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Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

The linen was purchased at the beginning of year with quarterly delivery schedule. Month after month, the business was even better than expected; by July, the EHK discovered that, to maintain linen par levels, it would be necessary to spend money earmarked for the third and fourth quarters to get enough washcloths, bath towels, sheets, etc. Actually hoping, that the business would slow down in the fourth quarter, the EHK made a plunge and used up the entire budget; at the same time, sending a caution notice to the Purchase on spending the entire allocated funds in July itself owing to linen shortage.

Interestingly, Purchase sent request to the GM, suggesting a cut down in guestroom linen to be reduced from four bath towels to three, and from three washcloths to two. The GM approved.

The Hotel experienced record guestroom sales in August, September, and October. Occupancy was 20 per cent over projected budget levels. The EHK knew it was only a question of time before something major wrong had to happen. At the end of October, the marketing department announced some major last-minute sales; it had just booked a big Tourist group, two wedding groups and beautician convention for November. Considering the groups booked, this meant all occupancy records would be broken.

By mid-November, the housekeeping department resembled a war zone. Every day was more hectic than the one before. Scheduling room attendants was a nightmare, and everyone in the laundry room was working overtime. The EHK could not walk anywhere in the hotel without being accosted by angry guests wanting more towels or frustrated room attendants wanting more linens. Front desk phones never stopped ringing, and the hotel staff never stopped scurrying, rushing stacks of towels just delivered from the launderer to whichever room attendant complained the loudest. Each morning, the EHK anxiously scanned the occupancy projections for December, silently praying that at least one group would cancel its meeting. But day after day, the news was “terrible”; no one cancelled, and December’s business still looked great.

By November end, guest complaints got so bad that the GM called a meeting of the hotel’s senior staff. “What’s going on here?” he fumed. “Business has never been better, yet we seem to be falling apart. If I hear one more person whine about bath towels, I’ll scream. Does anyone have any idea about how we can get out of this mess?”

Truly, what is going on here? In spite of being departments of the same organisation, the understanding of each department’s requirement is largely missing.

Was it because the EHK’s process of assessing existing stock and calculating the required linen for the year faulty?

Was the Purchase so inconsiderate that it could not see the impending danger of underallocation?

Was the Purchase itself ignorant of the basic requirement?

Was the laundry well equipped to churn out clean linen at times of emergencies?

There and many more questions would remain unanswered. We call upon readers in the hospitality segment to throw light on this never ending shortfall.

It was October and the Executive Housekeeper at a 250-room property had put together the housekeeping budget for the next year, requesting `8 lakhs for linens. She based this number on last year’s linen use and projected occupancy for next year, with eight per cent increase thrown in to…

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