of this blog was the prep work for getting your hostel running seamlessly. So by now you’ve identified your systems, outlined procedures, and have sent your staff off into the sunset to run the place magically, with unicorns galloping in the halls. That’s how this works, right?
You really don’t want all of your hard work and time invested to be in vain because you didn’t give your staff (or yourself, for that matter!) the chance to keep tasks on track. You need some method of progress tracking, both to fight the effects of our ADD-ridden lives, and for accountability.
This is especially important if you are trying to change habits, revamp systems, or implement new procedures altogether, rather than start from scratch. It’s one thing to think of solid systems ahead of time but the far more likely scenario is that you already have a hostel up and running and are trying to improve. Which means getting current staff to change their ways, and we know how easy it is to change people ;-)
It doesn’t have to be impossible though, and having some form of regular accountability will work to create a “new normal”. This will also get better once your staff changes over, as you will train new staff from day 1 on your now-standard, amazingly efficient, well thought out procedures. (And then constantly check up and revisit and revamp, because, hostel life).
Empower Staff With Tools
So how do you do this? I’m a huge fan of checklists, but find something that works for you. After using paper checklists with staff, we moved digital. I spent some time creating every task I wanted to be done, along with the time I wanted it to appear. For instance ‘Count the cash drawer’ showed up at the beginning and end times of each shift, whereas ‘check the laundry’ was continually popping up throughout the day.
This started first with simple Google calendar reminders but became seamlessly integrated once we started using HostelSnap, the PMS developed by Hostel Management, since task management is built in. (Yes, shameless plug for HostelSnap there- the task management aspect of it saved my sanity some days).
The time investment of setting up this type of system was great for two reasons. For one, the staff never have to remember every task that needed to be done. Between being simply human and distractions of cell phones and cat videos, it just won’t happen. Secondly, it put (light) pressure on accountability. When they completed the task, they ticked it off as done.
Doing this with HostelSnap was even better since being a cloud-based PMS, I could check this anywhere, from my office upstairs or while being out of town. They knew that if I saw a long list of uncompleted tasks, they’d be hearing from me. A downside with Google reminders was that since they popped up blocking other screen activity, they were often clicked off just to clear them out of the way before the task was ever completed. There is where paper and pencil can have a benefit over something digital, but as I said, the most important thing is finding something that works for you. And then….actually using it. Your systems are only as strong as the consistency in using them.
Don’t Forget To Use Your Senses
In a perfect world, you could stop at the ideas above, but that’s not why you get paid the big bucks. No system is perfect, nor any employee, and without an active manager the hostel will merely get by. If you want to be an amazing hostel, you have to earn it. This means ensuring that these systems don’t just happen but that they happen thoroughly, and regularly.
The only way to do this is to truly be present. Google calendar reminders are great, and built in task management is even better. However, who’s to say a staff member doesn’t tick the task as complete without actually doing it? I know this is possible because it’s happened more than once. All people can be lazy. Or tired. Or honest, but distracted.
More than once I heard something along the lines of “Oh damn, I clicked ‘take out the trash’ as done, but as I walked to do it, a guest asked me for a towel and I totally forgot.” This is is completely understandable, and I’m sure for many of you it’s also very relatable. However, being present helps make sure that these simple mistakes don’t lead to sub-par standards.
The best way to ensure that your systems are being implemented properly is routine walkthroughs and spot-checks. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not enough to ask “Did the kitchen get cleaned?” while glancing at the counters. When you are checking in on your staff, remember to use your senses- not just looking, but also hearing, smelling, and touching. This is how you discover that while the kitchen counters did get wiped down with disinfectant, they did not actually get scrubbed. I’ve touched many surfaces that looked clean but felt awful.
Using your senses doesn’t just help with tasks that your staff may or may not have done. It’s also how you remain alerted to issues that would otherwise go unreported. Rarely will guests let you know that the shower is making a weird noise when it’s turned on, or that the outlet smells funny when something is plugged in too long.
Routinely walk through your hostel, use it like a guest would, and take notes of anything that isn’t quite right. This is also a great way to gain ideas of how to better utilize your space or improve on your systems. While you may have thought what you came up with was perfect for your situation, seeing how these systems and ideas hold up with actual guests is the best indication of success.
Between these two blog posts we covered the basics of outlining systems, defining procedures, implementing changes, and proper follow up. I say basics because each of these areas could be detailed in length, but these posts should give you a great jumping off point to get your hostel on a better trajectory.
No matter what you are doing, changing, or creating, the most important thing to remember is that your systems are only as strong as the consistency in using them. Lasting change takes time, and there will always be some friction, but if you define great systems, work to implement them, and continually follow up your investment will pay off in spades.
Have you ever tried to change systems with current staff? What methods do you use to hold staff accountable to procedures and systems?
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