Linen inventory control and laundering are among the housekeeper's major responsibilities. Top management must establish an operating par stock. In respect to room linen, it is ideally five times the daily amount in use as determined by the number of beds and bathrooms in the hotel. This allows one set in the rooms, and one each in the laundry, the maid's floor closet, the linen room, and in transit.
The alternative is to rent them from a linen supply company as needed. Because of the uncertainty of the requirements and the initial investment, many hotels use a combination of the two methods, purchasing a smaller quantity of colored linens and renting when more needed.
Most hotels, however, do not keep their own colored linens in circulation. Rather, they are returned to the permanent storeroom after each use. This storeroom will also hold all guest-room and restaurant linen purchased but never put into use.
Control of the reserved linen is very important. The storeroom must be securely locked, with access given to only authorized personnel; no items must be removed without requisition approved by the housekeeper; and a perpetual inventory must be kept reflecting purchases, issues, and balance on hand. Frequent spot checks should be made by the linen-room supervisor to verify the balance shown. Semi-annually if possible, but not less than once a year, physical count of every item in stock should be taken and compared to the perpetual inventory.
Although we have made reference to ideal quantity of five times the daily complement, few hotels have – or for that matter, can afford to have – that much linen in circulation. A factor of three to three and one-half, or even two to two and one half, if the hotel has its own in-house laundry, is more common.
Keeping track of the circulating linen is difficult, and many (we hesitate to say most) housekeepers make very little effort to do so. The fault lies not with them but with the chief accountant, who has the sole responsibility for setting up controls, the department heads merely follow through and provide the personnel to implement them.
There are four ways in which linen can be taken out of circulation:
1., Normal wear and tear
2., Improper use or carelessness in handling
3., Losses in the laundry
Ideally, linens should be replaced only as they are discarded owing to normal wear and tear. If a figure for this determined, and any additional replacements needed are theoretically avoidable, and an attempt can be made to control these losses. Assume that a standard of 120 washes was established for twin-size sheets and that 2400 were washed during a given period. Then 20 would be the number of replacements needed. (2400 divided by 120). If this calculation is done for major items every month and replacements are made as computed, the number in circulation should remain constant at the established par stock.
The second way to lose linen is through improper use or carelessness in handling. Improper use takes many forms, but they all boil down to employee carelessness and lax supervision- supervisors who cannot or will not take steps to stop the improper action or prevent its recurrence.
Commercial laundries will rarely return on the following day all the linens received in one shipment. Some may be held back be for rewashing or proper folding, or merely because they were not finished in time. An accurate count and record of these linens must be kept, both for control of shortages and to avoid double billing.
Guests are not the only one who steals from hotels, and employee's theft is almost as difficult to stop. However, definite steps can be taken to control, or at least minimize, these losses. The most effective are the use of timecards, employee package passes, and inspection of the contents of all packages brought into or taken out of the hotel by employees; requiring all employees to enter and leave the premises through the timekeeper's office; and prohibiting loitering in the hotel before or after working hours.
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