I spent some time at an expensive boutique hotel last weekend, and enjoyed both the stay and watching the place at work.

Waiting for a friend in a side lobby I was able to watch the staff tidy up after a social hour. This was more than the cursory pick-up-glasses-and-wipe-down-tables exercise. Each chair had an exact position to return to, as they were as much a part of the architecture as the windows and doors. Most were moved, then checked, adjusted, and checked again before moving to the next one. The staff took their work seriously, and they were meticulous.

This required two things: staff who were willing to be extraordinarily diligent, and the time to be diligent. You must have both.

The room only took about 15 minutes to fully reset to its perfect default, but could have been done in 5 if clean was the only goal. Some would think that’s a poor use of manpower, taking three times as long to do everything as the minimum, building inefficiency into the system.

I suspect for that hotel, serious margins come mostly from those inefficiencies.


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