Managing the Storeroom Right

When hotels talk about inventory management, it is usually in terms of rooms—you can’t make money without guests in rooms, whether it is a guestroom, meeting room, or ballroom. But let’s step back and think about what it takes to ensure you have those rooms ready for weddings, groups, family reunions, conferences, and individual travelers.

Have you ever had to scramble to a Plan B solution because you were out of stock on a repair item, such as a joint for the bathroom sink or paint to touch up the trim, or inexplicably ran out of light bulbs? What did it cost you to send someone out on a special run to pick up that item or move a guest to another room while you waited for the part to fix that sink? Even without a maintenance problem, turning rooms can be delayed if your staff does not have the cleaning items needed to do their jobs, despite the significant amount of money you budget for those supplies.

managing housekeeping cart

As you can imagine, the concept of inventory management is one that can apply to the products used to maintain and repair your hotel to keep it running at optimum levels as well.

Through research, Grainger discovered that among organizations surveyed, employees leave the supply closet empty-handed 22 percent of the time because they cannot find what they’re looking for. It could be because that item is misplaced, out of stock, or being used by someone else in the hotel. Whatever the cause, the item isn’t there when needed, despite the investment you made to purchase and stock that item. The chances are extra products will be purchased to fix that specific issue, and the worker will either hold on to that extra for fear of needing it again and not being able to find it, put it where he or she believes it goes (which may not be the same place other workers look for it), or place it where it goes and in doing so, find the missing product (because he or she did not see it the first time or it was returned to its proper location after being used). That translates into wasted time and money, and if it happens enough, a world of frustration.

But how can that happen when it seems like your supply rooms are exploding with products, and some of them seem like they have been there for ages? Interestingly, the same research mentioned above also revealed that only 5 percent to 15 percent of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventories are frequently used, and an equal percentage of the items are duplicated—because you cannot afford to not have a backup supply. You want to avoid having too much of an item, yet do not want to be caught without enough to meet immediate needs. You want to ensure the right products are in the right place at the right time with minimal expense and effort.

Inventory management programs can help. Whether you choose to manage your MRO inventory yourself or have the supplier manage it for you, there are benefits to be gained. A systematic approach based on real usage data can help you make sure you have the right products on hand to maintain your facility, without over investing in items that you don’t need.

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