Hotel Professionals

Establishing and managing quality standards in the hospitality industry

Quality standards
Quality standards

The level of quality of tangible goods and intangible services is a primary concern in the industry. Establishing and enforcing quality standards presents important points to bear in mind. Perception of quality changes according to an individual’s social and educational background, travel experiences, wealth and in general life experiences.

Quality can be defined as something one want or desires but cannot readily and concretely articulate. While many, if not most, cannot articulate what they perceive as quality, they know intuitively when they see or experience it.

Quality and consistency are critical to keeping an establishment viable. Without a consistent product a service organization fails to reach its most basic goal – to be profitable. Consistency of quality must come before profitability, and in order to achieve financial viability, it must be delivered as promised.

Successful corporations usually prove that profits are the result of promised level of quality delivered consistently. Any level of quality involves consistent delivery of a product and/or service according to establish standards management must determine and ensure that codified standards are met at all times. Expectations and experiences of managers, owners Products and services actually delivred in the operation expectations and experiences of guests employees product and service quality relationships.

Hospitality industry managers are faced with the dilemma of ensuring consistency despite of a number of constraints availability of trained labour, and cost of training, seasonal variances of produce, and economic conditions, all of which represent daily challenges.

Managers like to think that employees carry out their instructions to the letter, but in reality most try to cut corners” to see what they can omit. If management fails to ensure enforcement of standards consumers are short changed and feel cheated.

Some may complain and return, others never do, and certainly let their circles of friends, family, and business associated know about their disappointment.

The basic nature of hospitality establishments to hire individuals who have acquired their “skills” by trial and error is fundamentally wrong. Often an prospective employee may have been mentored, or may have been exposed to management training programmes, “gut feel”, “old world” practices and specialized schools. All of these are laudable but may be insufficient to the establishment’s level of quality.

The manager is faced daily with operational and service problems, some of which are shown below:

• Server fails to confirm the order
• Front desk clerk doesn’t smile
• Housekeeper forgets to clean the bathroom floor
• Light bulb in guest room is burned out
• Drink orders are made differently than expected international standard
• Chefs prepare the same item differently
• Revenues are not collected
• Reservations clerk quotes the wrong rate
• Public are isn’t cleaned regularly

All of these shortcomings are related. For an employee to provide standard service consistently the following conditions must be met:

• Lack of agreement on expectations (Employees must be told about processes and all have to agree to uphold them at all times)
• Managers must share problems and common causes with employees constantly and change policy only if absolutely necessary
• Inconsistent delivery of products and services must be corrected on a daily basis, either by “after service briefings”, or individually.
• Ineffective communications contribute largely to inefficiencies, and failing to achieve standards
• Unbalanced accountability on goods and services delivered. Guests who tip well and frequently usually get more attentive service than others.
• Evaluation is often based on level of effort, rather than actual results. In many cases profit levels ought to be associated to Management by results (MBR) yardsticks, rather than MBO (Management by objectives).
• Reacting to symptoms not causes. The impoliteness of a server is the result of poor, or no training, and poor supervision.
• Lack of recognition and praise for good work. When an employee excels in his/her performance, management must recognise it by a material rewards, not financially. It can be a clock, radio, pocket calculator, iphone, or something used daily.
• Absence of teamwork – in most cases servers work for themselves. Managers must constantly stress tat team effort is very important, not only for the enterprise, but for all workers.
• Management by individuals, not organizations – if quality standards don’t exist or if they do are not codified and/or enforced middle-managers impose their quality standards and not those of the establishment
• Trailing, not training – in almost all cases new hires are “trained” by asking them to trail an “experienced “ employee. This is a policy for failure. Training must be formal, and practical, provided by management according to codified standards.
• Measuring and managing quality – all employees should be “performance interviewed” at least twice a year. If necessary, more frequently to avoid problems
• Product quality problems – product consistency, especially for perishable food products, represents a constant problem. Product specifications must be established and communicated to suppliers. Receiving clerks must be trained, and adequately supervised to enforce merchandise specifications at the receiving dock.
• The organization is more than the sum of its parts – all department heads or middle managers must be told that the goal of each employee and department is to deliver consistently high quality production to satisfy clients. Each department in the “link” is important in delivering product.
• Effectiveness, not just efficiency – how effective was the delivery of product, be it food and beverage, or check-in, or laundry service and rather than speed with which it was delivered. If a guest asks for a medium-rare steak, it is delivered within a minute, the guest knows it was pre-cooked and merely reheated to “cut delivery time”, or if the client asks for French fried potatoes, but the dish is served with baked potato.

Costs of producing a product or service can be divided into the following

– External failure costs – dissatisfied guests discourage friends and family, and business associates to patronize
– Internal failure costs – if products are not delivered as promised and must be produced again i.e undercooked or overcooked food, poorly maintained and malfunctioning equipment
– Appraisal costs – involve management time for inspection, recording, communicating to appropriate departments for repair or cleaning
– Prevention costs – involve proper standards, proper training of all employees, proper inspection and enforcement.

All of the above will ensure
• Prevention of product problems and complaints
• Increased client/guest satisfaction
• Increased employee satisfaction
• Increased efficiency and effectiveness
• Reduced internal and external failures

All of the above will improve profitability; ensure long-term success for the establishment.

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