.com or email info@phd-hosp.com.

Photo credit: Africa Student/Shutterstock.com

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