- How using lean tools can deliver results
In today’s economic environment all companies are trying to cut operational costs. Achieving this goal, along with maintaining or improving customer service, is something most find out of their reach. For many hotels improved back of house or F&B service productivity remains a goal, not a reality.
There is constant pressure placed on hospitality businesses to improve their labour efficiencies, due to competitive customer demands, which are constantly challenged by dynamic changes in costs. These costs can range from food price fluctuations to increases in salaries. In fact, these operating stresses are increasing, as more efficient operations become the norm to be able to compete in the hospitality industry.
It is important therefore to take a step back and look at efficiencies and productivity in hotels from all angles. These 10 tips are written as an introduction to the benefits to be gained by applying Lean Tools to find efficiency improvement in hotels.
1. The aim of Visual Management is to make the situation easily understood merely by looking at it. The goal is to have information quickly with as little observation as possible. Visual management done well means it’s easy to understand the flow of work and how it is progressing. It can be understood if there is too much inventory in a laundry store for linen at a glance or if work is being done under normal or abnormal conditions whilst washing the cutlery and crockery.
2. The tool 5S is five steps known as sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain. It leads to workplace organisation and when implemented sustainably it improves efficiency. It is about everything having its place across the hotel, labelled correctly and clean ready to use. Meaning less time is wasted searching or checking and more time is spent on actually performing the work of satisfying hotel guests.
3. First In First Out (FIFO) is a stocking method where products are controlled, in the case of food items, with the earliest expiry dates consumed first. This is one of several methods to reduce the high F&B costs due to food waste experienced in many hotels. Other products, without expiry dates, controlled in the same way prevents obsolete inventory being written off. FIFO reduces the possibility to stock an item after a model or brand has been updated as the oldest is always used first.
4. Kaizen events are workshops or any coordinated activity aimed at improvement of the work situation by using Lean tools to remove the waste from the process. Sometimes known as continuous process improvement (CPI) they last a set time and involve everyone in the process to create a culture of continuous improvement. The outcome of these focused events can result in energy savings in kitchens over 30% from reduced operating times for equipment to layout changes to improve the flow at the dishwashing section reducing labour by 25%.
5. Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) an approach to equipment maintenance that strives to achieve perfect utilisation. The goal is no breakdowns, small stops or defects whilst creating a safe operating environment. The target is to have all workers involved in maintaining equipment to a degree to reduce the need for expensive specialist repair resources. It is partly a proactive approach for example cross-training room cleaning staff to perform simple tasks like changing light bulbs or tighten loose screws. Making available rooms for new guests on schedule a key factor in raising room utilisation figures.
6. Poke Yoke is a method of creating products so processes cannot be done incorrectly. Commonly known as mistake proofing it’s already found in different colour coded chopping boards in the kitchen to prevent food contamination, driven by hygiene rules. Other applications involve colour coding on locks and security keys to ensure the right key is located and used correctly when required.
7. The Milkrun involves a material provider delivering items to areas in the hotel in sequence with a fixed schedule similar to a bus timetable. The concept is to deliver what is needed at the time required to improve the utilisation of staff doing the actual work such as food ingredients from stores to kitchens. Every time a chef has to visit the store for ingredients it is time lost from the cooking process affecting the delivery of meals.
8. When the work being done is prescribed in precise detail then the worker merely follows the instructions that are broken into small steps and easily repeatable. Standard work for staff becomes easier for example with a model room as a reference point. Ensuring quality right first time right so reducing time to turnaround rooms for earlier occupancy.
9. Process Mapping is an effective means of gathering information to determine how a hotel is performing. Creating process maps allows managers to uncover when process steps are performed differently by individuals or groups or under different circumstances. All hotel processes may be mapped, key ones where inefficiency causes guests to wait at check in or check out can be improved and waiting eliminated by applying Lean thinking, in turn, improving the consistency of service delivery.
10. Inventory ABC is about categorising the products consumed throughout the hotel to increase revenue, eliminate stock-outs, reduce overall inventory levels and free up working capital. The resulting analysis helps F&B improve ordering and delivery schedules or the Spa increase sales.
These 10 points take into consideration that in order to ramp up productivity in all areas: labour management, lead times and cost reduction there needs to be an end-to-end assessment.
A better than average hotel operation efficiency result can be achieved by applying these Lean Tools and paying attention to the metrics they generate across the various functions.
The result of tackling productivity from all angles, through focusing on Lean operations will result in a hotel that improves efficiency and increases revenue. Ultimately this makes the hotel a more competitive and agile business in meeting hospitality industry demands. Though it is undeniably a daunting task, this end achievement is surely the most compelling reason to get started!