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How to Maintain the Housekeeping Service | Executive Housekeeper SOP


housekeeper wearing uniform and mask and gloves arranging a guest room in a hotel

The executive housekeeper must be able to maintain the housekeeping standards through effective staff management and procedures. The housekeeping department is one of the most important departments in the hotel industry, yet very demanding.


The duty of the executive housekeeper is to direct and control housekeeping operations and staff in the housekeeping department. Regardless of the size ot the hotel or resort, an executive housekeeper, co-ordinates between housekeeping crews to inspect assigned areas to ensure standards are met. As an executive housekeeper it is important to manage many priorities and demands and be able to solve problems and support your team to deliver highest quality of service standards. 


Procedures for maintaining an efficient housekeeping service will depend on a number of variables:

  • The size, style and type and service levels of the hotel.
  • The housekeeping department is responsible for cleaning and maintaining large areas within the establishment. The scope of responsibility and activities will depend on the size and number of guest rooms, the size and range of public areas, offices and other departments, conference facilities, restaurant areas, additional facilities such as entertainment/games and exercise rooms, storage areas, laundry facilities etc.
  • The décor of the establishment, including furniture, fixtures and fittings, and the variety and types of rooms, fabrics and textures will also impact on the housekeeping service.
  • All members of the department must work closely and effectively with all other departments in the hotel, to achieve objectives: standards, service levels, financial targets and guest satisfaction.


The executive housekeeper can achieve set objectives by doing the following effectively:


Planning and organising

The executive housekeeper must plan and organise the following: people, time, budgets and expenses, work methods, supplies, materials and equipment

  • Procedures and performance standards
  • Cleaning schedules and task
  • Supply levels
  • Control systems
  • Financial/Budgets
  • Special cleaning or maintenance activities



Objectives cannot be met unless the following are effectively implemented and carried out:

  • Job descriptions and specifications
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Induction
  • Training
  • Monitoring
  • Communicating
  • Co-ordinating of staff activities


Directing and controlling

As an executive housekeeper, you will need to have the necessary skills to do the following:

  • Delegating

  • Motivating

  • Disciplining

  • Checking of all procedures, systems, controls, standards



The effective housekeeper measures performance against objectives:

  • Financial/budgets

  • Staff performance and productivity

  • Quality standards

  • Guest satisfaction


Standards and Procedures

Members of the housekeeping department need to have clear and specific guidelines on what they are expected to perform in their jobs, and how they are expected to do this. Adherence to procedures will ensure consistent standards and controls. Staff performance cannot be measured unless standards are in place and clearly communicated and understood.



  • Each hotel should have agreed, documented procedures and standards.
  • Procedures should state what must be done, how it must be done, often it must be done,
  • Procedures must be specific according to the task or activity.
  • Procedures require job analysis – tasks, logical steps, standards, knowledge required etc – which will enable staff to perform competently according to standards.
  • All staff should be issued with Job Descriptions defining their specific responsibilities, limits to authority, reporting procedures, routine duties and additional or occasional duties.
  • Many establishments use the principle of multi-skilling for employees: alternative tasks should be included in job descriptions.
  • Task lists break jobs down into easily understood “chunks” and should be listed in a logical sequence
  • Procedures may be a combination of written and pictorial information to aid understanding.


Your human resource department may be able to assist you with the writing of job descriptions and task lists.


Communicate Housekeeping Procedures Effectively



Procedures can be communicated in the following situations:

  • As part of induction training
  • During skills training or on job training
  • When systems or procedures change
  • During departmental meetings
  • During performance reviews/assessments
  • During daily monitoring and checking of staff activities


Communication methods


Communication methods will vary according to the members of staff and the cultural diversity of the workforce:

  • Written policies and procedures provided to employees, who then sign to acknowledge acceptance and understanding
  • Verbal explanation or demonstration of procedures (according to literacy levels)
  • Translation by a staff member conversant in the relevant language
  • Pictorial – photographs, pictures, symbols, diagrams, flash cards etc.
  • It is important to establish that employees have read or understood procedures, and what is expected of them
  • Changes in procedures should be discussed and agreed with all relevant employees before these are documented and implemented.




Routine daily inspections are carried out for a number of reasons:

  • To monitor staff activities and cleaning methods
  • To ensure work is completed in the required time
  • To ensure areas have been cleaned and replenished according to company procedures
  • To ensure that establishment standards are maintained
  • To identify problems or faults before the guest does
  • To ensure that problems and faults are followed up
  • To check that health, safety and hygiene procedures are followed
  • To monitor areas as well as equipment, supplies and machinery



  • Allocate trained and responsible people or supervisors to check specific rooms/blocks/areas.
  • Provide inspection checklists for all areas including public areas, offices, toilets, corridors and passages, store rooms etc. This will ensure that areas or items are not forgotten or left out.
  • Provide an inspection schedule for each area, to ensure that they are checked routinely and regularly. For example, toilets in public areas need to be checked many times during a shift.
  • Ensure that inspections are recorded and signed on a daily basis so that it is easy to follow up in the event of problems or complaints.
  • During busy periods, enlist the help of Duty Managers to help inspect areas.


What to check for:

Basic areas that will be covered by an inspection will ensure that:

  • All fixtures, fittings and furnishings are clean and in good working order
  • All guest items have been replenished
  • All surfaces are clean and free from marks
  • Floors and floor coverings are clean and the appropriate finish has been achieved
  • Beds have been made according to the method specified by the establishment
  • Lighting, heating and cooling systems are in good working order
  • Bathrooms have been thoroughly cleaned
  • There are no signs of pests
  • No health or safety hazards
  • Maintenance faults identified and reported
  • Special guest requests have been actioned
  • The finished room or area meets the standard set by the organisation


Guidelines for checking rooms

  • Note what rooms must be checked so that you can try to check all rooms in one area before moving on to the next one. This will save time and energy.
  • Check VIP, early arrival and special request rooms first.
  • Record your inspection on the appropriate checklist, in case these need to be referred to later.
  • Check the room in a logical manner, either according to your checklist, or using the “around the room” approach to avoid missing items or areas.
  • When checking, think of what the guest will see (behind closed doors, ceilings when lying in the bath or the bed, marks on mirrors, missing hooks when curtains are closed, underneath soap dishes, outdoor or balcony areas).
  • Use as many of your senses as possible – sight, touch or feel, smell, hearing or sound.
  • Always carry air freshener with you.
  • Report problems, faults or shortages immediately, according to your procedures.
  • Vacant ready rooms must be reported immediately, according to your procedures.


A room inspection report should be completed which notes such items as the condition of furniture, fixtures and equipment, etc.  



Housekeeping objectives and standards can only be achieved through teamwork and communication. Effective planning and allocation of people and tasks will ensure that activities are completed competently, and that staff members are motivated and productive.



Different organisations use many different approaches to staff development, training, monitoring and discipline. The following are guidelines:


Staff capabilities and development plans

  • Get to know each member of staff personally. In this way you will find out individual strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.
  • Conduct regular training needs analyses with staff to establish what training should be scheduled or provided.
  • Where applicable, refer to CV’s and relevant references and previous qualifications to identify staff abilities and competence.
  • Allocate tasks according to staff capabilities. For example, a staff member who lacks confidence or finds it difficult to communicate with guests should not be allocated duties in busy public areas.
  • Regular performance appraisals or assessments will enable you and the staff member to identify strengths and weakness and performance objectives or development targets.
  • NQ standards and qualifications are a tool for identifying existing abilities and areas for coaching, development or training.
  • NQ assessments also provide a means of identifying strengths and weaknesses, and areas for future development or career path planning.
  • Discuss and agree objectives with each employee, either formally or informally.
  • Keep records of training attended, achievements, planned development etc.


The Skills Development Act, in brief, requires that training is planned and documented for staff and individuals. Hotels are required to annually submit a workplace skills plan for all intended training for each year, and are required to submit an annual workplace skills report on actual training delivered or implemented. Your skills development facilitator or human resources department will be able to provide comprehensive details of your establishment’s training objectives and achievements. You can also use external providers for housekeeping training


Consulting with Staff

Procedures or policies for consulting with staff will vary according to the type and size of the organisation or operation. The following are guidelines for consulting with staff on performance issues:


Every person needs to feel involved and worthwhile, and will perform better if consulted on a regular basis. Staff on the floors often observe or experience problems that are not identified by management.  Open communication and consultation with staff will encourage them to identify performance or system problems, and to suggest improvements.


Staff consultation

  • Hold regular meetings that allow staff to provide input on work systems and procedures.
  • During meetings, give all staff members the opportunity to identify performance problems and to suggest solutions.
  • Constantly provide mechanisms for staff to provide input, suggestions and ideas on their own performance and the operation in general.
  • Regularly inform staff on what is happening in the operation – events, targets, achievements, problem areas and complaints.
  • Do not impose changes on staff without discussing the reasons for changes, and the benefits to staff, the operation and the guests.
  • Hold regular one-on-one discussions with each individual staff member to establish performance issues and objectives.
  • Schedule regular performance appraisals/discussions for each staff member.
  • Agree and record appraisal discussions and targets.
  • Ensure that Employment Equity, Union and Workplace Training Forum or other departmental representatives regularly and accurately feed back information to their constituents.
  • Be open to new ideas and suggestions and try, wherever possible to implement these. This will encourage staff to communicate ideas and improvements.


Disciplinary Procedures

Staff who do not comply with work procedures and company requirements will affect the standards and service of the housekeeping operation. Disciplinary procedures should only be implemented in cases where every effort has been made to discuss and correct work performance or other issues with the employee.


Supervisors and Heads of Department must be familiar with the disciplinary procedures and should, ideally, be trained on the processes to be followed.  Procedures must be strictly followed to ensure consistence, fairness and objectivity,



Staff must be informed of disciplinary, appeal and grievance procedures when they first join the establishment, and copies of the relevant procedures should be included in induction handouts or employee handbooks. Procedures may vary according to the documentation used by the organisation, but the actual steps followed in the disciplinary process are generally the same.


Quality Assurance

All aspects of the housekeeping operation must be continuously checked, measured and evaluated to ensure that people, systems, products and processes meet the standards of the organisation of the customers. Establishments that are committed to quality have a competitive edge because they always striving to maintain and improve what they do and how they do it. Customers demand satisfaction, and expect that they receive a quality service for the money they spend in an accommodation establishment.



Quality control or assurance procedures will vary according the organisation. These may be simple or fairly complex. The following are indicators for measuring quality:


Manpower / people

  • Staff follow the policies and procedures of the organisation
  • Staff have the skills to perform tasks competently
  • Staffing is adequate to cover the work load effectively
  • Staff are productive
  • Staff are reliable and consistent in performance
  • Staff turnover is within normal percentages


Methods/ systems

  • Methods and processes are effective and time –saving
  • Systems are user-friendly


Materials/ supplies

  • Materials and supplies are adequate for the operation
  • Materials and supplies are of the appropriate quality
  • Materials are well maintained and handled
  • Materials and supplies are not wasted, lost, damaged or stolen


Machinery & equipment

  • Machinery and equipment operates effectively
  • Machinery and equipment is sufficient for the needs of the operation
  • Machinery and equipment is maintained and handled safely



  • Systems, procedures and controls are controlled consistently
  • The environments, as well as all products, are maintained effectively and regularly


Money/ costs

  • Costs are controlled according to budget



  • Management is effective
  • Management is consistent



  • Guest feedback is consistently positive
  • Repeat business
  • Increased occupancies


Quality assurance in housekeeping

  • Ensure that objectives are consistently achieved.
  • Ensure that standards are maintained
  • Ensure that procedures are adhered to
  • Ensure that all supplies and assets are controlled, cleaned, handled, stored and maintained correctly
  • Catch problems before the guests do
  • Monitor costs
  • Monitor the quality of all products
  • Monitor guest satisfaction


Improving quality

  • Review processes, systems and controls continuously
  • Analyse problems, losses and complaints
  • Use guest feedback or mystery guest reports as an indicator
  • Re-act promptly to problems and complaints
  • Implement improvements


Maintenance Procedures

Quality and standards of the housekeeping service will depend on the ongoing maintenance or repair in all relevant areas. Poor working relationships with the Maintenance Department and ineffective maintenance reporting procedures will affect the standard of the operation. Prompt handling of faults will ensure that standards are maintained, and will impact on guest satisfaction.



Maintenance reporting procedures will vary according to the type, size and scope of the operation. The following are guidelines for reporting maintenance faults:



  • Room attendants must report or log maintenance faults identified while servicing rooms.
  • Inspections of completed rooms should log and record maintenance faults.
  • Guest maintenance request cards should also be dealt with promptly, and recorded or logged according to procedures.
  • Supervisors or housekeepers should always follow up frequently to check that repairs have been done.


ecording faults

  • Maintenance requests can be recorded in maintenance log books, on duplicate request forms, or on job cards.
  • Requests should contain the following information:
  •     Date, room number or area, description of problem, who
  •     reported the fault, time etc. The completed job should be
  •     dated and signed by the relevant member of maintenance.
  • Housekeeping should always have access to copies of maintenance requests so that they can follow up and check that jobs have been completed.
  • Items or equipment sent externally for repair should also be logged in the appropriate book or document, so that you have records of where equipment is, how long it will be out of service, etc.


Unsatisfactory maintenance repairs

  • Incomplete or unsatisfactory repairs should be reported back to maintenance immediately, and the appropriate documents completed.
  • Follow your procedures for dealing with unresolved maintenance issues.
  • In some cases, external providers or contractors may be responsible for repairing items.  They should be contacted immediately so that items can be returned for repairs.
  • Do not sign job cards or orders for incomplete work.
  • Report ongoing problems to your superior, according to procedures.


Materials, supplies and equipment

The executive housekeeper is responsible for managing a large inventory of supplies, materials and equipment, and for supplying the correct type, quality and quantity to staff on a daily basis. Shortages of any of these will affect the standards of the housekeeping service, will prevent staff form completing work activities, and will impact on guest satisfaction and the operation as a whole.


Par stock levels

Par levels are the standard number of stock items needed to support daily or routine housekeeping operations. Par stock levels will differ according to whether they are recycled or non-recycled items. The housekeeper must calculate par stock for each item that is used, and ensure that stock holdings are sufficient to maintain operations on a routine, daily basis.


Recycled items

Linens, uniforms, cleaning equipment and machinery are items that are used over and over for an extended period. The housekeeper is responsible for identifying minimum and maximum stock holdings for these items, and will supply according to these levels.

Orders are placed when items are between minimum and maximum levels.


Non-recycled items

Some housekeeping supplies or items that are consumed or used up during daily routine operations include: cleaning agents or chemicals, guest supplies, disposable items and amenities. These items will be supplied according to the rate of consumption – how many are used up, or how fast or quickly the supplies, such as chemicals, are used.  Supplies such as soaps, shampoos etc. will be issued according to the type and number required in each room each day, and the number of rooms occupied.


Supplying linen

  • The occupancy report or other reports relating to guest stayovers, departures and arrivals will determine the quantities and types of linens to be issued on any day.
  • Most establishments use the ‘clean for dirty’ system to issue clean linens each day
  • The number of dirty linens removed from each room should be consistent with the occupancy report.
  •  Some establishments maintain floor pars for linen store rooms on each floor. This will equal the quantity of linen required to service all rooms stocked from a particular store room. Linen pars should be recorded and posted in each storage area, Issuing procedures will ensure that each store room is stocked with the required amount of linen each day.
  • All issues must be recorded according to procedures.


Calculating linen par levels

Below is an example of how to calculate a par stock level for queen size sheets for a hotel that uses an in-house laundry operation, and supplies two sheets for each of the 162 queen size beds:

  • 162 queen size beds X 2 sheets = 324 sheets
  • One par in guest rooms                   1 X 324  = 324
  • One par soiled in laundry                1 X 324   = 324
  • One par in linen stores                    1 X 324  = 324
  • Total Number                                                  972      
  • 972 sheets ¸ 324 sheets/par = 3 par                      


Supplying uniforms

  • If the housekeeping department is responsible for uniforms, sufficient supplies must be maintained according to number of staff, departments, sizes, colours, types etc.
  • Employees must sign for uniforms issued, and are required to return and sign in uniforms when leaving the company.
  • Uniforms must be controlled and recorded as for linens.
  • Laundry turnaround times will affect the stock level of uniforms.
  • Uniforms must be kept in a good condition (this is normally the responsibility of the linen keeper or seamstress), to maintain standards and reduce costs.
  • Uniforms handed in to the laundry should be logged in and out (in some establishments, the ‘clean for dirty’ system is used).


Supplying cleaning materials, equipment and chemicals

  • Par levels of cleaning supplies will depend on the scope of cleaning, and the amounts or quantities used in day-to-day housekeeping operations.
  • Cleaning supplies should never be allowed to reach below minimum stock levels.
  • Cleaning supplies must be recorded as for other items, and issues or requisitions must be tracked daily.
  • Weekly consumption of chemicals is usually calculated and issued to staff. These items are usually stored in floor store rooms at the end of shift.
  • Ensure that adequate and well- maintained cleaning materials and equipment are available to staff.
  • All issued items should be recorded.
  • Inventories should record where items are stored (floors, store-rooms etc.)
  • New equipment is supplied when items are in need of repair or replacement.


Guest supplies

  • Guest supplies will vary according to the establishment.
  • One par of guest supplies would be the quantity required to supply each item to all rooms in the establishment at one time.
  • These items are supplied according to consumption and occupancy.
  • Refer to reports so that correct quantities can be calculated for each day.
  • Daily usage or issues must be recorded (requisitions, issues).
  • Replacement stationery and printed materials must also requisitioned, issued and recorded.
  • Magazines and TV guides will need to be supplied monthly.
  • Reserve stocks of these items should be kept in designated storage areas for replacement purposes.


Maintaining Records

The housekeeping operation cannot be controlled unless records are maintained and updated on a daily basis. All activities in the department must be reported and recorded. Poor recording may result in the following:

  • Shortages
  • Losses or theft
  • Inaccurate stock figures
  • Disorganised stock takes
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Excessive stock holding
  • Costs tied up in stock
  • Variances to budget


Types of records

The types of records will vary according to the size and procedures of the operation. Records that will need to be maintained and updated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis may include:

  • Staff attendance registers
  • Staff rosters
  • Staff leave forms
  • Staff training and assessment
  • Staff appraisals
  • Recruitment, interviewing and selection records
  • Disciplinary records
  • Orders/purchases
  • Deliveries
  • Requisitions and issues
  • Maintenance requests and reports
  • Stock takes
  • Damaged or condemned items
  • Variances
  • Costs and budgets
  • Minimum and maximum stock levels
  • Accidents/injuries on duty
  • Inspection checklists
  • Quality control records
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Key control records



  • The service and standards of the entire operation depend on the housekeeping service, and the completion of tasks within schedules and deadlines.
  • Other departments will be affected if the housekeeping department does not work in an organised manner.
  • Front Office relies on housekeeping to report room status accurately and regularly, so that guests can be accommodated without delays
  • All departments rely on housekeeping to keep areas clean
  • Shortages of supplies will affect other departments as well as guests
  • Insufficient linen supplies will affect the standards in departments such as restaurants, banqueting, kitchens etc.
  • Disorganised cleaning routines will impact on the image of the organisation, and on guest satisfaction.
  • Poor controls will result in financial losses.
  • Inadequate or staffing will result in ineffective cleaning, tasks not being completed, and poor standards.


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