EP #17 – Improving Housekeeping Labor Productivity with David Heath

Dave Heath joins Susan Pannozzo of the Hospitality Academy podcast to talk about improving housekeeping productivity, and more!One of the biggest expenses in the hospitality industry is labor, and one of the largest components of the hospitality labor is housekeeping.

But there are ways to be lean, efficient and effective in this area and here to share some of his insider tips is Dave Heath of Heath and Company Hospitality Advisors.

On this episode of Hospitality Academy Dave and I talk about some of the key factors you can focus on to improve your housekeeping department’s productivity today.

Essential Learning Points From This Show:

  • What portion of housekeeping costs does labor typically make up?
  • Should you hire someone to do a time study?
  • Why inspecting every room after a room attendant cleans it may do more harm than good.
  • Dave explains a simple yet effective rewards system you can use.
  • How are many companies leaving money on the table?
  • And so much more!


Dave Heath has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. As a child, he spent time at his family’s restaurant. After high school, he pursued his hospitality education by attending hotel school and then working for both the Hilton Hotels and the Ritz-Carlton after graduation.

Wanting to further his education he went back to school again, after which he landed work with several of the big consulting firms at the time.

Armed with extensive experience and knowledge Dave struck out on his own in 1994. He’s been running his company, Heath and Company Hospitality Advisors ever since. Heath and Company is an international organization of productivity specialists who work exclusively with hotels around the world helping them improve their labor productivity.

As you’d imagine he’s gained tremendous insights and wisdom in his 30+ years and has seen nearly all there is to see! I brought him on for today’s show to share that expertise. We talk about the key factors to effectively managing labor costs, how to do your own time study, and why mandatory inspections after every cleaning are ineffective and an unnecessary expense.

Two-thirds of all labor costs are associated with housekeeping according to Dave. To effectively manage that expense Dave recommends doing a time study of how long it takes your housekeepers to clean stayover rooms versus checkout rooms as well as other variables that impact room cleaning times.

In most places, the two types of room cleanings are weighted the same, but Dave has found time and time again that it can take up to an extra 20 minutes to do a checkout room. That means if some of your attendants have a day with a lot of checkouts they will be trying to squeeze 9-10 hours of work into 8 hours, and if they have a day with few checkouts they’ll have to stretch their workload from 5 or 6 hours to 8 hours!

Instead, when you do a time study you can see exactly how much time your staff needs for a checkout room vs. a stayover room, and you can adjust their schedules accordingly. If you’re giving more credit for the checkout rooms, the end result will be improved morale and productivity. That is what Dave has experienced with his clients.

A time study doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor on your part. This is a task you can easily give to an intern. Simply have them do the study over a 30 day period (not just one day or a busy weekend, it won’t be accurate), and have them time how long it takes an attendant to clean the two types of rooms. The intern will time from the first knock on the door of the first room to the knock on the next door (after the first room has been cleaned).

On today’s show, we also discuss other variables to monitor and be aware of such as leisure versus business travelers, and why random inspections are far more effective and produce greater quality results from your staff. It’s all here on this episode of the Hospitality Academy!

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Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

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